Welcome to the brand spanking new - and therefore thoroughly work in progress - resources section of Plot is Gameplay's Bitch.

This section is intended to pool together all the bits of theory, advice and work samples from genuine development projects as a sort of guide for anyone considering making the jump into games writing. I hope it might also grow to contain some useful material for current writers.

It'll be starting off fairly me-centric, since I have lots of stuff sitting on my hard drive that I can easily publish. I'd encourage anyone with anything to add (script samples in particular) to drop me a note via the comments at the bottom of the page, or via email.

Birkbeck students - the slides from our workshop are second item down in 'Theory, Advice & Other Guff'.

Development Docs: Script Samples & More
Driver: San Francisco Sample - One character from the D:SF passenger NPC library. This is an example of a bark script: a set of triggers and variations that are played dynamically in-game to add colour.

Planescape Torment Vision Statement - A masterclass in how to sell a game concept, how to reinvigorate a stale genre and how to write funny; as well as a fascinating insight into the development documentation on one of gaming's greatest stories.

Penumbra: Black Plague Narrative Design Sample - On big developments I always produce a Narrative Design Doc that mirrors the level design. It lists the location, nature and function of every narrative element in the game, and it's a work in progress where I to and fro with the developers to work out the best approach. This is that.

Lost Horizon Script Sample - Lots of the time as a games writer you'll be working in Excel. Here's an example of that.

HTML Dialogue Tree Sample - It's easy to produce interactive dialogues in word or via a webpage. The link's to a blog post discussing a dialogue and character that I produced, but you could happily use the doc linked to in the post as a template for your own work.

Sample Writing Test - When you pitch for a job sometimes you'll be asked to provide a bespoke sample in the form of a writing test. This is a genuine brief I received some years ago. Have a crack at it!

Chris Taylor's Design Doc Template

Bioshock Vision Statement

Van Buren (Black Isle's Fallout 3) Design Wiki

Original GTA Design

Theory, Advice and Other Guff
How to be a Successful Games Writer & How to be a Successful Freelancer, both blog posts by yours truly.

Scriptwriting For Computer Games - The slides from my weekend workshop at Birkbeck College. Not all super useful without the accompanying discussion, but the students asked for it, so here it is. Does include some useful instruction on how to write dialogue trees in MS Word, some Jonathan Blow quotes, and the email that landed me my first ever job. All the resources referred to are available here.

How much involvement does a writer actually have in development? It differs massively, but here's what I know.

Creative Writing Resources - A small bundle of general writing advice I've collected over the years. Includes guidance on redrafting, critiquing, and an essential piece by Terry Pratchett on how to write non-shit fantasy.

Penumbra: Black Plague Character Postmortem: Amabel Swanson - An in-depth discussion of the development process on one of Penumbra's central characters.

Useful Tools
Ren'Py - A straight forward tool and programming language for producing Japanese dating sims. Can, of course, be used for less pervy purposes.

Storytron - Chris Crawford's interactive story creation tool. Allows the user to define actors, and then provide the player with verbs with which to interact.

The Games Factory 2 - My indie dev tool of choice. I've been using the Click n' Play line since I was about ten and it remains incredibly easy to use, fairly flexible, and sometimes annoyingly underdeveloped. Allows export in Flash, and has a Newgrounds-sponsored free version.

RPG Maker - Does what it says on the tin.

Other Sites
The Narrative Design Explorer - Stephen E. Dinehart's games writing resource; features a bumload of interviews with professional games writers, and one with me.

Grand Text Auto - "A group blog about narrative, games, poetry and art."

IGDA Writers SIG - The special interest group for games writers; join the mailing list!

I'd love for these pages to become a community as well as a one stop resource. Please do post your comments and feedback; point out new resources; and if you have any work you'd like feedback on from your fellow aspiring writers, or any questions you'd like answered, post away!


  1. This was a great read. Thanks Tom!

  2. Encouraging and inspiring. Awesome.

  3. Hey Tom, how did you decide to get into game narrative and what were things you did to achieve it? I just came from your other page on how to get started but I'm a senior in highschool and seriously considering this, but dont know where I would start to get real training