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How to break into the games industry as a writer

Veteran game writer and narrative designer, Rudolf Buirma, offers advice to writers who want to work in the video games industry.

Building game worlds for indies - Stimulation versus Imagination

We explore the stimulation - imagination continuum of player engagement and look at how indie game devs can strike a balance between the two.

Writer learning Unity game engine - Initial Impressions

Edwin embarks on his learning Unity journey with Future Games.

Treating the Player with Respect!

Why you should never 'dumb down' your game narrative.

Rainmaker Audio Experiment

A short experiment in interactive audio using the TWIST interactive audio platform and Replica's AI voice synth technology.

What you Like versus What Works in narrative design

A warning about game writing based on what you 'Like' versus what's actually going to work for the player.

How to keep your game protagonist consistent with player expectation

Narrative Designer, Tim Schuchert, suggests some methods for how you can maintain consistency when designing your game’s protagonist and avoid those damaging moments where a protagonist acts in a way that makes no sense to the player.

How to choose the right protagonist for your game

Narrative Designer, Tim Schuchert, explains the different types of video game protagonist and how choosing the right one is vital to your player's experience.

How do you get Narrative Design gigs?

Marketing yourself as a freelance narrative designer for video games.

How much does a Narrative Designer for video games earn?

The financial facts of freelance narrative design laid bare.

Industry Idiots Presents: Narrative Design and Writing Games with Edwin McRae

We talk about the profession, working remotely, and integrating writers into your team. Enjoy!

Banter between cards in CCGs

How we could use procedural narrative design in digital collectible card games to create dynamic character banter?

Pace in Video Game Narratives

How to consider Pace in a video game narrative when you're creating a story-driven game... and when you're not.

Character Growth vs Player Growth in RPGs

You've put 200 hundred hours into that RPG and now your character is amazing. But have you, the gamer, become amazing too?

Guardian Māia: Episode 2 - Combat Sample

Play as Māia te Kaitiaki (Māia the Guardian) as she battles two vicious mangā warriors in this interactive sample of Guardian Māia: Episode 2!

Edwin McRae on the Game Dev Advice Podcast

A 40 min interview about narrative design for video games with JP Podlasek, host of the Game Dev Advice podcast.

Learning Ink Script - Tutorial Eight

In this Ink script tutorial you'll learn how to track multiple Variables in your interactive fiction.

The Moonlight Monster: A Falconers side story

A Falconers side story set on the outskirts of Moonlight, setting for the visual novel "The Falconers: Moonlight". Very short. 5-10 min read.

Learning Ink Script - Tutorial Seven

In this Ink script tutorial you'll learn how to track Variables like Magic Points in your interactive fiction.

Where procedural narrative needs to go next

The systems are in place. Now storytellers need to step in and turn those procedurally generated facts into powerfully expressed fictions.

Do you want to write for video games? (Updated Dec 2020)

For writers, the games industry is a much friendlier and more welcoming place now than it was ten years ago. It’s also a much bigger industry than it was ten years ago, meaning there are so many more games in need of stories and writing.

What's the difference between Procedural Narrative and Emergent Narrative?

These are my working definitions for Procedural and Emergent, what I use when creating game narratives for my clients.

Honest Fiction

Fiction is a cool oasis in a desert of delusion.

Why do we love RPGs?

The RPG Insight Quest: Delve into this article and shine some light on your beshadowed gamer soul. Do you accept this quest? Y/N

Warlock Story Recap

A recap of the story of Warlock: Reign of Blood, book one in the Chasms of Corruption duology. DO NOT READ if you have not yet finished Warlock. CONTAINS SPOILERS!

What is LitRPG? [Updated May 2019]

The New Zealand Book Council interviews author Edwin McRae about LitRPG.

What are we looking for in a LitRPG?

The short answer is "character build". For the long answer, read on!

Video Game Detox - Day 29 & 30 out of 30

Detox done and here's my conclusion. Beware of manipulative game design!

Video Game Detox - Days 27 & 28 of 30

A curated list of games that won't overtax your dopamine.

Video Game Detox - Day 26 of 30

Working on a plan for my gaming future.

Video Game Detox - Days 24 & 25 of 30

Gaming is part of my cultural DNA.

Video Game Detox - Day 23 of 30

Skinner's Box, Benign Envy and the science behind loot drops.

Video Game Detox - Day 22 of 30

Yes, I stumbled over another hurdle but I'm still in the race.

Video Game Detox - Day 21 of 30

Conniving convenience.

Video Game Detox - Day 20 of 30

Why do we love RPGs?

Video Game Detox - Day 19 of 30

If only life was a matter of understanding ‘the system’.

Video Game Detox - Day 18 of 30

Perhaps reading LitRPG offers me something that RPGs can’t?

Video Game Detox - Day 17 of 30

Does reading a LitRPG press the same buttons as playing an RPG?

Video Game Detox - Day 16 of 30

Pooches, pirates and prose.

Video Game Detox - Day 15 of 30

Them game cravings plundered me like pirates on the open sea!

Video Game Detox - Day 14 of 30

Compulsion loops and how they work in video games.

Video Game Detox - Day 13 of 30

Not all RPGs are made evil… I mean, equal. ;-)

Video Game Detox - Day 12 of 30

Perhaps 12 is the ‘magic number’ went it comes to video game cravings?

Video Game Detox - Day 11 of 30

It’s easier for me to detox from video games than 1999 out of 2000 people. Want to know why?

Video Game Detox - Day 10 of 30

There’s a very dark side to RPG mechanics and it’s no coincidence that some of the biggest time-sink games are Open World RPGs.

Video Game Detox - Day 9 of 30

Sometimes its better if you don’t have an escape. Sometimes RL needs your back to the wall, your eyes front and center.

Video Game Detox - Day 8 of 30

My cravings had me searching for meaning in gaming, and then I found it, in an article about the meaninglessness of Assassin's Creed: Odyssey.

Video Game Detox - Day 7 of 30

What do you do when those video game cravings grow even stronger?

Video Game Detox - Day 6 of 30

I’m missing my video games, but enough to crack my detox run?

Video Game Detox - Day 5 of 30

Looks like I’m suffering from Dopamine Deficiency. Know what that is?

Video Game Detox - Day 4 of 30

Computer Work + Computer Games = Maybe not such a great combination?

Video Game Detox - Day 3 of 30

Gaming self-efficacy versus life self-efficacy. Gaming left me feeling more alert but it didn't motivate me to get my work done.

Video Game Detox - Day 2 of 30

I rage-deleted Assassin's Creed: Odyssey yesterday and now I'm going to tell you why.

Video Game Detox - Day 1 of 30

After rage-deleting Assassin's Creed: Odyssey I've decided it's time I took a little break from video games. I'll be doing a quick diary entry each day for the next 30 days to share how I'm feeling and what I'm doing to cope without my beloved video games.

Five Step Approach to Making Monsters for RPGs

My Five Step Method for Making Monsters. Step 1 = Which fear do you want your player/reader to experience? Step 2 = Icky and gooey. The Biological profile. Step 3 = Establish the Danger. The Behavior profile. Step 4 = Monsters must Die! Establish the weakness. Step 5 = Beware the corporate Elder Gods and do your due diligence. Read on to grab the details for these steps. :-)

Designing Believable LitRPG Mechanics

When I read LitRPG, I’m there for the story. Yes, the mechanics are a vital part of the story in any LitRPG, but they should never overwhelm the plot or characters. The key to getting the right balance between Story and Mechanics in LitRPG is SIMPLICITY. Read on and I'll explain why.

How to read LitRPG like an ARPG designer

I’m Edwin McRae, former lead writer of Path of Exile and author of Warlock: Reign of Blood - A LitRPG Novel. Below I outline three RPG narrative design techniques that you can be watching out for when you read your next LitRPG novel. NPC design, Story Glyphs and Boss fight buildup.

NOT a LitRPG Book: 4 Lessons Learned from Stormbane

Writer, Edwin McRae, discusses the valuable lessons he’s learned from writing and trying to sell a novella that’s turned out to be a “qualified failure”.

What is the difference between a game writer and a writer of films or books?

In a short interview with Liliana Marin of UHCL, Edwin McRae how writing for games differs from writing for films or books.

What is a Narrative Designer? (Revised November 2019)

An explanation from Narrative Designer and Game Writer, Edwin McRae, of what Narrative Design is and what a Narrative Designer does.

Learning Ink Script - Tutorial Six

In this tutorial we're taking Delayed Consequence to the next level by introducing you to Conditional Options!

Tips for writing a game trailer #1

Edwin reflects on his first trailer script for Path of Exile: The Duelist.

Edwin on The Game Design Roundtable

Harrison, Dirk and Edwin discuss the importance of the narrative line in game design and how it can keep game players engaged throughout a game with immersive details.

Learning Ink Script - Tutorial Five

In this tutorial, we’re going to start down the track of making your interactive fiction more responsive to your reader. And how are we going to do that? By giving you the power of Delayed Consequence through the application of Conditional Text.

Learning Ink Script - Tutorial Four

In this lesson we use Stitches, Gathers and Glues to better organize your Interactive Fiction story and avoid the dreaded 'Wall of Text'.

Learning Ink Script - Tutorial Three

In this tutorial we look at how to create Options within Options in Ink script. Once you've mastered these multiple layers of options, you have everything you need to create a classic Choose You Own Adventure story with Ink script.

Story for Platformer Games: Visual Evolution

The fourth and final article in a series by Edwin McRae about how to festoon platformer games with story goodness. In this article we look at visual evolution, gradual changes to the PC's appearance that can be the direct result of the player's progress through the game.

Story for Platformer Games: Emotes

The third in a series of short articles by Edwin McRae about how to festoon platformer games with story goodness. In this article we look at Emotes, changes of physical expression or simple symbols that show how the player character is feeling in that moment.

Narrative Design with Ink Script

Edwin McRae discusses how Ink Script can be a great introduction for writers hoping to enter the field of Narrative Design for video games.

Story for Platformer Games: Reactive Dialogue

The second in a series of short articles by Edwin McRae about how to festoon platformer games with story goodness. In this article we look at Reactive Dialogue, punchy jabs of dialogue that are triggered by the player's actions.

Story for Platformer Games: Introduction

A series of short articles by Edwin McRae about how to festoon platformer games with story goodness.

Learning Ink Script - Tutorial Two

In this tutorial you learn how to use Knots and Diverts to make your Ink Script more playable, different types of Options, and how to hide text that you don't want hanging about like a bad smell.

Learning Ink Script - Tutorial One

Narrative Designer, Edwin McRae, gives you a short and snappy intro to Inkle's 'Ink Script'. Why learn Ink Script? Because it allows writers to actually WRITE interactive fiction rather than linking lots of little boxes together or pressing innumerable buttons. Plus it's open source and compatible with Unity. Come on...let's get into Tutorial One already.

Procedural Narrative: The Future of Video Games

Bryan Cohen asked me "what role do you see procedural and emergent narrative taking in the future"? A big role, if not the starring role. Let me explain.

Narrative Design for Indies: Getting Started

Coming out in October 2017, this short, sharp book is aimed to give Indie Game Devs a strong start when it comes to thinking about narrative for their games.

Playing games can help with cravings

Games and addiction are usually considered a match made in Hell. It turns out, quite the opposite could be true. Certain games, like Tetris and Nightgate can help you combat the cravings that inevitably torment those fighting an addiction.

Choice of Robots

An interactive novel by Kevin Gold, the scope of Choice of Robots is astounding. And it poses some damn good questions about the role of robots and AI in our near future.

Homo Deus: Preparing us for the future

Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari is one of those 'must reads' if you want to survive our cyberpunk near-future intact.

Designing game environments that are rich with story

Your writer can ensure that your environmental visualisation process is steeped in story. Rich narrative that your artist can then mould into stunning eye candy.

Writing Tomes that your Player will Read

Players will read, and it's still one of the the cheapest and most efficient ways of delivering story within your Indie game. Tomes are those pieces of text that a player can read in the quiet moments of your game. But they need to be done well and they need to be done right!

Writing Flavour Text for your Game

Flavour text is flavoursome. It’s there to whet your player’s appetite and make them hungry to understand your game world. Be sure it’s on the menu and please make it tasty! Here's some advice on how to tell a lot of story with just a few, flavourful lines.

Being a Realist at the dawn of VR

As a kid, I used to dream of finding a secret portal to Narnia somewhere on the farm. The portal is there now but I'm not sure I want to step through it.

Living in Skyrim

When you spend two to three thousand hours playing Skyrim, what does that do to you?

Designing narratives for games: An interview for Classically Trained

An interview with Jon Harrison of classiclytrained.net where I give some of my perspectives on designing stories for games.

Boss Fight Story

Edwin McRae, Narrative Designer and Game Writer, talks about how you can make a game story out of a basic series of boss fights.

Losing the Plot with Game Narrative

An article by Narrative Designer, Edwin McRae, addressing why a game writer needs to clearly understand the difference between Plot and Narrative.