Since before Christmas, we've been going through applications for our new mentorship programme. The aim is to help up-and-coming games writers create solid portfolio pieces, with our guidance and feedback.
We had over fifty entries from all over the world, which was a surprise to us! A wealth of project ideas from fantastic people, all of whom want to find their feet as working games writers. But we were forced to winnow those applications down to just four, as we only have four places.
Thank you to everyone who applied, and we hope the tips everyone received helps you with your next steps.
After much deliberation, we'd love to announce - and to welcome - our first intake of mentees, and we look forward to working with them over the next few months!
About: Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, I strongly believe that anything can be deep-fried. I have a B.A. in Interactive Entertainment, an M.F.A. in Writing for Screen & Television from the University of Southern California, and a lot of theories about misunderstood Star Wars villain Elan Sleazebaggano.
The Programme: As an aspiring video game writer, I would like to create an interactive story that will help strengthen my portfolio.
The Project: When her best friend is murdered and she’s targeted next, Ash must break into the memories of her estranged friends to determined which one is the killer.
About: As a fan of interactive narratives and unique games, I am always looking for ways to combine these two interests together.
The Programme: With experience as an essayist and playwright, I'm hoping to build my skills in writing non-linear dialogue and plot, as well as develop strategies for environmental storytelling.
The Project: My game will explore the future of food security and wealth, inspired by the works of Edward Gorey, Punchdrunk Theatre Company and Denis Villeneuve's 'Next Floor'.
About: I'm a Danish/Swedish academic researcher specialising in Viking Age runes and medieval manuscripts. My main claim to fame in the games industry so far has been translating Harald Hardrada's lines into Old Norse for Civilization VI.
The Programme: I hope to learn more about narrative structure, and ultimately to get one step closer to a career in games.
The Project: Medieval pilgrimage - in SPACE. An interactive travelogue set in a space station society based on medieval Europe.
About: I am a 22 year old freelance writer and blogger from Montreal who has a degree in literature. When I'm not drowning myself in coffee and working on my manuscript, I'm probably slaying something on Final Fantasy or exploring a tomb with Lara Croft.
The Programme: Working under Talespinners, I hope to gain some insight into the game industry as well as how I can make my project 'Beneath The Bluest Sea' become a polished stand-out piece of my portfolio!
The Project: Roan, a human child born in a world of turbulent storms and Blue, a river-spirit stuck in a scorching desert, are thrown together as unlikely friends in a quest to save their parallel worlds from total destruction.
Two titles we've worked on have releases today:
Purrfect Date, from BaeTeam and Bossa! The game is a cross between a visual novel, a dating sim, and a dark British comedy. Eurogamer's review says "Incredibly sweet and beautifully written," and we couldn't agree more. Michelle and Giles helped BaeTeam polish their prose and untangle their interactivity. Get it on Steam now!
It's six months since our last State of the Nation and, appropriately, we've been snowed under! Over the last six months our project list has shot up; at one point we had sixteen projects on the go at the same time. Our writers and associates have been hard at work on everything from cat-dating sims to futuristic horror!
Here are some highlights from the last six months:
- New releases:
- Paw Print Games and nDreams released Bloody Zombies, their VR co-op 2D brawler.
- Lion Game Lion released Raid: World War II, their WW2 4-player behind-enemy-lines co-op.
- Runner Duck released their superb FTL-like WW2 flight game Bomber Crew.
- The Bunker - the live-filmed video adventure we helped write for Splendy Games - came out as a physical release on PS4 via Limited Run Games, and also appeared in an edited form as a short at the Cannes film festival!
- We helped Bae Team and Bossa put the finishing touches to Purrfect Date, the interactive cat-dating sim/visual novel/comedy that you didn’t know you needed! It’s out on the 15th of December, so be sure to add it to your Steam wishlist.
- Work in progress:
- We’re working with Earplay on ‘stories that you play with your voice’ - interactive radio plays that are experienced via Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and other voice-activated devices. It’s really exciting to be in at the birth of a new storytelling medium!
- We’re writing Winter Hall for Lost Forest Games, a horror-tinged first-person adventure about historical plague in England. It’s part-funded by the Developing Beyond programme of the Wellcome Trust, so we’re doing all we can to make sure it’s realistic. Happily, one of our associate writers is a trained archaeologist...
- We’ve done a bunch of work for Villainous Games on Depot, a first-person sci-fi adventure which we won’t spoil here, but which tackles a whole raft of interesting themes.
- We’ve been helping out Green Tree Games on their emotional and tactical sim Burden of Command. We’re acting in a consulting role on this, alongside such luminaries as Alexis Kennedy and Chris Avellone. It’s a study of leadership in warfare that looks at the hard choices field commanders have to make.
- We've been busy with Krillbite, giving them some writing and story support for their upcoming game Mosaic.
- We've written for Curiscope on Operation Apex, their roomscale VR adventure set in the depths of the ocean.
- We’ve also done new work for Orcari, Gamefjord, Soedesco, and a whole bunch of other international clients that we can’t talk about yet, alongside ongoing work for our stalwarts - Frictional Games, Quantum Soup, and Cardboard Sword!
- We did a whole load of talking - giving lectures at Nineworlds, AdventureX, the Celtic Games Show, and the Arcade Vaults, alongside our usual work with local universities. We sponsored AdventureX too, and the Wordplay Festival in Toronto.
- Ian took part in the judging for the UK Games Fund’s Tranzfuser programme, which saw some wonderful concepts from a wide variety of teams. Giles has been helping out on the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain’s games committee, and judging panels for the BAFTA Young Games Designer and BAFTA Cymru’s Best Game award.
We also had a chance to chat to the Articy:Draft team at our stand at Gamescom this year about story, narrative, VR and all sorts things. They made a video - take a look here!
Oh, and check out Ian's recent article on getting into games writing.
And finally, we launched our Mentorship Programme! A chance for upcoming writers to have a helping hand from us, as we’ll steer them to create a finished title. The closing date for this is Wednesday 6th December!
As you can see, the last six months have been outstanding, and the next six months are set to be even bigger for Talespinners. Thanks to all the amazing developers and publishers who’ve been part of our journey so far, and to stay up to date on our forthcoming announcements as they happen, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
However you celebrate the festive period - we hope you have a great one.
We’re sponsoring the 5th annual Wordplay Festival, on November 18th in Toronto, Canada!
WordPlay is a free festival run by the Hand Eye Society celebrating the most interesting uses of writing and words in contemporary games. Each year there are curated games showcase, talks by creators about the craft, and ways for the public to learn about making games.
This year has talks by the creator of Twine, on narrative design, on why AAA writers love indie games, and a series of microtalks and workshops.
We’ve been unable to offer internships and work experience due to the way we’re set up; but we really wanted to find a way to give upcoming writers a leg-up. As a result, we’ve just launched our new mentorship programme! Read all about it and apply here.
Ian is speaking at AdventureX in London on 11-12th November, giving a talk on all the bits of game narrative that aren’t words.
We’re very happy to be back at the event – there are all-too-few game narrative conventions around, and AdventureX is always good fun. We’re even happier to be one of the sponsors of the event this year!
Here's Giles and Ian discussing narrative design, storytelling for games, what we do at Talespinners, and the realities of VR storytelling. Thanks to Karsten from Nevigo for coming along to our stand at Gamescom 2017 to chat to us.