Partner and Founder
What’s your story?
Ian is a writer, programmer, and narrative designer. He’s worked in interactive television, education, puppet-making, film, publishing, larp, and the games industry, and has contributed to more than sixty games, including franchises from LittleBigPlanet to LEGO.
He co-founded Talespinners in 2016, and since then has written, consulted, and voice directed on over 50 titles, including as Story Lead on Frictional Games‘ Amnesia: Rebirth, and consultancy for UsTwo Games, The Royal Mint, and Sky.
Outside games, Ian’s work includes the Napoleonic horror movie Fallen Soldiers, the children’s Cthulhu book Where’s My Shoggoth?, the best-selling interactive story Pendragon Rising, and the podcast roleplaying series Flotsam.
He’s written and directed immersive larp experiences since the early 90s, such as the acclaimed ghost story God Rest Ye Merry, the Three Musketeers event All for One, and the World War II women’s airforce recreation Wing and Prayer.
Matt is a writer and editor. He has worked on games such as DICE’s Battlefield 1, Creative Assembly’s Total War: Rome II, Sega’s Binary Domain, and Ubisoft Reflections’ Driver San Francisco.
Alongside his work for Talespinners, he is the Managing Editor of Improper Books, a comic and book publishing studio focused on creator-owned stories that have a touch of the fairy tale or otherworldly about them.
Before going freelance, he worked in creative services for Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. Originally a field archaeologist, he has worked on sites covering the Mesolithic to the Medieval throughout the United Kingdom.
Chris is a writer and game designer with over twenty years of game and software development experience. He has a background in the arts and a never-ending love affair with geek culture and has written for video games, comic books, and role-playing and board games.
Before Talespinners, he worked with studios such as Harebrained Schemes, Tap Tap Tap, Headless Chicken and One More Story. He’s best known as the creator of the award-winning game Mandatory Upgrade: X Marks the Spot.
With Talespinners, he’s worked on writing, design, and consultancy on titles such Depot, Raid: World War II, Bud Farm, Cryptant, Albion Online, Train Valley, and Nancy Drew: Midnight in Salem.
He’s based in Toronto, Canada.
Cash is a narrative designer and writer who formerly worked for Failbetter Games. In his time with the company, he worked on Sunless Sea: Zubmariner and Sunless Skies, and acted as lead writer on Fallen London. Shortly after leaving the company in 2018, he began working with ZA/UM as a writer on their critically acclaimed debut title, Disco Elysium — winner of the Game Awards, D.I.C.E Awards, and BAFTA for best narrative. While first working with ZA/UM as a freelancer, he has since joined the team fulltime.
Before joining Talespinners, Cash worked as a freelancer for the company on such titles as Catastronauts. Since joining the team, he has consulted on titles like Haiku Adventure and Alchemic Cutie and has written for a few currently unannounced projects.
He has also taught Games Writing and Narrative Design at several institutions across the UK: From City Lit and Central Film School in London to the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield.
Michelle is a writer and narrative designer based in Vancouver, BC. Co-founder and chair of the IGDA Romance and Sexuality SIG, she has spoken about male sexualization and healthy, diverse fanservice at multiple conferences, including Queerness and Games, PAX Dev, and the GDC Narrative Summit. Her credits include QA for Mass Effect 3, senior writer/editor for the adventure dating sim 1931: Scheherazade at the Library of Pergamum, and current work in sci-fi RPGs, mobile interactive fiction and VR experiences.
Michelle was lead editor on Purrfect Date, and has recently been working on Destruction Allstars, Rise Eterna and Helheim Hassle.
Part writer, part performer, part games journalist and part corporate mouthpiece, Jason has been connecting words into meaningful sequences for the better part of two decades. He’s worked on marketing for games such as Ratchet & Clank and Killzone, scripts and taglines for Nokia and Microsoft, and even finds time to write his own stories and roleplaying adventures. He also likes to act and do the odd voiceover now and again.
Rachel has designed, organised, and written live events for over twenty years, including critically-acclaimed games such as the swashbuckling All for One, the ghost story God Rest Ye Merry, the horror Slaght Maand, and the pulp action-adventure Dick Britton and the Voice of the Seraph. She is a founder member of Crooked House.
When not working with Talespinners, Rachel is a photographer, and practising veterinary surgeon.
Giles co-founded Talespinners with Ian in 2016, and in his time with us worked on over 25 titles. He was the lead writer on Bloody Zombies, developed by Paw Print Games, and on The Spectrum Retreat by Dan Smith Studios and Ripstone.
Giles left Talespinners to join Guerilla Games as a Senior Writer in July 2018, and we can’t wait to see what he produces! He’s still a friend and advisor to the company, and will forever be a Talespinner.
We work with a wide range of external writers, with specialists in genre, medium, but also in particular topics. Along with games writers, we have award-winning authors, comic book writers, screenwriters, copywriters and editors on our books. Let us know if you’re looking for something in particular.
We run a mentorship programme to help up-and-coming games writers produce portfolio pieces.
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.
About: I’m an experienced hobby writer with a scientific background who has recently made the jump to working in game development. I’ve spent the last year working in QA at Frontier Developments, primarily on the space-flight MMO ‘Elite: Dangerous’. I write long- and short-form fiction, comics, and interactive fiction, with a focus on fantasy and sci-fi work.
The Programme: I’ve been writing as a hobby and for fun for as long as I can remember. With this mentorship, I hope to combine that experience with my work in games to get stuck into narrative design. In the end, I want to have a finished portfolio piece to showcase in future job applications.
The Project: I’ll be developing a text-based survival-puzzle game where you play as a junior scientist working on an industrial, government-sponsored site. You’re aware that something shady might be going on there but you’re in too much student debt and not paid enough to care. Until one day all the systems fail and the creature at the centre of the facility escapes. You have no intention of fighting it, so you need to outrun and escape it, using everything you know and anything you can get your hands on.
About: I grew up building and playing text-based RPGs because I loved telling stories that changed depending on the people that participated. That passion led me to a career doing marketing and production work in the games industry, where I seized every opportunity I could find to write. I funneled my creativity into everything from YouTube videos to press releases and even project documentation. Now I’m excited to funnel it directly into my original passion and create interactive stories again!
The Programme: This game is a tribute to my mother, who passed away ten years ago. I wished that there was something I could have done differently, in the same way I could “save scum” files in an RPG to get the better ending. The idea to make that into a game has been turning in my head since then, and through the mentorship with Talespinners, I hope to finally make this tribute a reality.
The Project: After the trauma of your mother’s death corrupts the save files (memories) of your life, you must recover and relive them, making new choices in the hopes of changing fate.
About: I’m an Italian editor, writer and translator from the Northern part of the peninsula. I’ve approached the video game industry after a degree in modern literature and an MA in publishing, entering it from the side by writing for websites and traditional print and doing occasional localisation work. The more I worked alongside games, the more I felt compelled to create my own; after a series of small-scale indie games I’m set on continuing crafting stories and experiences in this medium.
The Programme: I have two goals with this mentorship. First, I want to formalise all the game making and writing knowledge I’ve accumulated so far, making sure my foundations are solid and learning as much as possible from writers and editors with significantly more experience than I have. Second, I want to bridge the gap between my non-gaming narrative background and video game-specific writing, refining my work into a holistic approach that considers all the facets of the medium, from gameplay mechanics to visuals and audio.
The Project: My project is a cyberpunk story set in a futuristic Milan, Italy, split into a higher and lower city. In a metropolis whose lower levels are plagued by regular flooding , an American PI and a former Italian detective will handle a missing person case, uncovering a conspiracy and dealing with their feelings on the affair and each other. Explored through a branching narrative with character relationship options, it’s inspired by my years of living in the city and its overflowing canals, drawing from both traditional Italian poliziesco movies and queer and cyberpunk narratives.
About: I am a writer, editor, and scholar living in the Bay Area. My writing background is as a playwright, and I’ve found that theatre experience pairs well with video game writing, because both are collaborative, utilize dialogue, and emphasize audience engagement. I am also a current PhD candidate at UC Berkeley, where I study a variety of media, including video games.
The Programme: For this mentorship, my primary goal is to gain experience completing a polished piece for my portfolio and to learn more about the overall game design process. I hope the program will help me utilize all my previous writing experience and academic research on interactive media and channel it toward narrative design in video games.
The Project: My proposed project is a branching narrative post-apocalypse game that focuses on community building and cooperation, not violence. The player encounters familiar post-apocalyptic scenarios such as dwindling resources, natural disasters, and death. However, the choices presented are always non-violent, relying on emotional skills such as compassion and listening. Ultimately, this game questions common views of humanity in current post-apocalyptic media, and allows players to investigate the crucial, but not often appreciated, emotional skills within themselves.
About: As a fan of interactive narratives and unique games, I am always looking for ways to combine these two interests together.
Progress: Check out Kelly’s write-up on the mentorship programme here.
The Project: As part of the mentorship programme Kelly created the interactive fiction piece The Dinner Party. You can play it here!
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.
Progress: Check out Maja’s write-up on the mentorship programme here.
The Project: As part of the mentorship programme Maja created the interactive fiction piece Pilgrimage. You can play it here!
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 Project: As part of the mentorship programme Dev created the interactive fiction piece Best Forgotten. You can play it here!
Talespinners quickly grasped our concept and were immediately able to work it into a captivating and inspirational story. Whenever an issue with the narrative came up, Talespinners were always quick to respond and promptly came up with solutions.
Mostafa Hafez CEO, Instinct Games
We had a rough and sprawling story and lore for The Exiled that organically developed over years of development. Ian came and turned that chaos into a structured and coherent document, in the course solving the many logical problems and inconsistencies that had developed. With tiny amounts oversight and feedback from our side he came up with an interesting lore and turned that lore into engaging words. Will work with him again on future projects.
Alexander Zacherl Managing Director / Game Director, Fairytale Distillery
It was a pleasure working with Ian on The Bunker, he has an expert eye for game design detail and an incredible talent for bringing real humanity to storylines. His logic in game narrative structure is flawless and he brought an amazing attention to detail to The Bunker, providing layer after layer of storytelling, making the game richer and more immersive.
Allan Plenderleith Director, Splendy Games
Decisively creative. Insightfully articulate. Committed to the craft. For example, Ian’s recent advice decisively reshaped our critical opening narrative moments to make them deeply affecting... [Talespinners] are consistently responsible, reliable, and efficient.
Luke Hughes Project Lead, Burden of Command
Ian doesn’t just do the job you give him. He brings new ideas, new approaches and directions, and pulls, sculpts and batters your ideas until they look far shinier than they ever were - or would have been – without him. He is an excellent writer, coder, and logical mind that will help you and your project in far more ways than what is written on any contract or agreement.
Olly Bennett Managing Director, Cardboard Sword
Being just a two-person studio, working with Talespinners has been invaluable to us. From brief to delivery they're professional, friendly and punctual. It's reassuring to know that we can rely on them to create high-quality writing that adds an extra dimension to our game, allowing us to focus on the art and code.
Dave Miller Co-owner, Runner Duck Games
What we achieved in a day really impressed us! Talespinners helped us to clarify and amplify our own ideas, bringing them into a clearer structure...We see the workshop and the document that summarises the results as a big success.
Lea Schönfelder Senior Game Designer, ustwo Games
When you develop a game, you need a great writing team, and that is where Talespinners are indispensable. They are able to take your ideas and create whole worlds with them. From the initial idea all the way to final delivery, I wouldn't trust any other wordsmiths.
Mark Drew CEO, Villainous Games
Talespinners have been wonderful to work with; enthusiastic, imaginative, and organised. I thoroughly enjoyed our story meetings. They’ve delivered excellent dialogue and plenty of strong ideas that have lifted our narrative, and spotted story problems early that might have resulted in wasted work. Even if you have a good handle on your story, I would recommend bouncing your ideas off Talespinners – they’ll come back even better.
Chris Payne Managing Director, Quantum Soup
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