Hello, I'm Richard

Writer. Narrative Designer. Maker of Delightful Things.

Nighthawks
Sunless Skies
Not Tonight
The Long Journey Home
Sunless Sea
Silent Streets
Fallen London

Nighthawks ↴

Developer: Wadjet Eye Games / Role: Writer, Designer, Coder

Three months ago, you died. And in that moment you were reborn as something new. A monster. A predator. Not a creature of the night, but one of its masters. Unfortunately, things aren’t simple as they used to be. Vampires are exposed, and the world is changing...

Nighthawks is my first fully original project, Kickstarted to the tune of $135,000 in September 2018. What happens when you combine the narrative style of something like Sunless Skies with a dark, original urban fantasy environment where vampires have been exposed to the world? Hopefully something fun…

It’s the story of a new era, as vampires are forced from the shadows and into a city where their presence is tolerated, but hardly popular. Eight years after the Night of Red Epiphany, you’re just one of many looking to build a new life against a political backdrop of fear, distrust, and the occasional swiftly covered up killing spree. It’s a bit funny, a bit gory, occasionally a little sexy, and very much dripping with delicious words.

"The sharpest writing around, wrapped inside a surprising adventure that’s tough but rarely unfair. Failbetter’s finest hour."

- PC Gamer

Sunless Skies ↴

Developer: Failbetter Games / Role: Writer, Narrative Designer

Stake your claim. Fight to survive. Speak to storms. Murder a sun. Face judgement. "Where to?" asks the Navigator...

Ten years have passed since Sunless Sea, and Queen Victoria has led an exodus from London to the heavens. There, a revitalised British Empire – ambitious and authoritarian – begins to expand across the skies. The stars are being murdered. An opportunistic Victorian Empire is colonising the domains they leave behind, painting its industrial vision upon the fabric of the heavens.

I returned to the Fallen London universe for the sequel to Sunless Sea, again writing ports, characters, and some miscellaneous stuff around the background, like crazy Eleutherian hermits and the New Somerset Hunting Club. Bigger canvas, new terrors… but the same Londoners who can adapt to absolutely anything.

My Sunless Skies Ports & Stories

Lustrum

Stake your claim and mine precious Hours from the Mother of Mountains.

The Floating Parliament

The Empress has given up on laws, but Parliament still stands. And it needs a new Minister.

The House of Rods and Chains

Vast, desolate, broken. Once this messenger flew through the heavens. Now, it has guests.

The Royal Horological Society

The clocks of Albion must run on time. The same time. Make it so.

The New Street Line

Take a stand to save the poor and sick enslaved by an Empire that controls time itself.

Achlys

Deep in the mists by an ancient monastery, discover the mystery of the High Wilderness’ strangest brew.

Titania

Jewel of the Reach! A shining beacon of the High Wilderness! Pity about the giant killer bees.

The Incautious Driver

A sick child, taking no risks. A promising future in a rich family. A terrible crash. A new presence.

The Well Of Wonders

A presence stirs. A chorus takes the stage. An ancient story is about to be retold.

"Future generations will probably hold "Not Tonight" as a prime example of media built on a propagandist distortion of Brexit, similar to how modern people see "Reefer Madness" as a comical distortion of marijuana use."

- YouTube Comment

Not Tonight ↴

Developer: PanicBarn / Role: Scripting

Person of European Heritage #112: Welcome to Relocation Block B, your new home. Your designated role is 'Bouncer'. Work hard, stay out of trouble, and we might let you stay.

In an alternative Britain where Brexit talks have collapsed, an extreme far-right government has taken power. Citizens of European heritage have been rounded up and exiled. Forced out of your previous life, you find yourself in the midst of a booming gig economy, fighting to scrape by and return to the city you call home.

Yes, it’s Papers Please, Brexit style. Though funnier than you might think, since I very much wrote it up as a comedy. Often very dark comedy - there’s a gag, for instance, that TV’s Big Brother has been cancelled in favour of a gameshow based on Sophie’s Choice - but still comedy. I’m not sure if this dive into dystopian Britain changed any minds, but it got quite a few laughs from people who played it… and had some very funky tunes, as the kids say.

The expansion, “One Love”, lightens things up, with a romantic trip to France. It stars King’s Head Dave, one of the more friendly bar owners from the main game, as he chases love in Toulouse. It’s a lot goofier, less political, and you get to date a stuffed dog. It makes some sense in context. Some. A little. Perhaps.

"The writing is exquisite, original, and refreshingly witty. The Long Journey Home does a superb job of making you feel like a stranger in a strange place."

- PCGamesN

The Long Journey Home ↴

Developer: Daedalic Studio West / Role: Script, World Design

It was supposed to be a short test run - a quick flight to Alpha Centauri and back. But when mankind’s first experimental jump drive goes wrong, a misfit crew finds itself trapped on the wrong side of the universe. The only way back... is through.

As a huge Star Control fan, I was really excited to be asked to come in and write this epic space RPG. I designed the races (some from scratch, some based on existing art that needed personalities), came up with the crew, designed most of the quests, and wrote a good couple of novels worth of script for the fifteen or so different races. Comedy space priests, grasshoppers equipped with laser guns, marsupial privateers, and the horrors of space that are making the suns themselves go dark.

What made this one particularly interesting was that while Star Control was largely a linear adventure, The Long Journey Home’s universe was procedurally generated each time, with different races and opportunities based on your crew, your discoveries and so on. That made it tricky to write so that everything held together, and one of my favourite things about it is that there’s a consistent galactic story to discover regardless of who you meet. My favourite thing about it though is the crew banter, adapting to your quests, items and their own evolving journeys of self-discovery.

"A game crafted by those with an irrepressible love, and possibly hunger, for words and tales."

- PCGamesN

Sunless Sea ↴

Developer: Failbetter Games / Role: Writing, Design

Thirty years ago, in the reign of Victoria, London was stolen by bats. Now it lies a mile below the surface. That's not important. What's important is the vast black sea beyond London; a sea which is yours to explore...

Welcome to the dark and hilarious Victorian-Gothic underworld of Fallen London, where every choice has a consequence, from the style of your hat to the price of your soul. Except this time around, the Unterzee is your oyster. With luck and skill you may achieve your ambitions: find your father’s bones, found a pirate princedom or sail into the strangeness at time’s heart.

The first spin-off of Fallen London, combining its delightful text with a whole new world built for exploration and survival. I was brought in as a guest writer for one island, and then pretty much refused to leave until the end of the expansion. A long list follows, and I’m grateful for the chance to have made it so.

My Sunless Sea Islands & Stories

The Empire of Hands

Explore the savage coast of the Pentecost Apes, where mystery meets ambition.

The Merciless Modiste

Dressed to kill A passion for murder. Dare you inflict her on your crew?

In The Service Of Mr Sacks

The Crimson Beast of Winter lurks in your hold. Three deliveries buy your release.

The Snow Child

New life born from snow and pain. What might it become on the impossible horizon?

The Haunted Doctor

He’s a man with a Cause. Well, he’d like to be. If he can find one…

Saviour’s Rocks

Friendly. Polite. Crawling. The spiders of Saviour’s Rocks bid you welcome to their shores.

The Rise of Pigmote Isle

A small island with a big treasure. Advise it as the eyes of the world fall upon it…

The Pirate Poet

Landlubbers fear pirates. Pirates fear the Poet. Only one captain may prove her equal.

Nook

A rotting cathedral of ivory and decay. A savage society devoted to freedom at any costs.

The Gant Pole

Discover the solace that awaits the great beasts of the zee, and hurry a few to their final end.

"Silent Streets captured the dark, Holmesian vibe that makes those stories so engaging."

- Engadget

Silent Streets ↴

Developer: FunBakers / Role: Writer, Story Design

London, 1867. The telegram arrived last week. You almost threw it into the fire. But you read it anyway, and saw three words the Great Detective would never have said. "Help me. Please."

Silent Streets came about when I was contacted by Fun Bakers to create a world and write mysteries for a game they were working on. They knew they wanted it to be Victorian in style, and to be based on a ‘walk in real life to walk around the city’ model. I designed the city, Snowport, and its various characters, based on an alternate history where the Royal Society had deemed spiritualism to be science, and established an enclave at the edge of the Empire.

The stories factored in both science and spirituality in some fun ways, as the player learned the beat of the city and decided which of its factions to favour and support. Each case was written to stand alone, but build into a bigger arc about why your mentor had been killed and the city’s dark secrets There were 10 planned, though sadly we only got to the second. Still, folks who played them seemed to enjoy the mysteries and the atmosphere.

"Superlative… every bit as vividly drawn as the worlds built by Rockstar in Red Dead Redemption, or Irrational in Bioshock, or Supergiant in Bastion."

- Tom Chick

Fallen London ↴

Developer: Failbetter Games / Role: Writing, Design

Thirty years ago, London was stolen. Now it rests on the shore of the Unterzee, that old dark ocean under the world. But Londoners can get used to anything...

Welcome to a dark and hilarious Victorian-Gothic underworld, where every choice has a consequence, from the style of your hat to the price of your soul. Creep, coerce, brawl and swindle your way through the gaslit streets of Fallen London. Go mudlarking off Ladybones Road, eavesdrop in the ragged old market of Spite or arm-wrestle in Watchmaker’s Hill – wheresoever you roam, you’ll take your chances and shape your fate.

I contributed a few stories and background things for this beloved browser game, as well as being more involved with its standalone spin-offs, Sunless Sea and Sunless Skies, both linked above. A rare chance to write erotic poems about mushrooms, and force the StoryNexus engine to do things that it really, really doesn’t want to try, such as a mansion filled with moving characters and parts, with a running clock in the background controlling all the potential discoveries. The writing, easy. The testing… trickier!

My Fallen London Stories

Lost In Reflections

July saw the Fifth City fall. From her prison behind mirrors, she will not let the Sixth do likewise.

The Pentecost Predicament

Prepare for a twisted dinner party in London’s most maniac mansion, where the service is to die for.

The Blemmigan Affair

Mushroom themed poetry has taken London by storm. Just another night in Veilgarden.

Pictured: Deep in vital comedy research

Who Heck Richard? ↴

Let's see. I've been a professional writer since folks were fretting about the Millennium Bug and a full-time freelancer since before that whole Mayan apocalypse thing that never seemed to come to much. I like to think that suggests people like what I do. I spent a decade and a half in the tech and games journalism trenches, writing for magazines and websites like PC Gamer, Rock Paper Shotgun, Edge, Eurogamer, and many more. These days I primarily work as a games writer and designer, focusing on narrative-heavy projects like RPGs and adventures, designing mechanics and creating worlds, as well as down the straight word-stuff of scriptwriting, descriptions and giving NPCs 50 different ways to say 'ouch'. I like cats, hate spiders, and would like to press a button that makes the Towers of Hanoi puzzle cease to exist. Sliding block puzzles, you're next on the list...

"It’s beautifully written, full of twists and turns, and is likely to have you gripped right to the very end."

PocketGamer, Silent Streets