Hello, I'm Richard

Writer. Narrative Designer. Maker of Delightful Things.

Beyond A Steel Sky
Sunless Skies
Not Tonight
The Long Journey Home
Sunless Sea
Silent Streets
Fallen London

Nighthawks ↴

Developer: Wadjet Eye Games / Role: Writing, Design, Programming

Six 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!

Beyond A Steel Sky ↴

Developer: Revolution Games / Role: Story, Design Consultancy

Union City is a utopia, its people loving life under the control of an altruistic AI: ever-attentive androids, designer living, piazzas and bars. What’s not to love? But this City has a dark underbelly...

The long-awaited follow-up to classic adventure game Beneath A Steel Sky. I worked on the main themes and story for this sequel, as well as providing consultancy on the design and writing, polishing up some of the script, and otherwise poking and prodding around its secretly not-so-utopian facades.

"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: Writing, Design

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 contributed several major ports to this endearingly verbose sequel - Lustrum, The Floating Parliament, The House of Rods And Chains, Achlys, Titania, and the Well of Wonders, as well as writing the Incautious Driver, the New Street Line, The Royal Horological Society, and quite a few smaller bits and pieces scattered throughout the High Wilderness, from crazy prophets deep in the land of do-as-you-please, to the spymasters of Eagle’s Empyrean, and many of the little quips that appear during journeys.

"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: Story, Writing

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: Writing, Narrative 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.

I was brought in as a guest writer on this one, and then pretty much just refused to leave. By the end, I’d designed and written the major ports of The Empire of Hands, Saviour’s Rocks, the second half of Pigmote Isle, Nook, and the Gant Pole, as well as the Merciless Modiste, the Haunted Doctor, and the Pirate Poet. I also wrote and designed the post-release Christmas story in The Service of Mr Sacks, and its creepy follow-up, What Snow Might Become, starring the most disturbing animated snow child in the Neath. The only one, admittedly. But somehow, it still deserves a trophy…

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

- Engadget

Silent Streets ↴

Developer: FunBakers / Role: Writing, 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. Collect whispered secrets and trade magnificent jewels to further your cause, whilst picking your way through the rats and filth of the fallen city (or embracing the putrid glory of it all). Choose your allies and your path carefully though – after all you never know who you might run into down that dark alley, or what poor soul might run into you…

I’ve contributed a few stories and assorted small bits and pieces to this one, with the major ones being the Exceptional Stories (that’s what they’re called in-game!) Lost in Reflections and The Pentacost Predicament, and the regular old-story The Blemmigan Affair, which I believe is widely considered one of the better interactive fiction tales about mushroom poetry this side of Duke Nukem Forever. And I do not say that lightly…

“What (the aliens) all have in common is a sense of mischievous wit in the writing, courtesy of Richard Cobbett, a man who has forgotten more about RPGs and their tropes than most of us have ever known..”

Rock Paper Shotgun,