Resources for Game Design & Cultural Studies of Games






Ren’Py Visual Novel Engine / Game System

StoryStylus () is currently in open beta. It creates 2D point and click narrative games with varying degrees of complexity. help content can be found on YouTube and within StoryStylus itself.


Twine 1+2


A programming language developed by Choice of Games to create multiple-choice games, as a Choose Your Own Adventure electronic book. Don’t feel intimidated by it being a programming language: it’s based on javascript, and it’s very easy to use and get started, as long as you keep your indentations in the text consistent.

Inform 7 Home Page


For those of you familiar with Unity (whose personal use version is free, although it’s still a proprietary tool) , it’s a free plug-in to make visual novels, although it can be easily repurposed to include branching dialogue into any Unity game.

Ink and Inky

Ink is the scripting language developed by Inkle Studios to write choice-based games, whereas Inky is the editor to create the text. It is a mark-up language, not very dissimilar from Choicescript above, although in order to release it as a game it needs Unity. So you still need to know how to use Unity in order to make a game. It’s open source. Ink Home Page


A visual novel engine that has been around since 2004, so that there is a large community of support as well as tutorials. Uses Python, one of the most accessible programming languages, it is also open source. One of its most attractive features is that it creates games that run both on desktop computers as well as mobile.

Ren’Py Home Page

Adventure Game Studio (AGS)

A tool to make point-and-click adventure games.


A proprietary tool to make point-and-click adventure games

RPG Maker

A proprietary tool to make Japanese-style role-playing games; it is pretty powerful and also has an extensive community because it has been around for a long time. The games use tile-based art, which facilitates both making visual assets as well as finding pre-made ones. It can also be used to make adventure games.

RPG Maker Home Page

Adventure Creator for Unity

Another plug-in for Unity, also proprietary. It is a toolkit to make both 2D and 3D point-and-click adventure games. It uses visual scripting, which is a bit more accessible to non-programmers, and comes with a collection of pre-set templates to create inventories, branching dialogue, and object interactions. There is a growing community of developers.

The Gamebook Authoring ToolAnother proprietary tool, it is designed to make Choose-Your-Own-Adventure games, but also works to write books.

I’ve been receiving links to additional tools – some of them are experimental, some of them are still in the works. I’m sharing them here for you to try – and please report back if there’s one you particularly like!

Scratch  (MIT Site – Coding)




WIKIPEDIA entry on Perspective

Code / Tynker / Blockly (basic object coding, conditional

Twine /  (Open Source Tool for Developing Non/Linear Narratives/Games)

Twine on Gamasutra

Twine DMG Powerpoint

Twine is an easy-to-use browser-based tool for creative interactive, non-linear narratives (multimodal stories, poetry, essays, or really any genre) and interactive narratives games.

Glorious Trainwrecks (Twine Support)

  • Kotaku (‘The Gamer’s Guide’)
  • Miniclip
  • Gamasutra (‘Art & Business of Making Games’)
  • DiGRA Digital Games Research Association
  • …Loading (Free Academic Journal, Dedicated to Games Research)
  • Kotaku (‘The Gamer’s Guide’)

Gender, Simulation, and Gaming: Research Review and Redirections (2010). S. de Castell & J. Jenson. Simulation & Gaming 41(1) 51–71