FAILBETTER IS HIRING: writer / narrative designer

By Failbetter, October 22, 2014 · Failbetter


Failbetter Games has an enviable reputation for storytelling. Ken Rolston (lead design on Elder Scrolls III and IV) has called us ‘a constant North Star of narrative design’. We’re growing, and we want to recruit a full-time writer with narrative design responsibilities, to work on our online game Fallen London, our PC game Sunless Sea, and related future projects in the same universe.

If you’re a games writer, this is a dream role, and one of those good dreams, not the one where the bookshelf eats your dog. Writers get respect at Failbetter: they have a strong voice in the creative process here throughout the whole production cycle. Quality writing is at the heart of everything we do. We pay good market rates, our office has amazing views, there’s a private health plan, we sometimes provide ginger cake.

But we are also small. We punch above our weight in terms of reputation, but we’ll need help to get the word out. And although this is not an entry-level role, we want to make sure the door is open to applicants from diverse, under-represented and unusual backgrounds.

This is a permanent full-time on-site hire. You must be able to interview in person in London, and work full-time on-site in London if successful – we could sponsor a work visa for the right applicant, but a physical interview is essential. (At least one person from the US always applies for our roles, and asks for a Skype interview: I’m afraid we always say no.)



Please send the following to

  • your CV
  • a concise, appropriate covering letter
  • links to / copies of two finished, commercially published digital interactive narrative pieces.

If we want to take your application further, we’ll ask you to do a small Fallen London demo piece in StoryNexus. You don’t need to do that yet.

These things would make you the ideal candidate:

  • a vivid, intelligent prose style
  • deep, varied understanding of interactive digital storytelling
  • enthusiasm for a collaborative creative process – not a lone gunman
  • strong affection for the Fallen London universe, and Failbetter’s other work
  • restless enthusiasm: the initiative to find and pursue new projects and ideas
  • a thoughtful, meticulous attitude to your craft


NOTE: We originally said we’d open applications on 3rd November. We’re going in early for boring logistical reasons. If you have been working frantically on a piece to publish for 3rd November, don’t fret! The closing date is still the 30th November.





Q. What about pay and conditions?

We can’t compete with big developers on free saunas and skiing trips, but we’ll only make you an offer if we can match or improve your salary. We like to hire for the long term. (In five years, no-one has ever resigned from a Failbetter role.)

Q. What does ‘commercially published’ mean?

We’re defining it loosely. It includes working in a team on a mainstream videogame, or self-publishing a one-person indie game. It also includes (e.g.) a successful (and successfully fulfilled) Kickstarter, a Patreon reliably used to subsidise projects or a Twine story sold through digital distribution. If you can produce finished, polished interactive work, and have done so at least twice, that’s what we’re looking for as a starting point.

Q. What does ‘digital interactive narrative’ mean?

We need someone who’s dealt with the specific challenges of branching or interactive or non-linear fiction. The acid test is: do players/readers encounter different words (spoken or written) in a different order depending on their actions? If so, then we’re good.

Q. Why ‘commercially’?

It’s a basic proxy for quality, and for the ability to finish work to a polished standard. It’s not a great proxy, because there are a lot of extremely high-quality free games. But working on a passion project in unpaid time is different from working under commercial pressure. We care deeply about our craft, but we’re a commercial operation.

Q. Should I be familiar with StoryNexus?

Lord no. Familiarity would be a small advantage, but if you’ve used Inform 7 or Twine or ChoiceScript or Undum or the NWN scenario editor or inklewriter or any of a hundred proprietary in-house tools… you’ll be familiar with the basic challenges.

Q. Can you sponsor a work visa?

You must be able to interview in and move to the UK, but yes, we’ll sponsor a visa if we think you’re the best candidate. Like we said, key role.

Q. You say you’ve got good office views. Of what?

I think the answer might be ‘the future’.



Leave a reply

Alexis Kennedy Jan 8, 2:18pm

Yup, you missed the deadline, I'm afraid. We may be advertising more roles in the future.

Adam K Jan 8, 9:45am

Hey, did you find anyone yet? I've got about five years of narrative design for games, and this job sounds awesome but unfortunately, I seem to have missed the deadline :(

Interlude: That Writing Role · Failbetter Games Dec 17, 3:46pm

[…] in games get a lot of applications, and it’s hard to filter quality – so we applied a set of strict criteria to applications. As we’d expected, we got a few people who applied despite not meeting the […]

That writing job: Phase 2 · Failbetter Games Nov 14, 12:20pm

[…] If you follow Failbetter, you’ll probably know that we are currently hiring for a writer/narrative designer. […]

Sup4m0nkey Nov 7, 1:05am

So much sorrow in my heart right now. I'm just a young french writer, and I wish I could work with you on a game like this one. This is the perfect job, because it's not "work", it's art and improvement. I'm so sorry I don't meet the requirements to apply for this job interview. If, one day, you wish to translate your game into french, I think I might be able to work with you. And I would even do it for free, because your work is great.

Ophidos Nov 5, 7:54am

I went to see the world and ended up as an Englishman in New Zealand looking for a new start; all is despair now though!

Harald H. Oct 24, 2:11pm

Thanks very much for clearing that up, Alexis!

alexiskennedy Oct 24, 10:35am

From end November onwards. Ideal start date would be second week Jan, but I'd be pleasantly surprised if we found anyone that fast.

Luminas Oct 24, 12:26am

Gods....If only, if ONLY I had actually done any of this stuff. And was in Britain. This sounds like quite possibly the best job in the entire world for an intellectually frustrated creative type. :] And believe me, there is no intellectual frustration quite like going to law school. XD

Harald H. Oct 23, 7:27pm

Evening! Less a question about requirements than, well, dates. When would you guys be looking to hold interviews? Also, how soon or late a start date would suit you best?

Ken Rolston Oct 23, 7:02pm

Why Britain is better than Yankeeland. *sigh* From the Times of London... Talking of stags, a perennial autumn mystery is upon us: the origins of “star jelly”, lumps of white goo that appear dotted around the hillsides at this time of year. No one has yet proved where it comes from, but among many theories are that it is the indigestible ovaries and spawn of frogs regurgitated by birds, silica from a meteor shower, stag semen, fungus, algae, manna from heaven, gel from disposable nappies, germ warfare and Martian snot. Scientists’ attempts to categorise it have so far failed. I last wrote about it in 2009, when National Geographic had just sent a team to investigate. Their report, issued two years later, was inconclusive. While the jelly appeared to be a biological matrix, they said that it had no discernible structure of its own and that the only cells in it were bacteria. They ruled out frogs — and germ warfare, as the jelly has been mentioned in literature since the 17th century. Come star jelly season 2014 and I’m delighted that the mystery still has no solution, although some naturalists appear certain that two sources are frogs’ ovaries regurgitated by predators and a by-product of mating slugs. The best comment remains one on a website: “If it is stags’ semen, I’d love to know how it got on top of my tractor today.” And the best result is still: Nature 1, Science 0.

Katie Susoeff Oct 23, 10:17am

I heard Raphael once shot a man just to watch him die. He apologized IMMEDIATELY, though. It was sweet. (People keep sending me this link.)

John Zhao Oct 22, 9:52pm

Oh, man, if only my university education didn't stand in the way, and I was actually a published writer. Alack and alas, this isn't for me...

Ken Rolston Oct 22, 8:55pm

Raphael has kinda trimmed his beard. And he is nice to his children. And he lives in goddam Canada, for crissakes. No one is afraid of Canadians.

alexiskennedy Oct 22, 8:48pm

Dude, we would literally kidnap you and feed you on caviar and human pituitary extract. I mean it. Alert the FBI. The only thing saving you is that I like the Long Dark too much. Also I am slightly frightened of Raphael.

Ken Rolston Oct 22, 5:35pm

If only I were young, single, and breathlessly impulsive again. My wife may be able to deliver on the 'single'. And junk DIY surgery and fresh infant blood will make me young again, right? Now I just need to work on the 'breathlessly impulsive' bit. your faithful admirer, ken rolston