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Top 10 tools for narrative design

A comprehensive list of the best tools for narrative designers, writers, and game developers.

narrative design tools

Have you implemented narrative design tools into your game development process? If not, it's time to start. Players today expect games which offer hundreds of hours of narrative content, making tools for streamlining narrative design a key element for success.

Many players find themselves attracted to games with rich worldbuilding and complex narratives. Indeed, award-winning titles like "The Last of Us" and "Red Dead Redemption 2" prove that strong narratives make for incredibly memorable and powerful gaming experiences.

However, managing these stories and directing a game's narrative design proves challenging, consuming considerable studio resources in the process. So, whether you’re a narrative designer, writer, or game developer, leveraging the right tools can make all the difference in creating those unforgettable stories.

What is narrative design?

Within the gaming industry, narrative design refers to the art of weaving worlds, sculpting characters, and crafting stories in a way that supports and enhances the game systems and mechanics. While narrative design is a broad and flexible term that has shifted over time, the primary features are:

  • Balancing narrative with gameplay mechanics (a concept known as ludonarrative).
  • Enhancing player engagement through interactive narratives.
  • Integrating thematic elements to provide depth and context.
  • Ensuring narrative coherence and continuity.
  • Immersing the player within the game world and story.

So, now that we understand what narrative design is, let's have a look at the top 10 tools used in the industry today.

1. Arcweave


Arcweave is a powerful next-gen platform for interactive experiences which handles narrative design, content management, prototyping, and so much more. Being a cloud-based tool, Arcweave is accessible from any device or browser without any downloads.

Its collaborative features allow you to invite designers, writers, artists, and other collaborators to craft your narrative together in real-time. Using workspaces as a centralised hub for all content makes Arcweave the perfect tool for both in-office and remote studios alike.

The drag-and-drop UI and narrative flowcharts are easy to use and quick to learn, while the inbuilt Arcscript language allows for more advanced variable-based designs. Arcweave's multimedia support for images and audio breaks up monotonous text and offers a full audio-visual experience.

With free plugins that provide seamless integration with Unreal Engine, Unity, and Godot, and a flexible seat-based pricing system that starts at the low price of free, trying out Arcweave is a no-brainer whether you're a solo developer or large team.


  • Flexible and scalable pricing plan which starts at $0.
  • Extensive and dynamic toolset including an inbuilt scripting language.
  • Integrated multimedia support and content management.
  • Real-time simultaneous collaboration and team management features.
  • Cloud-based, accessible from anywhere.
  • Easily prototyping and playtesting with the instantly shareable Play Mode.
  • Seamless integration with the most popular game engines.
  • Supports a wide variety of exports including JSON/XML.


  • Requires an internet connection, currently there is no offline option.
  • Large-scale projects will likely require the paid version.
  • Due to being comparatively new, some features are still under development.

2. Twine


Twine is a popular open-source tool which allows you to create interactive, multilinear text-focused stories. The flowchart system makes visualising your narrative flow easy, and is great for writers or students starting out in their narrative design journey.

The Play feature offers quick playtesting which makes iterating, updating, and checking for bugs or errors really easy. Similar to Arcweave's Play Mode, this feature is great for developing an early prototype.

One of the main strengths of Twine is how simple and easy to learn it is, requiring little coding knowledge. While Twine may lack the more complex features of other tools, the straightforward text-based approach is perfect for small interactive fiction projects or choose-your-own adventures.


  • Free and open-source.
  • Quick to learn for beginners.
  • Flowcharts are great for visualising small projects.
  • Easy playtesting and prototyping with Play Mode.
  • Large community of users.
  • Able to use offline.


  • Limited features which lack complexity.
  • Difficult to collaborate in teams or gain feedback through line comments.
  • No inbuilt JSON export.
  • All content is put onto one board which can get difficult to manage (unlike Arcweave which has multiple boards).

3. Ink


Developed by Inkle Studios, Inky is also a free, open-source tool which is much beloved by writers and narrative designers alike. The Inky editor allows you to write, test and export your ink projects, which are written using Inkle's own narrative scripting language.

Used in award-winning games such as "80 days" and the recently released "Highland Song", Inky has become widely renowned for being a powerful tool in creating interactive, branching text-based narratives and dialogue.

Inky's flexibility makes it ideal for both simple choose-your-own-adventure tales and complex, dynamic storytelling experiences, offering a robust platform for authors to bring their interactive narratives to life.


  • Free and open-source.
  • Once mastered, it is powerful and very intuitive.
  • Text-based approach is perfect for interactive fiction.
  • Large community of users, proven track-record.
  • Easy playtesting with a dual dialogue preview screen.
  • Able to use offline.
  • Inbuilt JSON export.


  • May require time to master the scripting, especially for beginners.
  • Difficult to collaborate in teams or gain feedback through line comments.
  • Extremely text-heavy with limited multimedia support.

4. Yarnspinner


Another great open-source narrative design tool is Yarnspinner, the dialogue system tool for Unity. It uses a simple and human-readable scripting language called Yarn, allowing writers to craft complex branching dialogues and dynamic stories.

Yarn Spinner integrates seamlessly with the Unity game engine, enabling developers to embed rich, interactive conversations within their games. Its support for variables and conditional logic makes the tool incredibly versatile.

The text-based scripting language allows you to write dialogue, choices, and branching paths in a straightforward, human-readable format. This script can then be visualized and edited in a node-based structure within tools like the Yarn Spinner Editor or Unity.


  • Free and open-source.
  • Simple scripting language which is relatively easy to learn.
  • Easy playtesting with Preview Mode.
  • Seamless Unity integration.
  • Able to use offline.


  • Difficult to implement into other game engines like Unreal or Godot.
  • Difficult to collaborate in teams or gain feedback through line comments.
  • Limited multimedia support.
  • No inbuilt JSON export.

5. Ren'Py


Next on the list of open-source tools we have Ren'Py, the visual novel engine. Running on python, the cross-platform tool utilizes a script language designed for visual novels.

Used in award-winning horror game "Doki Doki Literature Club", Ren'Py has gained a dedicated community of visual novel writers. The tool allows writers to focus on storytelling while providing multimedia support for branching narratives, images, animations, and sound.

The text-based scripting language is easy-to-learn for simple dialogue scenes, but grows in difficulty when implementing things like special effects, turns, stats, and items. However, writers who have a good understanding of programming will most likely find it fairly easy to master.


  • Free and open-source.
  • Integrated multimedia support.
  • Perfect for simple visual novels.
  • Easy playtesting and previewing with Interactive Director.
  • Able to use offline.
  • Support for including Python in Ren'Py scripts.


  • Complex projects require in-depth programming knowledge.
  • Difficult to collaborate in teams or gain feedback through line comments.
  • No inbuilt JSON export.

6. Articy Draft


Articy Draft is a comprehensive game development tool which allows you to plan and write interactive narratives. The visual flowchart system offers a powerful way to map branching storylines and manage content.

The tool uses a subscription-based pricing model, with different tiers to accommodate various needs, including individual creators, small teams, and larger studios. A free trial is available to evaluate the software before committing to a subscription.

Articy Draft's collaborative features include project sharing and editing, allowing multiple team members to work on the same project simultaneously via a local or online-hosted network. The files are stored locally on each device and synced together through a repository server using a revision control system.


  • Extensive array of features.
  • Powerful simultaneous collaborative features for large teams.
  • Integration with Unity and Unreal Engine.
  • Able to use offline (but requires internet connection every few weeks to validate licence).
  • Easy playtesting and prototyping with Simulation Mode.
  • Inbuilt JSON/XML export.
  • Support for custom scripting language called articy:expresso.


  • Multitude of features can feel complicated and overwhelming.
  • May be difficult to learn for beginners.
  • No seat-based pricing, difficult to completely customise billing.
  • Collaborative features can be difficult to setup and require knowledge of version control systems and local network setups.

7. Narrat

narrat engine

Narrat is a narrative game engine created by solo developer Liana Pigeot. The tool is focused on creating text-based games with branching dialogues. It aims to simplify the development process, making it easier for writers to implement their stories without needing extensive programming knowledge.

Like a few others in this list, Narrat is free and open-source, although its community is somewhat smaller than other tools. Still, Narrat Scripts use a simple, user-friendly scripting language which is great for beginners looking to make a text-based game.

While largely text-focused, Narrat does have some multimedia support including music loops and sound effects, GIFs and webp, sprites, and portraits. Using CSS, the UI can be customised fairly easily to fit the style of colour theme of your project.


  • Free and open-source.
  • Text-based approach is perfect for interactive fiction or story-heavy games.
  • Multimedia support.
  • Accessible, simple scripting language.
  • Interactive visual screens makes playtesting fairly easy.
  • Able to use offline.


  • Potential limitations for large-scale or highly complex game projects.
  • Difficult to collaborate in teams or gain feedback through line comments.
  • May be difficult to integrate into other game engines.

8. Dialogue System for Unity

dialogue system for unity pic

Pixel Crusher's Dialogue System for Unity is a robust toolset designed to facilitate complex conversations within games. It offers features such as branching dialogue trees, conditional logic, and easy integration with Unity's UI system.

The tool also has importers for other narrative design engines (many of which are mentioned on this list) such as Arcweave, Twine, and Ink. Or, you can choose between the inbuilt node editor and space-efficient dialogue editor.

Priced at €78.20, this tool allows developers to manage relationships, quest tracking, and character interactions efficiently, and is used in many narrative-driven indie games such as the award-winning "Disco Elysium".


  • Seamless Unity integration and works well with other narrative engines.
  • Great tool for implementing interactive dialogue, barks, and quests. 
  • Built-in localization support.
  • Able to use offline.
  • Easy playtesting of conversations with the play button.
  • Inbuilt JSON export.
  • Optional Lua scripting and variable system.


  • Difficult to implement into other game engines like Unreal or Godot.
  • Difficult to collaborate in teams or gain feedback through line comments.
  • Doesn't manage all narrative content (such as worldbuilding).

9. Chat Mapper

chat mapper

Chat Mapper is a visual tool designed for creating and organizing dialogue and narrative structures for interactive experiences, facilitating the design of complex branching dialogue trees with ease.

While the UI may be overwhelming at first, the tree-graph conversation flow is actually fairly easy to navigate and learn once you get started. The fully configurable layout allows you to arrange content in a way that helps you focus.

The subscription-based service is either $420 or $1,320 per year depending on which tier you subscribe to. The most expensive tier also includes the aforementioned Dialogue System for Unity which could be used to integrate the dialogue into Unity.

Chatmapper's Conversation Simulator is an additional feature which allows developers and writers to preview and test dialogue interactions. This simulation is great for early iteration and playtesting.


  • Clear conversation flow.
  • Automatic screenplay script generator.
  • Built-in localization support.
  • Easy playtesting and prototyping with Conversation Simulator
  • Able to use offline.
  • Inbuilt JSON export.


  • UI can feel overwhelming.
  • Difficult to collaborate in teams or gain feedback through line comments.
  • Fairly expensive subscription.
  • Difficult to integrate into other game engines.
  • Lacks support for code.

10. Miro


Miro is a collaborative online whiteboard platform that enables teams to ideate, brainstorm, and organize information visually. Although Miro is not specifically a tool for narrative design, it does offer an easy way to map out ideas or quests, plot narrative structures, and share feedback.

Miro offers a range of pricing plans including a free plan which is great for growing teams. The real-time collaboration facilitates dynamic brainstorming sessions, quick feedback, and seamless integration of ideas. With built-in chat, video conferencing, and commenting, communication remains clear and efficient throughout the design process.

While a powerful tool for the early development brainstorming stages, Miro is not made with game development in mind and therefore lacks many features for implementation, such as game engine integration. So, it's best to use Miro in conjunction with other tools or software. 


  • Multimedia support.
  • Simple, easy to use UI.
  • Great for collaborating in teams and gaining feedback.
  • Interactive Presentation Mode makes presentation easy.
  • Cloud-based, accessible from anywhere.
  • Perfect at brainstorming ideas.


  • Most collaborative features are locked behind a pay wall.
  • Requires an internet connection, no offline option.
  • Not made for game design purposes, lacking many features.
  • Not useful for implementation, exporting, or game engine integration.
  • Lacks support for code.

Stuck on which to pick?

Choosing the right narrative tool can be daunting, but finding the perfect fit can elevate your storytelling to new heights. If you're seeking a versatile platform that simplifies the creation of interactive narratives feel free to jump in and check out Arcweave for yourself—it's completely free and there's no downloads needed!

The Arcweave team is incredibly passionate about empowering both indie developers and large studios, and are always ready to discuss how our platform can enhance your narrative design process. If you have any questions at all, consider reaching out via our contact page or hop into our Discord server. 

So, try us out for free and join our rapidly growing community of writers, designers, and developers, including people at Netflix, EA, Microsoft, Mojang, and Amazon!