The Secret Sauce of Story Design with Writer Ed Kuehnel

Ed Kuehnel, a screenwriter (Lumberjack Man) and game writer who has worked on over sixty games for publishers including Disney Interactive, Paramount, Vivendi/Universal and Ubisoft.

Ed has written on critically acclaimed games for some of the most beloved studios in the industry, including Twisted Pixel Games, Uber Entertainment and Telltale Games. His work work best Narrative at the Game Awards 2014 with Valiant Hearts.

In this interview, we discuss some of the key lessons he's learned along his path to success, and Ed shares the powerful frameworks that he finds consistently useful in crafting great in-game tales. This includes the "7 Steps" of a story and white-boarding stories starting from the story's end, not the beginning.

"The Process for Success is to have a story instead of an idea." - Ed Kuehnel

"The Process for Success is to have a story instead of an idea." - Ed Kuehnel


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Connect with Ed

Twitter:  @EdKuehnel ‏
Ed's YouTube Tutorials: Here

Selected Links for the Episode

High Voltage Software
Lucas Arts
Maniac Mansion
Indiana Jones
Telltale Games

Featured Show Highlights

  • Ed speaks on his enjoyment as a freelancer who has worked on over 60+ games with a variety of dynamic people [8:20]

  • Inspiration to become a freelance game writer influenced by Dave Grossman and Noah Falsteen, both freelancers at Telltale who came to High Voltage Software and shared their “secret sauce” of planning and game development [8:50]

  • Discusses games that have shaped him as an interactive writer and some of his favorite stories, such as point-and-click adventure games that were intellectually stimulating like Lucas Arts, Maniac Mansion, Indiana Jones and Telltale Games [10:30]

  • "Secret Sauce" flowchart process for plotting out game [20:45]

  • The Process for Success is to have a story instead of an idea. ‘7 Steps towards Simplifying your Story’ [26:00]

  • Discussion on common reasons game stories are often bad such as lack of character development, time and research into identifying the character and creating their story [34:25]

People Mentioned

Ron Gilbert
Tim Schafer
Dave Grossman
Ted Nugent
Noah Falstein
Coen Brothers
Brian McDonald - Author "The Invisible Ink"