GDC is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Use the GDC 2021 Session Viewer to browse and sort the ever-growing list of sessions by day, time, pass type, topic, and format. All registered attendees will be able to build their personal schedule directly within the event platform, once live early July 2021. All times are listed in Pacific Time.

Game Career Seminar: Building Narrative Games with Yarn Spinner

Jon Manning  (50% of Secret Lab, Secret Lab)

Mars Buttfield-Addison  (Research Assistant, University of Tasmania)

Date: Friday, July 23

Time: 3:40pm - 4:10pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass, Summits Pass, Expo Pass, Audio Pass, Independent Games Summit Pass, Career Development Pass

Topic: Game Career Development

Format: Session

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: I acknowledge GDC 2021 is an all-digital event and commit to participating virtually.

Building a branching dialogue system in a game can be tricky, because you need to find the right balance between what your writers need and what your programmers have time to build. That's why it's often a great idea to use existing tools! Yarn Spinner is an open-source, free, flexible and extremely powerful tool for writing interactive conversations in games. that lets you write your game's conversations in a custom programming language designed to easy for writers and powerful for programmers.

In this session, we'll go from zero to a visual novel in under 30 minutes. We'll cover how to get set up, how to use your existing knowledge from tools like Twine, how to integrate conversations into your scene, and where to go next. The whole thing will be a dense, fast-paced trip through building a game. It's going to be a blast. Let's tell some stories.


You'll learn how to work with Yarn Spinner, a powerful tool for adding conversations and dialogue in your game, as well as best practices when working with dialogue, and related features like how to build a useful user interface to support conversations.

Intended Audience

This sessions is intended for people who are interested in adding dialogue to games, or building games that are focused on dialogue, but don't yet know how to get started. The session will also be of particular use to people who have built games in Twine, and want to know where to go next.