DESIGN LEAD & Product Owner
Babooms is a chaotic 2v2 multiplayer game in which players take control of Baboon Scientists trying to make their own Frankenstein's Monster. Players explore a haunted mansion in search of left-over body-parts, which they have to assemble in their base to win. Players are able to battle each other, steal parts from rival bases and booby trap the mansion!
At the start of the project I had the role of Lead Game Designer, which slowly extended to a Product Owner role as the team grew. My responsibilities were to create and keep the vision and manage the team and the project.
Player holding a body-part in Babooms.
A base in which players can assemble the monster.
Leading a team
As the project progressed, more and more students joined my team. This meant taking on more leadership tasks, so I could organise and give direction to the team. Keeping the entire team in the loop about the design, the decisions and the vision is extremely important. I solved this by having frequent update presentations and by talking to all developers individually to answer questions and provide clarity about their tasks.
Babooms taught me the importance of involving the entire team in the development process and how to do so without spending too much development time.
In Mergegun you have a special gun that allows you to use resources and merge them together into objects. Different resource combinations result in different objects, each with their own abilities. These objects include a swing, a jumppad and an anti-gravity sphere. These objects can interact with the player and with other objects, allowing the player to use them to platform and puzzle through levels in creative ways.
In this project I was a technical designer, in charge of designing and creating the functionality of the gun and interactions between the objects. All of this was made using Unreal Engine 4 Blueprints.
Creating various objects in different locations, showing different behaviour.
Physics objects that are spawned too close to an obstacle will automatically be moved, to prevent issues during spawning.
Mergegun's systems were challenging to create, since they featured so many different interactions and objects. Solving issues between player expectation and system behaviour was my main time sink. For example; if players spawned an object too close to an obstacle, the object could launch itself, since the objects used physics. These types of interactions had to be worked around.
While working on the issues I realised that there are two ways to fix a problem: either you patch the issue, or you prevent the issue from occurring. This realisation has changed how I approach technical and design problems.
DM-Aviary is an Unreal Tournament map, made in Unreal Engine 4, tailored for the eight player deathmatch mode. The map is set in an aviary and provides players with a constant flowing movement around the map.
As the Level Designer I was in charge of everything required to create the desired user experience in the level. This included making design sketches, creating blockouts, playtesting and adding additional functionality using Unreal Engine 4 Blueprints.
The main arena with Rocket Launcher pickup.
Part of an abandoned map design.
Aviary was not the first map I created for this project. I created blockouts for a few other maps, but after testing them thoroughly it became clear their design had large flaws. I decided to abandon the concepts and with a better understanding of what makes a good DM map, I started work on DM-Aviary.
Afterwards I took the same iterative approach to designing areas and moments in my level, recreating or redesigning them whenever required.
Narrative Designer & Level Designer
Fishy Business is a goofy, over-the-top spy story about a herring and a starfish and their mission to take down a crime lord. While the player infiltrates the compound it becomes clear that her AI sidekick is completely incapable. However, law states you cannot leave a fish behind, which lands the player in all sorts of funny and hairy - I mean scaly - situations.
In this project I had multiple roles, mainly Level Designer & Narrative Designer. I was in charge of creating the levels for the game and implementing the AI functionality. I also wrote the dialogue and narrative for all the characters.
In-game view of Fishy Business
Another scene in Fishy Business
Fishy Business was made on a short schedule, which left us with crude development tools. During development it became clear the tools had large issues, were not user friendly and were time consuming to use.
This made me see the value and importance of development tools and their design. Making sure that tools are designed to fulfil their function and to make development easier is extremely important. I believe thinking about the required development tools, and how they will be used, is just as important as designing gameplay features during preproduction.