Project Porfolio



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Summary:

Rushmore is a third-person hack-n-slash / shooter hybrid that places the player into the shoes of the four legendary Presidents of Mount Rushmore as they slice and blast their way through aliens in the far future.


Format:

  • Engine: Unreal Engine 4

  • Team Size: Fifteen

  • Development Time: Ten weeks during a school semester with a few weeks of prototype development by a team of two prior to the full team's formation.


Roles & Tasks:

  • Creative Director: Conveying Core Vision, Coordinating Team Tasks

  • Design Lead: Game Design Documentation, Core Systems & Mechanics Design, HUD Design, Tutorial Design, Supervising All Other Design, Establishing The Level Design Pipeline, Creating A Final AI Structure


Design Goals:

  • Create a short (roughly 10-20 minute) game that manifests the themes of "Anachronism", "Diminishing Returns", and "Adaptation" with its gameplay, narrative, and aesthetics

  • Create a truly mechanically deep gameplay experience which lends a relatively short core experience potentially countless more hours of gameplay opportunity


Design Implementation:

Having received the initial concept of "Mount Rushmore Presidents fighting aliens with swords and guns in the future" from the small team that generated the game's prototype, my initial goal was to extend the idea into a fully defined gameplay experience while imbuing it with additional depth inspired by the various themes on the table. "Anachronism" was a bit inherent to the initial premise both mechanically and narratively so it only needed to be folded in aesthetically which was achieved through a more highly detailed world juxtaposed against slightly more cartoony characters. With that swiftly out of the way I chose to work some additional themes into the game to inject some life into it and expand its design horizons.

Mechanically "Diminishing Returns" was applied to the Ranged / Melee combat in the form of either mode eventually leading to a dead end if pursued for too long. Ranged combat, while generally safe and higher damage, offers no opportunity to replenish health as health pickups drop at the feet of enemies and fade fairly quickly; Melee combat, on the other hand, keeps the player close to health pickups but is unsustainable for longer periods as the lack of damage output and increased risk of taking damage compound. The goal of this system was to push the player toward a flow of engaging in combat from a distance, diving into the fray (while using abilities to provide cover and enhance strength), collecting as much health as possible, then retreating back out toward the outskirts. Narratively "Diminishing Returns" fits in through the all purpose "goo" derived from the aliens which creates a hierarchy of effects from giving the Presidents super powers (high impact) to improving weaponry (moderate impact) to simply restoring health (low impact). Aesthetically emissives play a large role in the game's appearance and are used with respect to their priority. The more diverse colors are, the less any of them read as identifiable so important objects (weapons and their corresponding ammo, goo pickups, and enemy types) share certain clear color themes while the world around them makes use of a diverse set of colors to (almost counterintuitively) fade into the background.

"Adaptation" was worked into the gameplay both through the Presidents and the weapons. It was decided the Presidents would function not merely as vehicles for abilities but as cohesive classes that serve their own mechanical themes and goals. It was also established that the player could swap between them at will. The catch would be that, should a President die, the player would be forced to swap to another and the President that died would remain dead until the end of the level. This system forces players to think on their feet with their strategies and penalizes them with the challenge of necessitated adaptation should they not balance their strategies well. With weapons a similar idea is presented. There are 12 total weapons in the game from 4 distinct classes, each with their own unique weapon ability. These weapons are located around the world in hidden drop locations and can only be bought from the in game store once they've been picked up at least once. This gently encourages the player to constantly be exploring and trying out new weapons to ensure their arsenal is well stocked and optimal for their desired playstyle. Within the narrative "Adaptation" is core to the human strategy for survival. Humanity drags Presidents to the future to aid them in their fight and then leverages the aliens' own biology against them. The loose aesthetic context for "Adaptation" manifests as a world that quickly shifts from urban linear environments to open themed environments which show the world itself remaining fluid based on whether or not it's a transitional space or home to combat a setpiece.

The challenge of tutorializing a game with so many different mechanics and elements was a bit daunting at first. Ultimately I opted for a short and optional mechanics-focused tutorial that reviews the core elements of the game and allows for additional experimentation should the player desire it. This was meant to mitigate players being swamped with large lists of mechanics and abilities. The game's first real level gently introduces each enemy type one at a time to get the player up to speed on engagement with opposition in a realistic setting. While in game, an easily accessible "additional HUD display" button can provide a quick reminder of what the player's current loadout offers and what the status of all key elements are without overloading the HUD with all of that information at all times. Finally, within the game's menus is a "Game Info" screen which can be referenced at any time to review President abilities, weapon stats / abilities, enemies, and world content.


Links:

Coming soon!



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Summary:

Cruel Fuel is a first-person shooter with action-combat elements in which the player controls both a Pilot (soldier) and a Mecha (giant human-piloted robot).


Format:

  • Engine: Unity 3D

  • Team Size: Nine

  • Development Time: Sixteen weeks during a school semester with a few more weeks of solo polish after the semester


Roles & Tasks:

  • Creative Director: Conveying Core Vision, Coordinating Team Tasks

  • Design Lead: Game Design Documentation, UI & Menu Design, Core Mechanic Design, Tutorial Design, Supervising All Other Design

  • Tech Lead: Core Mechanic & Player Controller Functionality, UI & Menu Functionality, Game Manager Functionality, Settings Functionality, Animation/Particle/Shader Integration, Post-Processing Functionality, Supervising All Other Code


Design Goals:

  • Create a short (roughly 12 minute) game that manifests the themes of "Mecha v Kaiju" and "Conservation" with its gameplay, narrative, and aesthetics

  • Create a distinct play experience for both the Pilot and the Mecha


Design Implementation:

The core narrative and gameplay concepts sprang from the gameplay themes of "Mecha v Kaiju" and "Conservation". To do the "Mecha v Kaiju" theme justice the team knew we'd have to ultimately end in an epic Mecha-Kaiju battle but bringing "Conservation" in meant it made sense for there to be some sort of resource brought to that stage to be expended. From that line of thinking we decided on dividing the game into the Pilot and Mecha stages where the player spends most of the Pilot stage scrounging for parts for their Mecha while gathering fuel (and trying not to expend it). Then, in the Mecha stage, the player battles against a titanic enemy while trying to preserve whatever fuel they've earned to achieve the best possible outcome.

Distinguishing both halves of the game so they truly represented their intended experiences meant clearly distinguishing scale, changing player movement feel, changing player skill sets, and changing the player's total threat level in relation to enemies. Combined all these factors leave the Pilot quick and nimble with lots of options yet still with a good deal of vulnerability if enemies aren't managed well. This constrasts against the Mecha which is slow and tough with heavy firepower and and a meticulous method of staying in the fight.

Shaping the player abilities was one of the biggest components of creating those feelings so while the Pilot has a punchy shotgun and tether focused moveset that allows him to get in and out of combat and control engagements, the Mecha instead has clunky but incredibly high impact abilities (like the artillery strike and minigun) that allow it to both manage hordes of normal enemies and (particularly in the case of its dash-refresh and empowered melee) respond to the Kaiju's threat.

Tutorialization in such a short game needed to be seamless and quick so I opted for a reactive system that prompts the player if they appear unsure of how to proceed. This is true for the Pilot movement tutorial and the Mecha combat tutorial. Additional tutorialization and guidance comes both in the form of mission prompts and the menu driven pilot guide which explains more detail about the player and enemy abilities. Death will prompt a contextual hint based on where and how you died to ensure players leave knowing how they can improve. All of the in game tutorials and mission prompts can be toggled on or off from both the start menu and the pause menu.


Links:

Opens the game's Itch.io page in a separate tab: Link.



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Summary:

Whiskers' Warzone is a first-person, fast-paced, score attack game that places you in the role of a cat defending its territory against vermin and opposing cats.


Format:

  • Engine: Unity 3D

  • Team Size: Five

  • Development Time: Nine weeks during a school semester with two more weeks of solo polish after the semester


Roles & Tasks:

  • Creative Director: Conveying Core Vision, Coordinating Team Tasks

  • Lead Designer: Game Design Documentation, UI & Menu Design, Core Mechanic Design, Enemy Design, Level Design and Implementation

  • Lead Programmer: UI & Menu Functionality, Leaderboard Functionality, Core Mechanic Functionality, Enemy Functionality


Design Goals:

  • Create a game that's both accessible to initial players and that offers replayability for repeat players

  • Leverage 2-3 unique core mechanics and 2-3 levels

  • Convey the feeling of being a quick, nimble, and hyper aware cat


Design Implementation:

In order to get the most replayability out of a 3 level structure I opted to create each level as a playground type of space (rather than more linear content) with progressive difficulty so new players can warm up to the gameplay while repeated players can still experiment with new tactics and experience new situations.

Following this same line of thinking I made it a priority to include optional mission briefings before each level and optional tutorialization in the first level that can be turned on or off between playthroughs as well as a leaderboard with varying elements tracked so there are clear goals to strive for upon repeated playthroughs.

To nail the feeling of being a cat I spent time tuning the player speed and abilities along with how the cat sense allowed for the detection of enemies. Enemy cats in neighboring yards competing for kills also developed into an exciting element to further the fantasy.


Links:

Opens the game's Itch.io page in a separate tab: Link.

Opens screenshots from part of game design document (with select passages blurred) in a separate tab: (1/3) (2/3) (3/3)



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Summary:

Power Defender is a first-person endless hallway defense game made with the intention of being used by Limbitless Solutions, a UCF non-profit dedicated to creating affordable prosthetic arms for children and training them to use them.


Format:

  • Engine: Unity 3D

  • Team Size: Eight

  • Development Time: Sixteen weeks during a school semester with some additional solo polish for another week


Roles & Tasks:

  • Producer: Coordinating and Assigning Group Tasks

  • Senior Programmer: Targeting System Functionality, Animation Implementation, Particle Effect Implementation, UI & Menu Functionality, Warning System Functionality, Leaderboard Functionality, Limbitless Integration

  • Designer: UI & Menu Design, Warning System Design, Level Building, Lighting Implementation, Key Mapping


Design Goals:

  • Create a highly accessible game with a low skill floor but a high skill ceiling

  • Shape a rhythmic gameplay loop that encourages a flow state to make endless gameplay enjoyable

  • Minimize button inputs and completely eliminate precision aiming to allow for a Limbitless Controller port and an arcade machine port


Design Implementation:

Seeing as how many of the Limbitless clientele are children and we also intended to make an arcade port, accessibility had to be a priority but avoiding a flat or boring game is a must so the team devised a scaling speed system that allows for better players to move at whatever pace they can keep up with while still allowing newer players to play at a more comfortable pace. Any failure to maintain performance at that rate lets the player take a breather by slowing the gameplay pace back down and letting them regain control of the situation.

The color matching and direction management combined two sorts of sorting give just the right amount of engagement to keep players on their toes without overloading them with things to consider.

Button mapping that was comfortable on all of the different platforms warranted a good deal of thought and ultimately the three final control schemes were settled on that map intuitively to both the diagetic and non-diagetic gameplay elements.


Link:

Opens the game's Itch.io page in a separate tab: Link.



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