While playing and making games, I find it very important that the games provide the player with challenges and the tools to overcome them in interesting ways.
The Player at the Centre
A system needs to achieve the intended player experience. To achieve this I keep the player in the center of the system.
While making system I try to make it as small and simple as possible. A system which does not contribute to the intended player experience might as well not exist.
Project Exhibited is a stealth game released on Steam. We designed the detection system of the AI to create a fair and very tense atmosphere. We made different gadgets that will allow the player to play different playstyles.
Data Driven Design
When making a system, I love to use spreadsheets to balance and ‘solve’ the game. This allows me to balance the game so that the players always has different interesting options to use.
In Cub Valley, the player can choose from a lot of different moves. These moves are used in different scenario’s, where some moves are more useful than others. The player can experiment with the system and find their own playstyle.
PvP Combat System
To create a good PvP game, it needs to have counterplay. In Comic Crashers, the players can shoot, shield or shieldbreak. This also facilitates different playstyles with some player keeping their distance and other trying to get up close.
The twist in Comic Crashers is that players are able to break out of the borders of the comic. This prevents players from camping, a popular (and in my opinion boring) dominant strategy seen in many PvP games.
I escpecially love creating situation for the player’s skill to shine. Using the tools and terrain in new ways to keep challenging the player in different ways.
My number 1 goal is to get players in the correct flow by:
- Using my experience from playtesting to place myself in the shoes of the player.
- Increasing difficulty as I teach the player new mechanics and the player’s skill increases.
- I have experience with building a tension curve in my levels similiar to that of classic storytelling. With a slow build-up of tension with moments of rest and a climax at the end.
You can see a level that uses these principles in the project Max Velocity. The first level was made by me.
Besides making levels made from geometry, I also have experience using the level design principles in other ways.
In my Ludum Dare Project, Cub Valley, I translated my level design principle to fit a JRPG style game. This game uses turn based combat encounters as their levels. Moments of rest in between encounters and increasing difficulty make sure the player stays in the flow.
Procedural Level Generation
Besides handcrafting a level with a set route, I can also get players in the correct flow with procedural level generation.
In Battle of Neptune, I designed rooms with possible enemies that can spawn there. These rooms are randomely placed to create a level. By controlling what enemies and in what number they spawn, and by calculating their approximated streangth due to their upgrades, I can achieve the correct difficulty for the player.
As a technical game designer, I can create logic and balance it at the same time.
As a technical designer, I can create the logic and also balance it at the same time and submit it to the project in a good starting quality.
When blueprinting, I make sure to create straight flowing logic from left to right, commenting blocks and adding tooltips along the way.
Lumberjacked was the first time I worked with Unreals animation tools. I was responsible for implementing all the animations the artists provided.
To get this result I had a few weeks to learn how to use animation graphs, states, animation blueprints, blendspaces, skeletal physics controls and layered blending by bones.
Complete Game Loop
To complete Project Exhibited, you will need to steal the main objective. This logic was made so I could add different triggers to activate things like doors, guards and the exit zone. I added an objective marker and polaroids that the player can pull up to guide the player. The game also uses the detection bar I made which fills up using dynamic materials.
C# in Unity
For my personal project in year 4 of my study, I have been learning C# to recreate existing games mechanics. These skills will help me to develop games in different engines and to create better systems. These prototypes are playable on itch.io and are being updated regularely.
“Fail faster. Follow the fun”
Passion for Variety
What I like about rapid prototyping is the variety of work it brings. I love to experiment and try out new things, something that is essential when working on short projects with few people, just like a prototype would be.
I have a lot of experience with smalltime project like game jams, ludum dares and creating prototypes for school projects as a technical designer.
My most favorite recent prototype is ‘Battle of Neptune’ and ‘Cub Valley’.
Finding the Fun
At every moment I want to ask: ‘What would the player think or do here? Is this engaging? Would I want to play this?’ Most of the time it’s not. Finding what makes a game fun is my #1 priority. I am looking for that dynamic that gets players into the flow, I will iterate on it to empower that dynamic, all to see people have fun at the end. Because in the end, that is why I became a game designer.
Lumberjacked is a very good example of a game where players can just play around and have fun. While the game is centered around throwing objects to open a path, we soon found that player found it more fun to throw each other to solve these puzzles. So we shifted our focus to facilitate that behavior.
As a technical game designer, I can create logic and test it at the same time. This ensures better systems and makes newly implemented mechanics already balanced.
I have experience adding visual effects in smaller and bigger projects. In Lumberjacked, the throwing and impact particles were made by me.
In this stage I would assist in bug-fixing. If they worked as intended, we would perform playtests and use the feedback to make plans for iterations and start the cycle again.
Implementing & Balancing Audio
In Lumberjacked, I was responsible for implenting and balancing the audio. I was also repsonsible for balancing audio in Project Exhibited. To get believable results, the audio had to be playtested and tweaked a lot of times, changing the volume, attenuation and using other ways to always give the player the relevant information.
In the Ludum Dares, the sound effects were always made from scratch. these sounds included explosions, magic, hit and shooting sounds among more. They were made using Bfxr and Audacity.
Team Lead / Producer
I have experience being a producer during three projects. In these projects I was responsible for project planning, managing scope, upholding vision and for creating a comfortable working environment.
During Project Exhibited, I was respsonsible of guiding 11 designers to develop a game concept.