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OVERVIEW

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  • ICO_UX_Design_LargeDescription coming soon!

     


Darksiders

OVERVIEW

I came onto Darksiders near the second half of development. The title is best described as a cross between Zelda and God of War, with a dash of Devil May Cry thrown in once you unlocked the pistol. My responsibilities were to drive several of the main character’s systems to completion, including his puzzle solving gear, itemization, and abilities.

  • While my primary role was on systems, I also helped in supporting the level team by providing feedback to them based on my playthroughs of content. I was given the opportunity by the lead designer to help with two levels that needed additional design and implementation support.

     

    Gryphon Flight Sequence

    Much of the layout for this level was established when I was assigned to it. I was responsible for developing a spline based system with one of the programmers, hooking up the behavior of the Gryphon, establishing and hooking up the attacks that would be used, and finally, scripting and spawning the entire sequence and movement path.

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    The Hollows

    The Hollows level was split between myself and one other designer. I helped finish the scripting and cleaned up some of the bugs that were present. I also provided additional design and further developed some of the areas adding in additional cinematics, puzzle mechanics, and integrating itemization that was required in the level.

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  • ICO_Systems_Design_LargeWith the help of the art and tech departments, I led the implementation and design on War’s (main character) puzzle equipment, guns, weapon enhancements and itemization. I also helped provide support for additional areas that needed design including the feel of currency acquirement (souls), physics, and camera/controls for underwater traversal.

     

    ABILITIES

    War had several abilities that could be fired off. These abilities were able to be powered up to four times, providing more striking visuals, sound effects, and combat effects. Some of the basic ideas were established on abilities when I arrived, however, I altered these to feel more coherent with the combat system and worked to get these completed. I was responsible for art and tech coordination, hooking up assets, iterating on their feel, balance and finally polish.

    Affliction

    ICO_DS_AfflictionWhen War used Affliction two serpents would be summoned doing damage to all nearby enemies. After a one was defeated, the serpents would continue travelling to other nearby enemies.

     

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    Blade Geyser

    ICO_DS_BladeGeyserWhen used, War would stab his sword into the ground, creating a field of blades that would harm any enemy within the radius.

     

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    Chaos Form

    ICO_DS_Chaos_FormWar had a Wrath meter that would fill up based on how many enemies were killed. Once filled, he could take the form of a demonic creature that had an alternate set of moves and abilities. This form only lasted for a brief period of time before War would revert to his original form.

     

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    Immolation

    ICO_DS_ImmolationWhen War used Immolation, he would surround himself with a barrier of Hellfire. Any enemy that War touched or that attacked him would also be set afire by the Immolation’s flames. In upgraded versions of this ability, War’s movement would also leave behind a trail of fire that would catch enemies ablaze.

     

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    Stoneskin

    ICO_DS_StoneskinStoneskin was a defensive ability that when used, would cause War’s skin to turn into stone, making him capable of withstanding enormous amounts of damage for a short time. Initially, I had wanted this form to increase the player’s weight for water traversal, but development was too far along to permit this.

     

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    EQUIPMENT

    War’s equipment could be used both in combat to help defeat certain enemy types, as well as to overcome some of the puzzles in the environment. I was responsible for art and tech coordination, hooking up assets, iterating on feel, balance and final polish.

    Abyssal Chain

    ICO_DS_Abyssal_ChainThe Abyssal Chain was a hook that when launched, would bring War over to it’s target. Used on both items in the distance as well as certain areas of the landscape (such as climbable surfaces), the chain proved to be an invaluable tool. While not able to defeat enemies directly, it could be used to latch onto certain ones and draw War closer to them. For some flying creatures and smaller enemies, the chain could pull them closer as well. Some larger enemies required the chain to be used on them to open up an opportunity for War to deal damage to them.

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    Crossblade

    ICO_DS_CrossbladeThe Crossblade could be used to hit switches and bombs in the distance, allowing doors and other puzzles to advance. This item also allowed War to transfer elements such as fire from one source to another. As a weapon, it could be used against large groups of weak enemies to take them out in bulk.

     

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    Earthcaller

    ICO_DS_EarthcallerThe Earthcaller’s primary function was narrative, awakening one of the giants that guarded a gate in the game. It could be used in combat to knock back certain weak enemies, even pushing them off ledges in some instances.

     

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    Mask of Shadows

    ICO_DS_MaskOfShadowsThe Mask permitted War to see hidden objects in the world allowing additional traversal options that were not originally apparent. These included ledges, points for his Abyssal Chain, and bridges.

     

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    Voidwalker

    ICO_DS_VoidwalkerThe Voidwalker could be used to set two portals in the world, one orange and the other blue. Once placed, War could travel through them to reach distant places. Additionally, War would solve some puzzles by having certain things travel through the portals, such as beams of reflected light.

     

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    GUNS

    War had three guns available to him in the game. The first, a pistol called Mercy, could be used as part of his arsenal in combat. The other two were cannons that were situational and only used in certain portions of levels, allowing them to be picked up and dropped at will. I was responsible for art and tech coordination, hooking up assets, iterating on feel, balance and finally polish.

    Mercy

    Mercy was a pistol that once acquired could be used both on land and while riding War’s mount, Ruin. This pistol was effective at dealing shots in excess depending on how quickly you pulled the trigger. With skill, players could jump and keep afloat while shooting at nearby enemies helping War perform additional combos.

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    Fracture Cannon

    Fracture was one of the cannons War came across during his travels. When used, War walked considerably slower than normal. It was loaded with four shots at a time that would automatically replenish after use. Additionally, it could launch a bolt that would explode when triggered by the player or after a set amount of time, whichever occurred first.

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    Redemption Cannon

    Similar to the Fracture Cannon, Redemption was another large gun that War would come across. Players could rapid fire the weapon by tapping the trigger button or hold it down for charged attacks.

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    WEAPON ENHANCEMENTS

    Weapon Enhancements were a general idea in the game at the time I joined, however, they required additional design to be completed. These passive enhancements could be slotted into particular weapons to improve their overall effect. I was responsible for fleshing out their behavior and names as well as determining the locations that they would need to be sourced for War to pick up.

    NORMAL

    There were a base set of normal weapon enhancements that War could obtain. These included the following:

    ICO_DS_Abyssal_ChainBaneGenerated Wrath over time (to help the player assume the Chaos Form more easily).
    ICO_DS_Abyssal_ChainBloodthirstHealed War by stealing the life of adversaries during combat.
    ICO_DS_Abyssal_ChainCarnageFilled War with hatred and generated Chaos at an accelerated rate.
    ICO_DS_Abyssal_ChainCombat LoreIncreased the rate of weapon experience gathered, and boosted War's armor level.
    ICO_DS_Abyssal_ChainHellfireInstilled a melee weapon with the element of fire.
    ICO_DS_Abyssal_ChainRavagerIncreased War's damage with environmental weapon attacks.
    ICO_DS_Abyssal_ChainReaperBoosted the harvest of souls from slain enemies.
    ICO_DS_Abyssal_ChainWeapon MasterBestowed an increased knowledge of weaponry by boosting weapon damage.

    LEGENDARY

    In addition to the normal enhancements, there were four legendary enhancements that were themed around the four horseman the game’s story was built upon. The enhancements included:

    ICO_DS_Abyssal_ChainDeath's BlessingDramatically boosted Wrath generation and revealed the location of all items on the current map.
    ICO_DS_Abyssal_ChainFury's EmbraceLeached weapon damage and converted it to Health. Increased the amount of souls reaped.
    ICO_DS_Abyssal_ChainStrife's OfferingGreatly increased War's effectiveness in ranged combat.
    ICO_DS_Abyssal_ChainWar's GloryIncreased Chaos gained and the duration of War's Chaos Form.

     

    GENERAL “FEEL”

    Additional work I provided on the game included support for overall “feel” and “usability” in certain areas:

    • Soul Acquirement – I helped tweak this to appear more ethereal and get “sucked” into the character.
    • Physics – I tweaked physic values for several objects that could either be destroyed directly or thrown by War.
    • Underwater Traversal – One of the gameplay programmers and I worked together to refine the overall control, navigation and feel of underwater movement while also improving the camera’s behavior in this mode.

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Tabula Rasa

OVERVIEW

Tabula Rasa was the first game that I worked on. Initially designed as an anime-fantasy massively multiplayer online game, I was hired on as a game designer focusing on content. Midway through development, the game was re-imagined as an sci-fi action title based on feedback.

I eventually became in charge of much of the prototyping and implementation of core features as we came out of the reboot, helping with content structure, vertical slicing of content systems and tools, and eventually the overall user experience and UI.

 

  • ICO_Content_Design_LargeTabula Rasa was broken into two types of content – persistent maps and instances. The former were large hubs that allowed a large number of players to play alongside each other while the latter were tight, group based experiences. I helped prototype the persistent map gameplay and created a several instances that made it into the final game.

     

    INSTANCES

    Pravus Research Facility

    Pravus Research Facility was the first instance that was created for the game. In it, players were tasked with helping the planet’s natives by destroying a nearby facility responsible for turning their kin into cyborgs used by the enemy faction. The map was based largely around trench warfare that eventually had players infiltrating the facility itself. Along the way, side missions that influenced reinforcements could be acquired.

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    Purgas Station

    With a reactor core that harnessed the sun’s energy, Purgas Station served as a source of power for much of the enemy faction’s units. Players were tasked with locating a missing reconnaissance unit that was sent in previously, and finish the job for them. Players would make their way deeper into the facility taking down high-ranking enemy officers, re-establishing communications and eventually over powering the reactor to destroy it.

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    Maligo Base

    Home to a prototype wormhole device, Maligo Base served as a secret weapons facility in the heart of the planet’s forest. Players would need to work their way past enemy forces and locate the device. Along the way, they would discover more details about the research as well as prisoners that could be rescued before finally destroying the device with explosives.

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    PERSISTENT MAPS

    The game was divided into several persistent maps, but the first done was Concordia Divide. This map was initially done as a vertical slice to help illustrate some of the key concepts in the game’s reboot, including how combat and trench ebb and flow would work. Additionally, concepts were fleshed out on how allies received reinforcements, enemies spawned, and finally, how the overall presentation and choreography of the ongoing “battlefield” would be presented. I scripting and blocked out much of this zone during it’s initial stages before it was revised in it’s final form for additional content changes and polish.

    Concordia Divide

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  • ICO_Systems_Design_LargeMuch of the system work I led was centered around content development. I worked with the tech and art departments to establish tool improvements as well as get new systems online that would make content creation quicker and more polished for the player.

     

    USABLE STATE SYSTEM

    The Usable State System (USS) was a content creation pipeline that let designers create fully contained objects, with their own visual effects, sound effects, animations, and script hooks. This system formed the basis for how we would handle everything from dropships that spawned enemies to puzzle objects that would power doors (such as access systems, power, keycodes, etc.).

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    ENEMY AI

    Several of our key creatures required design assistance to get their behavior online. I worked with the art and tech departments to bring the following creatures to completion.

    Juggernaut

    A large bipedal creature, the Juggernaut had a series of short ranged attacks to combat melee players with. Additionally, the creature had a chance to fire off a barrage of missiles that would impact players both near and far.

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    Predator

    Predators served as a scouting unit for the enemy faction, attacking with short range lasers and attempting to keep their distance in order to avoid incoming enemy fire.

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    Sentinel

    Mainly a reconnaissance unit, Sentinels had the capability of not only evading enemy fire, but also calling in reinforcements that would arrive in dropships.

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    Stalker

    One of the signature creatures in the game, Stalkers were massive tripedal machines that would scour the battlefield for enemy players. In addition to powering a large fixed frontal gun, Stalkers could power up a large plasma bomb that would drop on the battlefield, causing massive damage to the area and those in it’s path. Their spawn in behavior had them flying in similar to “War of the Worlds”, striking the ground and standing upright before engaging in battle.

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    Bane Cannon

    Fixed position cannons, these machines would dish out heavy amounts of firepower at unsuspecting players. Their key immunity came in the form of any EMP based incoming attack.

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    Tesla Coil

    The Tesla Coil was a stationary structure. While weak and easy to destroy, the coils had the capability of charging up and electrifying nearby players with a high damage arc of energy.

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    CONTROL POINTS

    Control Points were the largest scripted system in the game. These large bases could alternate control between both allied and enemy forces. Their locations were identified on the map which gave indication as to which faction owned it.

    While in the possession of the player’s faction, they would serve as a teleportation site, offer commerce and dispense and complete quests. Eventually, they would be attacked by the enemy faction, requiring the player to fend off waves of enemy dropships, with troops working their way into the base.

    Possession of control points was centered around a control point “flag” which was an an obelisk like structure. I was responsible for the logic, tech coordination and scripting of these bases as well as blocking out and establishing their overall layout.

    They had to be constructed in a modular fashion so that our designers could place dozens of these quickly throughout the world without having to alter anything other than base properties on objects.

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  • ICO_UX_Design_LargeA three person team consisting of myself, a UI programmer, and UI artist were assigned to help design and implement all the interface needs for the game. I was responsible for the overall design and high level wire frames for the UI. The UI artist would refine these further and establish the aesthetic for it. Finally, the UI programmer would work with us both to bring it to fruition.

     

    CONTROL SCHEME

    Our combat was simple to understand at it’s core, but required a unique take on how to control it. We focused on making it easy to handle the basic movement and combat actions, while letting you cycle your abilities and weapon loadouts as needed.

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    HEADS UP DISPLAY

    The HUD needed to provide all the necessary information while being as transparent as possible to the player. This proved to be a challenge but our UI Artist really did an excellent job with making it all come together while still keeping the information easy to digest.

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    Targeting Reticles

    One of the most challenging aspects of the HUD were the reticles for our gun play. We had to provide information on range, ammunition amount and faction association, while still keeping the aesthetic of the game and not overwhelming the player.

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    Weapons & Ability Tray

    The weapons tray allowed the player to cycle forward/back both the weapons being used as well as the abilities the players had active.

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    Minimap

    The minimap provided the information of nearby points of interest and allowed the player to filter this information depending on their preferences.

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    Attribute Bar

    The Attribute Bar provided information on the player’s health, power, adrenaline (which resulted in kill streak bonuses), buffs and debuffs, and finally their level and “in-combat” status.

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    ICONOGRAPHY:

    Our icons were largely developed externally by a contractor. I was responsible for driving the direction of the icons that were used in the UI itself while also providing information and intent on how the icons would be used. Finally, I would hook up icons after reviewing them with the art team.

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    WINDOWS

    Outside of the HUD, the game required a large number of windows to allow the player to manipulate and view the data available on their character.

    Character Creation

    Character Creation allowed the player to modify base characteristics using a predefined set of templates for each category (head, hair, torso, etc.). Additionally, color values were modifiable using a built in color wheel.

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    Mission Accept Window

    The Mission Accept window provided a fictional blurb on the mission the player was accepting, as well as the rewards granted upon completion.

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    Radial Menu

    The Radial Menu was a different take on how the player could access windows. I didn’t want the player to have to move their cursor very far since the game was fast paced and didn’t provide a mouse cursor by default. Instead, I opted to have the player hold down their control key and have the mouse available at the center of the screen, allowing them to quickly go to a window or it’s associated tabs.

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    Character Window

    The Character Window provided key stats and equipped items that were on the player. Additionally, the player could see more detailed information in the form of resistances and their derived stats.

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    Inventory Window

    The Inventory Window was grid based, allowing dragging and dropping. However, the player could expand it for a larger view. Additionally, the inventory allowed filtering which was unique at the time for an MMO.

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    Vendor Window

    The Vendor Window provided a way for players to purchase and sell goods either individually or in bulk. Recently sold items could be viewed again to re-purchase back and items could be repaired if damaged.

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    Mission Window

    Mission information was contained within the Mission Window, providing key objective information and their status, as well as allowing tracking to be toggled on or off by the player. Players could also see if group mates had the mission as well.

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    Logos Tablet Window

    Logos was the unique language in our game. Players would discover Logos runes throughout the world that mapped one to one with an English equivalent word. The Tablet provided a way for players to view the vocabulary at large and see which of these runes they had unlocked.

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    Looking for Squad Window

    Players wishing to group with others could take advantage of the Looking for Squad Window. This system gave players a way to post advertisements and group up with others based on the information they provided. Others could then search out players using similar criteria and be paired up automatically.

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    Map Window

    The Map Window was the most complex window to get online. It required navigation of all zone maps as well as an extensive filtering system that called out key points on any map the player wished to view. Additionally, maps needed to be generated in a style that fit the theme of the rest of the game.

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    Waypoint Window

    The Waypoint Window was a subset of the map window, providing players a means of traveling between different points on the map they were on.

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    Zone Loading Screen

    Our Loading Screens provided fictional information on the map the player was about to travel to, while showcasing some of the key areas of the map in the form of captured screens.

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    Help Window

    The Help Window provided information on the systems players would be exposed to. Each help file supported embedded images and informational call outs as needed.

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    Options Window

    The Options window provided detailed settings for Video, Audio, and the Game itself. Keybindings could also be remapped in full through this window.

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