Battle Fortress Tortoise
Initially I was on the team as a technical designer. I designed several of the systems that made it into the game, and several others that were cut due to time - we had flying enemies!
All around it gave me a chance to learn and become more familiar with Unreal. I was able to expand out from there be involved with cinematography, A.I., level design, and being in charge of certain features. I'm proud to have added so much into this game that made it such a success.
For the tower defense gameplay, there are three types of ground enemy crowds who charge at the player and tortoise with different tactics and patterns. I scripted each of them to have separate behavior for how best to attack and respond to the player's actions. I prototyped those behaviors beforehand in Unreal Engine using UnrealScript and Kismet, while also planning out where in the environment they would attack from. Then worked on implementing them directly into the game engine.
The behaviors were based on tactics used by people in history when hunting large animals without the use of firearms. Research was specific to native American tribes when hunting, as well as tribes in India and Indonesia.
Initially there were six types of ground enemies planned, and it was cut to three due to time constraints and size of the game map. We chose to use the ones which provided the best all-around fun from testing, and would allow for more variation of tactics for the player to follow.
I prototyped several in the game engine, adapting changes to their functionality, and altering movement patterns for best encounters based on the terrain they spawned from.
Using Flash and ActionScript, I prototyped every concept and system that was designed before going into the game from a top-down perspective to nail down the tower-defense elements. So I ended up making prototypes of all enemy A.I., level patterns, game mechanics, and health systems.
We were never able to get everything into the final game as some things proved too complex with everything else taking place. There were 5 different ammo types originally even though the final game used only 1. Personally, I miss the smoke bombs since those were a lot of fun to code for strategic value.
These fun enemies were called Snappers. I was in charge of scripting their behavior and actions in the game using UnrealScript and Kismet. They had defensive and offensive modes based on their distance from the player and how they were being attacked (directly or indirectly).
They were in the game for the majority of its development until being replaced. During play testing, many people felt that seeing another tortoise meant it was a friend so they were removed to avoid confusion. Most of the underlying code remained for the new enemy with some minor tweaks - the replacement didn't have a shell to hide in for defense.
Following the creation of new boss enemies, I took over their implementation into the game world. Working with engineers, we setup their behaviors that could then be scripted by design. I then integrated them into the game world and designed the environments where they're encountered, handling the lead-in to the battles.
During development I also took on the integration of an aerial-based enemy. Started out by designing its behavior and actions. Then worked on scripting the behavior in the game engine, and setup a pylon system for them to fly around and allow for some variation in its patterns.
They were removed due to time constraints. More polish would have been necessary to give them a more balanced encounter, so we shelved them in order to focus on other features that had received better reception in testing.
When planning for the different enemies, I created one-page visual designs in PhotoShop and Fireworks. I wanted to explain the general concept behind enemies and how they would functionally work in the game. It also gave me a chance to communicate with artists on what we could do to hone in on certain reactions from a player.
After enemies were approved I then prototyped their behavior patterns in test maps so we could see how well they worked against the player. Also we had to make sure they were fun.
Worked with world designers and leads on best ways to present battle encounters to the player. I mapped out locations and planned the progression of encountering different enemy types. Based on the terrain and story beats, I planned for specific enemy clusters and formations.
Near the end of the project I was in charge of the marketing and promotions team. I handled the assignment of tasks and scheduling to get materials in order. Coordinated with other teams on gathering assets and building materials for promotional art, game trailers, screen shots, and the game's web site.
Worked with artists and designers for the setup of the game manual ans cover art as well. It went through a great deal of iteration before going to print.
Other teams in our studio were developing games alongside ours. I worked with them to have a unified umbrella team image, and helped with organizing to promote each other's projects as one unit.
Collaborating with other marketing divisions, and the primary web developer, created and organized web content for all the game projects. Specifically focused on content for Battle Fortress Tortoise, but also developed and handled the overall Infinite 8 umbrella.
Near the end of development I optimized and cleaned up the user interface coding on the ActionScript and Scaleform/UnrealScript side. Worked on identifying various memory leaks and minimized the draw calls being put out for UI. With artists, changed some of the setup for how we were laying out the art in order to help with that as well.
Built small-scale references of the in-game vehicle/tortoise using toys. Artists enjoyed using it as a reference for how to think of the game in terms of scale and depth. It helped a great deal with planning the scales of enemies on the ground versus on board the tortoise. Also benefited designers on how to think of space and crowding for close-combat.
Assisted with organizing play test sessions, gathering feedback from players and applying lessons-learned to the game design.
They also served as test-beds for various marketing campaigns. We had a radio-like talk show with banter between characters living on board the tortoise. Also experimented with various cinematic introductions.
With the Unreal Matinee tools, I built and setup all the cinematic and cut-scenes for the game. Planned them out with storyboards, and handled direction of the cameras for each scene.
Collaborated with artists on setting up the animations for key sequences. It was a great opportunity to work with animators over the movements for humanoid and animal creatures.