Multiplayer Design

Project Highlights

• Core design team lead for the first free to play entry in the 25 million unit selling franchise

Skirmish Mode Design

  • Directed development of top-selling co-op skirmish mode microtransaction
  • Managed a direct report, design schedule, and all art and engineering requests for skirmish
  • Tuned difficulty, rewards, quests, and gear across 40 levels of player experience for skirmish
  • Tuned every combination of skirmish settings including map type, map resources, starting resources, maximum age, victory type, and each pairing of 1-4 computer or human players versus 1-4 AI opponents with different army types and difficulty options

AI Design and Tuning

  • Designed 9 unique AI armies with varied tactics, units, gear, and strategies
  • Analyzed and designed improvements to each army type to enhance the diversity of tactics used across each AI including melee focus, cavalry focus, ranged focus, siege focus, naval focus, economy focus, and priest focus
  • Tuned AI script variables to better balance difficulty, attack frequency, build orders, and strategic focus

Map Design

  • Oversaw creation of over 20 PvE and multiplayer maps using mission editor, C#, and triggers
  • Remixed classic Age of Empires maps for AOEO and tuned player base allocation, starting units, resource allocation and important geographical features such as bodies of water, mountains, hills, islands, and valleys
  • The terrain features, resource pools, and sizes of these maps scaled appropriately for 2 to 8 players, in all manner of skirmish configurations.
  • Highlights of several maps I implemented:
    • Black Forest: All bases are nestled in nooks of a large forest. Narrow tree-lined pathways lead to each base as well as resources.
    • Oasis: The center of the map features a rich water source, lots of trees, and plenty of mines and food. Resources around the rest of the map are sparse, requiring players to expand towards the middle.
    • Arabia: Bases are protected by cliffs allowing resources to be harvested safely. The terrain is rugged and so are the wild animals roaming the map. Several mini-oasis fishing ponds are scattered all over the map, allowing access to additional food and wood resources.
    • Big Island: Players begin on opposite sides of a large island rich in resources. A large body of water surrounding the island allows for interesting naval and fishing options.
    • Dueling Islands: Players begin on small resource rich islands, which are surrounded by a large body of water and additional smaller islands containing more resources.
    • Mountain Crossing: Four large cliff walls form an X across the entire map. At the center is a large open area. Resources are condensed at the top and bottom parts of the map.
    • Sheltered Pass: Two parallel cliffs separate players and create narrow choke points into each base. A small number of cliff ramps can also be used to launch suprise attacks along the walls.

PvP Design

  • Co-designed PvP gameplay experience for both casual and hardcore audiences.
  • Casual version of PvP was designed for quick and easy matchmaking. This mode was called PvP Anytime.
  • Hardcore version of PvP was designed for clans to challenge each other over long periods of time. This mode was called World Domination.
    • Progress in this version of PvP was tracked weekly via leaderboards and players had to regularly challenge top clans to earn rewards.
  • Co-designed PvP game types, objectives, UI elements, and gameplay mechanics
  • Playtested PvP maps several times a week and submitted feedback to level and systems designers.
  • Managed playtest feedback from entire company via an internal Digg site and filtered high priority items through directors and appropriate co-workers.
  • Tracked PvP playtest data via datamining and reported feedback and results to appropriate directors and designers.

Game System Design

Weapons, Skills, and Role Design

I co-designed combat systems and tuned weapons, player classes, equipment, and skills as part of a 3 person systems design team.

Player Roles

Images of assault, commander, and recon loadout screens. Each loadout allowed players to equip a unique outfit, 4 active skills, 4 passive skills, and up to 4 different weapons, 1 of which is unique to that role.

  • Co-designed the 5 combat roles including selection of skills, weapon proficiencies, gear selection, and attributes unique to each such as health and armor.

Weapons

Images of a grenade launcher, shotgun, and submachine gun. In collaboration with 2 system designers, I tuned a number of weapon properties.

  • Tuned several weapon parameters including damage, fire rates, bullet spread, reload times, scope parameters, recoil values, screen shake, accuracy bloom, clip sizes, and iron sight offsets.

Player Skills

Images of a bullet stopping shield, the oracle enemy detecting skill, and a player placed turret. I designed and tuned many of the properties and attributes for skills.

  • Designed, tuned, and iterated on design of many skills including grenades, explosives, stealth, shields, movement and fire enhancing abilities, melee attacks, and detection abilities.

Intel System

As players travel around the world of The Agency, they find themselves surrounded by suspicious characters engaging in questionable activities that need to be captured. An entirely new system was built around the way players could harvest this data. When the player uses an intel collecting device, such as a digital camera, they can capture these events on film and send them to headquarters for processing. In order to capture these events, players must get a high quality picture of each suspicious person involved. To do so, the player must zoom in on the character, take a picture from the front or side, center the person's face in the photo, and frame the picture correctly, all while trying to avoid blowing their cover and finishing it before the suspicious characters part ways.

Images of 3 intel events I created in Venice. Notice UI elements representing system components - current stage, current score, minimum score, and zoom/center/facing direction scoring markers.

  • Directed development of intel system, which allowed players to encounter randomly spawning events that generated collectible items, rewards, and missions.
  • Provided specifications for all UI elements needed for system and worked closely with UI designer to iterate on elements as system evolved.
  • Defined design properties of intel camera equipment that could be upgraded and tuned properties to create several variations that played well.
  • Tuned and balanced all scoring elements used for each intel event including zoom level, position, rate of enemy suspicion accrual, facing direction, frame center properties, and duration.

Player Progression and Economy Design

  • Created a pacing chart for primary story mission arc, side mission prerequisites, and PvP mission progression.
  • Designed parallel mission progression structure for PvP to deliver a compact story experience for players who preferred competitive multiplayer.

Datamining Analysis and Design

  • Defined entire set of datamining statistics for both PvE and PvP.
    • Started by asking the fundamental questions that we were trying to answer and generating data from those questions, such as:
      • How often do players use cover?
      • Which roles, skills, and weapons get used the most often?
      • Which weapons and skills tend to result in the most damage and kills?
      • Where do players get killed?
  • Directed development of datamining website and user interface.
    • Defined filters that could be applied to narrow down data sets for specific playtests, maps, roles, and players.
  • Reported datamining results to designers and engineers responsible for tuning combat and player mechanics that looked unbalanced.

DAH!: Path of the Furon

Multiplayer Polish

  • The multiplayer portion of DAH!: Path of the Furon was largely designed and developed by two designers who left the project prior to ship.
  • Took ownership of the multiplayer maps and modes from the beta level they were left at to final shipping production levels.
  • Tackled all content side bugs and worked with engineers to improve performance given the design constraints of split screen multiplayer.

Online Multiplayer UI Development and Design

Metroid Prime Hunters was one of the first 3 games to use the Nintendo DS Wi-Fi service, and as a result, much of the multiplayer UI had to be created from scratch.

  • Metroid Prime Hunters features a robust online lobby that stands above and beyond most games on the Nintendo Wi-Fi service.
  • There is quickplay matchmaking, a directory to store friends and rivals, lobby voice chat, a reward and level based advancement system, a player stats profile, and a number of ways to customize map options and game types.
  • In addition, several of the maps and characters are unlockable, which means that the system has to be versatile enough to account for players with different unlocked features to play with each other.

Hunter's License

  • This is the central player stats reporting and progress tool.
  • Players also have the ability to view the Hunter's License of all players that they add to their Friends and Rivals list.
  • I worked with the UI artist and a design coordinator to define and implement the layout and functionality of this multiplayer component.
  • One of the design constraints we encountered included narrowing down the stats we wanted to track to a manageable number that fit on the low resolution screen in six different languages.
  • We also had to find additional graphic ways to represent progress rather than text.
  • Some of these graphical touches included the changing Samus icon in the upper left corner, the favorite character portrait on the right, and the star rating system depicted at the top of the card.
  • There is also another icon spot available in the upper right corner for demonstrating significant single player achievements and a progress counter on the bottom of the card indicating the requirements for the next achievement level.

Friends and Rivals Registry

  • This is the player directory that allows you to track who you have played, their stats, when you last played them, which people you can voice chat with, and what their online status is.
  • This was another piece of the online front end that I implemented and developed with the UI artist.
  • Some of the design goals included allowing both controller and touch based input for as many menus as possible, providing a convenient way to manage the friend codes used by the Nintendo WiFi service, and creating quick and elegant transitions between a large number of menus.