Level designer & Producer
Unreal Engine 4
27 person team
Lumberjacked is an academic project I created in my second year at IGAD.
The story of two buff lumberjack bros who have their prized artefact, the fridge stolen by the beer king. In this co-operative puzzle action-adventure game, you have to throw everything you have (and can find) at the woodland cronies of the beer king and the puzzles that stand in your way. Including your bro. Are you ready to throw the game?
During the first 4 weeks of development:
– Took the pre-production concept and iterated on it into a coherent final piece with the throw mechanic central.
– I worked on balancing and feel of the characters with the throw.
– Created gameplay moments including puzzles and combat encounters.
I stepped up becoming the producer for the last 4 weeks. My responsibilities became:
– Planning and scoping out the project, adjusted the production methodology to be more light and agile.
– Managed a multi disciplinary team of 27.
– Continued to create gameplay moments and iterated on moments based on user testing feedback.
– Engaged in the QA processes.
Released a pre-production concept
Responsible for taking a pre-production concept and creating content for a full release on Itch.io in 8 weeks.
When defining the product I was responsible for:
– Exploration and creation of features matching the concept by rapid prototyping.
– Creating feature breakdowns and flow diagrams of features to collaboratively develop those with programmers. In blueprints.
– Player mechanic balancing and tweaking with active user testing.
– Metric gathering by creating a gym level.
– Level concepting, moment developping and testing in Unreal Engine.
Once these foundations and inspirations were set I moved on fully to level content creation and QA practices of the levels.
Continued production and delivered a quality product
Stepping in as producer I firstly looked at all the problems we were facing and making our production methodology more efficient with the goal of support the team. I did this by:
– Making the team hyper agile by using day plannings where a feature team picked the most pressing and relevant task on their backlog with the focus on a playable experience.
– Listen to the team members problems with the previous agile method and try to support their needs and requests.
– Took full responsibility for QA, level testing and level design, making sure that I created content, logged bugs and issues and focussed on finishing and polishing the experience. Creating a separate trello board for level bugs and often fixing them myself directly.
– Reduce the scope. I cut down the scope to 3 levels instead of the original 12. Setting a feasible scope where the product would be of a higher quality. I used trello for this process to break down the scope into backlogs for the feature teams.
– Set up the itch.io page, marketing and presented the product to a large audience.
setup the level design pipeline
The level design process started off with experimentation and creating a presentable layout. We had to showcase our progress to the stakeholders.
The enemies turned out to be hard to fight, they were small, often difficult to kill and we did not have the time to adjust them. We shifted our focus from an action-puzzle game to a puzzle-action game.
I worked mainly on setting the product identity and level moment sketches. In the later stages, I worked on polishing the levels, removing all dead zones and improving moments.
Level design QA and bug fixing
As a level designer, QA involved tracking down and fixing: Edge cased, areas players could get stuck, Being able to reach unintended locations, progression blockers and visual glitches. During the art pass, my main task was to test and fix collision issues that the art assets introduced.
I was most focused on QA in the polishing phase of the project, where no changes were being made to the layout anymore and I could work on fixing the issues I found or that were reported to me.