Action in Motion (Kinect Hack-and-Slash)
3 others students and I pitched this project in grad school at the CMU Entertainment Technology Center. We're creating game mechanics and tech for a compelling full-body motion control Kinect hack-and-slash experience in Unity3d.
Our focus has been on preserving the player's feeling of total visceral connection to the avatar while exaggerating the player's detected motion to achieve a feeling of power/mastery. My role could be called "character control engineer", implementing and tuning all player abilities, gesture detection and procedural animation based on Kinect input, as well as co-designing the combat system.
It's our belief that with great attention to detail in gesture, mechanics, affordance, and theming choices, the Kinect can offer completely transcendent and expressive gameplay even in as perfected and controller-dependent a genre as hack-and-slash.
We're now in the second semester of the project, aiming to create a full level that introduces and exercises all of the core combat mechancis. Please follow our progress at http://www.etc.cmu.edu/projects/action-in-motion/.
Unannounced AAA Console Title (2011 Internship at Visceral Games)
Oohh, mysterious! I actually can't say too much about this one since it's unannounced, but it was my first time working on an action game (Visceral is the studio behind such titles as Dead Space and Dante's Inferno). Action games are my thing - jumping on things, whacking things, pulling, pushing, gliding, grappling... done with tactile finesse and careful design, motion and action are every bit as meaningful and engaging as choice, tactics, and narrative. I learned a great deal about how action games are made, especially since this was my first time working on a console (multi-platform) title.^
The Boy and the Fox (choreographed digital storybook)
This 4-week project is precious to me, because I and my team of 4 other close friends (we weren't so close when we started!) were able to bring all of our creativity and technical chops to the table to create a new way to tell stories. In The Boy and the Fox, the story is told on several moving storybook pages - we painstakingly choreographed the motion of the storybook pages, their handlers, and the motion of the page contents to create an effect similar to cinema, dance, and puppetry, but distinct from all.
Each "page" is actually a piece of foamcore with several augmented reality tracking icons on it, allowing us to use a webcam to track its position in space and project images directly onto it (and it alone). Our puppeteers carry and move around the pages in synchrony with our voice-over and the animation of our on-screen characters.
My role on this project was as writer, sound designer, composer, choreographer, as well as the conceptual design of our new "medium" (it took me several days in the beginning to figure out the right way to explain/show the rest of the team what I was imagining - I'm sure they thought I was crazy during our brainstorming! I have a tendency to get excited and try to act things out, sometimes causing more laughter than comprehension...)^
Castle Stackers (rapid-prototyped motion control game)
In this 2-week project, our group of 4 created what turned out to be a fun and frenetic block stacking/cow-throwing extravaganza. The main draw here was that players interacted with the screen via special motion control magic wands that we fabricated ourselves out of dowels, high power LEDs, electrical tape (for aesthetic purposes) and ping pong balls. It was a huge hit with audiences at several installations, and the amount of effort and iteration we put into the tutorial and UI paid off with even non-gamer players able to pick up and play Castle Stackers. My person contribution besides co-design and co-writing were implementing the cow physics and explosion particle effects, as well as designing the sounds, recording/processing the voice-over and composing all the music.
Star Wars: The Old Republic (2009 Internship at BioWare Austin)
As a gameplay engineering intern at BioWare Austin working on the Star Wars MMO "The Old Republic", I had the honor of mainly working with combat designers to develop in-game and out-of-game tools and functionality to enhance their effectiveness. These are folks that worked on Mass Effect, Baldur's Gate ,Star Wars Galaxies (look it up, you'll find a flawed but in many ways brilliant game!) - some even came from the original Ultima Online!
Besides soaking up as much badassery as I could, I developed an online tool that allows designers to search through player class abilities and compare/filter their various attributes. I also designed and implemented an in-game combat simulator to allow automatically testing class balance for PvP and PvE situations. To support the simulator, I also helped kickstart the effort to add server-side gameplay telemetry, allowing us to gather data on how the AI players were performing.^
The Sims 3 (2008 Internship at EA)
I worked on The Sims 3! How cool is that? I think it's pretty cool. I was a summer intern as we moved through the alpha milestones - we hit beta a month or two after I returned to school. As a gameplay engineer, I collaborated with designers and artists to implement new features into the game (such as NPCs, object interactions, and gameplay systems).^