Wake From Death is an ability-based 3rd-person shooter that takes place in a Traditional Japanese Cyberpunk setting. I served as Creative Director and Design Lead on this project. I was responsible for maintaining a cohesive vision and leading our team of designers throughout the project.
I’ve had this game idea for a while, so I created the bulk of the documentation for this project. This includes the original pitch, 2-Page Design document, Art Style Guide, and Game Design Document.
The most difficult part of this project was changing team members after prototype. Immediately after our prototype milestone, our team lost 2 of the original members, while gaining 8 new members. This required leads to quickly pivot the scope of the original project to the new team composition and figure out the workflow of each team member.
As design lead, I created level 2 myself, and guided the level designer while making the first level. One of the greatest challenges for this was orienting the player in our brightly emissive world. To solve this, we used a consistent visual language with the color yellow acting as a guide, subtly leading the player through levels.
Download and play the game here: Wake From Death
The original prototype was created in 6 weeks by a team that originally started with 3 members and grew to 5 members. As the only member of my team who wasn’t an artist, it was my responsibility to handle both the design of the game and the implementation of features. Because of this, all gameplay functionality was created by me.
Creating these gameplay systems gave me a great working knowledge of how the game works moving into full production, as much of the core logic from the prototype systems was expansive enough to power the core of the game. Additionally, I worked with the artists on the team to guide the vision and art style of the game.
Level 2 is the level that I created from concept to finish. The previous level acts as a tutorial, introducing the player to various abilities, while this level challenges the player. Players spend their time in level 2 exploring the game dynamics and being challenged more than before. I originally conceived level 2 on paper and then constructed it as a whitebox. During this process, playtests were conducted and level 2 was adapted to feedback. During earlier playtests it became very apparent that my level had poor orientation as well as uninteresting combat areas.
I combated the issue of poor orientation with more intentional placement of emissive signs, the implementation of a consistent visual language with the color yellow, more intentional placement of assets for leading lines and denying the player directions, and the addition of the final enemy building. The issue of uninteresting combat areas was the more difficult issue to solve. I solved this by redesigning the combat areas to take advantage of three ‘lanes’ of combat, as well as the addition of more varied elevation.
In addition to the earlier level design techniques that I mentioned, level sequences were used extensively in this project to serve as narrative conveyance, player gates during combat, and provide direction in areas. This required the creation and implementation of special trigger systems depending on the kind of level sequence. Narrative or level transition sequences are triggered at the beginning of levels or the end of levels, while player gating sequences are triggered in real-time before combat areas.
Player gating sequences transition between several camera locations in real time, to show the player the exit of the area, orienting them in the space. Upon defeating all the enemies in the area, the camera transitions back to the final location, showing the gate opening. In this way, the player is never lost in the brightly lit areas and the camera transitions are as least intrusive as possible.