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; thus I was responsible for maintaining a cohesive vision and leading our team of designers throughout the project.
Because I’ve had this game idea for a while, I created the bulk of the documentation for the project. This includes the original pitch, 2-Page Design document, Art Style Guide, and Game Design Document.
The most challenging part of this project was the frequently changing team size. While we were prepared for the team to grow after each pre-prototype milestone, two of our original members left the team after prototype. Despite gaining 8 new members to meet the necessary team size, the loss of some of the initial team was an unforeseen hindrance. However, the other leads and I reevaluated the scope of our project to match the new team skillset and composition, enabling the team to successfully complete the project.
As design lead, I both built level 2 myself and assisted another level designer in their creation of the first level. One of our greatest level design challenges 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, I created all gameplay functionality.
As much of the core logic from the prototype systems was expansive enough to power the core of the game, creating these gameplay systems gave me a great . 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. While the previous level acts as a tutorial, introducing the player to various abilities, this level challenges the player. Players spend their time in level 2 exploring the game dynamics and having their understanding and usage of abilities tested 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 early 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 to solve. I resolved the problem 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.