KEY LEARNING: VISION AND PILLARS
This was a really fun project, which I led from Concept into Production. During which time I used my combined knowledge of game design, project management, and publishing acumen to establish a clear set of design pillars and go-to-market strategies.
I challenged the team to build around a few core design pillars- 1) gameplay had to be something you couldn't experience on another game platform/screen, 2) mechanics should be scaleable systems (not one off hard coded implementations), and 3) the environment should provide narrative in a natural way.
KEY METRICS: One of the top selling games on Steam, with review scores of 9 out of 10. Many awards and accolades as the new gold standard for VR games.
KEY LEARNING: BUILD FOR THE PLATFORM / MEDIUM
Part of this games success was building something unique to the medium (in this case, 6DOF VR). Many VR games fall short because they try to copy and paste mechanics or gameplay that could be experienced in other mediums.
This taught me the importance of building something that takes advantage of the platform it's played on, not simply what is popular elsewhere.
KEY METRICS: First VR title to hit #1 on Steam, and the first VR game to reach $1M in sales.
KEY LEARNING: LIVE OPS & MONETIZATION
This is the most played game I ever designed & produced, with over 100M downloads. It launched as a free to play game with excellent drift racing mechanics, but we didn't have a monetization manager or live ops team during development.
As hard as we tried to take advantage of such a large payer base, the DNA of the game simply wasn't built for it.
I now work with teams to ensure Live Ops & Monetization are treated as core features from the beginning, as they can't be bolted on after the fact.
KEY METRICS: Many awards for this one, including Apple Editor's Choice and Mobile Excellence.
KEY LEARNING: MULTI-VOTING & TIME BOXING
We used a team brainstorm technique called Multi-Voting, and a production methodology called Time Boxing, to great effect on this game.
Multi-Voting is a brainstorming tool where each team member gets multiple votes to cast on brainstorm ideas they like the most. It helped hone in on the things that were of most interest to the team, which the design team then used as one of many data points when focusing the design.
We then implemented our plans by following a strict Time Boxing methodology, where development efforts flowed back and forth between disciplines in a series of 1 and 2 week sprints. This allowed for good Agile development, while keeping everything on track. It requires immense discipline and ruthless cuts when Time Boxes expired. But it was worth It and gave us a great game; on time and on budget (with a dose of critical acclaim).
KEY METRICS: 36th Annual Annie Award winner for Best Video Game, beating out Dead Space and WALL-E.
KEY LEARNING: CO-OP PLAY & SCOPE REDUCTION
This was the first game I worked on that was built with 4-player co-op as a core feature. It matched the target audience perfectly, and was simply fun.
The initial designs called for a game that was too large for the time and resources we had, so we made the early call to reduce scope by an aggressive 25% (levels, characters, features). This saved our schedule and gave us room time to add extra depth and fun to the core co-op gameplay.
KEY METRICS: We created a game that was critically well received, on time with the movie, and generated multiple hundreds of millions of dollars in sales.
I’ve worked on dozens of other games over the years, alongside some incredibly talented people. My career has gone from the Games Workshop mail room, to an amazing game design apprenticeship at MicroProse, into the triple-A halls of Activision as a producer and lead creative. The past few years have involved building new studios and business models, at the cutting edge of media and technology. It’s an ever changing journey, where I’m always learning from new challenges.
Feel free to contact me if I can be of help, or you'd like to to hear more about this ongoing adventure.
I grew up in a hobby store called The Toy Soldier, where I learned a great many things about table top gaming and game design. Through dedication and perseverance these learnings turned into a lifelong career in the games industry. In honor of this journey I’ve created GameCraft, as a vehicle to share and help others on their own game-life adventures.
I'm usually playing multiple games at any given time, bouncing between them as my mood dictates. Lately, I've been playing A LOT of Apex Legends and COD Mobile, while Hearthstone continues to make the rotation on occasion.
I've been a gamer all my life. Grew up playing board and table-top games, and talked my way into a video game career spanning 50+ games and $1B in revenue for my employers. My passion is game design and world building, with (to my surprise) an aptitude for project management and team building.
Fresh out of college I applied to work at my favorite game company of the time, Games Workshop. Being a superfan and not knowing any better, I wrote this recommendation letter from a fictional Ork Warboss. Fortunately Games Workshop subscribed to the idea of hiring people passionate about their games, over people with great technical experience but no passion for the product. This was the first of many formative lessons I've learned over the years, and it is part of how I approach building the core group of any team. Specifically... I'd rather have a core team of passionate journey-men/women who work well together, than a group of highly experienced mercenaries who care little for the product.
My design career became official when my first adventure was published in a play aid for all fantasy game systems, called Sylvan Settings: Places of Mystery 3. This only came about due to the mentoring of Peter Rice at the Toy Soldier, and it had a tremendous impact on my confidence as a designer. This instilled the importance of mentoring team members, and is why I've enjoyed helping other passionate people succeed within the games industry ever since.