Winter Hall – Lost Forest Games (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Winter Hall is a 1st person narrative focused horror game. It’s Amnesia: The Dark Descent meets Quantum Leap.
Created in Unreal Engine 4, Winter Hall is an ambitious and deep experience where the player travels through time to discover and then alter a connected web of stories in a 14th Century manor house.
You travel from the present day to the time of the Black Death, to 16th Century Witch Trials and to your own childhood. Each time you leap back into other people’s bodies, and are presented with crises in their lives which you must resolve as you see fit. Each trip fits into a narrative which resolves itself in a series of climactic encounters.
Winter Hall is themed around mortality, charting human responses to death. Death is a real antagonist in the game, a relentless opponent in the style of the danse macabre motif in medieval art. Narrative and exploration chapters are mixed in with horror survival gameplay.
I have been developing both the artistic and design side of Winter Hall, while hiring contractors and running the business. It’s been an extremely exciting and eye-opening experience, even after many years making games in the industry.
Assassin’s Creed: Chronicles – Climax (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Starting with gameplay ‘toys’, small test levels showcasing individual gameplay mechanics, we evaluated mechanics for traversal, combat and stealth for inclusion in the game.
We used Rational Level Design techniques introduced by Ubisoft to design levels which utilise a steady progression of interesting mechanics.
Unannounced Unreal 4 Project – Climax (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
I was involved in all aspects of this project, from the initial successful pitch following an RFP from the client, to the high level design and the creation of the game story flow and beats. I mapped out all progression mechanics and level designs, and created initial greyboxes and gameplay test levels.
Using Unreal 4 was an excellent production decision. We used Blueprint to rapidly prototype game systems, including interactive environment elements and a flexible tagged traversal system.
I worked closely with Production, Art and Code to lay the foundations of the game. I was also the main communicator with the IP holder and client, developing new ideas for expanding the IP which were enthusiastically received.
Working initially on a predecessor project to Robocraft, I helped the FreeJam team develop single player challenge levels in Unity. I also helped out with general metagame design on the project as it approached transition to Robocraft.
At a later stage I greyboxed an arctic-themed multiplayer map, using Maya and Unity, for one of the first Robocraft updates, at a time when the metagame was closely aligned with that of World of Tanks.
Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun – Climax (360, PS3, PC)
With a development slogan of “HBO does Zelda”, this was a mature and violent take on the hub/dungeon game structure.
I oversaw several linked teams composed of level designers, artists and coders, all working to create huge traversable levels which suited the skills and speed of our protagonist. We used Unreal 3 to create a stunning and atmospheric dual world which still holds up against current gen games. Unfortunately, a series of challenging technical, production and gameplay issues led to the project’s cancellation by the publisher.
Alien: Isolation Preproduction – Creative Assembly
I worked at Creative Assembly for almost two years, as Lead Level Designer and acting Lead Designer on the console team. We pitched a wide selection of projects to Sega, creating test levels and look-and-feel cinematics using the in-house engine.
I encouraged the development of a new visual scripting game editor called CAGE, and lead the design effort to create this new editor.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories – Climax (Wii, PS2, PSP)
I was proud to work on this groundbreaking game, which arguably pioneered the use of gameplay mechanics which are now commonplace in games which focus on interactive narrative.
We used many of the capabilities of the lead platform (the Wii), including controlling the torch and the phone using the Wiimote for unparalleled immersion. Puzzles made use of motion tracking and both sound and audio cues to tune into echoes of past events. Environmental storytelling was both rich and meaningful, with the player’s reactions to things they saw and heard being tracked by the game. These metrics were used to profile the player and even to modify the game world to unsettle them.
The level design team created some amazing atmospheric levels, stuffed with imaginative environmental stories. We also developed levels involving chase gameplay where the player had no weapons – it turned out my experience making heavily interconnected deathmatch levels was most valuable here, as following similar rules on circular environmental movement resulted in the best chase levels.
Elveon – Climax (360, PS3, PC)
This Unreal Engine 3 RPG was taken on from the now defunct publisher 10tacle. We restructured the game to have a Zelda style hub/dungeon layout. This was a great opportunity to learn Unreal, and although the game was never released, it laid the groundwork for subsequent work our team did with Unreal Engine.
For Elveon I greyboxed all the hub sections; learning open world level design and its gameplay and technical challenges. I became familiar with level streaming, visibility management and ecosystem design.
Silent Hill: Origins – Climax (PSP, PS2)
This was the first western-developed Silent Hill game. It was created for PSP and PS2 using the Renderware Studio middleware.
As Lead Level Designer I led a team of three level designers, working closely with code and art teams to develop gameplay systems and create atmospheric locations.
I greyboxed and implemented the Town, Alchemilla Hospital and Artaud Theater levels, using Maya and Renderware Studio. I took over as acting Lead Designer after first release, helping to complete and ship the Japanese SKU.
Ghost Rider (PS2, Xbox, PSP)
This was my first project as Lead Level Designer. It was great to learn a new middleware system, and to throw myself into the technical side of level creation. We came up with some great ways to achieve effects that were not possible out of the box in RW Studio.
Using Renderware Studio and Maya, myself and my team greyboxed and scripted Devil May Cry-style linked arena levels for this PS2/Xbox action game. These combat focused levels were interspersed with fast-paced driving sections.
This ambitious squad-based FPS for Infogrames was set in a futuristic city which had been taken over by combat robots. We used Maya and Java to create and script the levels.
Unfortunately this project, intended to be a PS2 launch title, was cancelled after Argonaut Games took over Particle Systems.
Quake 2 (PC)
During 1998 and 1999 I created multiplayer levels for Quake 2 using QERadiant, including grom_dm2, which was an ambitious exploration of BSP brushwork, and grom_dm3, which was designed for fast paced duel, 2v2 and 4v4 match play. grom_dm3 became part of the official map rotation in several online leagues.