Entries in Games (18)

Tuesday
Apr292014

TOME - Immortal Arena

 

Role: Executive Producer and creator

Contribution: As Executive Producer on TOME - Immortal Arena, I was responsible for all aspects of the product, including design vision, tech stack, project plan, P&L, monetization model and final delivery. All development was done by the hand picked, rockstar team at KIXEYE.

Design Challenge: "The MOBA for everyone else”. This was one of our design principles for TOME - Immortal Arena. We wanted to build a MOBA from the ground up that would make the genre far more accessible to a wider audience of people who love games in general, not just competitive RTS players. This was also a series of firsts for KIXEYE including First 3D game. First MOBA for KIXEYE. First (sort of) fully server authoritative.

"The MOBA for everyone else”
What this meant was creating something that was hyper accessible on all fronts. We focused on having short play sessions, targeting 15 mins or less. The vision was, "two on your lunch break", we even used the phrase, "the lunch time MOBA". We also tried to get players in a match fast, with one click to start a match, with most matches made in less than two mins. We also had an ace in the hole, since we didn't have any client download.

"Always able to make progress”
Since I was originally hired at KIXEYE to make and MMO RPG, a genre I have huge passion for, I wanted to infuse RPG mechanics into TOME to give players a better sense of progress in the game. The core design principle was, "Players should always five mins away from something". Player should feel they are very close to the next level, ability, Relic, Blessing, etc and be presented explicit progress and success. One of the challenges with a PVP only game is a player's only source of feedback is their win/loss record with general, (be design), ends up at 50%

"Not a League of Legends clone”
The team loves LoL and many people still play it often, but we felt it is not a zero sum game - we don't have to, "beat" League of Legends to "win". 32 million people watched LoL on eSports, nearly all of them are not highly competitive ranked player and could be enjoying TOME as well as LoL. This was also why I chose to tackle 3v3 instead of 5v5 since I felt it was uncharted design space.

"Build an IP that has legs"
For me, the two most important tasks as a producer are 1) Creating lasting and emotionally rich IP and 2) Building passionate, hard working, efficient teams. If you can build a strong IP, then you can make enumeral games from it. You build a great team and there is no limit to what you and they can produce. 

Lastly, we wanted to change the perception of what a, “Facebook” game could be and set a new quality bar for browser based gaming. I could not be more proud of this work and the team I had the privilege to build and work for.

Tuesday
Apr292014

Backyard Monsters

Role: Executive Producer (supporting)

Contribution: After just being hired at KIXEYE, (it was actually called Casual Collective at the time), I was set up to learn the ropes of Free to Play by supporting Dave Scott who was then starting work on War Commander. My role on Backyard Monsters was that of a Product Manager / Project Manager.

Design Challenge: Put the team on a path to work more collaboratively and iterate faster. This was far less about changing the game, but more about changing the way the team worked. 

Backyard Monsters was already fairly successful game and was the foundation that allowed KIXEYE to develop Battle Pirates. When I joined the team I became part of a passionate group who knew their product and consumer well, were able to release quickly, but had a ton of churn in development with way too many things to do, but not a clear priority of which to do and why.

The first step was putting the team on Kanban as our development methodology (we would later switch to agile as the team grew in size). This illuminated all sorts of issues around work flow including issues with ownership, testing, spec documentation (there was none) and communication.

I remember my first stand up meeting, where I explained the rules, (say what you did the day before, what you are working on now, any blockers), I went first then Dave. Dave went through the flow as normal, then told Kevin and Eric what they needed to be working on, leaving Eric and Kevin to repeat what Dave just said. This showcased a huge flaw in how the team was working, because everyone was waiting for what Dave wanted and no one was empowered to execute on their own using their best judgement.

Once people could execute on their own, the next major step was establishing what they needed to execute against. I established a spec template and made sure all features both large and small were properly specified with wire frames. Wire frames was another fun project, since I could easily get into Flash and pull out all the assets, so I built a stencil set in Omnigraffle which allowed anyone on the team to build full, perfectly accurate UI mocks in minutes. That stencil set would be used all the way until the game was finally put into maintenance mode nearly three years later.

My last best action on BYM was hiring Ryan Sindledecker to take over as Product Manager and watch him help run the game smoothly and efficiently for the next two plus years. 

Thursday
Apr242014

War Commander

Role: Executive Producer (supporting)

Contribution: Once I joined KIXEYE, (it was actually called Casual Collective at the time), I was set up to learn the ropes of Free to Play by supporting Dave Scott, who was then starting work on War Commander. My role was that of a Product Manager / Project Manager.

Design Challenge: Follow up KIXEYE’s successful Battle Pirates with another RTS game that pushes the genre further adding in individual unit control and synchronous battles.

Funny story, the artist who did this used my head as reference. At the time War Commander had just started development and the team was just Dave Scott, another engineer and myself. The plan at the time was to get War Commander out in a few months which I quickly realized was not going to happen. One of my favorite moments was when I asked to read the GDD for War Commander and was told there wasn't one, nor a concept doc. In fact there were no words what-so-ever written down documenting the game. I knew instantly what my first job was.


The main thing I focused on in those early days was process. Though KIXEYE had made two great products in Back Yard Monsters and Battle Pirates, they were not set up to be able to repeat those successes. I started off by documenting everything, getting the whole company to move over to Google Docs. Then went to task building their first specification templates, which they still use today. Next was implementing Scrum on Back Yard Monsters and War Commander. Lastly I established proper UX discipline, making sure we did wire frames and user testing as well as data driven development. 

I had the good fortune to help get War Commander started on the right track and got to enjoy seeing the new people hired to the team build upon this foundation, making War Commander another great success for KIXEYE. Only thing better than that was seeing the new best practices take hold and watch those once learning become the teachers.

Sunday
Dec122010

Reset Generation - Game (S60 and Web)

Role: Producer
Contribution: As Producer on Reset Generation I was responsible for all aspects of design and development. All development was done by the amazing team at RedLynx.

Design Challenge: Reset Generation was designed to be an entirely new kind of mobile game that connected Mobile to PC gamers in a seamless multiplayer experience. The vision was to create a game that was inviting to play and unfairly addictive. These two points would be our guiding design principles as we set out to make a game about games, a unique homage to all things gaming. This game would go on to win numerous awards to accolades including a 10/10 from Pocket Gamer.

Reset Generation Logo

The above logo for the game was inspired by old pixel games like Space Invaders, Asteroids, Defender, Adventure, etc. The name was inspired from a Salon.com article about this group of kids, now adults, who grew up playing videogames and how that has altered their behavior.

Reset Generation on N78 and N86

Reset Generation, is bright, colorful and joyfully celebratory of all things video games. Truly designed for a mobile user, with a focus on one-thumb game play with an average play-session length of ten minutes. The two major design challenges in creating a mobile multiplayer game are; how do you allow players to quickly get into a multiplayer match and second, how do you keep all players interested and active for the entire game without wanting to quit part way through, especially if they are losing?

Reset Generation on N95 8GB

The first problem was solved by creating an entirely new matching system for mobile and the second by creating a, “Rubberband Effect”, such that even when down a player always had a chance to comeback and steal victory from the jaws of defeat.

Reset Generation on N72 and E75

Reset Generation was over flowing with game references including, princesses, heros, castles, blocks, cannons, weapons (BFGP - Biggest Freaking Gun Possible), etc. Though the mechanics were also designed to acknowledge games of the past, the main design of these were to allow for a fast passed tactical game that would work well on mobile and PC without affording an unfair advantage to the PC gamers who woud have larger screens and massive network bandwidth, with little to no latency. Turns were resolved some asynchronously and some were synchronized to keep a pass that was active, for a tactical game, but not too fast for a mobile game, which, at the time, were not well suited for high activity give the poor rocker input of most devices.

Reset Generation on 6630 and N82

Besides the Pocket Gamer award Reset Generation would earn recognition from myriad of sources. 

Evergeek (4.75 / 5)
"The age of mobile gaming second-citizenship has ended with the opening of a multicolored, multiplayer, multilayered can of online, cross-platform, old-school-inspired Whoop-Ass."
View full story

MTV
"I highly recommend you check out "Reset Generation" (available free here); it's an immensely addictive combo of "Tetris" and "Advance Wars"and only takes a few minutes to pick up."
View full story

PCWorld
"I've been playing Reset Generation--the most cleverly designed, most addictive, and most hard-to-quickly-describe puzzle game in ages."
View full story

 

Sunday
Dec122010

Reset Generation - Website 

Role: Producer and Art Director
Contribution: Working with Themis Group, I led the art direction for the game/website

Design Challenge: Create a framework for the web version of the Reset Generation game to be housed in, that also gave the user quick access to specific gaming features - Rankings, Player Page, Player of the Day, Trophies, News and Event, etc.

Home page - Reset Generation.com

 The main goal for the home page was to create a comfortable place for users to play Reset Generation. The secondary goals for the site where to promote the game in general as well as promote N-Gage in general. One of the interesting things we did to support this, was embedded the game widget in a Nokia device frame that could be changed on the backend to promote whatever was the latest N-Gage compatible device.

 Rankings - Reset Generation.com

Rankings was bay far the most popular feature on N-Gage and Reset Generation would have some of the most active leaderboards of all N-Gage games. To avoid user having to sift through tons of boards and stats, we limited the number of stats we tracked for rankings, but added a "Belt" system that allowed players to earn belts if they were the current leader in a specific event i.e. Princess Rescued, best specific hero, etc. This allowed user to have unique reward, but not leave it locked to one player, like the top five in ranking boards tend to be.

Player Page - Reset Generation.com

Since Reset Generation was built to be a multiplayer game, Player Pages were critical to the success of the game. In addition to the expect features of stats, belts, achievements and hero art, we added a replay system that allowed users to watch all their past matches or the matches of others to learn tips and tricks on how to improve their game play. This was a first of it's kind for a mobile game.