Game Designer   | |

 Awakening 

   Open World 3D Platformer About Language and Communication   

::   Platforms: Windows, Mac   ||   To Be Released May 2021   ::

Made as my final thesis project during the second year of my Game Design MFA at NYU, in collaboration with a team of four other MFAs.

For this project, made in the Unreal Engine, I handled all the programming, along with additional level design and art where needed.

The starting idea behind Awakening was to create a game in which the player could explore and discover a vast 3D space. To that end, our team decided to create an island and populate it with NPC creatures to make it feel more alive. However, as the project evolved, we realized the potential that communicating with the NPCS held.

In Awakening, the player must approach their environment as a visitor or an archeologist rather than a warrior or conquerer. The player must learn the ancient language of the various tribes on the island in order to communicate with them and help them resolve their differences. We tried to make the player's acquisition of language feel both naturalistic and satisfying by allowing them to guess the meanings of words from the context of their surroundings. 

The game will be released June of 2021 for PC and Mac.

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 The School 

   Low Poly VR Horror   

::   Platforms: Valve Index, VR Systems   ||   Released June 2020   ::

A major project undertaken as a capstone for my second semester doing my MFA at NYU. In contributed all the code and some additional sound design for this project.

The game was originally created as a way to work with VR within the limits of a smaller team. To that end, we settled on an early 3D-era, PS1 aesthetic soon after starting development, that both gave us a concrete atmosphere to work towards and enabled us to develop our VR spaces rapidly.

A particular challenge we faced was how to design movement for our game, so as mitigate the motion sickness that so often goes along with VR without pulling the player out of the game's horror atmosphere. To that end, I devised a system whereby the player character walks with a support after being injured during the events of the game. This feature was popular with our play-testers, who happily reported both less motion related nausea as well as an increased sense of atmosphere and dread.

The game was released for all VR platforms, and specifically the Valve index in June 2020.

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 Pocket Realms 

   Classic Roguelike Designed for Mobile Play   

::   Platforms: iOS, Android, Mac, Windows   ||   Released August 2016   ::

During my final year attending undergrad, between the blistering cold of a Chicago winter and the extreme stress of finals, for reasons still slightly mysterious to me, I decided one day that I was going to to play through some of the old ultra-difficult 80's roguelikes. And I wasn't going to just play them... I was going to beat them. I tried many such games, but most of all I found myself fascinated by the classic 1987 roguelike game Nethack.

 

This project was a result of that fascination.

When I played Nethack, I found that even when I put the game down, I would often continue to think about it, planning future turns in my head and executing them whenever I had a spare moment, like on the bus or the train. I wanted to replicate that feeling by creating a semi-classic roguelike that was designed from the ground up to be played on a mobile environment, so that players would always be able to jump in and out.

 

This was my first project made using the Unity engine, and was also my first time working on all elements of a game by myself. I saw the experience as a an exercise in "pure" design; in working within a well-established retro-style genre, I could maximize the number of novel gameplay ideas I could include with the least risk of bugs or flawed systems while keeping development to a reasonable timeframe.

I learned a lot working on Pocket Realms. I released the game in 2016 for iOS, Android and computer operating systems.

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Contact me at:

jravengame@gmail.com

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