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Curse of the Deadwood

Roles: Level Designer, Game Designer

Links: ( Steam )

Curse of the Deadwood is a twin-stick shooter with an emphasis on melee combat; and my first foray into professional game development as a level designer.

I joined the project at the tail end of pre-production, which meant that my main job at first was understanding and translating the overhead maps created by my lead at the time into Unity, as well as implementing maps I created myself.  I directly imported the maps into the engine; and using scale references comparing assets to map markers established a size for all levels in the game while whiteboxing them. Once the levels were whiteboxed I would go through and implement dialogues, objectives, map collision, and enemy spawn points to create a first-pass of the level and its gameplay in compliance with the Game Design Document. 

With gameplay and progression established, my tasks then moved onto first-pass setdressing across specific levels. Painting grass and defining paths and their materials, placing tree lines and structures, and general themes of areas were all part of my work. Certain areas that were home to either specific important objectives or large story beats were fully designed and setdressed by me to ensure gameplay, narrative, and aesthetic cohesion. 

Following the broader strokes of level and world design was my more nuanced work with level and boss balance. With the general framework for the game established for setdressing and programming teams to tackle, my focus fell onto designing bosses with the rest of the team and refining their fight, as well as playtesting my levels and updating the balance. Updating enemy count and pickups, as well as updating the boss encounters through altering their damage, attack rate, and enemy spawns. Through numerous playtesting, both with team members and solo tests, I balanced the experience through levels and bosses to try and match the flow we'd established for our title. 

Joining the team near the very beginning gave me valuable insights into the overall development process and the pitfalls that can show up; but also tackled, through proper planning and pre-production.  As the level designer both art and tech would come through me to be implemented and meshed together, and as such I needed to be communicative and available for my team to be able to have all aspects of development come together to form the experience we have today. Through said communication I've come to love my team, as well as have a deeper understanding of all branches of game development and their intricacies. Game development is difficult, but through all I've learned and experienced I'm still raring to go for the next one.