Game Design, Client
A JRPG-style game designed for the band Japanese Breakfast to announce their 2017 tour.
Adapt a music video storyline to a game environment, and place it in a world that feels familiar to fans.
We got a really great reaction from Michelle's fans and the press, and made the front page of Polygon and Pitchfork along with lots of other great sites--and Michelle was so happy she even gave me and the game a shout-out in Rolling Stone, which was incredible. She's been so amazingly supportive and makes sure to give me a shout-out whenever the game comes up, which has been wonderful.
I started with a call with Michelle where we worked through some design exercises live in Google Slides so that I had idea of the tone and themes she wanted to convey.
I designed a first draft of the entire game, script, and character/ability list on paper before committing anything to RPGMaker. This helped Michelle and I do rapid changes over email in the course of several weeks. The first pass included a map of the entire ship labeled with areas for key items and moments.
There's a great GDC Talk this year from the creators of the Inkly Engine about how to structure quest systems that I used to design how the game listens for events, so that we could achieve the goal that there are multiple ways to win and the characters know what you have and haven't done.
For development, I stuck to the game design principle that all features needed to be in-game at the halfway point to allow for time to polish, so we used a lot of spreadsheets to keep track of features and their priority so that when we had to make hard calls about what to cut for time, we already had a list in order.
After all of the features were in, we used a mix of online and in-person playtesters to find bugs and add polish.
Takeaways & Retrospective
After talking to Michelle and her team, who were thrilled with the outcome of this, something I've decided to add to future projects is a running list of decisions in addition to the usual outstanding to-do's that live in a spreadsheet. It got unwieldy trying to dig through gmail to figure out what days we'd talked about what options and what we'd decided.