I make things
I’m a video game and interaction designer with over 10 years’ experience. A product of a childhood enriched with pen and paper role playing games, miniature painting and hacking away on a C64 trying to mimic the games I played. I’ve always been draw to interactive forms of media and storytelling.
I like to ground my work in fairly abstract ways, often drawing on philosophy and cognitive psychology while trying to push aesthetics in new directions. The quest to better understand the world around me and the way the human mind works is mirrored in a lot of my more experimental designs.
My experience crosses technical, design, artistic and engineering fields and I’m always looking for new creative challenges. Right now I’m seeking opportunities to engage larger audiences with my work.
Co-founder and creative director of Attract Mode Games.
Our first original IP and award winning title Tail Drift, is available now on iOS and Android. The Attract Mode crew and I are plugging away on 'Game 2' in between other projects.
Previous clients and colleagues include:
I teach game design, aesthetics, narrative and visual design to students at the Queensland University of Technology.
Web design is an old trade for me however I like to keep those skill sharp with the occasional side project.
Currently butchering Google's material design language with this portfolio, playing with Node.js and building out the web presence for SpungeGames
Tail Drift started as a solo competition entry for a global Unity 2011 Flash in a Flash competition. After winning the grand prize the game took a back seat to other projects until an opportunity surfaced with Right Pedal Studios to put more resources behind it on mobile platforms and to experiment with VR.
Strong visual design elements have always been something I covet in my work and this one is no exception. I took a lot of cues from childhood favourites like Sonic and Mario where the environments were as equally colourful and quirky as the characters. Form and silhouettes were critical in early concepts with bold set pieces using broad strokes of colour. The overall pallet is bright and airy with lots of sunset washed blues and greens.
The atmosphere and distance fog effects were often exaggerated to give the air a kind of presence that holds everything together. Constantly reinforcing the player’s sense of direction and location through prop placement was also critical. Large areas of track pitted against open sky required a study of patterns for players to gauge a sense of speed in locations where track-side props were impractical. Track design was a careful blend of shapes to fit mechanics combined with natural vistas that aided in general course awareness.
The track design and general mechanics of the game presented interesting challenges for a racing title. Most games in this genre use barriers combined with turns to control speed yet there is an obvious absence of walls in Tail Drift. The racing gameplay hinges on making trade-offs between power-ups and swinging your vehicle into optimal racing lines where gravity slingshots the player around the track. The principal of an optimal path is the same but Tail Drift presents a different visual language for the players to explore, learn and experiment with.
I started this project as the sole developer so I wore a lot of hats on this one. The mobile version saw another programmer and artist on board full time and the VR + Kinect experiments pulled in another specalist programmer.
Ski Safari: AT
Adventure Time was such a joyous IP to work with. The show’s followers are amazingly passionate so I knew from the outset this project had to be full-on fan service. With the excellent groundwork of Ski Safari to build upon I set about making the Adventure Time characters the primary focus of the game. I did a lot of work crafting personal interactions with Finn, Jake and the all-star cast of the show. New mechanics were designed for all the primary characters with a scripted content director to stage character combinations on the slopes at set intervals.
I also felt that Finn's relationship with Jake the dog was at the core of the show. Jake was written as an AI controlled player sliding down the slopes, he and the player never far apart. Even when off-screen Jake will always slow down or speed up to re-join his best friend. Additionally, all of the new character interactions can be shared by Finn and Jake reinforcing their special relationship.
Beyond the extensive character work a lot of design time was spent on ratcheting up player progression, reward and retention systems. The mission system from the original Ski Safari remained relatively untouched but every other core system was redesigned to cater to different types of players. This included an extensive upgrade system and some gacha-ish challenge rewards with progressive daily quests. The levelling system was refactored to cater to competitive players offering score scaling incentives to mission progression and the in-game store was decked out with content that will take players thousands of hours to explore and unlock.
Working with Defiant & Cartoon Network is always a blessing because I get to tackle different roles. I started with the design and concept work exploring the IP and matching scope with the original Ski Safari and Cartoon Network's goals. Once all that was nailed down I switched gears and dived into the code to make the necessary changes and improvements required. An additional programmer and designer were added to the project in the final months to help with UI and economy design respectively.
Ben 10 Slammers
Forever a fan of Trading Card Games I was delighted to have an opportunity to design and develop a digital card game for Cartoon Network's Ben 10 property. I started with several playable paper versions of the game, play tested and iterated on the design all the way though to programming the final digital version.
Designing a game that was approachable for the young target audience yet still offered the kind of deep strategies CCG players have come to expect was a fun challenge. We blended concepts from a few different genres to simplify moving the player through the typical stages of a turn based strategy title.
Deck building takes some queues from arcade games where players select three heroes they want to fight with and each hero’s card list is combined to make the players deck for that battle. Battles play out almost like Pokémon where only one hero is active at a time and each has several unique actions they can perform. A player wins by knocking out their opponent's three heroes.
A supporting card system is used to interact with some basic resources and provide players opportunities to capitalise on the random draw to gain or mitigate advantages. The support card system was drawn from more traditional tabletop board games. Cards typically represent simple state or resource changes such as dealing damage, healing, allowing hero swaps or providing more card options or support resources.
The game also had to do prime service to the Ben 10 licence by making sure all of the fan favourites were well represented and not breaking any of the show canon with the mechanics. One of the primary themes of Ben 10 involves heroes that inherently counter each other’s fighting strategies so I wanted the battle system to be highly flexible with a lot of dynamic counters to specific hero driven strategies. This revolved around a token system that added or removed buff/debuff effects to represent each hero’s unique abilities. Heroes in Ben 10 also evolve over time so a simple levelling system was created increasing the hero’s starting health, unlocking new permanent abilities and adding more powerful cards to their card list each level.