Role: Level/Narrative Designer
Team: 7 Members
Duration: February 2014 – April 2014
Pew is an asymmetric multiplayer deathmatch game in which two teams of archers must fight each other while a powerful player-controlled ogre rampages across the battlefield. The gameplay of Pew is focused around the dynamics that the two archer teams and the ogre cause. The teams of archers are evenly matched, but when the extra element of the lone ogre is thrown in, everything changes. On its own, the ogre can most likely take down one archer team, but if the two teams work together, then they can fell the beast. However, the archers must keep an eye on each other because only one team can win, so they’ll eventually be at each other’s throats. The goal of the game, no matter what role you’re playing, is to be the last team standing.
As the only person on the team with a hand in the narrative, it was my job to give some context to this game. The first thing I did was create all ten archer companies, complete with symbol, motto, HQ, and patron deity.
Next, I created the world map. It started off extremely simply, but I wasn’t satisfied with having the entire world of Pew condensed into such a small space, using only territory borders to break up the land. To that end, I remade the map and came up with something that I was much happier with, using the old map as a base. Afterwards, I took the map into Photoshop to make it more visually interesting.
Originally, the map was going to be used as a level selection screen, with each of the stars that represent faction headquarters as a level. This never made it into the game, however, and so the map was never implemented. Regardless, I made a mock-up of what it might look like with the stars actually acting as functional level select buttons.
I created one level for Pew: the Grove level. In this level, I wanted the players to feel like they were in a once-sacred place. The four standing stones and the central tree, each on their own hill, convey a sense of mysticism while the crates and barrels scattered throughout the level show what has become of this place.
Each of the standing stones has a color tint. The blue and yellow stones are the spawn points for the blue and yellow team while the red stone is the spawn point for the ogre. With the last stone being green, the four of them together represent the four fundamental elements of earth, air, water, and fire. This helps reinforce for the players that this is a befouled sacred place.
One of my major tasks was to develop Pew’s UI. I started off with an extremely simple mockup to begin visualizing where the different components of the UI should go. Then, after placing the mockup on a screenshot of Pew, I edited the components to look more streamlined, take up a bit less screen space, and gave them opacity so they weren’t as impairing to the players. They were still too large, though, and programming opacity was proving to be an issue, so I had to change the design again and we ended up with the final implemented UI, as seen in the slideshow below.
When I joined the project, the only sounds in the game were a “pew” noise from the archers when they fired and a “boom” from the ogre when it attacked. I took it upon myself to learn how to use Audacity to record and edit sounds. I then made all of the sounds present in Pew either from scratch using my own voice or by finding and tweaking sounds I found in a free online library. Below are three examples of audio. They are, in order, ogre_stomp, ogre_roar, and ogre_death.
- I created the game flow document, as seen above. The area over the club represents menu navigation, while the the rest of it gives a detailed account of what may occur in a match of Pew, from movement to combat to powerups.
- Playtesting and quality assurance
- Our team had weekly playtesting sessions where we would play Pew together, looking for bugs and giving each other feedback.
- Weapon balancing
- While I wasn’t in charge of creating and balancing the weapons, I did have a hand in tweaking their stats, testing out how they worked, and reporting to the team what I learned.
- Mechanics design
- Like the weapon balancing, I helped the other designers create and balance the special abilities that both the archers and ogre could use.