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TinkerBox HD

TinkerBox has been the most fun I've had with a project in a long time. Working on a small team again, I had the joy of flexing design, QA, and production muscles. TinkerBox was the creation of a small team of dedicated individuals at Subatomic Studios. With it's background as the pre-eminent tower defence developer, this was a bold direction choice for Subatomic Studios. With solid download numbers, that bravery was apparently not misplaced.

 

Fieldrunners DLC #2

Fieldrunners DLC 2 brought with it 3 new levels, 3 new towers, and a new Multiplayer way of playing. Unfortunately, it also brought a few... let's say... issues. Stepping away from my normal role in Design, I was brought on as Lead QA to oversee a post-ship focused bug finding, documenting, and terminating team. Over the course of 2 months, we hunted, fixed, and purged over 150 issues.

 

 

Dance Central

On Dance Central, we were charged with A: legitimizing Microsoft's foray into motion sensing, the Kinect, B: revitalizing the dance genre in US gaming, and C: teaching people to actually dance. Millions of units later, we have a winner.

My role on Dance Central was largely initial concepting, global design, and pushing a prototype through to production level with the help of the excellent Fire Hose Games.

 

 

 


Rock Band 3

On Rock Band 3, I was brought in for preproduction, proof of concept, and prototype work on the keyboard and guitar peripherals. While both were fun, the six-string pro guitar was really the star of the show. Communicating to the player which of the 102 buttons to press while strumming the 6 strings was challenging, but the players really responded. Unfortunately, the pro guitar units were not physically ready to ship at launch, and as such this key feature was sadly missed by most of our potential players.

 

 

 

Recent

The Beatles: Rock Band

There is something kind of awe-inspiring about being entrusted with the image of the most legendary band of all time. It's like trying to do justice to Chopin, or trying to capture the essence of Shakespeare... but while they're alive, looking over your shoulder, and occasionally frowning. Ultimately, I think we did them justice. We introduced a new generation of fans to the music which not only defined the time they were in, but defined how music would be produced for decades to come.

 

Lego Rock Band (console)

I'll admit: I was skeptical at first too. Think about it, though, and it makes sense. Lego Rock Band is a fusion of musical gameplay with an established family-friendly shell. Traveler's Tales did a great job developing friendlier lego-centric gameplay mechanics in an exciting world. Where else are you going to run from a lego tyrannosaurs rex while playing the guitar solo from The Blue Oyster Cult's "Godzilla"? This lets the main game line push deeper into more mature, somber themes, while having a version that anybody can play.

 

Lego Rock Band (Nintendo DS)

The DS version is a unique property, with Rock Band Unplugged-like button based gameplay and a strong multiplayer component. This was handled by the great people at Backbone Entertainment. Well done, guys!

 

Rock Band Unplugged

Portable Rock Band? If you've played phase, you might have some idea what is coming here. This is multitrack button-based rhythm gameplay at it's finest. Instead of just reskinning what had come before, the guys at Backbone took creative ownership and really ran with a difficult problem.

Again, interacting with Backbone was a joy. I always knew playtest results would be taken and thought about seriously. Which is not to say they cowtowed (the response would sometimes be "you're on crack and here is why") but the response would always be well thought out and would advance the overall dialog.

Also thanks to DJ Philip Tan and MIT Gambit for letting us use their facilities for running external playtests. Thanks for supporting the local development community, guys!

 

Rock Band 2

Sometimes life gives you second chances. Rock Band 2 was a chance to polish up RB1 with all of the things that we didn't have time to do before (And fix that awful add-a-player screen from RB1. Sorry about that!).

The biggest feature that we managed to add, which involved no small amount of technical and legal hurdles, was musical continuation. Up until this point, when you bought any game sequel, the stuff from the previous game was firewalled off to you. This didn't fit the soul of music. On Rock Band 2, we worked with Microsoft, Sony, the record labels, the artists, armies of lawers, and swaths of programmers to change that metaphor. Suddenly, everything you bought lived within one experiential world. The music continued, it was just a question of which particular game you wanted to experience it in.

 


Rock Band 1

Rock Band was a difficult nut to crack. We knew we wanted to replicate the sense of being in a full band, but what did that even mean? This wouldn't have been possible without an amazing design team, including the in-the-moment Rob Kay (Gutiar Hero), the deep thinking Dan Teasdale (Destroy All Humans), and the ever systematizing Chris Foster (Dungeons & Dragons Online). They were all at the top of their games.

 


Phase

Phase was a unique design challenge, as the system dynamically composed gem tracks to any music that the player might give to it. As such, the larger narrative structure, as well as the moment-to-moment gameplay, had to be as comfortable with Cowboy Troy as it was with Plushgun. This was also for the 4th generation iPod (yes, before the iPod touch), which was a wholly unproven platform for gaming.

I did 2 months of preproduction prototyping on this fun little title before the final design and team was decided upon. I was pulled off Phase to work on Rock Band.

 

Guitar Hero 2

Guitar Hero 2, one of the bestselling games of 2006, has developed quite the cult following. There are people to this day who swear it is the best of the Guitar Hero line. As the designer on the project, I saw the need to fix the narrative shortcomings of Guitar Hero 1, immerse the player more deeply into the touring musician lifestyle, and give the fans something to be really excited about again. We also made many changes under the hood to the control system design, making this the cleanest playing Guitar Hero. I'd say we succeeded at all of our goals.

 


 

Older

Karaoke Revolution: Party

Virtually begging to be played while drinking or doing other things we couldn't put on the box, Karaoke Revolution: Party is a party game through and through. Dispelling with the lives, the levels, and the controller, KRP creates a strangely compelling experience without everything that is considered standard in a modern game design.

Not only that, but KRP has a full Sing and Dance mode, with the dance authoring effort spearheaded by yours truly. As the legendary Dance Dance Revolution music game series has always had a big influence on me, and it was a dream come true to not just work on it, but to help reinvent it.

 



EyeToy: AntiGrav

 

Creating a complicated game highly dependent upon the performance of an unproven technology in real-world situations was challenging. But the outcome was worth the effort. Reaction has been strong, earning Eyetoy Antigrav places in more than a dozen must-have lists, in publications ranging from Parade to MTV.com.

I still think it was one of the most underrated games of 2003. A big part of that was our fault: we didn't expect expect the inherent problems using the low-dynamic-range camera in real living room situations, which caused problems for many users. However, if you have the chance, and a realtively quiet living room in the middle of the night, I strongly recommend the experience.

 

Empires: Dawn of the Modern World

Mixing one part Historical Real Time Strategy and one part pick-up-and-go fun, Dawn of the Modern World lets you build an Empire from nothingness, struggle through adversity, and finally gloat on the field of battle as your enemies are carted away. Historically accurate munitions mix with spells and effects in what IGN called "One thousand years of history, one thousand hours of fun"


Single Player Demo

NCAA Basketball 2K3

 

Sega Sports / VCE / Kush is proud to present NCAA Basketball 2k3. Being the first year the college game has been split from the main NBA 2K line, this was to be a big proving ground for Kush and VCE. Thankfully, things came out quite well. With a critically acclaimed legacy mode, more open action on the floor, and dead-on statistics, NCAA Basketball 2K3 was the best college hoops game the year it was released. It's even held up in value significantly better than the rest of the 2k3 lineup, owing to great design, good gameplay, and intelligently selected options.

...IGN review