Gnomageddon

This title was still in production at Sony when we closed and was an unannounced project so I’m not really sure how much I’m allowed to talk about it.  Seeing how the studio is closed though I think I can at least mention the core of what it was about and what I was working on.

Gnomageddon was going to be a Free to Play 3rd Person action adventure type title that pitted a group of heroic gnomes protecting their neighborhood against an evil gnome and his army of corrupted creatures.  At the time of our closure we had two different games modes functioning:  Hold Out and Raid.

In Hold Out you were tasked with protecting your yard from waves upon waves of invaders.  If they managed to destroy your loot shed then the match was over.  Survive all the rounds and you earned loot that would enable you to upgrade your hero and make him more powerful.

In Raid you were tasked with going into other yards and completing various tasks like rescuing other captured gnomes, stealing loot back from the enemies or even engaging in a Boss Fight to reclaim the lawn.

I was a senior designer working with a junior designer to create all the design and content for the game.  As such I had a hand in all aspects of its creation which included things like:  UI Flow, HUD layout, Character Designs, Economy System, Crafting System, Boss Fights, Level Design / Flow, Game Modes, and Collectables.

Even though I had worked on the game for two years it was a very small team and we worked on content in Sprints so we would focus on one aspect of the game and get it working right and then move onto something else.  As such there tended to be a lot of up front design work creating documents and mapping out systems and then implementing whatever the team created from that, tweaking and tuning that.  And then we’d repeat the cycle over and over.  I was still creating design documents for various aspects of the game up until the end.

I created all of our levels in Unity using proxy art to mock up overall flow and implemented most of the gameplay which included enemy spawning locations, pathing data and wave makeup. I would do the initial set up on the Hold Out levels and the Junior designer would tweak the data for that.  I handled the Raid levels myself though as they were more story and flow based.  I also created cinematics for many of the levels using Usequencer to help get across gameplay ideas and any sort of story that I could.  The cinematics were very rough (just a day or so of messing around) but they helped to sell the potential of what the gameplay could be like.

Since I have a storytelling background I was tasked with creating the lore for the game as well as coming up with the majority of the characters and their back stories.  I made sure to tie the lore into every aspect of the game so everything had a “gnomified” feel to it whether it was the level design or the HUD elements or the items that could be crafted.

As a Free To Play game we had to have a wide variety of In Game items to purchase and I spent a good amount of time getting that system up and running creating all the items as well as temp icons for them, getting them set up in our Marketplace and working with coders to make sure they functioned properly.

The flow through the game was also a huge part of the experience and I worked closely with the UI team to make sure they understood exactly what we needed.  I created a large amount of mock ups to get the ideas across and when more detail was needed I would even use various app tools to create functioning versions of the UI so they could see exactly how I wanted it to work.

Overall the game was a great working experience and I wish we would have had the time to finish it.  Audiences that got to play test it responded very well to it and it would have been a nice bit of counter programming to the other game our studio did release.