Games and Mods

Codex: Terrans

[Codex Terran] on Google Drive

This Codex details complete rules for using the armies of StarCraft's Terrans in the Warhammer 40,000 tabletop wargame, including the complete arsenals of the Confederacy and Dominion from Marines to Battlecruisers, fortifications, unique heroes, fully customizable wargear, psychic powers, and more!

My biggest challenge creating Codex: Terrans, aside from trying to distill the vast history of the Terrans into something reasonably compact, was striking a balance between the traditions of Warhammer and the proper "feel" of a Terran army. I wanted to remain reasonably faithful to the video games, to preserve the distinctive feeling of the Terrans, but I also had to make many changes to fit the medium. For instance, vehicles in the StarCraft games usually have just one weapon specific to their role, but in Warhammer, players expect to be able to customize their vehicles with secondary weapons or different loadouts. I generally settled on a compromise where the exact kit seen in-game (complete with upgrades, where possible) was an option, but it was not the only option.

While the Terrans should feel different than existing Warhammer factions such as the Imperial Guard, they also shouldn't radically change the way the game is played - but at the same time, iconic units and abilities like Siege Tanks, cloaking, and nuclear strikes had to shine in their own ways. Coming up with mechanics that sold some of the Terrans' more complicated weapons while sticking to the letter of the Warhammer rules was challenging, but ultimately nearly everything fit into its new home. Even base-building, while not a staple of tabletop wargames by any means, has a nod in the fortifications an enterprising Terran player can make use of.

Other fan codicies:
Starcraft: [Terran] [Protoss] [Zerg - WIP]
Half-Life: [Resistance] [Combine] [Xen Aliens]
Command and Conquer: [GDI - WIP] [Nod - WIP] [Scrin - WIP]
Mass Effect: [Alliance] [Citadel - WIP] [Terminus - WIP] [Reapers - WIP]


Veria Diplomacy

Veria Diplomacy (working title) is a free-form role-playing wargame set in the vast fantasy world of Veria. Players take on the role of individual kingdoms in the most tumultuous eras and locations in Verian history, leading their nations against all comers. Players have to balance their domestic needs against the demands of their military, whether invading or defending, but also must consider the complex art of diplomacy in these fractured regions. Worse, events strike provinces and nations at random, for good or ill, and can change the balance of power at a moment's notice.

The game was designed primarily to provide background and setting detail for the Veria worldbuilding project, so it emphasizes flavor and realistic history. The mechanics are kept simple and fluid so that they can be adapted to better suit the story as it unfolds.

In order to coordinate players living across the country, we used Roll20.net for maps and to keep track of armies and other moving units. Other documents were used to handle provincial statistics, keep track of history and flavor details, and even follow the succession of each kingdom. As a bonus, this multi-faceted storage made it easy to sequester private information away from other players.


Conclave

Role: character designer, trailers

A third-person free-for-all in the style of classic fighting games, Conclave combines combo-based magical weapons and spells with dynamic multiplayer action. Players can choose from five unique classes, each with a distinctive style of magic that favors a particular playing style. Built in the Source engine.

Watch the Fall 2012 Trailer

As one of the designers on the Conclave team, I was primarily responsible for creating characters and their abilities, as well as balancing them based on feedback from internal playtesting. Our design team also worked on high-level gameplay design, such as the role of combos, blocking, movement, and healing. We worked closely with a separate engineering team, who did the majority of the implementation. In addition, I designed and editing the Conclave trailers, using in-game recordings and footage rendered in Source FilmMaker.


Combiform

Role: designer and programmer

Play the Combi-shooter demo!

Combiform was a 2012 USC graduate thesis created by Andy Uehara and Ed Yee. It was a gaming platform based around a unique controller that could physically connect to other controllers, adding a physical and social aspect to gameplay.

As part of the Combiform team, I was one of several designers working on applications that would demonstrate the range available to the platform. The first several games were primarily party-style games of dexterity and timing, so I was brought on to build a more traditional top-down shooter. This game, nicknamed "Combishooter", was designed for four players, each of whom would have their own spaceship avatar. These ships could be combined by connecting controllers, creating higher-level vessels that had unique properties. Players would need to master the various types of ship available to them as well as respond quickly to changing enemy tactics to succeed.


Black Blade

Role: level and gameplay designer

The year is 3547, and the galaxy is divided by war. The forces of the xenophobic, aggressive Sivari Empire have launched into an unprovoked assault on the Novan Confederacy, threatening hundreds of worlds and millions of citizens. Nova's first and last line of defense: the elite commandos of the Black Blade.

Created for an exercise in level design, Black Blade is an example of the "hypothetical game" method of design: construct a high-level design for an entire game, and then build pieces of it of an appropriate scope for each class milestone. Black Blade follows a member of the eponymous military order caught in the high-tech war between the Confederacy of Black Nova and the Sivari Empire.

In the case of Black Blade, three sections of the game were created more fully. "Down To Earth", a trench-running segment culminating in a large battle around a huge artillery gun, was created as a walkthrough and map to demonstrate the concepting process. "Bastion", a shorter section defending a fixed emplacement from incoming enemies, was designed and realized in the Unreal Engine, including terrain, static mesh objects, pickups, enemies, lights, scripts, and other elements to create a cohesive experience. "Adrift", the class final, was built first as a concept and then pitched to the class, before being built into a complete level, and involves heavy use of gravity and impulse volumes to create a floating graveyard of derelict spacecraft.


Defend Earth

Role: designer and programmer

Watch gameplay footage
of Defend Earth.

A top-down shooter in the mold of Striker or 1942, Defend Earth brings this staple genre to the Facebook market to take advantage of the lack of other games in the genre. It was built with a team of four in just three months as part of a USC rapid prototyping class focused on the free-to-play model.

Working on Defend Earth, I was able to use previous experience with the top-down shooter model of gameplay to rapidly build and implement gameplay mechanics such as enemy AI and powerups, leaving other team members free to focus on the Facebook integration side of programming. Our free-to-play model evolved over the course of the game's design thanks to advice from professional mentors, shifting from an emphasis on permanent upgrades of the player and game world to one-time-use powerups that could be sold more cheaply and more regularly.


Rotrace

Role: designer and test supervisor

Play Rotrace!

A tile-matching game in the vein of Bejeweled, with the twist that the player must juggle four different power meters along the periphery of the board, rotating the entire board to face each one in turn. Designed for iOS using touch-based and rotational input (hence the name), but prototyped on the PC with keyboard and mouse.


Classic Games

Role: programmer, team leader

Play this project

The classic games project requires a team of students to recreate a portion of a well-known game from the 8-bit or 16-bit era. In my case, I worked on a recreation of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, building a simplified version of the first level, including such classic elements as throwing weapon pots, hacking through grass for coins, and the famous ball-and-chain trooper. Our challenges included adapting a side-scrolling shooter engine to the top-down game style and building existing sprite-based graphics into a programmable Flash animation.


Nationforger

[view PDF]

Created for a multi-part game writing seminar, Nationforger consists of four main elements: a overview of gameplay concepts and features; a treatment of the story, its major players, and act structure; an in-depth, illustrated "walkthrough" of a short section of the game, describing both gameplay and story elements; and a pitch, performed lived at THQ studios, selling the game on the merits of both original gameplay and narrative.