Shiro Games are the makers of Evoland 1 & 2 as well as Northgard. They are currently working on the upcoming Darksburg, a cooperative survival in which the players can embody very different characters. They are also starting several new projects not to lose time in between two productions.
I had the opportunity to work as a game designer on Darksburg alongside a team of 15 people (7 artists, 3 programmers, 1 game designer, 1 level designer, 3 sales managers) under the direction of the Lead game designer and the Creative director.
I also had the opportunity to work on two of the new projects with the 2 creative directors.
On Darksburg I was in charge of 3 main aspects : the player’s progression with their character and the game feel as well as UI/UX.
Darksburg‘s early access launched on Feb. 12 2020.
I worked on giving the 4 main characters a interesting leveling and unlocking of new abilities and perks.
To do a relevant work, I relied on the existing skillset every character has as well as on the character’s fantasy and lore. My main constraint was that I had to create progression that felt like so but still felt fair to other players with another level, keeping the game balance. Also, a beginner should not be able to play with a level max character as the Perks set would then be too risky for them but devastating in the hands of a experienced player.
We tried several systems to do so, therefore I had to iterate a lot on the actual perks.
I worked a lot on the feeling of the game. Since a lot of it is to slash zombies with the same skillset, it must feel good to do so.
Therefore, I highlighted to the team (mostly VFX and UI artists) the missing signs and feedbacks as well as advising on the camera changes and gameplay tweaks to make it feel good.
Regarding the fact that a lot of players had a solo experience, I also worked on correcting AIs for them to follow and help the player the best they could while making the player shine and still feel responsible for the win or loss of the game.
We couldn’t wipe everything we already have and make a whole new behavior tree as the production was pretty advanced so with the main AI programmer, we decided to analyze what currently existed and how it could be improved and easier to update in the future.
I did mock-ups for almost every screen of the game which was a good way to design some micro-elements such as the experience or score calculation at the end of a run : if I have to make a screen for it, I need to design how it will work which led to interesting conversations with the team.
I tried to make mock-ups easy to understand as well for the programmers (with a scheme of what every interaction will do) as for the artists (a lot of iterations on compositions)
Regarding the rogue-lite update, I made portions of levels to be used in the procedural generation. I created those spaces so they would be versatile (several possibilities to come in, explore and come out), they were also designed to encourage players to explore and to have enough dark corners so the enemies could spawn and create interesting situations.
Once validated, I placed the enemies’ spawns possibilies as well as treasures and bonuses for the players to reward their explorations. I also tagged the tiles so they would be considered the main path or secondary locations.
I worked on 2 new games (one I can’t speak about and a tactical RPG) in which I was in charge of determining the main gameplays, the main loops and clear the 3C.
I therefore did a lot of research and benchmark to fit the genre and intentions of the games and to have a clear vision of what exists. I also used different design methodologies regarding the specificity of the projects.