TEAM

Ayesha Khalid - Artist, Designer

Eunice Lim - Designer, Narrative, Artist

Jia Kai - Programmer

Yu Peng - Designer

MY RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Led the team and guided the overall creative direction

    • Set scope and priority.​

    • Maintained a macro design document, including narrative.

  • Managed the team.

    • Identified weekly sprint goals.

    • Improved pipeline between artists, programmers, and designers.

  • Scripted world gravity, collisions, animation, effects, feedback.

  • Prototyped levels to communicate ideas.

  • Ensured visual clarity.

Dreamwalker

Play as a Dreamwalker with the power to enter other's dreams. Explore the fear psyche, unfolding mysteries, fighting nightmares and protect dreamers.

Dreamwalker's levels are physics-based and test the player's mastery of the tilt control movement in various ways. Levels are as fluid as dreams, ranging from puzzles, strategy to action.

GENRE

2D tilt-control mobile

Puzzle, Action, Strategy.

GAME ENGINE

Unity, C#

VISION

Design Pillars

  • Digital tilt maze meets pac-man in dreams, feels like a darker Alice in Wonderland.

  • A game about overcoming fears, based on true stories.

  • Evoke emotion of Empathy.

  • Heavy & Surreal.

  • Control via tilting

  • Storytelling through gameplay.

  • Levels are alive

Dropped pillars: Control the world, not the player

MY GREATEST CHALLENGE

My greatest challenge and main role was managing the team and communicating the vision. Every day, my respect for creative directors and leads grows.

Using the Cerny method, we remade the same level each week, tackling new concerns. But this meant each level was filled with holes since the level design, balance, onboarding weren't being tackled until more fundamental questions like player controls were resolved. The team grew stressed and felt we weren't progressing. In response, I spent all my energy stabilizing the stress in the group by making progress tangible, while simultaneously solidifying the vision and improving workflow. I printed out weekly screenshots pasted it on our wall to remind them of how far we've come. 

Five weeks in, and it all paid off. We're in a much better place now! The team is confident enough that they can now declare to me "I can be the creative lead too!". Can't wait to show you what we've got!

Dreamwalker started as a PC based tilt-maze game inspired by my personal fears, the movie Inception, and the memory of my mother.

Designed to be an extremely difficult, highly strategic experience.

Pitch

I talked to everyone and looked for passion. I believe a person can learn and do anything as long as they're motivated.

Furthermore, scope wise, Dreamwalker was flexible enough to be scaled up or down (art, levels, programming) depending on team composition.

That being said, I ended up with a really skilled AND passionate team!

Week 1: Forming the Team

From early playtests, I found players experienced motion sickness when rotating which could invalidate core gameplay. My team did flawless work porting it to the phone! I never knew it was so easy!​

  • Outlined and prioritized experiments for the 3 months on a scatterplot.

  • Taught concepts on achieving visual clarity.

  • Learned about the accelerometer & mobile game pipeline.

Week 2: Do you feel dizzy?

Even the team kept forgetting they weren't the dreamer. Distinguishing this was critical to the vision I had: "Fears are hard to overcome alone, you could become someone's guiding light."

  • Wrote a user story, a player experiencing the full game.

  • Scripted a Level Maker tool capable of organic shapes.

  • Scripted gravity using accelerometer inputs.

Week 3: Will players realize they aren't the dreamer?

"Storytelling through Gameplay" was core to the vision. We had gameplay, but it didn't evoke empathy. In the previous prototype, players were confused so we focused on improving feedback.

  • Taught visual clarity concepts - density, saturation, values.

  • Scripted camera panning.

  • Learned to facilitate pipeline between specialized Artists and Coders.

Week 4: Storytelling through Gameplay

"Storytelling through Gameplay" was core to the vision. We had gameplay, but it didn't evoke empathy. In the previous prototype, players were confused so we focused on improving feedback.

  • Taught visual clarity concepts - density, saturation, values.

  • Scripted camera panning.

  • Learned to facilitate pipeline between specialized Artists and Coders.

Week 4: Storytelling through Gameplay

While the team refined the Examphobia level, I focused on finalizing. I hoped having a playable prototype of the start and end of the narrative would clarify the vision. The team loved the story.

  • Prototyped final levels, focused on communicating core idea.

  • Finalized scope in a Macro document. For each level:

    • Map size, difficulty

    • Theme

    • Goal (i.e. hidden quest objective)

    • Horror rating

    • Critical story beats

    • Combat encounters

    • Puzzles

  • Scripted different gravity modes, collisions.

Week 5: How many levels are there?
I've been struggling to empower the team creatively. To that end, made a major change, we dropped the single dreamer's linear story for multiple dreamer's short stories - Vignettes. Although we're sad to chop up the story, this change was also exciting since it allows exploration of all genres and points of view!
  • Redefined new playtest success cases.
  • Prototyped 1 new level solo to illustrate the change to Vignette.
  • Scripted gravity, collisions for a new Pressure level.
Sprint 6: Vignette
Focus: Refining the Pressure level
  • Learned rope physics.
Sprint 7: Vignette

Evolution of Examphobia (multiple iterations of the same level)

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