Profile: Michael A Michael
I have 8 years games industry experience, with a strong background in Level Design. Recently, my design experience has been branching into Games Design as well, where I've been given the creative freedom to document gameplay scenarios and mission objectives, which is an area I'd like to continue to gain experience in. I have worked on a variety of genres and platforms, but would like to focus more on smaller projects, such as indie or mobile titles. Due to my varied experience, I can adapt to different projects and working styles, providing feedback and suggestions wherever I can while always keeping an open mind.
The titles I've worked on in the past range from family-friendly theme park games such as Thrillville (PS, XBox), 2D puzzle/platformers (Hydroventure on the Wii) and massively multiplayer titles such as Transformers Universe (Browser).
I am currently working on a first-person, science fiction title based on a novel written by Christopher Brookmeyer called "Bedlam". It's a contract Lead Level Designer position, and it has given me the opportunity to propose my own design ideas and implement them from the ground up, while also working in conjunction with the writer to make sure the script ties in with both my design layouts and game objectives.
I have complete ownership over my work, and being part of a small team, I always make sure I communicate and get feedback from everyone involved. I'm able to get on with people with various backgrounds and expertise, so this has never been a problem.
I sometimes vary the design process depending on what kind of project I'm working on, but I usually start by documenting what the objective of the level is and how the player will achieve their goal. From this high level idea, I proceed to draw a very rough sketch on paper (top-down) of the player path and points of interest (I've done this using Photoshop in the past), and make a note of what art assets I will need to recreate the theme of the area, and this is then discussed with the artists who provide me with the building blocks I need.
Once an initial layout has been produced, I will start placing gameplay elements into the scene (where I want enemies to go, weapon pickups, etc). The level will then go through various art passes to make it look pretty, and I will tweak any aspects of the gameplay to make sure the player experience is well balanced and is not too frustrating. I can break this design process further if you'd care to e-mail me about it. You can find out more about the game I'm working on here:
Extensive use of in-house 2D/3D editing tools.
Level blockouts using 3D art packages such as Maya.
Documentation of game concepts, including fleshing out game mechanics and player objectives.
Pacing/balancing game levels for a fun and challenging player experience.
Quality assurance experience, providing creative feedback on both the game experience and tools.