3D Platformer-collectathon focused on exploration and creative movement
Team size: 6
Dev time: ~7 months
Release: Shipped on Steam April 24th 2023
Work environment: Hybrid, student project
My role: Lead Level Designer
Game flow documentation
Drawing level layouts
Building level blockouts in-engine
Modeling with Unity Probuilder tools
Terrain sculpting with Unity terrain tools
Ex. level obstacles, triggering dialogue/cinematics
Promotional art created by Karina Teruya.
Final Game - Gameplay Video
Gameplay video showing my contributions and design decisions for the starting area.
Our goal for the project was to create a relaxing 3D platformer built on open-ended exploration that took advantage of the "solarpunk" aesthetic, which emphasizes a positive outlook on technology’s future relationship with nature.
One of my personal goals was to design levels that would reinforce the relaxing, cozy, and explorative nature of the game, as well as take advantage of the solarpunk aesthetic to give it relevance to the gameplay.
Documentation: Pre-Production Bible
During this time, I worked alongside the rest of the team in developing the game's Pre-Production Bible in Miro. It has now been archived, as we transitioned over to a full Production Bible.
This stage of development was crucial to determining our vision for the game.
After creating our Pre-Production Bible, we moved on to developing a prototype of the game to develop and playtest the game's core systems and design.
My contributions to the prototype are shown in this video:
Prototype Level Design Process
Level Layout Sketch
I drew up this level layout in Miro to illustrate my initial overall plan for the prototype level.
I used Miro's comment system to provide important details about certain locations.
Significant changes to this layout were made as the level was built and iterated upon in-engine, but setting up the foundational elements of the map here was critically important.
Since I was working on a 3D game, I preferred to use this map to cover the general locations of objects and landmarks, rather than try to communicate the intricacies of each platforming section, as I would soon block out and iterate on those sections myself in-engine.
Blockout modeling in Probuilder
Once we moved on to full production, the prototype area was developed into the starting area for the full game.
The callout sheet below demonstrates the level design changes that the prototype area of the game went through over the course of development, based on results from playtests.
Level Flow and Design Philosophy
The callout sheet below details the player flow and my thought process in designing the starting area.
A playable demo of Re:Fresh was showcased at GDC 2023 prior to the game's release. As a team, we communicated with the University of Texas Fine Arts department over several weeks to gain their sponsorship to attend the convention and show the game at GDC Play.
Pictured (Left to right):
Melody Geiger, Karina Teruya, Connor Blankenship, Myself, Joseph Horak
Re:Fresh was met with incredibly positive reception upon release. Among other positive points, players cited:
Engaging level design/environments
A cute, cozy, and relaxing atmosphere
Fun controls and movement
We considered the project a great success, as we felt we achieved the goals we set out for in developing the game, both in its release and the specific way it resonated with players.
Trailer created by Katherine Creevy. Only shown here to provide additional info on the game.
Melody Geiger - Producer, Level Setdresser
Connor Blankenship - Lead Systems Designer
Joseph Horak - Lead Narrative Designer, Narrative Programmer
Will Sords - Audio Lead, Associate Producer
Karina Teruya - Lead Artist, Art Director