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Rocket Arena

Rocket Arena is a playful third-person shooter built in Unreal Engine 4. It revolves around 3v3 competitive matches where players use rockets to knock their opponents out of the arena.

As First Strike’s Principal Game Designer, I helped set the tone and vision for both Rocket Arena and the design team itself. In true startup fashion, First Strike was looking to fill several positions while I was there, so I wore many hats. I served primarily as an IC, but also shared leadership responsibilities with the design producer and CEO/Creative Director.

My largest project was taking a struggling game mode and resdesigning it into a premier experience. With minimal direction from others I planned, tasked, implemented, tested, and polished the mode on a compressed timeline. Because the mode had been a problem area in the past, the publishers were justifiably concerned, and requested a deeper than usual level of visibility into the redesign. Ultimately the project was a success and the game mode was dramatically improved.

I was also extensively involved with the game’s UI, and built the loot box experience as well as the in-game store. I worked with Nexon to account for several forms of currency and multiple publishing regions. Though I had done a lot of F2P work in the past, being exposed to Nexon’s wealth of experience in this area was eye-opening.

At First Strike I was able to do the most challenging game design work I’ve encountered: making a first person shooter feel great on an Xbox Controller. My experience working on Destiny gave me a lot of background to draw on, but at First Strike every decision was mine, I wasn’t able to rely on decades of institutional knowledge that Bungie had accrued. I worked with a talented engineer who was willing to delve the deepest internals of Unreal Engine’s input and create a flexible system that felt absolutely amazing. We even found and submitted fixes for some bugs in Unreal’s raw input handling.

In addition to my IC responsibilities, I also taught other designers how to improve their testing skills and how to give our overworked CEO better insight into the state of their tasks. This helped reduce the overall stress level on our team, and also allowed our CEO to focus on running the business instead of running the design team. Our design producer was in his first position as a producer, so I was also able to help him learn how to use Jira more effectively and how to run agile meetings, as well as improving his skill messaging project status and process to the rest of the company.