Enklu was a platform built to work with AR and VR on the web and on various devices. I was a designer on a lot of projects meaning I would create designs for clients and present slideshows for review, then I would work with contracts and assist to ensure the experience went well. I’d work on also creating art and code for the various projects I worked on using Enklu’s amazing platform and Unity.
There were a lot of fans like the above who created videos on some of the shows we ran.
We spent most of our energy working with Hololens and Oculus.
You can see how things slowly improved over time with the Unreal Garden below.
Above are various videos of the unreal garden in development (hence debug menus in the back), sometimes the mouse didn’t work quite as well as a hand movement would with HoloLens 2.
Sakeworld is a retro sidescrolling beat ’em up game made for mobile devices with some consoles. You can check it out here.
I worked as a designer so I helped set up designs for enemies, and worked on game balance. I also did a lot of art mock-ups, helped with minor art setup, and fixed some things like adding characters to the font that didn’t exist (I just created them by hand what I thought would fit best with the font).
I mainly just worked in spreadsheets and Google Docs but I did help with some minor art things.
For things like the different balloon effects, I decided I should also create a 4 piece animation for this as well (popping animation), though, it may have been a little smoother with a 6-8 frame animation, the small screen size makes it not very noticeable, so this works fine for the size I’m working with (this was before they moved to consoles).
Here are some example documents and templates I created to help the game stay more organized (this changed more later on but it shows some of the thinking involved with the game…
I also would create a lot of quick mock-up art to show what direction to move things in.
I did not stay with the team as I eventually moved on to other work that paid better but It’s nice to see the final output is available now.
The Career of Peter is based on a few movies and features someone playing against AI (that basically rules the world) at card games. I worked on the art and tried to have a similar style to Papers Please. I only had 16 colors to work with but I tried to maxize what I could. The actual size of the art is quite small. My programmer was able to work his magic to get me extra space for art in this tiny platform so it’s a little special in that regard.
I should mention there is a nazi and communist warning as they use their AI to take over everything and you try and stop it.
Our hero is an unprofessional vampire hunter, and he hears of a shapeshifting vampire in a castle. The only way to prevent the vampire from forming as his friends is to go alone. Unfortunately, our hero had fallen into a cloning machine a few weeks back and his clones refuse to leave him alone and follow him into the castle.
Luckily the vampire doesn’t have a gun. Our hero(s) treads lightly…
I made the art in a few hours so it’s pretty sloppy. But you can’t really tell from the engine anyway lol.
A multiplayer first-person shooter practice project. I focused on improving my rigging/modeling and doing some game UI work. We sat down, went over the design, and I got to work.
How can I design a UI that fits a cowboy theme but is simple enough to be understood at a glance? How can I go about creating and modeling a bird character as a player?
The end result for my UI is below. While it could use further UX testing it worked well enough for a starting screen.
To get started the first thing I did was work with the programmer to find a font we agreed on. We looked at many free fonts on Google Fonts and settled on Rye and later Smokum. The programmer then set up some placeholder stuff for now.
3D model and rig
From here I started to work out some basic models that could be used for characters. I created a very simple bird in Blender.
I would go back and update it further and you can see a video below of me trying out a later version.
With a working model, I handed that off for my programmer to use as I got back to the art assets for the menu.
And yeah, went through a variety of versions until I settled on a style I liked.
I made a lot of this in Affinity Design and Photoshop and was still figuring out the best way to display things
Originally I quickly painted some wood but it didn’t have the effect I wanted… So I just made a simpler version.
I would work on various art elements.
Not all my ideas were that great but I thought the different hats could be used for teams or player identifers…
I thought about different ways to display the score…And yeah they were too complicated but it was fun to think about nonetheless.
I thought about other more complicated cases…
I don’t think we even ended up using a scoreboard in the end lol. It was still some decent practice on game UI and rigging and would later help me feel more comfortable setting up rigging for other more complicated models.
Stoopid TV was an action co-op game about a father who is missing the big game. Use your TV bunny ears to get a clear channel to watch the football game using your Xbox controller. Each person plays as one ear so you’ll have to work together to find the right channel. This game jam took place over a few days.
My Virtual Guinea Pig (V-Pig) was a mobile virtual pet game. I spend a nice chunk of time doing market research, creating mobile builds, and working on 2D art assets. I was actually contracted to create a demo. I hired a contractor to work on the programming while I handled the art and design. I created some mock-ups in Figma, Photoshop, and Affinity Design. Sadly my client was unable to finish funding development but I learned a lot along the way.
It was a cool project with a lot of potential and I had it running on iPhone and Android devices, perhaps one day with more funding we can continue. I was eventually going to change out the guinea pig as it served as a placeholder while I worked on creating a more unique style. Due to lack of funding though I would not finish this project.
It was on this project I would also start to work with Github Desktop to find better ways to manage this project as Unity collab was frustrating to deal with. I would also begin working with Figma as a design tool, it was still pretty early back then and it was missing a lot of useful features.
Here is a demo of a build that eventually shows I had a basic store setup to work with Google Firebase. It was really limited but a quick proof of concept. You can buy new guinea pigs or sell them. The buttons needed to be resized.
The Hand Of Death (HOD) is a grim reaper trying to get to a poker game. It’s a 2.5D point-and-click adventure game about trading lives for a game of poker. I created the 2D and 3D art in a 3-day time span, you can play it here. I didn’t create all the art but I created the majority. Not all of it is shown below. I really think the hand was required on that death-dealing tool there.
I created a simple logo pretty quickly in 10 mins and you can see where I cut corners but we were debating who should do the logo for a while so I was running out of time towards the end.
RogueCraft Squadron or RCS for short was originally a short game jam. I did the art, and it pushed me in something I always struggled with – Consistency. But I wanted to build this game into a real full-fledged game, so I convinced my programmer to keep working on it. Great idea right? Well, we learned a lot.
So here we have this game, it’s a cool, interesting concept but what problem is it trying to solve? Now hold up you might say, games solving problems? Games don’t solve problems. Yes, actually they do, let’s think about this.
What is something that doesn’t solve a problem?
A clone, knockoff, cheap, or fake product. How was our game addressing the problems in the marketplace? How did we distinguish ourselves? Well…. We had the ability to move every unit and building. Did the art stand out? It might have in the beginning but I struggled to keep the art style similar for 3 years. Did the story stand out? Well… Looking at this again 4 years later, I don’t even remember it. Gameplay-wise, it was alright, but not amazing.
After years of work, we finally released something. We had tons of people test it, and give us feedback, and we worked on some of it. How do you know what the best feedback is? Is negative feedback important? Positive feedback? What is the best use of your time? We gave it a guess and pivoted a lot to come up with a multiplayer real-time strategy game. This game wasn’t originally multiplayer, but we added it midway and it is so much better for it.
This is what good design looks like. In the Discover and Design phase, you will prototype and see if the audience likes your idea and if the market will support it. But I had never heard of this, I didn’t have a background in UI/UX design, and I didn’t know much about design processes outside of limited game design. I was missing a lot of product design and strategy during this time. So what did we do? I call it the H software dev cycle aka mindless testing and designing at the same time.
So this H cycle was great in that we got a lot of feedback, but the feedback was all over the place. We had no set goals with the feedback and were just looking to “make the product better”.
What is better though?
Without clear goals and reasons to follow those goals, you can easily fall into feature creep (FE) and underdesign (UD).
You focus on adding too many features that were not planned out which often causes underdesign or poorly designed products or experiences.
How to tell if your project has FE and/or UD
Can you easily prove why the work you are doing is important? Do you feel your project is organized enough you could hand it to someone else without explaining a lot of it? If not your project might have FE and/or UD symptoms. Do you suffer from communication issues? Do you suffer from brain fog and lack of direction? Do you feel time constraints or lack thereof? Yep, this is the problem with short-sighted goals.
Because we kept starting and stopping and changing direction so often it was hard to focus and find what made us amazing.
How to solve FE and UD
FE and UD are hard to tackle once they infect a project. Often they start off as harmless ideas that grow into a desire to cheat by working on the “fun stuff” or focus on fulfilling a personal goal that the user would not care about. UD especially comes from time pressure, lack of prep work, and lack of organization.
Steps to solving FE and UD would be focusing on the user and business needs, this can be done with the following methods – surveys, market research, personas, interviews, problem statements, how might we’s, wireframes, user testing etc. You can wrap this up into something called User Experience (UX) and this validates why features are important.
Something else you can focus on is design systems. Design systems help organize work to bring clarity, direction, save time, and help with communication.
The problem was we had no idea this project would take this long!
We thought give us 3 months and it will be done, 6 months and it will be perfect… 3 years and well, we did manage to publish it. But just barely…
Did RCS eventually use UX methods or design systems?
No, and it was painful not having these systems. I had never heard of most of them, especially in games. Most of what I knew in the past was game design docs (GDD) which I had found to get outdated so fast no one would actually use them.
Towards the end of development, I started creating a template for my art assets. Yep. Took a while. I ran across something while browsing online to find better methods and it was called a Style Tile. I ended up making one.
At this point, though art assets were all over the place, we had changed direction so often in design, art, and code it was hard to make sense of the art style anymore. It became too hard to pivot because of technical debt, design debt, and art debt. Basically, we have gone too far in one direction to change now because the cost and work are too much.
Still. I liked the idea of creating style tiles and think it’s a good idea for starting new projects. More modern designers might create organized artboards with various components in Figma like here. But this was far before Figma was around. So I would create “Super files” in Photoshop that had all the styles set up and I’d just need to drop in the art asset to get the effect I wanted.
Wireframes. I created a fair amount of hi-fi wireframes, often I have to figure out the content so I don’t work in lo-fi very often and RCS was no different. I created a variety of wireframes, not all of them made it into the game but I figured I’d show some of them anyway. I created a lot of wireframes before I really knew a good term for it, I suppose mock-ups might be best.
User testing… Well, about two or three times a month for like 3 years we would gather feedback on what we changed in the game and tried to market the game at the same time. I’d say user testing was very helpful for the tutorial we did eventually create but because we were not sure what to test, our user testing was often not helpful. Our audience was basically anyone who wanted to spend a few minutes playing at our booth. We would ask users questions and help them walk through certain sections until we got a working tutorial up. Our tutorial system was something we tested to see if the user could pass set tasks and we would ask them what they thought about certain tasks.
What went well with RCS was tons of user testing and interacting with a variety of users in different places and in different ways. But for everything else, we really needed a design process. We started with an MVP idea of what we wanted for the game but missed a lot of Why, Who, What, and When because we didn’t use a design process to really think about the idea before diving headfirst into it. We didn’t have a strong grasp of who to market to (no SWOT or market research), no great idea of what problems our game solved nor ways to stand out. We struggled, pivoted and reworked code, art, and design often because the design was underdesigned. We didn’t think we would need to design for so much in advance. I was always playing catch up trying to design the game as we went which caused a lot of long-term problems. Had we, from the start sat down and designed this long term it would have made for a much better design experience from the start.
So why did we not do better?
Lack of design and system designs in place. It was a lot of inexperience and lack of time. This would lead me to study UI and UX to learn more ways to improve in this department. We struggled a lot to get a functional tutorial, and knowing more methods to improve user experience would help in the future. If we had funding for our game and could work on it full time I’m sure things would have been a lot easier too.
Voice of the Forest is a simple game about planting seeds and growing a forest without letting your plants die from lack of nutrition. Work together with nature to improve your forest and grow strong.
Hey, in late December I decided to join a game jam. I joined a team and I worked as a technical artist, special effect artist, and general developer to help fill in the blanks for the team. I created a few particle effects, shaders and setup some of the UI in the game. I worked with another developer to fill in where I could and I worked with the artists helping them get their art into the game. I showed our UI/UX designer how to get his UI into Unity and how to set it up. I recommended a few changes to the UI and UX (Missing states the user would expect) and was overall happy with what our team achieved in such a short amount of time.
Skills:Unity / C# Developer / Special Effects…
Scope ~ 1 week – Budget ~ NA – Role ~ UI Dev/ tech artist