Kokeshi Kikō is a stylized exploration game. It tells the story of the player's journey climbing a mountain as to reach a hotspring at the summit.This is a unique game where the characters are all Japanese Kokeshi dolls and the environment is made to match. Kokeshi Kikō was exhibited at the V&A Design Museum Dundee for ADGS 2021.
Developed from Jan 2021 - Apr 2021.Solo Project.Using Unity, Yarn Spinner, Maya, Adobe CC and Substance Painter.Programmed in C#.
Game Design Document
This was a project that was developed in tandem with my final years honour's dissertation. To this end a design document was kept for both personal use and for future assessment.This document can offer a more in-depth analysis of the game design than the information on this page, if desired.
Kokeshi Kikō - Dev Log
Exhibited at the V&A Design Museum Dundee and in Slessor Gardens, Kokeshi Kikō was created as part of my final year Honours Project at Abertay University. Developed based on the research I did for my Dissertation, this project is a partial adaptation of Bashō’s ‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North’. It tells the story of the player climbing a mountain to reach an Onsen at the summit.The game features and unique art style of having all the players being wooden Kokeshi Doll’s, and the environment has been made to match.
The Honours Project
Some pieces of Japanese media and arts could be described as being inherently magical. Repeatedly Japanese creators have managed to capture something wonderous or even divine within their work. The aim of this project was to take a deeper look into Japanese creatives, not just from games, but from film, fashion, folk art and more with the hopes of understanding why these creators have such a sensitivity and proficiency to creating products with an aura of every day magic.Specifically for this project, research was conducted into looking at how the native religious practice of Shinto has shaped Japanese designer’s and granted them this aptitude for magical design.The core research of this project was gaining a better understanding of Shintoism, analysing where its influence can be found in Japanese media, and creating a framework for magical design based on this research. This framework was then taken and applied to develop a game prototype: Kokeshi Kikō
The game told the story about climbing a mountain to reach an Onsen in Norther Japan. Traditionally, at Norther Japanese Onsen they sell Kokeshi dolls as souvenirs so it seemed like they would be the perfect tool to help me tell my story.These dolls follow strict regional designs, and as a foreigner I wanted to ensure I wouldn’t be creating work that misrepresented or poorly represented the ancient Japanese craft of Kokeshi making. I did heavy amounts of research into the dolls and even consulted a Master-craftsman from Togatta before building my Kokeshi.My attention to detail was so great that for the patterns I even painted them on paper with authentic brushes and inks, before scanning the patterns in and applying them digitally.
I wanted my dolls to look correct, but I wanted them to feel like real wooden dolls too. I spent weeks perfecting a custom character controller that would move and behave as if one was playing with a doll. My favourite but most challenging part of this project was getting the physics to work just right, so that the doll would topple over in the same way a real one would.This controller was made using C# and was created entirely from scratch.
A final aspect of note about the visual design was the environments that were created for my game. Like everything else these were entirely self-made, however this time I had no source material to follow. Kokeshi dolls have only ever existed as dolls, there has never been someone who has crafted set pieces or landscapes to accompany them.To this end it was up to me to craft a world where the dolls felt like they belonged and doing so that required a method involving a lot of informed improvisation and experimentation. Overall, I’m very pleased with the environments and they are always the most highly praised aspect of my game.
Preserving the influence of the source material, I decided to have the gameplay segments interspersed with readings of the original Haiku from Bashō. I coordinated my favourite and most fitting Haiku before hiring a native Japanese voice actress, Chizuko Nakamura, to recite them.
It was important that I was collaborating with Japanese creators along every step of this project, and I think it was most important here. The Haiku are such an important aspect, so getting them presented just right was vital. You can hear an example of one of the Haiku in this trailer.
What I learned
This project was a learning process at every step. It was a large-scale research project culminating in an 8,000 word Dissertation and high-quality game. I was working with- and telling the story of a foreign culture so I had to ensure I was well researched and valid in my assertions at every step of the way. The project was also done entirely in isolation during the global pandemic where I had nothing but my own motivation to keep me on track. Bust best of all it taught me about working on a project I am fully invested in and passionate about. I’m proud to have this as the crown of my portfolio!
Heavy research project
Engrossing UX and Visual Style
The Journal of a Lonely Moon
The Journal of a Lonely Moon is a short narrative driven game that features themes of friendship, loss, lonliness and isolation.This project is constructed of archival scans, published to the public domain by various museums.
Developed over two weeks in December 2020Solo ProjectUsing Unity, Yarn Spinner and Adobe CCProgrammed in C#.
The Diary of a Lonely Moon - Dev Log
The Journal of a Lonely Moon was a small narrative project I made over the course of a few weeks. This project stemmed from the desire to familiarise myself with the Yarn Spinner tool for Unity as well as write a short story that featured multiple distinct characters. The narrative also tackled themes of isolation, a very topical theme during the midst of national lockdown, as well as friendship and loss.
Wanting to make a game that had a heavy focus on narrative and the characters, I wanted something that was visual impressive and a bit unique. However, given I had limited time and resources making everything from scratch was not quite going to work.Knowing that various museums, including the Natural History Museum, British Museum and the MET to name a few, had begun scanning and uploading historical books and documents online and that these scans were for the public domain, I wanted to see if I could use them to make an interesting visual style.I topped this off with finding fitting fonts and background images, as well as styling my UI and the flow of the text like an old typewriter (with clicks and dings included).
What I learned
Taking a game from concept to release within a few weeks was quite new to me. I had previously participated in many game jams however these were different as it was usually a few days at a prescribed event. This was a project I created for myself on a time scale I dictated, all while trying to master Yarn Spinner. I came out with a much greater understanding of rapid prototyping as well as knowing how to use Yarn Spinner.
SOPHIST is a narrative game with puzzle elements that aims to explore the concept of 'What it means to be human' without using traditional story telling techniques like written text or spoken word.Working with a multi-talented student team, we were able to achieve an aesthetically impressive piece of work. To convey the core of the story and gameplay, silent-film era styled cutscenes were used throughout gameplay.
Developed from Jan 2020 - Apr 2020.Team of eightUsing UE4, Maya, Adobe CC and Substance Painter.My roles: Lead Designer, UX & UI and Artist
Game Design Document
Working with a high-profile client it was important that a rigorous design document was kept. Not just for the client, but this way I could ensure our artists and programmers were on the same page, for example in segments talking about setting up distinct unit sizes for climbable objects and the like.All pages of the design doc that I personally authored are signed with my student number ‘1704020’ at the bottom left hand corner.
SOPHIST - Dev Log
Working with an industry client, our team was tasked with designing a game that aims to explore the concept of 'What it means to be human' without using traditional story telling techniques like written text or spoken word.Being in charge of the narrative and game design I spent my time over the holiday before the project began researching this topic that has gripped humans for centuries, from the writings of the ancient Greek Sophists to Isaac Asimov.
I split my research into two branches, historic and contemporary. To oversimplify history, the ancients concluded that reason is what makes us human. But their arguments never considered the possibility of synthetic lifeforms – like robots.The contemporary argument that I found to be the most convincing was that free will is what makes us human, and even if a life form is synthetic, so long as it has free will it can be considered human.So the narrative I crafted focused on telling the story of a robot that gains free will and help free other robots just like it, so that they may all have a life of their own.
How to execute this narrative was iterated heavily during the development. Original concepts saw the story being about how a robot teams up with an organic life form, like a fox or bird, and together they would tackle the story.
Others saw the robot being isolated on a space ship, in charge of a natural garden that it had to maintain.Finally, it was decided the local would be a factory with other robot workers running the machines, and the factory would be connected to a natural garden to which they could escape. Symbolism was leaned on heavily, like having the player start in a basement garbage room that they had to ascend out of or the yin/yang contrast of the natural garden with the man-made structure.
Telling the story
The most challenging part of this project as a designer was telling a story, one of humanities most deeply discussed topics, all without using traditional forms of communication.Relying on just environmental story telling was proving difficult, and ensuring the method of delivery was neither clunky or out of style with the game was a problem that boggled me for weeks. After multiple prototypes and iterations, I settled on using simple 1920’s styled silent film cutscenes. These were so well received I was even tasked with styling the UI to fit.Creating these clips I put a very high amount of detail into creating an authentic old film feel, not just adding a filter, but ensuring that the colour, tones and noise grains were all authentic to real film footage. I am very proud of the work I did for this segment of the project.
What I learned
This was a project where our team was hired by a prolific industry client, so the focal point of learning for this project was all about dealing with a client and their expectations. This project also was heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic which forced the team to quickly have to switch to online working to deliver the final project. It tested us at every mile but we made something that both us and the client was pleased with.
New ways to tell story
UX and UI
Breaking Wheel - Dev Log
Breaking Wheel began as a collaborative project between amateur mod makers. At the time I was a successful modder for Skyrim and Fallout, with over 100,000 downloads on my mods to date, and was asked to join a team of like-minded individuals who wanted to no longer make content for an existing game but rather make our own.Being an original core member, this was my first time experiencing the full project lifecycle of a game, from first concept to final release.
What I learned
Our team was based all over the world, so the most valuable experience I could take away from this was learning how to work on a project that requires not only a large amount of self-motivation but also still being able to work coherently with others. From Steam Greenlight to IOS release, the team stuck through it all and created a solid game we can all be proud of.
Full project lifecycle
Adapting to unforeseen
This game does not currently support mobile play.
Please use a Desktop.
Summer Fruits is a WebGL game that pays homage to some early flash drink mixing games. The goal of this project was all about making a visually appealing and responsive UI.Feel free to play this game here on my website or at one of the links below.
Developed in five daysSolo projectUsing Unity
Summer Fruits - Dev Log
Paying tribute to some of my favourite flash games that I played growing up, Summer Fruits is a small and charming browser game that lets you mix yourself a delightful fruit juice made with fresh summer fruits.This was a project that I set out for myself, I wanted to try learning something new within the limits of a five day period.
What I learned
Summer Fruits had a simple core value, create a UI that was fun to use as well as being visually pleasing. I had heard of using Tweening to create animations in Unity before but had not had a chance to try this on a project.I also wanted to try and enhance my skills with Adobe Illustraitor as well as try my hand at developing for WebGL. All these goals were able to be realised in a small game I am quite proud of.
Bethesda Mods - Catalogue
My first foray into game design and development was creating mods for Bethesda’s line up of games as a teenager. These were all self-motivated projects where I taught myself 3D modelling, scripting, how to use a game engine, project management, casting and hiring voice talent, and many more skills that are the staple of a good designer.As of 2020, all my mods combined over the Nexus and Bethesda.net have amassed over 100,000 downloads as well as renown among the modding community. Below you will find links to all of my mods as well as some select highlights:
This quest will be a test of your cunning and deviousness, a trial for the deceitful and a feast for the destructive. You have been invited to a mysterious party out in a private estate, a former Dwemer ruin, by an unknown host. But what is this? Your invite says you must eliminate one of the guests, but without being caught and direct violence is strictly forbidden! This is no ordinary party after all, but a contrived deathtrap by some twisted host.
Attack on Ortaria
Step into the boots of Lance Corporal McLintoch on the day America was annihilated in nuclear fire. Not only will you have to navigate the immediate dangers of a nuclear fallout, but also an eager country from the east has sent soldiers to infiltrate and take America down from the inside.
Can you brave these adversaries and secure your own survival? Prepare for the last stand between the Eagle and the Dragon, in a battle over the highly valued Ortaria Bunker.
The Iron Lass
These quest will take you all over Skyrim, and even out of it! Delve into an Ancient Dwemer palace lost to Nords in a time long past, venture into a warp and have a dicey confrontation with a Pirate and her skeleton crew, brave the realm of Oblivion and seek the pride of a Prince long past, or sail to the Ashen land to find a Hammer which was hidden in the depths of time...
This Mod adds 6 Quests, 8 new voiced NPC's, 25 new Weapons, 3 new Shields, 2 new Armours, 5 new Dungeons, a new Follower and a Player-home.
Facebook instant games at Outplay Entertainment
Working for Outplay’s Facebook Instant Games Team, I was in charge of translating and localizing mobile games into the German language.The two most successful titles I helped create were “2 Photos, 1 Word” and “Zen Words – Fantastic Crosswords”.
Helped to deliver one new title a weekUsing UnityMy Roles: Design, Development and German Translation and Localization
The best way to describe myself would be as a diverse individual. Coming from a multicultural background and having lived all over the world, I have been able to gain the most important quality for any designer – life experience.My skillset is equally varied, having fulfilled many roles through the range of projects I have contributed to. I have worked for multiple studios, one of which was entirely remote, and during my time at these studios I got to experience the full project lifecycle, from inception to release, of multiple titles. Furthermore, my personal projects have garnered over a hundred thousand downloads online.
My personal expertise lies in narrative designing and creating character controllers and game mechanics that convey the story and aesthetic of any title to the player through the gameplay and user experience. Whether it is writing my own original narratives or adapting the work of others, I find my rapid prototyping and documentation skills have always ensured my success.As a designer I have always been heavily inspired by Nintendo’s design philosophy. Their ability to create simple yet fun games with a deep sense of style and polish has always fascinated me. I wrote my final years honours dissertation on the topic of Japanese game design and I am currently working as an English teacher in Japan, taking a year out to explore new things and grow my soft skills.