Lead Programmer | Level Designer | Creative Director
Game: CODE S-44
Genre: Third-Person Adventure Infiltration
Team: 24 people (7 full-time designers, and 11 3D artists/animator, 5 concept artists and 1 composer as part-timer)
Design and implement the 4th main level of the game
C# Gameplay & AI Programming & Unity Custom Editor
Maintain a coherent vision of the game
Define design pillars
C# Character Controller
"CODE S-44" is a third-person adventure infiltration game on PC.
"You are S-44, a pretty cool spider-bot able to climb everything. Sneak your way from the deepest slums to the highest heavily guarded buildings in order to save your best friend in the pretty but dangerous town of New Bot City."
The game has been presented at many events and was in the finalist for The Rookie Award PC/Console game of the year 2019 category.
As the lead programmer of the game, I had to code the majority of the game.
This includes the character controller who is a four-legged robotic spider that can walk on any surfaces, grounds, walls, ceilings, AIs, etc.
The camera system using Cinemachine to make various cameras controllers.
The enemies behaviours using finite state machines.
The game flow.
An in-game cinematic system using Timelines & Cinemachine.
Steam API integration for the Steam achievements.
And a tool giving level designers more feedback on their work, using JSON.
A tool showing some recorded players path in a level
As a level designer, I had to design and implement the fourth level of the game, write documentation and assets list on Confluence.
"The Heist" is a single-player level and main mission for the game. The character has to disable 3 pillars maintaining the rails where the cristal convoys travel on.
The level is non-linear, the player can decide which of the two pillars he starts with, changing his experience, and puzzles encounters.
The Level Design Document
Slide from the level design document
Navigational Choice: The player can choose which one of the two pillars he wants to deactivate first. The level has to adapt to the player decision.
Drone Introduction: Introduce the Drone and what the player can do with it. The player can jump down on it and walk, serving as a moving platform, may be used to create some shortcut.
Verticality: The level is on a slope. The player is always going up. Use the Pillars to challenge the player's dexterity more by walking onto a moving/rotating platform to avoid lethal obstacles and reaching the top.
Aerial: Create a new kind of walkable area only seen in this level. The traffic jam caused by a technical problem with the flying ads on the road's side.
The level starts with a small Area 1 with a light introduction with the drone. Then after the Pillar 1, the player can choose where to go next Area 2a or 2b, same later with Area 4a or 4b, offering a different kind of challenges and encounter. The Area 3 feature a single Guard to make the player stop to look around and not rush. The Pillars 2 are longer and more challenging than the first one. The Traffic Jam area add variety to the environment.
Slide from the level design document
Walkthrough & Pacing
1. Disable the first pillar
> The player just appeared in the level, and T0NY task him to climb on top of the first pillar near him and to be careful of the drone roaming around.
2. Disable a second pillar
> The player has to traverse a small area with two possible paths, then a more significant area with two paths to choose again. He reaches the top of a second pillar (left or right depending on the player's choice) and disables the pillar.
3. Traverse the traffic jam & Disable the last and third pillar
> T0NY warn the player that he has to go through traffic to reach the last and third pillar. The area is full of flying cars stopped due to a technical problem with the flying ads.
> The player climbs up the third pillar (left or right) and disable it. Unfortunately, This didn't do anything, and T0NY task the player to go down the pillar to reach the backup interrupter.
4. Find and disable the backup interrupter on the last pillar
> After disabling the last pillar the outro cinematic is triggered showing T0NY's men highjacking the cristal convoy, and T0NY tell S-44 where to go next to his pal find S-12.
Pacing curve and gameplay beats
Cyan: Roaming section, the player explores an area and can look for Blue Windows.
Pink: Encounter or puzzle, the player has to avoid some enemies and/or look for a way to traverse a blocked path.
Green: In-Game Cinematics
Yellow Hexagon: Mission Objectives
Level Special Mission: "The missing bird"
This is the only level to feature a secret side mission unlocking a special Steam achievement.
The player has to find and retrieve a pigeon on his back to a pole with two other pigeons waiting.
As a creative director on the project, I to had to keep a global vision of the project as it evolved and communicated it to artists by giving them feedback on their work.
Art Style Guideline for 3D artists
Environment feedback for concept artists
Gather Texture Reference for Modular Kit for 3D artists
Character feedback for concept artists
An interview I did as the creative director for the communication of the game
Core members of the design team at the Busan Indie Connect, Matthieu Sibolotte (bottom left), Hugo Khil (top left), Victor Jaffeux (bottom right) and Mickael Broussal (top right).
What went right?
Create a character controller that can smoothly walk on geometry.
Did a lot of prototypes early in the pre-production phase to test ideas, scope, and feasibility quickly.
Communicate with 3D artists whom the majority, aren't game artists but come from a 3D animation (film production) background.
My knowledge of 3D modelling and texturing from "Brave New World", (another project in my portfolio) helped me a lot to explain technical challenges of 3D real-time rendering for this video game to them.
What went wrong?
The character controller is driven by procedural animation, which was proven difficult to make his animation interesting and not be weird.
Lack of artstyle iteration at the beginning mainly for the texture led to a redoing the entirety of the building's texture later in production.
The game's identity is confusing because it has funny jokes in-game and it's a cartoony graphism, but the cinematics bring down by a lot the tone and make it seems like a serious/dark story. This was due to time and budget constraint we couldn't iterate much.
The level 4's production was rush on some aspect because I was the only programmer and was mainly responsible for fixing bugs on other levels and cinematics.
What have I learned?
I have worked with an Agile methodology with Sprints, using Confluence for documentation, QA sheet, and analysis and Jira for task management.
I have improved my C# knowledge with Unity.
Communicate with artists.
To prototype faster to solve a specific problem or answer a question.
Read a QA chart and fix the bugs.