Hollowed is a game produced by Project Polish Productions, a team of 18 passionate individuals looking to create a "Polish" game. The development cycle was 12 months and I functioned as the Lead Designer and core level designer on the project. Hollowed was published on Steam on November 2017 and received a nomination at the 2017 Game Awards, and runner-up for Best Gameplay and winner for Best Graphics at the Intel Showcase 2018.

(Click button below to see the Steam site for Hollowed)

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Overview

Hollowed tells the story of a woman who will do anything to bring her perished loved one back to the world of the living. The player will control a humanoid character named Halia as well as a spirit named Oco simultaneously on one controller. These two characters are tethered together by a spiritual connection  Oco has the ability to help Halia in her endeavors through four unique abilities. Use these abilities to interact with the environment and Halia in order to progress through platforming puzzles in this 3D side-scrolling adventure. Video to the left is a trailer for the game.

 
My Contribution

My responsibility as Lead Designer was to hold the vision of the game. I was tasked with making sure all elements of design were clearly communicated across the disciplines of production, art, and programming within the team. As Lead Designer, I worked to help people adapt their ideas to better fit the goals, tone, and consistency of our game.

Along with Lead Designer responsibilities, I was also the solo mechanical level designer on the team. I have designed and implemented 2 hours of game play (creating over 100 puzzles) in the process of getting the right gameflow and feel. I also helped create the visuals and environments for many of my puzzles which can be best seen in the trailer video above. 

The video to the left shows how my levels evolved over the first 9 months of the project. Final versions can be seen in the Trailer Video located under the Overview section above.

 

With a background in Audio Engineering, I was also responsible for the audio of the game. This includes implementing sounds through Wwise as well as composing music for the game. I created 8 unique soundtracks for Hollowed which you can hear in game.

Full Game Walkthrough

On the left is a full walk through of the game. I designed and implements all of the puzzles for the game. The art was then implemented by myself and 2 aesthetic level designers: Brandon Kidwell and Gabi Capraro. 

The game is between 60-90 mins for new players. If you would like to learn more about my level design or audio contributions click the buttons below.

 
 
Status Update: February 2017

The video to the right shows the game after 4 months of work. What the video depicts is the spiral process that was used to create puzzles, content, and levels for Hollowed. The goal was to develop and design large bank of puzzles that could easily be tested in engine to understand the game mechanics limitations and playtest the puzzles/mechanics to uncover what was fun for players. A single puzzle at the grey boxing stage would take between 15 min to an hour to design and implement. I created over 40 puzzles during this 4 month period.

This methodology had fully playable puzzles and levels early on which we put into the players hand, which helped us iterate and guide our level design process. It gave insight into what was difficult and what was easy, as well as what puzzles were interesting and which were frustrating. This process also meant that our art team would not need to waste time creating assets for puzzles and levels that might ultimately be cut. Artists could focus on universal assets and story scenes early on, and later when the game play of each level had been better solidified, they could begin to create unique content for each level.

 
Status Update: April 2017

Hollow is an ongoing project and the game design is constantly updating as we continued in our development process. A major change we made since February is to allow the player to switch between the four different mechanics (Oco states).

This has created new and interesting challenges for level design as we are now seeking to create puzzles that utilize multiple mechanics to solve, and have more than one possible solution. After re-purposing the 40 previous puzzles and developing new puzzles with the combined mechanics, my new puzzle count is over 80 puzzles 

The video on the left shows some of my more recent level design were I am experimenting with creating new puzzles to accommodate this change. This also includes four unique lose conditions for the player: red is a lose condition for the bipedal, blue is a lose condition for the floating circle, purple is a lose condition for the tether connecting the two characters, and orange is a lose condition for all three.