Step into the shoes of a Commander in this live strategy game set in a post-apocalyptic world. Build up your forces and fortify your base by any means necessary while dealing with raiding parties, warring factions and scarce resources. To survive in this world, you need to outsmart and outmaneuver your enemies, all the while working with or against fellow players. Good luck out there, Commander!
Role : Game Designer
Company : KIXEYE
Platform : Web Browser
Release Date : 2010
Type : MMORTS
I joined this project in 2015 after it had already been released as a live game. This was an incredibly exciting first design job for me. Ramping up on the existing history of this game, in terms of design, features, and lore, was a sizable challenge that seemingly brought new and unexpected challenges every week.
My core responsibilities were hostile base target creation. From this, I somehow branched into practically every design system available to the team as well as worked with every department to reach my usually unreasonable goals. From setting up monthly events and assisting with dialogue to implementing units and cobbling together ridiculous scripts, it’s been a pleasure and thrill to be associated with this team.
Only able to fire at either ground or air targets, these high damage turrets can be easily countered but that takes time.
Spawns enemy vehicles at a regular interval, applying time pressure.
Optional allies if freed but if done too soon, they'll take unnecessary damage.
If timed right, these heavy tanks can be isolated from the rest of the base.
What's in a War Commander Base Target?
Protects base defenses but using the right units can make these walls targets themselves to splash those same defenses.
Housing infantry, these bunkers provide protection and added range making them a priority to take out if they contain certain units.
Mouse over to see a breakdown of the contents of typical base.
Shipped multiple features from concept to release, such as the Holdout defensive event feature.
Set a higher standard for cadence features, such as Boss bases transforming from straight forward high health units to multi-stage encounters that can introduce different gameplay for each stage.
Mastered both in-house scripting languages which led to larger scripting elements being introduced into key areas, such as pivotal story moments, boss bases, or even into new factions themselves.
Developed tooling for Design and QA to improve efficiency, such as a Base Schedule Tool that reduced the man hours needed to setup all base times by >90%.
Rigid weekly release schedule maintained through the majority of my time on the project.
Awarded a Unicorn Award, KIXEYE's quarterly award recognizing excellence within the company.
Who should be able to successfully defeat this target? What does success look like in these instances? What type of play style should be encouraged and how is that encouraged? Is the keys to victory here broadcasted to the player to any degree?
What Defines a Boss Encounter?
How is this boss encounter different from other bosses? What makes this encounter stand out? Is this a bullet hell? Does this base require destroying key buildings to disable the boss? Is there any story beat that needs to be hit such as major characters dying or scripted moments?
Each Faction in War Commander has a unique visual language and gameplay style. Is this faction a wasteland veteran or have they just showed up overnight? Is this faction organized or can you barely call it an organization? Does this faction have unique buildings or units? Do they favor a particular fighting style?
Mouse over to see some of the many considerations needed for boss encounters.
Turn Around Time. I will never get over the fact that I can be working on a base target in the morning and have it in players’ hands by the end of the day. The tool efficiency made for a very smooth flow that allowed for very rapid iteration.
Rogue Factions. I helped develop new mechanics for various enemy Factions. This ranged from creating units from scratch to modifying stats that affect every unit within these forces. Collaborating with Art and other Designers was a joy while the iteration process helped hone these experiences to fun and engaging experiences.
Unique Experiences. I made it my goal to bring as many fresh experiences to players as possible. I was always on the lookout for ways I could squeeze engaging mechanics out of our existing toolset. Some stand outs:
Onyx : The culmination of a story built up over months, this boss base was a great mixture of narrative and gameplay, requiring virtually every department’s involvement to pull off. A key character in the game’s history was innately tied to the existence of Onyx, a hostile faction leader. In the base, Onyx could be killed but would resurrect shortly after. In order to kill Onyx permanently, the player had to actually kill off a major ally within the base itself. The act of killing off of a character that had been the player’s guide for years in such a way felt like a uniquely War Commander experience.
Sasha Boss : Further pushing the envelope of what it means to be a boss base on this project, this base featured heavily telegraphed random attack patterns as well as different phases of the boss. While different abilities per phase was initially investigated, the final approach we pursued was just modifying the timing of the attack. If the player memorized the general patterns of the earlier phases, they should have an easier time with the later phases.
Romero Boss : Prove yourself to a reclusive legend in the vein of many 80s action movies to get him to join your ranks. The unit theme made developing this encounter very easy, with many one liners and in-theme mechanics explored. The final gameplay of Romero switching weapons through the fight while tossing grenades everywhere both fit the character well and created a fresh puzzle for players to solve.
Holdout. I pitched this idea as a low Design effort feature but over the course of its development, it turned into something much larger. Helping guide this feature as Product Owner to ship while preserving the key aspects of my initial pitch was a great experience.
Galen. A bit silly but being a playable unit in the game is wonderful. I would recommend it.