Level Designer
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Hyper Syntax

Overview

Hyper Syntax is a 3D flying game which matches fast multiplayer action with tight arcade-like controls and gameplay. Players pilot one of three ships and cast a light trail behind them of a variety of colors. Players are all vying for control in a capture the flag game mode where they must hold the ring while avoiding the light trails and other obstacles in each level. Hyper Syntax is available via Steam Greenlight.

 

responsibilities

  • Lead designer and producer for project
  • Created core documents, gameplay, and systems
  • Communicated between art, design, programming, and audio teams to manage priorities & deliverables
  • Level design on 1 level including all asset creation & hazard implementation
  • Responsible for all marketing on project; taking it to Steam Greenlight & Early Access

Concept

The core of Hyper Syntax was that we wanted to see an evolution of Tron in 3D, where you can move in 360 degrees in all directions. Every part of the design supported that core concept, which is why we chose to exclude any shooting mechanics and focus the gameplay on those visceral moments of chasing opponents down in a dogfight where you try to steer opponents into obstacles.

Highlights

My role from the start was as lead designer; I set the core systems up, all documentation, and facilitated the vision of the game. From the outset I was responsible for creating all documentation and fleshing out the core systems of movement, light trail creation, boosting, and an offensive skill. I worked very closely with engineering to get all the systems up and running well and polished to meet milestones.

As the project progressed my role evolved to include more production work such as setting up the Steam Greenlight page and managing our team's milestones. I worked with each discipline to set deliverables and keep track of the game's production over several months.

As the lead designer on the project I was responsible for leading our other designers in level creation and creating my own level as well. I was responsible for all art and implementation of any hazards in my one level of four total. While driving milestones to completion I was also responsible for hitting my own on this design work late into the project.

Design Goals

The most work was put into designing everything about the game to support the physical and up-close gameplay we wanted. Our goal was to exclude any sort of shooting and to bring all the focus into moment-to-moment gameplay where players need to steer themselves quickly away from enemies, obstacles, and the trails of any one player.

The core to our game is the light trail system, in which the player creates a constant stream of light that kills any player who touches it. This is the system that the concept originated from and we spent a lot of time to make sure this worked well, felt right, and wasn't overwhelming to players. This included designing player speed to be just right, incorporating plenty of feedback, making the light trails the right size for each player, and making the levels appropriate sizes for the type of game mode.

The levels we created all supported our one game mode of capture the flag. The game mode was chosen because it encouraged the constant movement of the ships and for each player to try to fly into each other and constantly be vying for a single objective. We designed all levels around ways to guide the players through obstacles and risky situations to outrun opponents, while also making chases possible.

 

Screenshots

The Grid level I was responsible for creating, showing the light trails created by players early on in the game.

Levels are usually fairly large, with plenty of space for players to fly safely but with dangerous nooks to avoid others in combat.

Each level is distinct in environment, with a far-out space theme used to showcase plenty of different themes.

Level obstacles were created with distinct shapes to guide player movement towards certain parts of the level.

The white orb in each level represents the flag each player is aiming for, which can easily be seen from anywhere on any map.

As levels progress the negative space gets lessened, making late gameplay much more hectic and filled with danger.