work at V7 Entertainment, Inc.
- Team Lead
- Game Designer
- UI/UX Designer
- Art Lead, 2D & Texture Artist
- Branding & IP Creation
English Pup is an educational game-app for kids just beginning to learn English. Children get to explore a fully 3D world and play fun mini-games while walking their puppy. They will and learn English words through listening recognition exercises, interacting with characters, animals, and objects in the world, and entertaining puzzle, matching, and game activities.
A Personally Championed Passion Project, Taken Up Voluntarily on the Side of Regular Duties, Which Would Become V7 Entertainment's Most Successful Game Series
English Pup was a side project I personally took from prototype to a market, working with various interns and one dedicated programmer*, during my time at V7 Entertainment, Inc. The entire project took under a year, as was done ad addendum to my primary role as UX/UI lead for the company's main title. It would then go on to spawn a series of three more App titles, making it the most successful property created by V7.
From Prototype to Launch, I Took a Rag-Tag Team of Interns, Students, and Only One Full-Time Employee, and Launched the Game to the App-Store in Under a Year
An opportunity came up during my time at V7 to lead my own project when we were awarded a few intern students and a project group** from our alma mater school, the Centre for Digital Media. Following potential business connections to China, I was asked if I could make an educational game with these resources. I made prototype in Flash, and got the green-light. I designed some basic vocabulary reinforcement games based on my experience teaching English abroad in Korea. These games, situated within a 3D world that kids could explore, and learn vocabulary in, with a cute puppy protagonist, would prove to create a new, immersive, and entertaining educational experience.
The Original Version Went on to Generate Investment and Spawn Three More Titles, Making it the Most Successful Series Produced by V7 Entertainment
This original version has provided the foundation and proof for a dedicated production team to be created and funded. The team has since completed three complete new versions of a crisper, tighter, more expansive, and much more complete version of the game. Though I was unfortunately laid-off due to company budgeting, my original game was used as the framework to create the new titles, with much of the original game-play design staying intact. Originating from a mere side fascination, this property I feel like the proud parent of, went on to become the company's most successful IP.
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*Leto Yang, now a programmer at Hot Head
** Including Jasmine Jia, now a sound designer at Microsoft, and Jessie Gao, now an artist at Kabam
(cancelled game for XboxLive Arcade that would become Old Time Hockey for PS4)
work at V7 Entertainment, Inc.
- UI/UX Designer & Lead
- Front End & Cinematic Designer & Art Lead
- 2D Artist / Animator
- Concept Artist
UI / UX Lead, Artist, and Problem Solver on an Extremely Large Scoped Game, a Massive Learning Experience
My primary role while at V7 was UI/UX lead, and the company's main project was an arcade style hockey game under the NBC/Universal Slap Shot license they had acquired. I created all menus and UI, 2D background presentation animations and loading screens, as well as supplemental 2D animated cutscenes for the story mode of the game. Using our homebrew production pipeline that I was able to help augment myself and innovate on, I created lightweight yet artistically pleasing and consistent UI solutions across the entire front end and gameplay, as well as a storymode system with a nearly complete series of hand-rotoscoped 2D cutscenes. Further to this I created information architecture, wireframes, conducting user testing, created concept art, presentations, layouts, style iterations, as well as menu trees for iterative design decisions throughout the production process. Though the capabilities of our proprietary game engine and pipeline varied wildly from in-menus (flash 3-based with limitations), gameplay (simple pixel-font printing), to cinematics (movie files), I worked hard with engineers in each area to achieve a consistent look across all boards.
Main Role: UI Direction
My initial responsibility on this project was simply the design of all UI, menu, and graphic design elements. The sports themed game took place in the 70's era, so I designed and iterated, and we eventually agreed upon a look based on 70's style broadcasts and print. I used bright colors, big presentation text, and strong, big shapes to convey the style of the era, as well as the fast, arcadey slant of the gameplay.
Responsibilities Growing: Cutscenes and 2D Animation
As is with small studios, my responsibilities soon grew to include 2D illustration/graphic art animations for story-mode cinematics, title sequences, and animated backgrounds for the menu flow. I drew on my visual arts background and eventually created a highly stylized cinematic style appropriate to the game's story and setting.
Many Challenges, Many Problems Creatively Solved on All Fronts
The experience was very challenging on all fronts. On the technology side, only a very limited number of Flash 6 functions could support the 'Flash in XNA' tools in our pipeline. From hacking fonts, to precise bitmap ratios, to learning the capabilities of every minute nook and cranny of our programming pipeline, I did everything I could to squeeze every last drop of graphical capability out of our toolset by working closely with each programmer and problem solving together in their own sector of the game engine.
Lessons Learned: Iterate On an Entire UI System First, and if it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It!
The NBC/Universal executive reviews consistently came back positive regarding UI updates I had implemented, particularly in the early phases of the game development when I was going for a more modernized-retro aesthetic, inspired in part by the UI's of current NHL competitors and other games. However, as development went on (and on), mandates came down from higher-ranking team members to create revision upon revision of the UI direction, before a fully iterated version was ever completed. In the end, the one main screen flow, of about three screens, ended up taking a huge amount of the production time, and a lot less time was left for the many supplementary screens, story-mode screens, and story-mode cutscenes. Furthermore some of the original inspiration from much earlier screens was lost. It would have been wiser to iterate one entire UI system, only then going back to polish individual pieces, and leaving more time for additional features. As the UX Lead, I should have been much more adamant about this, but in the end, it left me with an extremely strong lesson.
Lessons Learned: Compromise it Key, but Sometimes You Should Work Harder to Champion Your Convictions
From early on the company mandate had been to create fully 3D, animated cutscenes for the story-mode based on the IP’s story from the film. However, are team only ever consisted of 5-15 people! Based on my assessment of the team’s size and capability, I personally knew this was impossible. Early into my time there, I pitched creating more stylized, cartooned aesthetic in the form to 2D flash-animated cutscenes. I would use my own hand-drawn pictures, which given the current production timeline of at least another year, I was confident I could execute in time. However, the team remained unconvinced, and due to not a lot of support for the idea, I never went ahead to create a fully convincing prototype of what I had in mind. About a year and half later into production, I was asked to create a 2D animated solution for the cutscenes, only now with much less time to do it in! I opted for an Andy-Warhol-esque, painstaking (but faster than drawing) rotoscope of the original film’s frames. In retrospect, if I had stuck to my convictions and championed the idea I was sure was necessary with a stronger pitch or prototype, I may have been able to help the overall production, and ended up with work I was more pleased with myself.
Please note: all content is owned and copyrighted by NBC/Universal, all rights reserved.
work at V7 Entertainment, Inc.
ExtensiveIy completed UI/UX work and 2D cinematic / front-end art style from Slap Shot carried over to Old-Time Hockey
V7 Entertainment, Inc. recently released the culmination of their efforts, Old Time Hockey. The majority of my work on the UI and front-end assets, UX architecture, and style guide, from an earlier canceled project has been carried over to this new game. As can be seen when comparing work on the earlier Slap Shot for Xbox 360, a lot of the original Flash files and pipeline setups have been carried over.
Lessons Learned Working on Slap Shot Represented in Old-Time Hockey
The engine we created the game was proprietary and independent, and therefore required everyone working on it to bring their A-game in terms of doing what they could with limited functionality. This was doable though, but required quite a bit of finesse and an artful touch with the unwieldy software, something I wish I could have been there for to help in the transition, not to mention unifying the style in line with the in-game graphics art style. That being said, I made more than my fair share of mistakes, and looking back at the ones I wasn't able to correct has taught me so very much. In hindsight, I am able to pinpoint exactly where I personally went wrong, or miscommunicated with the team, in the production process. And now I know exactly how to do it right the next time. Because this was such a large scale UX undertaking across the entire project, I learned so incredibly much, and I am ultimately so grateful for the experience. I'm now ready and waiting to tackle any UI/UX and know exactly what to do, from start to finish, thanks to Old Time Hockey.
VISIT THE GAME PAGE!!
- Art Lead
- Artist & Animator
- Game Designer
- Trailer Edit, Voice Actor
"[Esoterica America] strikes a nice tone between raised-eyebrow cynicism and starry-eyed credulity; plus, it’s artistically quite gorgeous, and only costs a couple of quid. A genuine one-off.”
– Tom Hughes, The Gaurdian
“Ambitious and vast mystery RPG adventure … This is truly special. Frankly, absolutely brilliant.”
– DIY Games
"If Katamari Damacy shot up on Drain-O while Deadly Premonition slipped a hand under it’s skirt you still wouldn’t get half the ‘f#cked up’ that Esoterica America delivers in the first two minutes of play"
- Justin Talks to Himself
"...kept me visually enraptured throughout gameplay.”
My Role Was to Create a Game Out of Dense Esoteric Script: I Pitched We Create an Isometric Adventure, Created a Strong Visual Style to Match the Script, With Matching Esoterica Gameplay Elements. The Result: One of the Most Unique (and Esoteric) Games to Have Ever Hit Xbox Live Indie
I first met the team at V7 Entertainment Inc., where I was to spend the next three and half years of my life, when I was asked to help out on Esoterica America. Aside from the 3D rendering of the sets, my role was to produce all of the art seen in game, this included choosing the stark black and white art style to represent the normal world, and the colourful psychadelic art style to represent the spirit realm. I produced most of the illustrations, sprites and animations, background and 'starfield' effects, as well as the main cinematics and the 2D (classical/tweened) animations within. I contributed to the game design, adding the isometirc exploration aspect to the design, the 'meditation' mechanic for gameplay and writing some character dialogue. I slightly edited the story to make it about Sam's search for his father (plot), and helped stitch the disparate aspects of the game and story together when we inevitably over-scoped the length of the game. It was all an extremely valuable learning experience, and taught us that when we try to make the most thought-provoking and imaginative game we can, we gain high critical praise but not always volumetric success. The memories of creating this game will last a lifetime.
MyWorld is an educational game designed to teach teens "internet literacy", including best practives and safety precautions when surfing the net. It is currently in use by the Canadian Schoolboard , primarlily in Eastern Canada.
CDM Industry Project with MediaSmarts
- Art Lead
- UI/UX Lead
"My Learning Strategies Students loved it. They found it very interactive and it asked high level questions and delves deep into the subject of media and internet literacy. Very cool graphics and navigation."
- Teacher, Ottawa Carleton District School Board, Ontario
"My students thought it was great – so did I! They were really into all the aspects of the site and got the hang of it really quickly. It lent itself to great classroom discussions before and after using it. "
- Teacher, Ottawa Carleton District School Board, Ontario
"MyWorld exceeded all of my expectations and the students loved it."
-Teacher, Nova Scotia
My Role: UX and Art Direction to Simulate a Teen's Real Life Experience Online, in a Somehow Engaging Manner
My role for MyWorld was to create a user experience and art direction to effectively deliver a game design written by our client, MediaSmarts', in-house writer. We were given set of instructions on certain experiences student players were meant to go through, such as posting to Facebook, or researching a topic online. In order to deliver such experiences, I decided to create the look and feel of a real operating system, but with a colourful and stylish overhaul to keep the (somewhat dry and everyday) subject matter as appealing as possible to the target audience. I decided to create sub-environments within the main OS environment based on pun take-offs on the real-world equivalents we were meant to be simulating, such as Facebook and Google. Thus were born 'Space Face' and 'Googolplex'.
After the Initial Phase, the Client Hired a Co-Worker Programmer* and Me to Bring the Game to Launch, and We Did
To create a follow-up to their successful Passport to the Internet educational game for teens concerning digital literacy, the non-profit MediaSmarts Organization approached the Centre for Digital Media to hire one of their student groups. As my first UX and art-direction role on a project of this size, I was extremely fortunate to please the client contact with my first prototype, and then iterating upon that to produce a sleek and refined, fully realized version of the original idea. The client was so pleased with the work from myself, the artist, and a co-worker*, the coder, that they opted to hire us two over the summer to complete the project. I completed my work by the end of summer, and the programmer was hired on contract for a few months to complete it entirely. The game was sold to the Canadian schoolboard later that year.
VISIT THE GAME PAGE!
* Jeunessa Cheng, now a programmer at Kabam
- UX/UI Prototype
- Graphic Design
Preliminary UX Structure and UI Mockups for an App Pitch
An old colleague of mine approached me to with an idea for a new app and small business. The idea was an app to connect employers needing a high volume of temporary workers with said temporary workers. A social network with a specific interaction between two distinct demographics, in other words. I employed a strong sense of branding and consistency across a package of investor materials, as well as a mockup for the app. The idea is still sound, and we shopped it around a bit, but both unfortunately couldn't find the time to strengthen our business case; this, as well as geography factors, caused the project to go on hold.
VIEW THE WEBSITE
CDM Masters Digital Media Program Projects
My Role: To Create Storyboards and Direct Photography on an Interactive Story Made Under Assignment from National Film Board of Canada Veteran, George Johnson
Outline was an assignment from NFB veteran, George Johnson's Visual Story class at the CDM. The assignment was to create an immersive, interactive story using only still images and sound effects. I have to say, this project was a major pleasure to work on because of the cool, theatre savvy team I was paired with. Jeniffer Dowding, writer and designer of the project, used her connections to get us real working actors to work with. Because of background in photography at UBC, I was tasked with directing her script. It was an extremely valuable experience, because working with real actors and settings, we had to arrange precise and limited set times and didn't have time to mess around. Therefore I quickly found I had to produce full story boards and have a shot list ready to go each time we had a shoot. Furthermore, collaborating with experienced designer Jordan Braun, allowed us all to contribute to very cool design choices that gave the project an overall stylish and noir feel. The product we ended up with, I can to this day, say I am extremely proud of.
PLAY IT NOW! (Please allow some moments to load)
- Game Designer
Greater Vancouver's 'International Buddhist Temple' inspired adventure game!
My Role: to Lead a Team in the Creation of an Experience Based Around a Greater Vancouver Landmark. My Decision: To Make an Action Adventure Game About the Virtues of Enlightenment! Only by the Grace of Our Talented Programmer* Were We Able to Pull It Off in the Three Week Production Period!
Our first assignment for Building Virtual Worlds class was to create an interactive experience based upon a Vancouver landmark. Our team pulled 'The International Buddhist Temple', the largest Buddhist temple in the Greater Vancouver area. I was immediately hyped due to my interest in Buddhism, and quickly got my video game savvy team to agree to create a video game, and the role of designer fell to me. We decided to make an adventure game based around learning and using the core tenants of Buddhism. Consequently, Journey to Enlightenment was to see the first iteration of the notorious 'meditation mechanic', which would make it's way later into Esoterica America. It was an amazing learning experience, since, as the team looked to me for instruction, writing, level design and general direction on everything, I quickly realized how much detailed planning went into even the simplest of games. I soon looked straight to the most formative adventure games of my youth for inspiration, and as such learned that the vast tributaries of my childhood memories were an invaluable resource for game design minutia. Moreover the extremely tight delivery deadline for the game taught me a thing or four about scoping, as my original design called for six levels representing the Buddhist cosmos which I soon had to tighten and scale down into three. The result was a fun and quirky, nicely illustrated, quest game which, to this day, I believe would be a welcome attraction for young people to become interested in Buddhism.
*Jeunessa Chang, now a programmer at Kabam
Post-apocalyptic, Burning Man inspired social game with themes of spirituality, community, inclusionism, and environmentalism.
CDM Masters Digital Media Program Work Co-Op Project with Sharon Lewis.
- UX/UI Lead
- Art Lead
- Game Designer
My Role: To Create a UX Design, Art Style, Art Assets, and Contribute to Aspects of Game Design for a Prototype of Social-Based Game With Serious Overtones of Post-Apocalypse, Tribalism, and Environmentalism. Based on a Canadian IP
Based on the award winning Canadian novel "The Brown Girl in the Ring" set in a post-apocalyptic, bohemian, African god enchanted, Kowloon-type-city known as "The Burn", this hot new intellectual property was being shopped-around by the noteworthy Sharon Lewis in interest of expanding great Canadian ideas. Our team's task was to help discover the potentialities for gamification of this IP, and we eventually conceived the idea of transposing these edgy themes onto a high-concept social-media game. Very ahead of its time, considering the contemporary saturation of "Farmville" style clickbait titles. Our team developed a design document and prototype for a social media game based around the setting and characters of The Burn, and I was put in charge of creating concept art, art style, game art and UI design for the prototype.
Lessons Learned: Sometimes What a Client Wants is to be Told What They Want, Even if that's Not What They Want!
It was a valuable experience in terms of learning what not to do in a lot of cases. Preproduction dragged on, which usually means death for projects, teams, and small companies. The reason for this was mostly that between the creative team and client, no-one could figure out exactly what the project was going to be! Initially the client had the blue sky attitude of wanting a full-on MMORPG, but our five person team couldn't deliver that. And so the discovery phase dragged one, though the term of the project was only three months. Eventually the client settled on a smaller-scoped social game, but because this was also out of scope, we agreed on delivering a protoype. Lesson learned, we should have provided the guidance to narrow the discovery ourselves, and thus would have had more time to deliver a more polished prototype with more features, and more fully realized gameplay elements.
SPECTACLE CITY (CLICK TO PLAY!)
interactive composition / 2007
Spectacle City is an interactive Flash composition that allows the user to explore the nervous system of the city. Clicking on one of the floating medical terms will send the view to a mirror view within the city.
Artist Statement: Artists are always searching for the elusive "real". Especially in this era, the real is hard to find and even harder to recognize. take the city for example. it seems real enough, built of steel girder, solid concrete, and beautiful glass. The city is undeniably there, for the moment, but what is it that makes this city grow, and live? It's the idea of the city, the image of the pinnacle of human evolution and achievement. An image of a living, breathing creature, pumping commerce blood in human cells through concrete arteries.
EXPLORE IT NOW.