Mad Tracks / XBLA

After two internships at Darkworks, I chose to work in a small video game development studio because I wanted to see the differences between small and big businesses.

Therefore, during the summer of 2009, I did my third internship at Load Inc, a small video game development studio specialized in arcade racing games for the Xbox Live Arcade (Mad Tracks, Things On Wheels). After working at Darkworks which had 120 people, I joined a company of only 10 people!

During my internship, I held the position of Game Designer.

This involved:

designing game concepts aimed for the Xbox Live Arcade (including Natal Games) in order to get the first Microsoft approval

designing a prototype of a new XBLA game to get a publisher

– designing, testing and tuning on Mad Tracks for the Nintendo Wii to have a Nintendo approval (the Wii version of Mad Tracks was released on mobile platforms in 2012 by Namco America)

Designing Game concepts for the Xbox Live Arcade

While the team was finishing Mad Tracks for the Nintendo Wii, the lead game designer and I were asked to design Load Inc’s next projects. Our mission was to design game concepts for the Xbox Live Arcade that would use the in-house game engine. These game concepts involved various game genres, including some Natal Games. Our objective was to get the first Microsoft approval, the first step to make an XBLA game.

This involved:

– being creative to design brand new concepts and sequels

analyzing the Xbox Live Arcade Market to get a clear view of its possibilities

designing game concepts while making sure these projects suit the team

– writing structured documents for the team

Designing a prototype for a new game for the Xbox Live Arcade

While working on several game concepts, we also worked on the next Load Inc’s game for the Xbox Live Arcade. After we got enough material, the team started to work on a playable prototype.

As a Game Designer, my mission was to design a prototype to get a publisher.

This involved:

– designing the Game Design Document of the prototype with this objective

– designing core gameplay while working closely with one programmer

designing a level that shows the full potential of the core gameplay while working closely with several graphists

– iterating on design based on playtesting observation and feedback

Working on the last phase of production of Mad Tracks for the Nintendo Wii

When I arrived at Load Inc, I worked on a Nintendo Wii game called “Mad Tracks”, a racing game that was previously released on the Xbox Live Arcade. The game was released on December 2009.

As a Game Designer, my mission was to make the game more accessible to casual audiences, whereas it previously aimed at hard core audiences. Because it was the last phase of production, I needed to be very creative but faced many restrictions. I was also in charge of testing to get a Nintendo approval.

UPDATE : The Wii version was ported to mobile platforms by Namco America in 2012; the publisher used the Wii version as it was the last version of the game and the more “adapted” to the casual audience.

This involved:

– testing and modifying races using the in-house level editor to make them more accessible

testing and tuning the game by adding new feedbacks and new in-game interfaces to improve the player’s overall understanding

–          reporting bugs by giving detailed descriptions to the right team member

–          checking the TCR Nintendo regulation to get approval

Learning

Working on Xbox Live Arcade Game Concepts was very interesting. It gave me the opportunity to get a good acknowledge of the XBLA market by analyzing games, sales (using leader boards) and Microsoft restrictions. Moreover, I learnt to design game concepts that suit the team by getting a clear view of their motivation, strengths and weakness. This is particularly necessary, especially in a small team. Then, we created some game concepts for Natal and it was very exciting to explore its possibilities. I think that Natal can bring new experiences to gaming and I hope to work on it in the future.

Moreover, I learnt to design a prototype aimed to get a publisher: the objective is to show the full potential of a core gameplay as well as that of the team (graphics, IA programming …). This mission was a great experience and, to get with my previous internship on the pre-production of I Am Alive, prepared me to work on a full pre-production.

Then, it made me more autonomous because it enabled me to learn a lot on my own because everyone was busy. Furthermore, it gave me the opportunity to work on a Nintendo Wii Game and I learnt a lot about Nintendo’s TCR.  Finally, I was able to understand the role of a game designer during the last phase of production: improving the general quality of the game by being as creative as possible.