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Frozen Flame

Genre: Multiplayer Survival RPG

Engine: Unreal Engine 4

Team Size: ~40

Duration: Jun 2019 - Oct 2020

Platform: PC (Steam)

Websitehttps://frozen-flame.com/ 

"Frozen Flame" is a multiplayer survival open-world RPG. Players can explore the dying world, build their characters, bases, and groups to fight off the bosses to prevent a cataclysm from destroying the world and wiping the server.

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My responsibilities

Technical game designer:
 

  • Designed and implemented hostile creatures' behaviors, characteristics, and abilities (Zombies, Boars, Manticores, Elementals, Beetles, and Stalkers)
     

  • Designed a number of bosses (Fire Elemental, Golem, Titan, and, partially, the Crystal Dragon)
     

  • Cooperated with programmers to implement and adjust Utility System for the in-game AI
     

  • Designed and implemented combat spells
     

  • Designed move-sets for a two-handed axe with "Dark Souls" combat system as a reference
     

  • Adjusted the timings in weapon moves

Enemy design

To make the world of Frozen Flame more dangerous, but also more engaging, good enemy and boss design was essential. 

 

When designing the enemies, I was basing each enemy on a specific challenge that the player would need to master to win: timing, positioning, collaboration and communication, resource/ability management, and many others. Apart from the challenge type, many other factors influenced my design decisions, such as enemy group tactics, expected player progression, and others.

 

While each regular enemy was an embodiment of just one or two types of challenges, bosses had more complicated behaviors with combinations of numerous challenge types, previously encountered before.

The main boss design pillars were facilitating collaboration and varying combat types, as every boss fight needed to be engaging and rewarding for parties of different character classes. After applying those pillars, every boss would have a behavior accounting for expected player skill, the boss' narrative placement and appearance, and the provided arena.

Design and implementation process for enemies and bosses:

  1. Define the enemy habitat area and the expected player progression stage in that area

  2. For bosses: listing challenges that the player is expected to have mastered at this point

  3. Brainstorming: define core feature/enemy archetype with related abilities based on the target challenge type

  4. Creating a behavior flowchart, outlining character behavior with and without player interaction

  5. Consulting with the programming department on the topic of possible complications, if needed request additional functionality or adjust the behavior

  6. Sending out the behavior documentation to the art department to run the visuals through the pipeline from concept art to animation and additional VFX

  7. Requesting additional sounds from the sound designer

  8. Implementing the behavior using placeholder assets for visuals and audio

  9. Intermediate playtest solo and team combat using player characters with expected progression level

  10. Implementing visual and audio assets provided by the team

  11. Playtesting and adding the enemy to the QA schedule

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Combat spells

The magic system was introduced to the game to deepen the gameplay with more playstyles and provide the players with more creative ways to engage with the world.

Using the pre-built magic system and native UE4 Gameplay Ability System, I was designing and implementing the magic spells, that accounted for PvP and PvE encounters.

The main design pillar for the spells was combinatorics: with every new spell, the player would get a new way to combine spells to gain an advantage in various combat situations or to support their allies.

My design and implementation process of creating a new spell went the following way:

  1. Identifying the gameplay bit where players, specializing in spellcasting, had less number of ways to interact with the world than other types of players.

  2. Brainstorming the first few ideas of a new spell and its combinations with other spells or abilities

  3. Discussion with the lead designer to get feedback

  4. With the new information, prototyping 2-3 ideas with placeholder assets and insider playtesting in various gameplay scenarios

  5. Iterating on the best spell using feedback from the playtesting

  6. Requesting additional concepts, VFX, and animations (if required) from the art department

  7. Implementing the visual assets provided by the team.

  8. Adding the new spell to the QA schedule. Further iteration, if required.

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