Lost in the Dark
Platform: PC · Engine: Unreal · Team size: 17 · Timetable: Six Months
Lost in the Dark is a PC horror-exploration game designed by Sleepless Dreamer Studios. Lost in the Dark follows Caroline and she wakes up in a nightmarish mansion and makes her way back to the safety of her room. Trapped in the mansion with her is a monster known only as Bagman who is trying to steal the light away from Caroline. Lost in the Dark is a game about exploration and the juxtaposition of light and dark.
My role on Lost in the Dark was that of Producer. I spent the entirety of the project in a traditional production role where I scheduled milestone deliverables, scoped the project, and coached my team through developing our team culture. In addition to my duties contributing to the efficiency and effectiveness of our internal processes, I acted as the connection point between the team and the stakeholder group along with my Game Designer. At the end of the project I was responsible for representing our team at the SMU Guildhall IP Showcase Event where I presented Lost in the Dark to potential investors and employers.
Contributions and Tools
- Scheduled project with user research and deadlines
- Worked with Game Designer to scope the game vision
- Fostered team culture of honesty and accountability
- Orchestrated presentations to stakeholders
- Ran user research feedback sessions
- Performed Scrum Master duties
- Organized sprint plans in sprint planning meetings
- Designed credits sequence
Tools I Used Daily:
Documentation and Downloads
Assessment: Inexperienced Leads
Management: Mentoring and Coaching individuals
Method: One-on-One meetings, group meetings, explicit expectations, add responsibility over time
Two of the five leads on Lost in the Dark had no lead experience, and a third did not want to be a lead. To level them up, I spent time working with each individual one-on-one and as a group to address challenges in their disciplines and help them stay organized. As they grew, I added additional responsibilities to their plate to continue to challenge them and help them grow as leaders.
Assessment: Lack of Leadership for User research
Management: Fill leadership void
Method: Scheduling, finding playtesters, delegating tasks, Organizing User Research Session
Our user research sessions were to take place with two other concurrent projects at SMU Guildhall. I stepped into the leadership role for these user research sessions when a void was identified. I scheduled dates and times for the sessions, found playtesters, delegated installation and build responsibilities, and organized the event when people arrived. I also trained the members of my team in effective user research observer practices.
Assessment: Difficulty finding gameplay
Management: Iterating quickly on design / Prototyping
Method: Use team's strength of iterating quickly and prototyping to fail fast and find the fun
"Top-down design" is a term we used to refer to games that start as a feeling or emotion and have to search for mechanics to match the idea. Lost in the Dark followed this "top-down design." Early troubles finding the gameplay for our game were mitigated when I developed sprint plans that focused on rapid prototyping as many ideas as possible. By organizing and facilitating these flash-hacks, I helped the team find mechanics and proceed with development.
Assessment: Too little manpower to complete features
Management: Get a new resource or cut features
Method: Step in and help complete tasks in programming and design
Credits and menus were identified as necessary features for us to ship. As development progressed we needed aid in completing those features. I stepped in and helped add polish to the menus in the game and orchestrated the design for the credits sequence. I also spent time helping fix bugs when other hands were tied up. Pivoting into the role of a bug fixer was critical to complete these features at a level acceptable for release.