New Characters
My involvement in RushRev's character production pipeline.

Content Development
Design, Implementation & Management

At Rushdown I was responsible for overseeing development of new characters. In total, I managed gameplay design and implementation for four shipped characters. This involved participation in every step of the process detailed below.

  1. Cross-discipline brainstorming and ideation: Team members from various disciplines concept and pitch characters designed to fulfill specific needs, ranging from thematic (“we need a representative from Gildia”), to strategic (“we need an easy character who appeals to new players”), to anything in between (“A samurai character would be really cool”). After some filtering and concept art, a committee consisting of myself as well as several stakeholders from other disciplines decides on the next character to pursue as a team.
  2. Asset planning: Immediately after locking in a character concept, the asset production pipeline begins. My involvement in this step largely involves consulting with our technical artists, modelers, and animator to discuss gameplay needs for the character’s rig and model
  3. Prototyping and experimentation: While the art team produces assets, the gameplay team prototypes and tests various concepts in-engine, generally using an existing character as a placeholder. This gives us a good idea how gameplay might look early on in the pipeline, and sometimes allows us to change course in asset production in light of new discoveries or ideas.
  4. Implementation and polish: Once the character’s model and rig are complete, the gameplay team begins building out a more final moveset. This step largely involves a tight iteration loop with our animator, which generally proceeds as follows:

    1. A move is concepted, often based on a prototype from the previous phase.
    2. An animation for that move is built.
    3. The animation is tested in actual gameplay and modified using in-engine tools to suit the character’s needs.
    4. A final animation is produced, fine-tuned to match the final gameplay design.

  5. Playtesting and release: While the gameplay team playtests continuously during design, as a character nears release, we also oversee playtests with the broader team as well as a small selection of trusted players. Based on feedback and observations (largely balance-focused at this point), we continue to make final adjustments leading up to release.

For our first fully original character release, we wanted to aim for a design that our long-time players would appreciate. This meant a relatively complex character with a high skill ceiling and a lot of unique mechanics for core players to explore. The end result was Reina, a character who is defined by her stance switch ability. Both of Reina's stances encourage players to develop a specific kind of mastery.
  • Blade Stance features an extremely close-range moveset that requires a high degree of precision.
  • Chain Stance plays at unconventional ranges and relies on unconventional gameplay patterns to succeed.

After shipping one of our most difficult characters in Reina, we wanted our next character to land firmly end of the difficulty spectrum. The Torment would be a character that casual or new players could enjoy without considerable execution requirements or a deep understanding of game systems.

This kind of character is often fairly problematic in the platform fighter genre (and in PvP games in general, perhaps to a lesser extent). A character that can be played comfortably at lower skill levels can often be played very close to perfectly at the top level. This results in a character whose success ends up being more a factor of how over-tuned or under-tuned their moveset is, and less dependent on the individual skill of the player behind the controller.

In order to mitigate this effect, we devised a mechanic called "Evolution". Over the course of the game, The Torment's gains a small qualitative improvement to each of its moves. While these improvements will have little impact on a new player's experience, the slight differences between evolved moves and their un-evolved counterpart add a bit more room for an experienced player to flex their mastery of the character.
See Fusion Characters for more information on Seth and Velora's development.