Shane Breedveld - Games Producer

General Information

Game Summary

You are the Keeper of Light and your goal is to collect all the light required for you to defeat the monster. The monster is there to hunt you down and prevent you from restoring the light your people need. Explore the medieval town of Wuldenholm and try to stay alive as you fulfill your duty.

Key Features

The City of Wuldenholm
Explore a huge town as you uncover what is haunting this place.

Insanity on the prowl
Manage your sanity as you wander through the town to prevent yourself from going insane.

Fight off the Horrors
Collect Light Essences and weaponize them against the creatures of the Void

Reveal the shrouded history
Find out more about the backstory of the town by collecting notes and books that are scattered in various places within the game’s environment.

Development Information

Team size: 9
Project Duration: 8 weeks
Engine: Unreal Engine 4
Platform: PC

Project Role and Responsibilities

Main Role : Producer

  • Manage project scope and feasibility.
  • Maintaining a Risk Log.
  • Doing 1-on-1’s with the entire team multiple times throughout the project to manage team motivation and help resolve their issues. 
  • Structure playtesting, creating a schedule and teaching the team how to host playtest sessions.
  • Facilitate the Art and Audio with asset lists so that we can prioritize work and avoid dependencies.
  • Host Sprint Plannings and Retrospective to fit with our agile approach, improving on earlier sprints by identifying issues and areas of improvement

Secondary Role : UI Designer

  • Creating the Main Menu that contains the baseline information for the player to understand the controls and launch the game.
  • Create a visually attractive menu set that thematically fits the game.
  • Collaborate with artists and incorporate them into the UI pipeline to allow art assets to be used as buttons, titles, and backgrounds.

Main Role : Level Designer/General Designer

  • Design the gameplay experience and game loop, both core and additional.
  • Iteratively design the sandbox environment of the City of Wuldenholm that allows for a horror sandbox experience to be created.
  • Playtest to iterate on player leashing and pathfinding in a sandbox environment.
  • Create and assist with scripted events and tailor them to function depending based on player’s approach.

Secondary Role : Narrative Writer

  • Collaborating with Concept Art to visualize the characters and environments.
  • Write the backstory for the game which creates the base foundation for the collectibles.
  • Provide feedback on art asset creation to ensure the art assets fit within the established style and story.
  • Write collectible narrative pieces and environmental assets that contain narratives.

Analysis and Process

Production Process
Starting this project knowing the size of our team and the competencies we had within the team I quickly realized that I’d be required to take on multiple roles as explained in my responsibilities above. With the team size being 9 people I seized this opportunity to put the theoretical knowledge that I had gathered before on production and project management and attempt to apply it to this project. 

As the project kicked off and the initial individual research phase was completed I prepared for the collaborative effort by setting up a Trello board and teaching the tool to the team. Having some knowledge at the time about JIRA I still chose Trello due to the fact that for such a short project the time investment that it would cost onboarding the rest of the team to a heavier tool was too expensive in my opinion.

With Trello being prepared I together with the other team members decided on what everyone would like to focus on and what they excelled at so that we could identify the areas in which we are missing or lacking competencies and come up with countermeasures for those. It was at this very moment that I also introduced the team to the Risk Log and started onboarding them on using it, this helped us substantially with making decisions that would have led to scope creep later in the project.

As we had our concept finalized and wanted to start producing content and actually created the game I employed the Agile project methodology, seeing the short nature of the project this allowed us to make changes to our trajectory on the fly. Doing sprint plannings and also sprint reviews became part of our weekly cycle rapidly, allowing us to iterate and tackle issues that arose proactively. To track velocity on the team’s progress I used Burndown Charts for the team based on the content included in the Sprint Planning, showing this information in a transparent manner to the team members to ensure urgency was understood and key deliverables were met.

Now that content creation was about to start off I facilitated the team by creating asset lists for the audio and art departments which allowed us to have a clear prioritization of the assets required most to get to a M.V.P. this proved itself as one of the key factors to the success of the project as it allowed people to work aligned and assist each other where required.

As the project progressed the usage of the tools became more and more embraced by the team as they were starting to see the value of using them. Combining that factor with me actively reaching out to support any team members that were blocked as well as having 1-on-1’s regularly with the entire team allowed for a very strong group morale which pushed the projects to heights we didn’t think feasible when we started.

Once we got to the stage where we were able to playtest I created a schedule and structure for that to ensure consistent testing and iteration on our findings as well as the documentation of it. This allowed us to make key changes that didn’t cost a lot of time but improved the player experience substantially.  

During this time is also when I set up the page and tried to reach out and improve our exposure by sharing our content on Discord communities. This gave us a lot of feedback on our game which we could have even further improved the game on if we had more time. 

Throughout this entire project, however, I had a jack of all trades role, as we were with very few designers and one of them focussing on audio there was a lot of work left on the table still that had to be done. Thus, I took on Level Design as my main task to make sure we could make the USP part of our game which was a sandbox horror game. That being said as with any horror game the setting and theme needs to come across as well so I also took on the role of UI designer to create the menus and the Narrative writing to make sure our story made sense within our world and give value to the collectibles in our game.

Personally doing this was very valuable as it early on in my career improved my collaboration skills with all departments involved, leading to for example the creation of our modular asset kit due to understanding that our scope would not be feasible with bespoke assets.

Having a clear understanding of others their workflows became very important from this moment on as having this base level of knowledge about others their work, understanding their dependencies, risks, and struggles allow me to make better decisions as a producer and be as stronger asset to my team.

Challenges Encountered

  • Teaching team members production tools and methods were quite time-consuming at the start, setting up guides on how to use documents and explaining the benefits of using these methods and documents. After some repetition and them seeing the value of it in action it was embraced quite well.
  • This is the first project in which I got confronted with scope creep, starting with an overly ambitious concept we mostly had to cut down on the town’s size multiple times to make this feasible on the Level Design and Art departments. This showed me the importance of risk management and scope control. 
  • Aligning everyone on a concept especially when it’s a totally new group of people was quite challenging. The 1-on-1’s proved very effective at resolving any underlying issues which prevent people from cooperating better.

Final Game Menus

Full Blockout of the city of Wuldenholm

Building the city using the Modular Asset Kit

Lighting and Props added to the city.

Production Documents

Asset Lists

During this project, Asset Lists were used to get a clear overview of the prioritization of asset content creation in relation to the value it would add to our game experience. This created team-wide alignment on what was the most important in our game. Through clear descriptions, we established a very basic level of definitions of done which caused created content to be in line with expectations.

Download Link: Asset List 

Risk Log

Since this was the first time I worked in a cross variation team I employed the Risk Log that I’d been using personally and improved on it to allow for easy usage and onboarding by other team members. This document was vital to our team when it came to dealing with scope creep and cross-disciplinary issues.

Download Link: Night Shift Risk Log                          

Sprint Planning & Retrospectives

This was the first project where I performed in the role of producer, with that applying some basic knowledge regarding sprint structures and restrospectives. However putting a strong emphasis on reflection and improving the team.

Download Link: Sprint Retrospectives and Planning                            

Shane Breedveld