Jason Lee Elliott

Jason Lee Elliott

Why am I here?

Flipnaut

Developer: Self / Brandon McGuigan  Release Date: 12/15/2011  Platforms: Flash  Role: Game Designer / Artist A Look Back At this point in my career, I had left the game industry and had been teaching for...

Simpson’s Hit & Run

Developer: Radical Entertainment  Release Date: 09/16/2005  Platforms: Playstation 2 / Xbox / Gamecube / PC Role: Game Designer  A Look Back After finishing the Hulk game I took a week vacation and came back to...

Hulk: Ultimate Destruction

Developer: Radical Entertainment  Release Date: 08/23/2005  Platforms: Playstation 2 / Xbox / Gamecube  Role: Game Designer  A Look Back Coming back to a Hulk team in early pre-production was quite a relief from the past...

Flipnaut

Developer: Self / Brandon McGuigan  Release Date: 12/15/2011  Platforms: Flash  Role: Game Designer / Artist

A Look Back

At this point in my career, I had left the game industry and had been teaching for around five years. I taught a variety of different courses ranging from 3D art to coding game in a variety of engines. Indie games were starting to come into their prime with many different opportunities, including a vibrant Flash game scene. This made me want to get back into making games, not just because it was fun, but also so that I could better understand how that marketplace functioned so I could bring that knowledge back into the classroom.

As chance would have it, I was hanging out at a Full Indie event, a local indie dev meetup, when I bumped into my friend Brandon, who I had worked with back in my Radical days. He was also looking to make some indie games for the same reason. Neither of us wanted to put our full investment into creating a full-scale game, but rather we wanted to build something with minimal art and a simple, fun game design. Something that we could build quickly and attempt to sell it.

In early March 2011, we set a challenge to quickly prototype a concept each and then show each other and choose one. I created a game in GameMaker that I called FlipFlop, which is what became Flipnaut. Our goal was to try and get the game built in 3 months, which was not realistic considering we both were working normal jobs and doing this on the side. It ended up taking about 6 months to get the game more or less complete and polished to a level we were satisfied with. We then put it up on the marketplace and ended up selling the front splash page for a few hundred dollars. We learned a massive amount during that time and we planned on making a larger version of this game, but as happens in life, we both went onto to different things. Maybe one day we will resurrect it, who knows!

 

Tips For Better Writing
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Simpson’s Hit & Run

Developer: Radical Entertainment  Release Date: 09/16/2005  Platforms: Playstation 2 / Xbox / Gamecube / PC Role: Game Designer 

A Look Back

After finishing the Hulk game I took a week vacation and came back to find out that I had been loaned out to the Simpson’s team. I had never done a racing game and was excited for the challenge. This game was getting close to finished and I was prepared to push through another grind. To my surprise, this team ended up being the best managed game I have ever worked on. Overtime was generally and extra hour or two each night and the occasional weekend play session. It almost seemed wrong at the time. It was due to the good management that this became the only game I have ever worked on that I received royalties from and that came about because the game came in under budget, on time and had a great meta-critic rating. This game would go on to sell something like 7 million copies!

Coming onto this project, my first job was to work with the artists to polish the collision in every level. Having been an artist for years I could easily explain how to fix each area while retaining the aesthetics. After that I worked on laying out the various missions and playtesting like crazy. I don’t remember much else other than it was the most relaxing Alpha / Beta I ever went through.

 

Tips For Better Writing
Plan Your Content If you're considering adding a blog to your site,...
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Basic Taxonomies
Categories and Tags If you write about a variety of subjects, categories...
Read More "Basic Taxonomies"
Blogging 101
Pages vs. Posts If you're new to WordPress you may be wondering...
Read More "Blogging 101"

Hulk: Ultimate Destruction

Developer: Radical Entertainment  Release Date: 08/23/2005  Platforms: Playstation 2 / Xbox / Gamecube  Role: Game Designer 

A Look Back

Coming back to a Hulk team in early pre-production was quite a relief from the past year almost all in crunch. We had lots of ideas and had plenty of time to experiment and try things out. It was a lot of fun to really play with the design without the pressure of a release date and really allowed the team to build the tools to make the game we really wanted to make.

One of the first major changes we had was going from linear levels to an open world. This presented some big challenges for every department, especially the design team. Open world mission design requires a very different way of thinking about escalation and player flow. We struggled with this concept for quite a while as we would build missions that on first glance were amazing, only to be broken completely by another designer playing it.

One thing I introduced to the team was a Prop Bible where we broke down all the interactive props in the game into detail. This came about due to my experience on the previous Hulk game and me making an artist rebuild an asset several times with new states constantly being added to it. If we had some proper documentation process at the time, this would have been alleviated and I wanted to make sure it never happened again.

I ended up leaving this project about halfway through production for several reasons. I was definitely a bit burned out and I was having philosophical disagreements with my Lead on the direction of the game. As a result, I wasn’t very happy and the team knew it. At the same time, Radical was in the process of being purchased by Vivendi Universal and they were looking to reduce the headcount at the studio. My best friend had been laid off from our team and when they asked whether I would be willing to take a large severance package to took the opportunity. I should probably also mention that they did this on a Monday morning at the start of July. I really wanted to take an entire summer off, which I did. Best decision I have ever made.

 

Hulk

Developer: Radical Entertainment  Release Date: 05/27/2003  Platforms: Playstation 2 / Xbox / Gamecube / PC  Role: Game Designer 

A Look Back

I was brought onto the Hulk team for two reasons: I was a big comic book fan and I had just worked on a stealth game and they needed someone to do the Banner missions. The project was already well under way when I joined the team and had to hit the ground running. Over time I would discover that this was going be by far the most intense and enjoyable experience ever had in development. It would also be the first game I had ever worked on that sold over a million copies.

Development on this game was a real wild ride for me. I was responsible for almost all the Banner missions plus many of the Hulk levels. When I came on to the team, Banner had just been added as a playable character in the game, even though the engine was designed for Hulk gameplay. The first thing I discovered was that Banner could only walk, run, crouch, punch (against armed guards), and access computer panels. For STEALTH gameplay! I pitched a bunch of different mechanics that would be necessary, but due to time constraints I was only able to get push/pull and clamber.

Next, I had to learn lua scripting at the same time as I was implementing missions and had very little room for error. Luckily I had taught myself some scripting years before and at least understood the basic concepts. This also allowed me to understand what was going on behind the scenes and discover some exploits to make the game better. My favorite is when I figured out how enemies knew whether they were fighting Hulk or Banner. It was just a simple exposed variable that could be set at any time. I used that in the later levels to get the Hulk Dogs to fight against soldiers to create a scene of chaos.

The craziest memory I have from this project was the fact that I worked between 80 to 100 hours per week for about three months straight. It sounds much worse than it actually was. It wasn’t like I was working that entire time. Most days consisted of waiting for new builds, making slight fixes and more waiting. Radical at the time had a “great room” that had free food, games, tv, and other distractions to keep people happy and I was hanging out with all my friends on the team doing the same. I enjoyed every minute of it, but I don’t think I would ever want to do it again.