Sole Developer & Designer


Dec 2022 - Present
GODWALKER was my thesis for my Master's in Fine Arts during my time at New York University. The concept of GODWALKER is simple: What if DOOM was a roguelike? For the entire two years of his MFA, I experimented with different game prototypes, chasing the balance between a game which scratched a very specific itch and was feasibly producible on his own. GODWALKER challenges many conventional first person shooter tropes, and focuses on action, speed, and actuated diversification of play. 
At the RPI GameFest 2023, Godwalker won Best in Design and was Nominated for Best in Show.

To play GODWALKER, you can find the most recently on Itch.io here: https://joshgamedev.itch.io/godwalker
All of the source code for GODWALKER is available publicly on GitHub for educational and non-commercial use
Throughout my time working on Godwalker I learned a great deal through experience, research, and playtesting. As I've now finished my graduate degree I've made all of the code for the game publicly available, and have begun writing free articles and blog posts about the game.

Godwalker is my largest solo project to date, and features a drastic series of ups and downs. I've documented all of my successes and failures as I've gone. The point of these articles and talks is not to simply showcase my skills, but the process of design and research which led me to learn the things I know.
Most recently pertaining to Godwalker I was asked to give a talk at Unity NYC in September of 2023. The talk focused on how to design combat encounters to teach the player through mechanics and environments rather than text-based tutorials, while keeping combat fun and engaging throughout an entire level. Throughout the talk we explore how classic and modern DOOM titles do this through their design, and how I applied it directly to my thesis.

The talk was one of my most successful to date, and I am incredibly proud of it. As of writing this it remains my most popular article and YouTube video. I've published this content in multiple forms to increase accessibility of the information.
You can find the article here and the video here. The article is far more in-depth, featuring more detailed descriptions and examples, while the talk is far more digestible. Suffice to say the core content is the same in both.
The artwork of Godwalker was one of the most difficult facets to finalize. As I was working alone on this project as my thesis, I did not have the time allotted to build high quality artworks. Because of this I decided to go with an incredibly constrained and easy to produce art style, focusing on world-space textures, baked lighting, and intense constraints.

Doing so allowed me to focus more on more aspects of the project. I functionally reduced my art pipeline to working entirely in Unity, using Probuilder to quickly model, UV, and then use world-space materials to texture them.

This process was heavily documented with the core take-aways being processed into an article. You can read about the forced constraint art style here for free.
As a project Godwalker went through a great deal of iteration. The art style is probably the aspect which changed the most over the course of development. The final game was the 16th vertical slice I had built in the process of testing, and represents two years worth of iteration. 

The entire process of artistic exploration was documented through this time, and all of my tests, concepts, throw-aways, and reasoning can be found hereThe process itself was a methodology of constant iteration, but I consistently had to keep in mind that I would be working on this alone. This meant that the art styles which I approached or experimented with had to be refined, but also producible on my own. 

This was one of the most difficult hurdles to tackle in the project.
In addition to a refined art style, the enemies of Godwalker needed animation. Considering again that I was a solo developer, I had to find ways to bring life to my enemies without breaking my time production budget.

This led me to study and develop a series of procedural animation rigs for use in the game. Enemies now moved through the environment with robotic-like spidery movements, reacted to shots, and recoiled attacks.

The weapons of the game also needed to have a series of bespoke animations in order to portray their feel and character. For this I built a custom blend-tree inverse kinematic skinned humanoid rig, and applied kinematic forces to it to build procedural animations.

You can read more about the custom procedural animation systems here
Of course, one of the most intense aspects of design were the weapons of the game. Godwalker features a great deal of weapons, many of which do drastically different things. Looking back, I do believe that the weapons in the game could have used more attention, and going forward I will be addressing this throughout new patches and updates.

Regardless of this, I found a methodology through testing which assisted in creating a diverse cast of weapons which I've coined Forced Diversification. Or, in other words, making your player play with different things, over and over, so that they keep learning and having fun.

Truthfully this was learned on the fly as much as I could through testing, iteration, and feedback. You can read about my experience with this methodology here
When I consider the aspects of the project which I learned through trial by fire, I wouldn't be honest if I left out my process of production. When working on a game as large as this, the need for production work grows rapidly. I found myself consistently managing my time far more than expected, and began to develop solo-methodologies.

These methodologies led me to build an Introspective Agile ruleset, based off of a paper from Virginia Commonwealth University, and adapted heavily for game production. The core principle relies on the theory of wearing different hats, and talking to yourself from different perspectives. Making production decisions which benefit the designer inside your more than the artist makes a huge impact on the project.

You can read more about this methodology, Wolf Introspective Production, here
At the culmination of my thesis I was asked by the state of New York to showcase my work at their GDC booth, as well as give a talk on the floor about the process of design and development of Godwalker.

This talk goes in-depth about the process that I called backwards feeling game design, in which I chase specific aspects and emotions I find within prototypes rather than attempt to design around a specific feeling. As I built I listened to what the game wanted, and worked around that throughout my designs.

I was more than happy to give the talk, and even more excited by the turnout. I've re-recorded the talk on my YouTube channel to be accessed for free.
Map Screenshots
Gameplay Screenshots

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