Sole Member


Aug 2021 – May 2022
Rock Hopper is a solo project I worked on for more than a year as the sole developer and designer. It is a third person shooter with roguelike elements, fast-paced combat, vertical map design, with a focus on environmental storytelling. Contextually - Rock Hopper serves as the design bridge between Minedroid and Praetor, made during my time at New York University. With the guidance of faculty, I was able to build quite a large project in a relatively short amount of time.​​​​​​​
You can download Rock Hopper here for free.
Rock Hopper features a very specific and malleable art style which allowed me to quickly and easily produce work throughout the course of the project. Using a series of custom shaders and shader libraries, I was able to build a robust visual language within the space of the game.

Environmental storytelling also assisted in bringing out the magic of the ancient game world. A great deal of love was poured into the areas and environments of this game to give it character.

Looking back, I wish I had engaged more with the space as a dynamic one. I later explored this in Godwalker, but do wish I had had the opportunity to do so at this juncture. 
One of the main driving themes of Rock Hopper was consistent chaos. It's incredibly fun to find yourself surrounded with a huge heap of bullets, more flying at you, and no where to run.

The combat of this game took its time to find its roots. It was early and rough, but had a nice flavor to it that felt familiar. I based much of the game feel in this project off of Risk of Rain 2, as that was what I had enjoyed the most at the time. 

Combining the flat shaded art style with large spaces, flowy movement, and overwhelming enemies made for a very interesting experience. For good measure I threw in a dash and a weapon heat system, which would later go on to inspire the core mechanic of Godwalker.
One of the core pillars of Rock Hopper's environment was verticality. More often than not I found myself falling in love with jump pads. There's just something so fulfilling about flinging oneself through the air to escape an attack or a bomb bot. 

My love of jump pads almost became a joke amongst production. When presented with a level design problem I would ask myself, could this be solved with a jump pad? Surprisingly the majority of the time the answer would be yes.

In many cases this created entirely new problems, much of which consisted of vertical level design. While Rock Hopper may appear to be a conventional third person shooter, the player is far faster and lighter than what we typically know in the third person genre. This makes their navigation of levels feel less bound and move dynamic in the space.
One of the core design challenges I faced time and time again was that the spaces of Rock Hopper were absolutely huge. This was purposeful as I wanted to build a space to interact with which felt massive, but I also needed enemies that felt good to fight in such a large environment.

Combining high speed movement with an absurd amount of bullets led me to the driving conclusion of: More is More. Throughout the project I would build levels of weird and wacky enemy combinations, with a final giant culmination of insanity, in which a single room of the game had multiple combat arenas.​​​​​​​
Looking back, the decision to build a massive level filled to the brim with enemies spamming bullets was... interesting. This was definitely an attempt at actualizing some "You know what would be cool?" thinking. 

This level is still quite fun, and makes up the bulk of the demo. It's just as chaotic and extreme as I wanted it to be. Given more time I would have loved to refine it, and build a more engaging and guiding environment for the player to explore.

As it stands the final room has a series of octagonal platform arenas, each of which spawns a different group of enemies that you've found throughout the game for you to fight. My design challenge for this space was to build something chaotic and overwhelming, which is exactly what I got out of playtests.
On the whole, I would say that Rock Hopper represents exactly what I set out to achieve with my graduate thesis: To build a series of prototypes and find the game I wanted within them.

While I did not go further with the development of Rock Hopper, many of its elements were carried into Praetor, and subsequently Godwalker, making this game a stepping stone on the way to my thesis.

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