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Spring 2023, 12 weeks   |   Team Size: 11  |   Product Owner, System Designer, Level Designer, Technical Designer

​​Tasked with developing a vertical slice of gameplay to represent a larger game over 12 weeks, my team created Agripocalypse, a resource based stealth game set on an irradiated farm. We went through several concepts, iterated on ideas, and ultimately developed a decent vertical slice, overcoming many challenges we faced along the way.



  • As product owner, I led the team in making decisions about overall design, iteration, as well as leading decisions around scope and cutting content

  • As systems designer, I wrote a comprehensive systems design document that covered overall design, economy, enemies 

  • As a level designer, I planned, implemented, and iterated on the games level, creating enemy set pieces for the player to work around

  • As a technical designer, I programmed some  features to help our dedicated programmers meet our goals

  • The team worked in a multi-stage development cycle that included ideation, feature lock, and
    content lock, meeting three times a week with the team to plan sprints, check in on progress, and
    give each other feedback


Our game was themed around an apocalyptic farm, so all the enemies and tools were based on crops. Thus we named tools & weapons "vegetools" and mutant vegetable enemies "vegetaghouls".

Core Loop Iteration

Being sole system designer and product owner, I was responsible for defining the core game loop. Here was the original game loop concept:

1) Talk to an NPC to get seeds

2) Plant seeds, water growing crops, pick ones that have grown, while not getting seen by mutant crops (vegetaghouls) around the farm


3) Cook up vegetable tools (vegetools) to help evade and take down vegetaghouls throughout the farm


These images come from a slideshow my team put together at the end of production.

4) Killing vegetaghouls gives you more  crafting crops that you can use to craft more vegetools.

5) Any extra crafting crops that you saved up at the end of a day could be brought back to your home base to feed your NPC pals, or held onto for the next day. If you couldn't feed NPCs enough, they would die.


This system had several issues. For one, wating for crops to grow had a few issues. The original intent would imply having players grow crops across several days. Designing multiple days of content was not just out of scope (which could have been mitigated by making days similar) but was out of scope for what we were able to test at the school testing labs, as we can't expect players to play more than 5 minutes. Even if crops grew quickly, that meant just waiting for crops to grow or backtracking.

The other issue was the games goal. As it stood, the goal was to accrue enough resources to feed all of your friends. There were a few issues with this. It was designed to have players go through multiple days, so an NPC wouldn't starve in one day. We also felt that the player could use a more concrete goal to work towards in a single play session. The final issue that stood was that feeding NPCs was a whole system we had not made, and after loosing our sole programmer, we found that we did not have time to develop it.

These issues led to me reworking the game loop to as follows:


1) Go out and stealthily harvest crops (no planting, watering or growing)


2) Cook these crops into some vegetools

3) Take down smaller enemies, and eventually hunt down the big boss carrot (this would be the new goal)

The first change we made was removing planting, watering, and growing, and turning the loop to what I called a single day gather & hunt structure. This way gameplay happened all in one day, so we could focus on just having one good segment of gameplay.

The next thing that came was shifting the games goal from accruing enough resources to feed your friends to getting enough resources to take down a big boss. That way, players had a more concrete gameplay goal for a short gameplay session.


For a while we still planned to keep feeding your friends as part of the game as something that could be done after you beat the boss or the day ends based on a timer. However, this system never got development time as it became out of scope. Thankfully, it was largely an auxiliary goal for the player in this rework, and the game stood without it. 

Economy Iteration

One of the things I was responsible for on the project was planning out the economy of resources available and resources needed to make tools and weapons (vegetools).


1) I started by designing some vegetools I thought could be fun for sneaking around and killing vegetable mutants.

2) The team discussed which tools we liked the most, and scoped down to a few we felt we could create in the time we had. This required that I rebalance the crafting recipes for each tool so each ingredient was used roughly the same amount.

3) Having planned out the economy, it was time to implement the plants that give you crafting crops in the level. I made sure that the distribution of plants in the level was proportional to how often they were used in crafting, roughly (wheat was the exception, due to how much it is used). I also put crops in groups, so you would need to explore a bit to find different resources. You can see how I tracked how much of each crop was placed throughout the map, and how I split up crop groupings in regards to location on the map.

4) Finally, after doing internal and formal testing with other students of the original implementation, I decided to increase the number of crops so that players could make more tools. I also reduced the cost of dodge rolls to help get the ratio of supply and demand in line with other crafting crops.


After we got past our 5 week ideation phase, we started development on a more singular solid concept. I was responsible for developing the broad strokes and the minutia of the game loop as the systems designer, which intertwined with my responsibility to guide the team in the direction we went with development as and product owner. 

To the right, you will find the systems document I wrote. I updated it at the end of development to show what ideas were cut. We faced a few issues during development, such as our lead programmer being out for around 4 weeks, and or 3D animator leaving the project about halfway into development. These issues, and perhaps the fact that we were overambitious with our scope, led to a lot of features being cut.

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