Saga Map from Cranky Food Friends. All art created by my art team and myself. © SEGA Cranky Food Friends was a new IP for Sega that I helped design from the ground up. The gameplay, a match four puzzle game with card battle and RPG elements was already set when I was asked to come up with a look and feel for a food game that would appeal to casual, female, puzzle fans. A softly shaded attempt, done before I was asked to take a stab at the theme, had tested poorly so I pulled inspiration from Etsy, Pintrist, webcomics, and internet memes that were beloved by the women we hoped would love our game and designed super simple, grumpy characters with a subtle paper texture, giving the game a bit of a cut paper feel that would feel hipper and craftier. The art tested through the roof and throughout development always came back rated as players' favorite aspect of the game. The saga map shown above was designed to be modular. I wanted to give the level designers the ability to add levels or change the sequencing of areas without requiring us to repaint the map.

Saga Map from Cranky Food Friends. All art created by my art team and myself. © SEGA

Cranky Food Friends was a new IP for Sega that I helped design from the ground up. The gameplay, a match four puzzle game with card battle and RPG elements was already set when I was asked to come up with a look and feel for a food game that would appeal to casual, female, puzzle fans.

A softly shaded attempt, done before I was asked to take a stab at the theme, had tested poorly so I pulled inspiration from Etsy, Pintrist, webcomics, and internet memes that were beloved by the women we hoped would love our game and designed super simple, grumpy characters with a subtle paper texture, giving the game a bit of a cut paper feel that would feel hipper and craftier.

The art tested through the roof and throughout development always came back rated as players' favorite aspect of the game.

The saga map shown above was designed to be modular. I wanted to give the level designers the ability to add levels or change the sequencing of areas without requiring us to repaint the map.

Puzzle Battle screens from Cranky Food Friends. All art created by my art team and myself. © SEGA We were going to need hundreds of characters in a short amount of time and with a limited budget so I designed the style to accommodate the fact that artists would need to create multiple characters per day. I was able to keep the art team ahead of schedule or on schedule throughout development, providing frequent paint-overs and notes to keep up the quality and maintain a unified vision.

Puzzle Battle screens from Cranky Food Friends. All art created by my art team and myself. © SEGA

We were going to need hundreds of characters in a short amount of time and with a limited budget so I designed the style to accommodate the fact that artists would need to create multiple characters per day. I was able to keep the art team ahead of schedule or on schedule throughout development, providing frequent paint-overs and notes to keep up the quality and maintain a unified vision.

Puzzle Board from Cranky Food Friends. All art created by my art team and myself. © SEGA We had a fun puzzle mechanic, but one players hadn't seen before. Players assumed it was a standard match three game and of course nobody wanted to read through a tutorial so I needed to figure out a visual way to show that this was different than what players had experienced in the past. Players swipe to remove pieces from the board, but the pieces they remove are arbitrary. Points are determined entirely by the combos that are made when the pieces above those you remove collide with the pieces under them, so I shrunk and desaturated the pieces as players touched them to make it clear that those pieces and what color they were no longer mattered.  The key bit was to have all the pieces above the pieces you are removing look down excitedly and move with anticipation of joining the pieces below. The effect is extremely subtle in a screenshot, but when animated effectively drew the players attention to the key information. The moving pieces were going to fall and collide with the pieces they were looking down at to make combos. This solved our gameplay confusion problem.

Puzzle Board from Cranky Food Friends. All art created by my art team and myself. © SEGA

We had a fun puzzle mechanic, but one players hadn't seen before. Players assumed it was a standard match three game and of course nobody wanted to read through a tutorial so I needed to figure out a visual way to show that this was different than what players had experienced in the past.

Players swipe to remove pieces from the board, but the pieces they remove are arbitrary. Points are determined entirely by the combos that are made when the pieces above those you remove collide with the pieces under them, so I shrunk and desaturated the pieces as players touched them to make it clear that those pieces and what color they were no longer mattered. 

The key bit was to have all the pieces above the pieces you are removing look down excitedly and move with anticipation of joining the pieces below. The effect is extremely subtle in a screenshot, but when animated effectively drew the players attention to the key information. The moving pieces were going to fall and collide with the pieces they were looking down at to make combos. This solved our gameplay confusion problem.

Sample page from the style bible I made for Cranky Food Friends. All art created by my art team and myself. © SEGA There wasn't as much room for narrative built into the single player campaign mode as we wanted so I came up with a way to pull narrative into the character evolution process itself. This also provided an emotional, story driven hook for players to level up their characters, something key to monetization.

Sample page from the style bible I made for Cranky Food Friends. All art created by my art team and myself. © SEGA

There wasn't as much room for narrative built into the single player campaign mode as we wanted so I came up with a way to pull narrative into the character evolution process itself. This also provided an emotional, story driven hook for players to level up their characters, something key to monetization.

Sample page from the style bible I made for Cranky Food Friends. All art created by my art team and myself. © SEGA

Sample page from the style bible I made for Cranky Food Friends. All art created by my art team and myself. © SEGA

Sample page from the style bible I made for Cranky Food Friends. All art created by my art team and myself. © SEGA

Sample page from the style bible I made for Cranky Food Friends. All art created by my art team and myself. © SEGA

Humorous fantasy character designs.

Humorous fantasy character designs.

Some of the 99 wizards I created for Spellwood, a game I also art directed. iOS/Android game. © SEGA

Some of the 99 wizards I created for Spellwood, a game I also art directed. iOS/Android game. © SEGA

Backgrounds I created for Spellwood, a game I also art directed. iOS/Android game. © SEGA

Backgrounds I created for Spellwood, a game I also art directed. iOS/Android game. © SEGA

Building exteriors I created for Spellwood, a game I also art directed. iOS/Android game. © SEGA

Building exteriors I created for Spellwood, a game I also art directed. iOS/Android game. © SEGA

Gothic character designs / Puzzle pieces /  Humorous sci-fi characer designs

Gothic character designs / Puzzle pieces /  Humorous sci-fi characer designs