JamCity is a casual game studio that has makes puzzle games that also have strong narrative components.

I joined Vineyard Valley during preproduction. I focused on level design, game play feel and content integration both before and after launch. Post launch I worked on several features that focused on expanding functionality of the games store. I also helped with level progression and content integration for the games limited time events.

  Vineyard Valley
A collapse match 3 game where players play levels to advance the story, renovate and decorate the Tangled Vines estate.

Netflix now ownes the IP. Check out a trailer for the game below.

I moved on to Vineyard Valley when it was a collapse match 3 prototype after working on Snoopy Pop. This being my first collapse match 3 game I needed to learn a new set of level design best practices and approach obstacle design from a different perspective than a swipe match 3 or bubble shooter game. In addition to level design and content integration I also worked with engineering to make our level editor and content integration tools more efficient for the design team to utilize.

Roles and Responsibilities:
  • Design engaging levels and obstacles
    • Collaborate with art and engineering on new obstacle design and functionality
    • Test obstacles and share best practices with design team
    • Provide constructive feedback on peer reviewed levels
    • Analyze level data and tune problematic or underperforming levels
  • Integrate main chapter and side content in the 3D world
    • Place characters in world
    • Set stage direction and waypoints for characters to path to during cinematics
    • Implement emote animations in world and dialog
  Level Design

Below are samples of some of the levels I designed for Vineyard Valley.
  Level 199

A small three (3) color level with straightforward player goals / objectives. The level being three (3) colors means that power ups can be created more frequently which will allow the player plenty of opportunity to combine power ups together for big 'damage'. To control for this the level size is 8 x 6. The small size of the level combined with the way the player needs to break through the obstacles, cupcakes first then boxes, allows the level to withstand the onslaught of power ups from the player. Players can make as many power ups and power up combos as they like and the level will maintain its integrity.

  Level 200

Another level on the smaller side that drops four (4) colors. The obstacles are layered such that the mugs are easiest to break through first allowing the player more space to make matches / power ups. The flowers change color based on the adjacent matches meaning they are harder to break through but are susceptible to removal by power ups after their color change. The grape baskets on the right side are the long goal and reward and encourage the player to make power ups early and often. It also feels satisfying to make a big match or use a power ups on the grapes and see a burst of collected grapes animate to the goal section.

  Level 502

Less explosive than the first two levels as it is dropping four (4) colors and has a hole in the middle of the level. The hole works to control the size of the initial matchable area by reducing the likelihood big matches. The initial goal is to remove the strawberries to get to create space for larger matches and to access the bubble generators. After the generators are accessible the level is a back and forth of generating and popping bubbles. This level gives the player a degree of agency of when and how many bubbles to generate at a given time and how to clear them.

  Level 503

A four (4) color level moving in the traditional direction of top to bottom. Obstacles are layered such that there is a constant progression throughout the level. Grape baskets are placed as a reward for players that generate power ups in the early game, but also serve to block off some adjacent tiles for the 2 cupcake obstacles in the corners of the level.

One thing to note is that bottle rockets select a facing at random when created. They either face north / south or east / west. We found this design to be remarkably frustrating to players. A power up facing in a useless direction was devastating to the excitement of creating a power up especially if it was in a strategic location that was now rendered sub optimal. A fix was proposed where each turn the rocket would switch orientation but was not implemented during my time at the studio.