Tanya X. Short, Game Designer
HomeThe Secret WorldAge of ConanDungeons of Fayte (& other indies)Stand-alone LevelsWhat Else?Follow me on Twitter?Connect on LinkedIn
Dungeons of FayteFashion Week LiveScoutCooking CasanovaEscape From IthuriaAetolia: The Midnight AgeOther Game Projects


Dungeons of Fayte

Contributing to independent game projects is one of my favorite hobbies and ways to grow as a designer. Dungeons of Fayte is my most successful collaboration, as it has had:

Dungeons of Fayte is a 1-4 player PC RPG available for download, cycling between skilled combat challenges (similar in feel to Zelda) and hero-building simulation with 14 classes, 5 levels, and 100+ random events to explore. I collaborated with my husband, the main programmer and feature designer of the game, as I wrote all of the text and built all of the levels.

Click here to download Dungeons of Fayte!


You can play alone, but DoF, like all games, is best with friends!

Dungeons of Fayte

Each class in Dungeons of Fayte has a different special ability, and players can switch classes between dungeons, making each foray into a dungeon a different combination of variables. The core was developed by myself and Brent Ellison over the period of 30 days, after which he continued to improve and tweak the codebase and features.

During the town segments between dungeons, players spend time building their statistics at the tavern, barracks, farm, wizard's tower, town hall, or graveyard. These were somewhat inspired by the addictive gameplay of the cult classic Princess Maker series.

Three men featured Dungeons of Fayte as a Let's Play in 6 parts and seemed to have an excellent time with our little game. Skip in a minute or two to get to the gameplay!

Fashion Week Live


As Lead Designer, I developed the pitch for Fashion Week Live into a full design, iterating several times through internal feedback, as well as feedback from the license-holder (IMG) and publisher (505 Games). I worked closely with artists, programmers, and UI designers to create initial feature prototypes through alpha and beta phase.

Fashion Week Live is a fashion model simulation with the ambitions of bringing the world of real, gorgeous clothing trends and brands to Facebook.

The design challenges of Facebook game design were daunting, but extremely educational, both about the developing industry, and about myself as a designer. After a year of development, I was needed on The Secret World, and unfortunately had to depart the project a few months before release. It continues to grow with new, fantastic features and brands, including DKNY, BCBG Max Azria, Nicole Miller, Mara Hoffman, Nicholas K, and more.

You can play it now on Facebook! Click here to get started!

The player's apartment is the central indicator of progress, unlocking for purchase as they level up in their modeling career.

The teaser trailer released just before Fashion Week Live was launched gives a glimpse of all of the major features and gameplay functions.

 

 


The salon was one of the features that received the most iterations while I was Lead Designer, allowing players full avatar customisation. This had no impact on progression - it was just for players' self-expression.


Composing outfits and taking snapshots according to employer criteria is the main gameplay, scored against real-world fashion Looks. This went through several system designs, finally ending in each piece being scored individually by hand (by a real design consultant!) against each Look. An algorithm behind the scenes compares that to each assignment's difficulty setting, giving an abstracted star rating.


The player portfolio is where players can keep a record of their favorite outfits and collect Prestige from the ratings of friends and strangers. Higher ratings means higher star scores in the lower right of each snapshot, but ANY ratings will give you Prestige points (used only for bragging rights, at launch).


Runway Styling was a time-pressure minigame for players to train their outfit composition skills against game Looks. It was a practice mode, providing little in the way of progression, but offering a different way to enjoy the core gameplay.

Scout


Scout is a puzzle game in which you play a worker ant searching for food for your beloved (and hungry) queen! Dodge enemy insects and get around hazards by carrying and placing stones, sticks, and leaves.

Stones can be placed in water to allow crossing, while sticks can create bridges across chasms. Scout can sail on leaves as boats across larger water hazards. You can try to complete the game faster, and collect bonus sugar, to get a high score!

I worked on a team of three and became responsible for the game design, programming, scripting, environment art, and most level design. We created the game over two months in 2007 in Torque 2D.

You can download it and run it as an .exe here!

Creating the leaf-boat feature was the most technically complex, as it involved inverting the engine's assumptions about collision (colliding with ground in place of water). You still might not want to rub up against some grassy corners while captaining your vessel...

I also enjoyed flexing my artistic muscles on various visual touches to keep players interested, such as fluttering butterflies and whizzing ladybugs.

I also used Scout as a platform to study the results of immersion (and immersion-breaking) on the effectiveness of educational games. I created two versions of Scout, both with 10 new entomology facts inserted. One version had the facts as popup windows. The second version instead had insects in the environment say the facts, as in-game speech-bubbles.

I gave all participants (30 5th graders) a quiz on the facts, looking for differences in score results. In the sample size, the difference was not scientifically significant, but I believe the "in-game fact" version was more likely to see voluntary replay, and thus more likely to generate long-term learning.

Cooking Casanova


Cooking Casanova is a text adventure in which you first woo a lady over the phone and then cook her a three-course meal!

You have to choose which twin to date (Lizzie or Beth), and each has their own personality quirks and taste in foods (hint: Lizzie likes sweets, but Beth is a health nut).

It was super-fun to program, especially the recipe data-loading system (my first real file-handling functions) and phone-flirting text parser. I programmed it by myself in C++, in 2007, over the course of two months.

I re-visited the idea of a text parser conversation game in 2012, with much more bizarre results (see Summoned below).

Escape From Ithuria

Escape From Ithuria is a 3-player puzzle-platformer mod of the Unreal 2004 engine, created in 3 months in 2007. It was created before (but is retroactively reminiscent of) Trine, as each of the three players has unique and necessary abilities. It was created by a 16-person team, of which I was the Lead Level Designer, at the Guildhall at SMU.

You can download a copy of your own here!

Escape From Ithuria includes a "Spiderman" grappling-hook character, an assault-dash character, and a shapeshifting character who could become super-thin to squeeze through cracks in walls and float down long drops, or become super large and invulnerable (but stationary). Each must co-operate simultaneously to escape the evil sorceress.

For example, a switch up out of reach needs to be pulled by the Spiderman-character, at the same time as a switch that can only be reached by dashing. The third character must then jump across the gap quickly as the other characters pull the switches. Every player had a character preference, and it was truly satisfying seeing the fights and spontaneous joy that good co-op brings out in players.


Aetolia: The Midnight Age

Aetolia: The Midnight Age is a 12-year-old textual MMORPG, and was my very first experience with game design and development. As a volunteer worker behind the scenes, I built several areas and missions in the C-derived scripting language.

The most complex of these was a playwright that would prompt you to help him finish his script and then perform the results. This encouraged "Mad-lib" style hijinks, and was great to see players experiment with.

After some time, I graduated to Goddess, at which point I helped shape the game lore and community by appearing in-character and hosting global events. You can see a description of my Goddess, Omei the Dreamer, here.

My favorite was undoubtedly a Halloween event in which my Goddess characters' dream realm fragmented into nightmare bits and haunted the populace. I had to manage a team of four volunteers to ensure it ran smoothly, and hundreds of players were involved. You can probably see how this experience informed my later work on seasonal patches in The Secret World's Halloween event.

You can play the game yourself anytime!

Other Game Projects


Color of Doom

Color of Doom is an action puzzle-platformer mod of Half-Life 2, in which the unlikely superhero Jester must save the world from an evil color scientist. It was developed over 6 months by a 16-person team at the Guildhall at SMU in 2008, in which I was the lead designer. It was a finalist at the IGF student showcase 2009.

You can download it here!

Color of Doom's color-switching was a solid gameplay mechanic that made it fun to puzzle and kill enemies.

When you're red, you can jump on red platforms and kill red enemies, and when you're blue you can interact with blue items and enemies. This means that even a skilled player is vulnerable to something at all times!

We even convinced the wonderful Henrik Namark from Sweden (of You Have to Burn the Rope fame) to donate his talents as a composer, to give the Jester that extra superhero pizazz.


School of Magic

School of Magic is a wizarding headmaster simulator in which you build and upgrade academies in four towns, recruit wandering teachers, and defeat monsters, all while upgrading your own wizarding prowess. It was featured in two separate Guildhall student showcases.

In retrospect, it ended up a bit too heavy on the text-based menus and could have used more animations. I created it by myself in 2008 in Lua, using my graduate professor Myque Ouellete's rendering-and-audio engine as a base.


Summoned


Summoned was created by me in under 20 hours (spread over 30 days), and is a surrealist text adventure. Not quite as romantic (or delicious) as my previous Cooking Casanova text adventure, but increasingly bizarre. I created Summoned entirely on my own in 2012 in GameMaker.

You can download it here!