Genre: Tactical Role-Playing Game
Team Size: 15
Team Breakdown: 1 Producer, 1 Game Designer/Level Designer, 4 Level Designers (excluding GD), 5 Artists, 3 Programmers
Engine: Unreal Engine 3 (UDK)
Development Time: 6 Months
Role: Lead Level Designer
- Original Game Concept
- Environment Creation (Roskilde & Gates of Asgard levels)
- Gameplay Scripting (Yggdrasil level)
- Systems Design (unit abilities)
- Boss Design (Gates of Asgard level)
- Level Design Wiki Maintenance
Unique Twist on Turn-Based Strategy: Midgard Saga is a tactical role-playing game like few others. Its radial movement system allows units greater freedom of movement more akin to a tabletop strategy game than a grid-based tactics one.
Wide Ranging Ability Combinations: The player can pick each of a unit's four abilities at the start of every level, providing numerous combinations to suit every strategy and situation.
Five Unique Environments: In Midgard Saga, the player moves from a warm tavern in snowy Scandanavia up the World Tree to Asgard itself, and can feel every step of the journey in the game's ever-changing landscapes.
Midgard Saga is a single-player turn-based tactical role-playing game in which players control four vikings as they climb from Midgard to Asgard to return magical mead to Odin. The four hero characters -- Freya, Bjorn, Iliana, and Dag -- fight their way through five unique environments against mercenaries and minions employed by Loki to steal the mead for himself. The game features a radial movement system as opposed to the grid-based one present in most 'tactics' games such as Final Fantasy Tactics, giving characters greater freedom of movement closer to that in tabletop strategy games like Warhammer: 40,000. It also uses a flexible abilities system, letting players mix and match character powers from a pool each level. This helps them adapt to every challenge tactically, and with greater customization options.
As Lead Level Designer on Midgard Saga, my primary responsibilities were to direct the game's level design, oversee the team's designers, and work with the Game Designer and other leads to maintain consistency and smooth workflow. My personal (non-lead) contributions to the game were:
- Environment creation on 2 levels: Roskilde and Gates of Asgard
- Gameplay scripting on Yggdrasil level
- Worked with designers to create and implement the game's many abilities
- Co-designed boss encounter on Gates of Asgard level
- Implemented script for dialogue in all levels
- Scripted victory and defeat conditions on multiple levels
- Created in-game cinematics on Yggdrasil level
Level 2: Roskilde
"Roskilde" is the second level of Midgard Saga, the first non-tutorial level in the game. It provides an easy introductory (but unguided) challenge and gives the player a first chance to openly experiment with strategies. The goal of the level is to reach and kill three summoners. Each summoner contributes one enemy (randomly melee or ranged) to a pool of foes that appear near the player characters around the map every three turns. This puts constant pressure on the player to reach and defeat the summoners, thus completing the goal of the level. Doing so is further complicated by enemies who begin in set locations around the map (some hidden, others revealed). The player has access to a limited ability pool with which to customize characters at the start of the level.
Level Design Goals:
- Introductory challenge allows the player room for experimentation with mechanics and strategies
- Multiple player paths gives the player freedom to complete objectives in any order
- Constant pressure ensures the player must move forward aggressively toward goals
- Limited ability selection allows the player some early customization options for characters without an overwhelming experience with the game's full ability selection menu
Roskilde: Full Playthrough
Level 4: Yggdrasil
"Yggdrasil" is the fourth level of Midgard Saga. It is the last level before the final boss encounter in Level 5: Gates of Asgard. It is designed to be Midgard Saga's most challenging standard level, featuring powerful enemies, an unforgiving lightning strike mechanic, and a party of doppelganger mini-bosses at the end. The level begins by introducing the final boss, Loki, who summons a lightning storm that chases characters throughout most of the level. Every turn, the lightning storm advances forward, killing any characters within its bounds. The characters begin split into two lanes, and must battle doppelganger enemies until they can reunite. Finishing of fall standard enemies (while avoiding lightning death) triggers a stop to the lightning and a mini-boss encounter with a shadow party.
Level Design Goals:
- Serious challenge to test the player's mastery of the game mechanics
- Divided party necessitates strategic thinking in a disadvantageous situation
- Intense pressure requires the player to make every move count in an unforgiving environment
- Mini-boss encounter confronts the player with a powerful shadow party and puts a large suite of player abilities are at the enemy's disposal
Yggdrasil: Full Playthrough
Level 5: Gates of Asgard
"Gates of Asgard" is the final level of Midgard Saga. It consists only of a three-stage boss fight. The player combats Loki and his shadowy minions.
Phase 1: Every 3 turns, Loki teleports and switches between one of three ability sets
Phase 2: Loki removes himself from the battle and summons four doppelgangers to surround the player characters
Phase 3: Loki returns to the battle, split into three forms, each with one of his three ability sets from Phase 1
Level Design Goals:
- Challenging boss encounter wraps up the game's climax
- Encounter variance forces the player to adapt to the boss with new strategies
- Majestic environment sets an awe-inspiring stage for the game's last level