Balam and the Spirit Within is an action-adventure game inspired by the rich culture of Chiapas, Mexico. You will play as the mysterious Balam (which means “jaguar” in Mayan), as she travels through a marvelous yet merciless jungle, full of wonder and regret. Immerse yourself in challenging but fair gameplay, lush hand-painted worlds, charming NPC interactions and deeply rooted lore. Uncover your place in a jungle on the brink of collapse.
This game is still in development, but the Indiecade 2018 Demo can be played.
As Game Designer for Balam and the Spirit Within I was responsible for the game's combat design, AI prototyping, scripting, level design, narrative direction, and user experience. As the key decision-maker across many non-gameplay elements, it was important that I put gameplay first.
The first step in this process was prototyping player controls and refining the moment to moment feel. It was important that we made the player character fun to control in an empty room before introducing complexity. Once I was happy with the state of the character, I prototyped two dozen levels to experiment with how the level design could reinforce and empower the player. During this phase, I scripted and prototyped many unique level features such as platforms, pressure plates, and physics puzzles. I used a combination of C# and visual scripting with Playmaker. I also worked closely with our gameplay programmer to prototype and refine our enemy AI to compliment the level design.
I began sketching final level designs on paper once we had nailed down our favorite puzzles, platforming challenges, enemy designs, and controls. From there, I pitched, prototyped, playtested, iterated upon, and finalized the level designs while working closely with the gameplay programmer and art director to guarantee a focused vision for the team. Levels were handed over to the art team with notes to emphasis insight into my design decisions. This assisted the artists in reinforcing the goals and gameplay of each level with their art.
The Adventure Pals
As Level Designer on The Adventure Pals, I was primarily responsible for designing and scripting levels for final chapters of the game using their in-house development tools. I channeled my background in game design to create engaging, novel, and humorous experiences the game would go on to be praised for by using and twisting mechanics the player would already be familiar with!