Designer and Developer Specializing in Game Narrative
Gap Year is a unique interactive narrative experience currently in production. It adapts techniques of graphic novels into a video game structure to create an entirely new kind of storytelling.
Gap Year’s story plays out in multiple panels which subdivide the screen-space and allow the player to track multiple plot lines at once, or see the same scene from multiple perspectives. The game also features an innovative text mechanic in which the player can swap out keywords in the narrative, triggering subtle and sometimes substantial changes in the way the story plays out.
Gap Year tells the story of 19 year old Elin Novak, who treasures living alone in her Toronto apartment until the Czech grandmother she’s never met unexpectedly becomes her new roommate. Set in the mid-1990’s, the story details their surprising relationship, spanning an eventful year.
Roles and Responsibilities
As Gap Year’s writer, creative director, producer and lead programmer, Carl is completing the first phase of production as his thesis project for the George Brown Video Game Design post-graduate program. He is managing a team of 16 undergraduate artists and programmers for the project’s animation and modelling.
Gap Year is targeting a 2020 release.
Gap Year Panels Test
This was one of the original concept tests for the dynamic panel system being used in Gap Year.
Cutaway Apartment Test
Elin’s apartment is one of the primary settings in the game - this clip demonstrate how we’ll be using cutaway shaders to reveal the environment while allowing the player to rotate the perspective.
Gap Year’s unique story mechanics require a unique approach to script writing. The colour-coded spreadsheet keeps track of the game’s chronology (which skips between 1994 and the present) in addition to game-design concerns, such as animation and interactive objects.
Bloom Viirtual Village
Since March of 2018 Carl has been a lead designer on Bloom Virtual Village. Launched with the support of Ontario’s Career Ready Fund, Bloom Virtual Village isan educational game for Health Science students developed as a collaboration between George Brown College, Baycrest Health Services and Microsoft. Bloom Virtual Village’s development was a cooperative effort between George Brown’s Health Sciences and Design programs, employing over 25 students and faculty from both departments.
In Bloom Virtual Village players simulate a two week placement in a long-term care facility and are introduced to many of the challenges they are sure to encounter in elder- care, including responsive behavior, palliative care and LGBTQ+ issues. It is a 2D top RPG style game similar to games like Stardew Valley, with an emphasis on narrative and educational value. The game features a branching narrative system, allowing players to make mistakes, and providing timely feedback to help them learn from their decisions.
Role and Responsibilities
In the early stages of production Carl’s primary role was as a game designer -along with fellow designer Julian Disterheft, Carl designed the game’s unique structure and core mechanics.
Having a background in both game design and creative writing meant he would later go on to manage the game’s narrative content, adapting scenarios written by Health Sciences students to fit the game’s branching structure while organizing the chronology of the game’s story.
Another important part of Carl’s job was to serve as a go-between for the Health Sciences and Design teams, ensuring effective communication between the two. As the project entered the development stage, Carl served as an ambassador and representative for the project, speaking on its behalf at various conferences and events.
Bloom Virtual Village is slated for inclusion in George Brown’s 2019-2020 Health Sciences curriculum.
Story Arc Trello Board
To manage the Bloom Virtual Village’s multiple plot threads , Carl create this Trello board, allowing the team to easy make changes to the chronology of events during production.
Bloom Virtual Village allows player to explore and interact with residents in a Long Term Care facility. The game’s facility was designed based on the input of industry professionals.
Snowday is a casual party game for up to 10 players. It features a suite of winter themed mini-games such as a snowball fight, capture the flag and snow-soccer.
Carl was the creative director for Snowday and lead a team of 7 post-graduate students and over 20 undergraduate students in developing the game as part of George Brown’s Video Game Design post-graduate program. Development took place over a six month period and the game was showcased at Level Up, a major exhibition for student work in game design and development in Ontario.
Roles and Responsibilities
As creative director, Carl handled daily logistical concerns for the project and was also very involved in management and production, working closely with producer Michael Conway to ensure that Snowday’s art, code and sound assets were properly delegated, tracked and implemented.
Carl made numerous other contributions to this project, including code, level design, art design and original music.
Snowday’s game modes include snowball fight, capture the flag, shovel war and snow soccer.
Superfreq is another project put together for George Brown’s Game Design post-graduate program, and was selected to showcase the college at the Level Up student game showcase.
Superfreq is a mysterious puzzle game that tells a morbid tale of government conspiracy and the paranormal in short vignettes. Rather than using a traditional game controller or a mouse and keyboard, the game is controlled with an old PA system from the 1960, the values of its six knobs read by an Arduino controller and passed into the Unreal game engine. Every puzzle in the game involves interfacing with a different machine (a radio, an ultrasound, a GPS) whose controls are represented by the physical controller interface.
Roles and Responsibilities
Carl served as the producer for Superfreq, managing a team of more than 15 programmers, animators and 3D modellers to achieve the game’s photo-realistic art style. This involved developing the game’s asset list, scheduling, assigning and tracking work. Additionally, he built the Arduino controller and contributed 3D animation to the project.
in 2019 Carl won the George Brown School of Design’s Best Producer award for his work on Superfreq.
Asset Management List
Carl designed and managed Superfreq’s asset management list using the Coda framework. The list is dynamically color coded, flagging work which which is late and highlighting dependencies that may be effected. This list automatically populates the project’s Gantt Chart.
Rai is a one-button puzzle game that Carl developed independantly for the Toronto Hand Eye Society’s ‘Curious Cabinets’ exhibition. The game was retrofit into a classic arcade cabinet with a single button - pressing the button splits an ever-expanding line, creating increasingly complex lattice structures. The player’s goal is to extend the lattice to reach a target without touching any obstacles in the environment.
Rai is part game, part interactive art piece. It features a procedural soundtrack driven by player interaction and expanding, colourful geometric patterns that create a unique experience in every play through.
The contemplative puzzle game Prizma is the first game Carl designed and developed - he released it on itch.io in 2018. Players can rotate and position coloured cubes, and are tasked with recreating a particular shape to progress.
Prizma is peaceful and slow-paced, and encourages players to take their time exploring different combinations of colour and shape. Currently available for Mac and PC, Carl intends to develop a mobile version of Prizma in 2020.
Carl composed original music for Prizma’s soundtrack and trailer.