BG music by Chris Gillrie

Studio: Navigator Games (2022)
 Role: Design Director, Designer Generalists (Combat, Metagame, Live Ops)
Summary: Avatar Generations is a mobile turn-based RPG for iOS and Android that takes place in the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender. It is a F2P game that was published by Square-Enix and then acquired by Embracer in 2023. 
My Contributions: 
• Developed the core concept and game design and successfully pitched it to Square-Enix, Paramount, and Avatar Studios for a deal to make the game.
Designed and prototyped several core systems, including combat, hero and gear leveling and progression, and the metagame and economy.
• Designed, implemented, and balanced most of the hero kits and gear we shipped, as well as dozens of live ops events, steadily increased our KPIs and performance over time.
Established studio Design Philosophy based on meetings and iterative feedback from all departments.
• Hired and led a team of 7 designers and onboarded them to take on and lead the design for various aspects of the game, based on existing production workflows, game experience pillars, and KPI goals. 
Managed the growth and development of all designers through regular design team activities (lunch and learns), as well as more personal and tailored one-on-ones.
Co-Managed design team tasks and schedule, along with production and project management staff.
Kept the greater team informed on design initiatives, key learnings, feature and KPI progress throughout development during weekly team meets.
Engine: Unity
Process and Insights
"Active Play, Automated Adventure"
The design for Avatar Generations was initially designed as an original IP that leveraged the core technology stack of Navigator Games and its experience in turn-based mobile RPG. However, we saw greater potential in acquiring an IP that aligned with the design, focused on manipulation of the elements and Avatar was the ideal fit.​​​​​​​
The approach of the design was to identify key pain points of the current TRPG audience and consider innovative ways we could address them, while still maintaining what players loved about the genre. The themes of Campaign Adventure Automation and Enhanced Combat Presentation arose as central areas to focus the design, validated through early user concept testing and feedback from Square-Enix.
I assembled the framework of the design document with the pillars and goals for each section of the game along with a Feature Map that we could evolve over the course of development, which helped the team understand the total scope and our overall progress. 
Furthermore, the overall structure of the GDD matched this feature map to make things easier to find and reference.
Much of the design for this project happened in parallel with prototyping due to the short timelines. A lot of my early design work was mapping out the flow and frameworks, pillars and goals and explaining the systems in detail so that I could start to generate user stories, in collaboration with the Square-Enix project manager and the dev team in general. 
I have a heavy emphasis on making visual game flows and slide presentations for all the major features and subsystems, as I find it much more effective than just the documentation alone (which can often be overlooked or is easier to misinterpret).​​​​​​​
The prototyping phase for ARES was brief due to most of the core technology being established, so the emphasis on the prototype was around additions or new features we wanted to explore and prove out, such as the Combat Metagame, Adventure Map, and Narrative Experience for players.
We used video mockups heavily to experiment with the Combat Presentation improvements.
I used RPG Maker MV to prototype the combat mechanics themselves as well as the metagame (as it is very fast and easy to do so using this particular framework, innately built for RPGs).
We also created prototypes within our existing Unity project that carried over from Legacy of the Beast (our previous TRPG).
Pre-Production and Production:
Avatar Generations started with a skeleton crew of around 5 and over the course of 18 months, ramped up to a team of around 50 developers during production.
Aside from feature design, documentation, direction, and day-to-day communication, I worked as the lead gameplay designer, creating all of the kits for over a hundred heroes and items and implementing, tuning and balancing them in engine, making improvements to those pipelines along the way.
The central design challenge to this work was ensuring that each skill, martial arts animation set, VFX, and the tone of the acting was authentic to the source material and that the playstyle and its specific expression felt like a natural fit for each character, elevating the player fantasy of controlling their favorite hero or villain from the franchise.
Game Launch and Takeaways:
The game hit #1 US RPG on Android and top #5 in adventure on iOS and garnered over 2 million downloads
The game was eventually sunset with the restructuring of Embracer and large exit from the mobile game space.
Avatar was an amazing IP to work on and I am a great fan of the TRPG genre itself, but Generations was also one of the most challenging projects I've ever faced.
 It involved balancing multiple levels of the approval process between massive publishers (constraining timelines), ensuring alignment and buy-in across all studios, and effectively hitting deadlines while managing quality issues while being understaffed at key times–due to the challenging times Covid-19 presented for game development both in terms of hiring talent and the transition to remote work. 
Despite the many production hurdles, the team did an admirable job with the resources available and the title continually advanced towards higher quality and greater resonance with our player base over time. Some of the experiences I took away from this particular project included:
• Multi-Publisher Milestone Communication and Management Pipelines.
• Basecamp, Tracker, and other Pipeline processes for external stakeholder approvals.
• Handling a high number of interviews, onboarding, and team growth and development over the course of the project.
• Delegation of design responsibilities across several tiers of design and product management.​​​​​​​
• Voice Over Sessions Pipeline

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