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Game designer Introduction

AlmoAlmo Member, Dev Posts: 1,120


I'm one of the live balance designers, and I'd like to introduce myself and give some background on some of the things I've done.

I designed my first game when I was about 10; I took Gabriel's Point Blank and made a new set of rules for it. The new version was more chess-like than the original, but it didn't work very well and tended to get bogged down on the small board. I maintained an interest in both boardgames and video games over the years. Around 1992 I designed a huge 8-hour space boardgame. It was fun, but proved too expensive to produce.

I studied physics in college, and went as far as a Master's degree specialized in astrophysics. After 6 months of being a programmer at a hydraulics lab in Iowa City, I landed a job as a game programmer/designer at a new media firm in the UK. I worked there for about 1.5 years, and designed and developed about 15 different original games and ported several of those to a lot of weird platforms (OpenTV, Bush Internet Box...). After 4 years in the UK working on various projects at three different companies (there was a contraction in UK game dev at the time, and these all folded), I moved to Montreal and Ubisoft.

At Ubi I worked on a variety of projects. Most notably gameplay programming for Splinter Cell: Essentials, some exotic gameplay prototypes for Assassin's Creed III (the board game in it was from one of my protos), and gameplay programming and design for My Word Coach for Nintendo DS. I was able to create one iPhone title for Ubi doing the design, programming and art direction around 2010: Crystal Shuffle. Around this time, one of my board game designs, Linkage was published. It's a 10-minute abstract with just a few rules.

After leaving Ubi, I worked on various other projects at other studios, which included Tiny Brains and the iPad version of Pandemic the board game. Eventually I landed at Behaviour where again I worked on a lot of different projects (including Pro Feel Golf... I did the multiplayer network handling for its asynchronous multiplayer mode), working my way from Senior Programmer up to Lead Programmer. Behaviour is very supportive of personal projects, and so I was able to release another mobile game in 2015, Cognizer. A Steam release followed in 2017. It's entirely free to play with no features locked behind IAP or ads of any kind.

After several years there, I was given the opportunity to move into game design full time. This soon led to Dead by Daylight and live balance design where I am now. I'm really having a good time working on this project, as it's very much the kind of game I like to play: hardcore, competitive and multiplayer. I look forward to working on it in the future, and will continue to engage with the community through the forum when possible.



  • SilentSpectreSilentSpectre Member Posts: 827
    edited December 2019

    Very cool! What was it like working for such a big company like Ubisoft? Was it cold, corporate culture, or was it more relaxed? How was the work-life balance compared to working at BHVR?

  • PistolTimbPistolTimb Member Posts: 1,414


  • AlmoAlmo Member, Dev Posts: 1,120
    edited December 2019

    I worked with a lot of really talented people at Ubi. My experience there was good; I stayed for 6 years.

    One funny thing happened related to working at such a big company. Someone at one of their offices in India got married, and sent an announcement to the mailing list "Ubisoft - World - Production". Well, that meant anyone in production, so that included all artists, programmers, team leads, QA, QC, etc. It pretty much only excluded accounting, marketing, and stuff like that. Probably 5,000 people got that mail!

    I was nice and just sent a note back of congratulations. :) I bet she got a flood of email that day. :D

  • DarkskiesDarkskies Member Posts: 1,158


  • NMCKENMCKE Member Posts: 8,050

    Okay, you know a lot about coding so it makes me curious since I'm really interested in following your foot steps.

    What degree did you need to become a game programmer / game designer? 😁🤗

    Currently, I know Javascript and HTML. I took AP Computer Science a while ago and passed it with ease.

    Am I going in the right direction?

  • How did you find your way around the Montreal airport that is what I wanna know I got lost so bad I thought I was gonna have to set up camp and live there lol.

  • AlmoAlmo Member, Dev Posts: 1,120

    My recommendation is to make something. I had published 4 Mac shareware titles in the late 90s, so when I sent out my first application to a game company in the UK, I could already show that I knew how to start, manage and complete a project on my own.

    The education always helps, as it broadens your skill set and your ability to acquire new skills.

    This is of course just my opinion, and with regard to starting a career I also recommend getting many different peoples' recommendations and see what feels right for you. :)

  • Cornpopers_EvanCornpopers_Evan Member Posts: 2,428

    Very cool story, seeing something like this makes me realize that(little did I know at the time) BHVR was actually a surprisingly big pillar of my childhood. They made Scooby Doo! Mystery Mayhem and it's arguably the best one. That or a Night of 100 Frights.

  • NMCKENMCKE Member Posts: 8,050

    I made a few games before using Javascript, take a look: (The ending is kinda buggy but everything was in a timed environment).

    I plan on getting a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science since making games is really what gives me joy in life. ❤🤗

  • Dr_doom_j2Dr_doom_j2 Member Posts: 869

    Quite an impressive resume. I'm not familiar with many of the games you have had a hand in creating, aside from splinter cell, but I'm sure many of us fansr appreciate the opportunity to speak with and pick the mind of one of the balance designers.

    As someone whose been a fan of this game~to varying degrees, I have a question or two, some along the lines of which I'm sure you were expecting to be presented with at some point when creating this thread.

    I first want to ask, what was the reason you chose to adjust both nurse's add-ons and her base kit?

  • PereliePerelie Member Posts: 433

    DC's are ruining this game, please do something?

  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 5,229
    edited December 2019

    I say we got about 5 more minutes of civil and polite discussions before a legion main comes in here and starts just exploding.

  • monkamonka Member Posts: 66

    God. The game is now broken and thrown out. Please adjust the player back!

  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 5,229
    edited December 2019

    Have you ever been tempted to see someone complaining to buff something, and someone complaining to nerf something, and thought about just agreeing with both publicly and very clearly, just to see what happens?

    Like if they say nerf freddy and buff freddy and you just go to both of them like "Yes, that totally makes sense we should do that" and then just watch what happens.

    Just be like: https://youtu.be/P10bC0Bxp20?t=14


  • rayoxiumrayoxium Member Posts: 112

    I love that you’ve come to introduce yourself :) I like how involved BHVR is in their game and community. It would be cool to see some of you guys in future streams to describe what you worked on and your thoughts!

  • DelsKibaraDelsKibara Member Posts: 3,127

    This actually feels very nice to read.

    I would love to know more about the people behind DBD and their backgrounds, this was an interesting read ^^

    Thank you for sharing this with us @Almo <3

  • TheEvilKitTheEvilKit Member Posts: 39

    This is pretty cool, so I'll throw my question(s) in to! As a designer, which killer and their power do you conceptually like the most in theory or practice?

    Balance wise, which killer and power suprised you the most once players came up with creative ways to use or abuse it (with or without perks)?

    Who has been your favorite killer/survivor to design to date?

    Finally, what is the silliest thing you've gotten to test/balance that you never made it out of testing? (I'll be sad but understand if you can't answer this one!)

  • Slaughterhouse3Slaughterhouse3 Member Posts: 796

    Thanks for sharing <3 I always thought game design was pretty cool! Btw I agree that Piggy is the best ;)

  • Spooky13Spooky13 Member Posts: 1,471

    Wow, so now we know the leaked lore for the upcoming Almo survivor!

    Now for some questions. Which side is harder to balance for, killer or survivor?

    Which killer was the hardest to find a balance for?

    Which new chapter was the most fun to balance/create?

    Finally, what killer has your favorite Mori? Really curious to all the devs answer to this.

  • AlmoAlmo Member, Dev Posts: 1,120

    I like a lot of the Killers, but Myers is one of the best at generating creepiness through his play mechanics. Turning the camera to see him not moving behind something, but staring...

    Peoples' creativity with tricky ways to use the updated Freddy are very impressive.

    I have not actually done Killer design, as that's handled by the designers who make new content. I work on existing content.

    Our prototype Killers often start as the Doctor with a baseball bat and just a flat red texture all over. Seeing that spit little white blobs during the Plague prototyping looked pretty hilarious. :D

  • wydyadoitwydyadoit Member Posts: 144
    edited December 2019

    you like developing board games do ya? can someone please convince nintendo to do a fire emblem moba already that isn't a phone lite edition with gachapon gimmicks?! what i wouldn't do for a pvp fire emblem in the style of chinese checkers.

    also - nice to meet you.

    thanks for the pretty good work so far.

  • DelsKibaraDelsKibara Member Posts: 3,127

    I actually have a question for you @Almo and you don't have to answer it.

    What is it like to work with BHVR and how do you deal with the community on a day to day basis? A community that seems to always has something to say about the game you and BHVR are trying to make.

    I know I've had my fair share of complaints on BHVR in the past, the recent update being one of those (although I really enjoy playing as Yui and the Oni, I think they're fantastic). But how do you deal with a community this large and this vocal about every change made to the game they play?

  • PhantomMask20763PhantomMask20763 Member Posts: 5,176

    This is great and all but I must know, did you boop the snoot during development of miss piggy?

  • konchokkonchok Member Posts: 1,621

    Almo can you talk, to the extent that you're allowed to, on what tools you use to measure balance.

    I know that you guys do gather some statistics, like those released.

    What are some other stats that you gather?

    What motivates you to change a perk, a killer, or a mechanic

    Are you open to making major changes to the base kit for all survivors/killers?

    What's your favorite food?

  • AlmoAlmo Member, Dev Posts: 1,120

    I don't think either Killer or Survivor is harder to balance, but they both present their own challenges. For example, you can come up with some cool Survivor perk, but it's just broken as hell if all four Survivors run it at the same time.

    I don't work on new content, so I can't really say which chapter has been the most fun to work on. I will say that adjusting a Killer with a very high annoyance rate but low kill rate was a really interesting challenge (Legion). I took some clues from Riot and how they worked on Darius; he had a 60% ban rate, but 48% win rate.

    My favorite Mori is either Huntress for the brutality of that first head shot, or Legion for that evil ankle-drag. shudder

  • AlmoAlmo Member, Dev Posts: 1,120

    Most of these are too broad for me to answer concisely. I can't even really say what my favorite food is, I like a lot of different kinds! :D

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