Platform: PC, Web Browser
Team size: 11
Engine and tools: Unity 3D
What I did: I was the product owner, core researcher, and initiator of this project. My job was to educate the team on the project goals and then guide them through every phase of development, stepping in at key points to give decisive feedback and/or make a key decision on design.
WHAT IS the snowfield?
The Snowfield is an immersive screen-based experience in which you assume the role of a nameless solider wandering the cold aftermath of a WWI battle. It was intended as an experiment in emergent, emotional narrative.
The player is given no direction or instruction on what to do. They are just given an intense emotional situation -- freezing to death, surrounded by other wounded soldiers -- and given the opportunity to react.
Who is out there in the cold? Are they friend or foe? Does it even matter? What meaning can you find in this, the bleakest of all worlds?
SUMMARY OF RESPONSIBILITIES
The Snowfield was my final research project after serving as Game Design Director of the MIT GAMBIT Game Lab for five years. I wanted to explore what sort of emotional stories would be possible with the least amount of direction or guidance. I wanted the experience to be focused, intense, memorable, but also never lead the player or force them to experience anything.
I discussed these goals with the team and helped guide their brainstorming process. After much consideration, we arrived at a situation where the elements (cold, trenches, language barriers, pain) would naturally shape the user experience in an emotional, dramatic way.
The team then went to work, with me checking in with them every day, multiple times a day, to see if we were achieving our experiential goals every step of the way. Though I was technically a "researcher" this was very much like a Lead Producer or Creative Lead role.
Because I am a producer and a designer professionally, I did participate with the team at key moments in their process with design advice and decisions. For example, near the end of the project, when the team was having trouble achieving some of their ambitious design goals, I sat down with them personally and workshopped the problem until we found a viable solution.