Developer: Ultra Ultra
Release Date: September 19th, 2017
Platforms: Playstation 4, PC
Engine: Unreal Engine 4
As part of a small team of just 8 people, I was the dedicated Game and Level Designer on the team working on ECHO and as a result I was involved in almost every aspect of the game's development.
ECHO is a stealth action game set in a planet scale ancient palace in the outskirts of space where En, the player character, travels to in the hope of reviving someone she lost. However upon arriving there the palace starts copying her and all her actions, with her clones trying to kill her as she’s trying to find her way to the center of the massive palace.
The core gameplay loop revolves around the enemies learning from the players actions. For example playing the game as shooter will make the enemies shoot, sneaking around will make the enemies sneak and be harder to spot. But this goes for all actions in the game, be it jumping over railings, opening doors, eating fruit, playing piano and so on. However the clones will also unlearn things if the player stops doing something, creating a very unique and adaptive gameplay loop where performing the same action repeatedly often isn’t ideal.
Working on ECHO was an incredibly rewarding and challenging experience and by far the project where I’ve pushed myself the most, being the most hands on with core game design in my career, as well as having the ownership of nearly all of the levels in a 5-6 hour long game.
Took the core gameplay loop of AI learning from the player's actions from idea, to working prototypes, to fully implemented and balanced in levels.
Was responsible for roughly 90% of the levels as the only Level Designer on the team. From paper layouts, to mockups, to full implementation with AI patrols and puzzles, as well as optimising performance. This also involved working together with the game's writer on implementing dialogue and setting up scripted events, with the game having a large narrative focus.
Took the lead on designing most player mechanics and AI functionality, and worked together with the programmers in implementing and balancing them.
Together with the programmers we consistently iterated on custom tools and scripts for Unreal Engine to improve workflow and automatise tasks to help achieve more with our small team size.
Coordinated user playtests and used the feedback to improve the game.
Took responsibility for the final QA work on the game, reporting and fixing bugs, and organising other team members to focus on certain areas during the submission phase for both PC and PS4.
Went to PAX West, Nordic Game Conference and GDC to showcase and demo the game.
ECHO went on to win 3 awards at the Nordic Game Awards 2018, including Best Game Design and Game of the Year and currently sits at a metascore of 79 on Metacritic on PS4.