Forgotton Anne takes place in a fictional world called Forgotten Lands, a magical parallel universe where lost objects that were once loved by their owners — everything from missing socks to discarded lamps — come to life, hoping one day that they might be remembered again and returned to the real world.

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Forgotton Anne plays as a seamless cinematic adventure game with light puzzle & platforming elements. The player directly controls Anne from start to finish, with no loading screens, as the gameplay blends with the story, placing Anne in a role of an adolescent Enforcer who keeps order in the Forgotten Lands. Anne will set out to extinguish a rebellion that could prevent her father figure, Bonku, and herself from returning to the human world, in a gameplay directed coming of age story.

Role : Game Designer        Developer : ThroughLine Games          Publisher: Square Enix          Release : 2018       Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One , Nintendo Switch, IOs, Android

 Development & Experience

Forgotton Anne was developed by a team of an average of 14 members during its main production period of  2016- 2018. 

The project was tremendously ambitious for the size of the team, as it was developed to feel like a full animated feature, akin to studio Ghibli film, with a voiced screenplay and dialogue 3 times bigger than those movies, while it was meant to play seamlessly from beginning to end, blending high end narrative design, and naturalistic adventure platforming and puzzle elements as its main gameplay mechanic.

My role was primarily that of a level and game designer, but with such a holistic overall design and such a closely knit team, I would often deal with narrative design, as well as a heavy emphasis on practical implementation of most of the game’s content in each scene. The game was first released on Steam, Xbox, PlayStation 4 in May 2018, with ports to Switch, IOs, and Android released the next year.

During this project I developed the following skills:

  • Continuously valuing ideas / features through the collaborative development process, making hard decisions according to scope and resources.

  • Developing an iterative puzzle-design framework, that would carry through to future projects.

  • Managing and planning year-long design and implementation work.

  • Capitalizing on collaborative meetings between different departments, instead of shying away from them, to build a better, concise team based vision for the project.

  • Best practices for various version control systems between departments across a mid-sized team

  • Working closely with programmers and engineers to design and extend useful tools and level scripting pipelines that would carry through to future projects.

  • Taking a game project through from existing pre production all the way to release.

 

 Puzzle Design

When it came to my work on the game's puzzles, I would apply a contextual puzzle design framework to translate our narrative context mandates, and casual-player oriented gameplay, to puzzle scenarios and bigger holistic set-pieces.

  • Designed, Greyboxed, and Implemented most of the environmental puzzles as well as the bigger Set-Piece puzzles.

  • Prototyped and Converted various points of the narrative subtext to interactive gameplay sections instead of dialogue exposition. (for instance, Anne finding herself in the Crystal Cave)

  • Developed an easy to use framework of iterative puzzle design to fit the desired scaling difficulty of our puzzle progression, according to the team mandates.

Design Example 1 : Bulb’s House

Design Example 2 : The Lost Pieces Final Puzzle

 

 Gameplay Design

My main contribution in terms of gameplay systems, was the simplification and subsequent re-design of the game's core mechanic, while at the same time maintaining its predetermined narrative function.

  • Simplified the game’s main mechanic ( Arca ) from an Analogue resource system to a more intuitive Binary one for the casual player

  • Abstracted the "Anima Flow" narrative-induced gameplay to a more readable system, allowing the artist to express it in a simpler way

 

 Level Design

My initial contribution when joining the team, was that of a level designer, with the task of finding subtle gamification ways of player movement flow in a narrative context. Within that role i have :
 

  • Adapted the game’s pre-production environments and high-level concepts to systemically playable levels for the entire game.

  • Designed, playtested, finalized, most of the environmental and contextual interactions and movement in each level.

  • Worked closely with the Art Director and Lead Designer to contextualize and disguise level design abstractions ( eg, moving platforms, elevators, “Anima” devices ) by manufacturing and implementing each one accordingly.

  • Designed and Iterated on many of the game's prominent feature of z-depth interconnected gameplay layers and paths.

  • Worked closely with Writers to iterate the blending of story and gameplay.

 

 Flow & Implementation

Besides level and puzzle design, most of my time would be spent in Unity’s level editor,  executing on all the designs, by setting up most systems and every interaction in each scene :

  • Mastered and used the game’s proprietary event scripting logic, to express and setup the main Gameplay Flow logic in each Unity Scene (Interactions, Dialogues, Camera Framings etc)

  • Plotted and implemented level specific logic, to handle seamless real time loading and unloading for each Unity Scene / Level

  • Designed and implemented level specific Companion AI setup logic, to handle his seamless transitions and progression for each scene

  • Utilized a variety of both dynamic and static custom setups, for performance optimizations for each level, as the player progressed.

 Personal Highlights

Some of my favorite parts on working on the project-perhaps unsurprising to any game-maker - are not so much the setups of the larger set-pieces, as much as all the on the spot “duct tape solutions” hidden behind the repurposing of some of our otherwise very specific tools, such as the AI companion’s transition logic, or the various Seamless Level Transitions, tackled by all sorts of makeshift setups, meant to support the team's desires for the ever persistent following camera, and no-loading screens that we have since seen as promoted pursuits in much bigger games recently, like God Of War, Jedi Fallen Order.

 Awards & Recognition

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