Portfolio

Email: mattlevonian@gmail.com

Download my resume.

LinkedIn itch.io GitHub

Battlewake (2019)

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Battlewake released on September 10, 2019 on PC and PS4. It’s a fantasy naval combat game built for VR; the player commands a battle-ready ship from the helm and casts different magic abilities depending on their chosen character. It has a 20 mission campaign with co-op support, an endless survival mode supporting up to 4 players, and a PVP mode that handles up to 10 players.

I worked on the game for around 9 months as a Gameplay Engineer, seeing it through alpha, beta, and release. I held ownership over systems such as:

  • PVP mode (Plunder)
  • Online matchmaking functionality
  • Clearing TRC issues for PlayStation
  • NPC (crew) animation system
  • UI flow, menu levels, level data management, player progression

The entire team was a joy to work with. I can genuinely say that shipping this game was one of the best experiences in my life.

Glimmer Grove (2019)

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Starting in Fall 2018, I worked on a small experimental project at Survios. The company was interested in developing the LBE market (location-based entertainment, i.e. VR Arcades). It operated its own VR arcade, and wanted to create games that were designed specifically for the arcade user experience. The general criteria were:

  • Provide a casual gaming experience which can capture an audience that isn’t interested in action games.
  • Provide an experience which arcade operators can recommend as a go-to introductory game; no instruction required to start playing, and introduces players to VR.
  • Design to allow for play sessions that last anywhere from 5-10 minutes to 30 minutes.

Myself and another engineer were tasked with prototyping 2-3 casual games over the course of a week. The two types of casual games we decided to explore were “Match 3” and “Ball Puzzles”. I prototyped three concepts: a 3D bubble shooter, a Monkey Ball-style system, and a grid-based Bejeweled-style game. User testing revealed the 3D bubble shooter to be the most compelling; so while I was tasked initially with fleshing out the flat grid-based Match 3 concept, I continued to champion for the bubble shooter. After reviewing the expanded Bejeweled-alike after two months of development, the studio decided to pursue the Bubble Shooter instead.

For the next 5 months, I lead our small team (1 artist, 1 designer, 1 other programmer) to develop an initial arcade-ready version of the game. We rolled the game out to Chinese arcades through our Chinese partner, and over 50,000 people have played the game to date in arcades.

Some of the challenges we overcame during production include:

  • Iterating on prototype gameplay to find an effective arcade experience
  • Custom UE4 editor tools for designers to easily create puzzles
  • Designing a co-op infinite survival mode
  • Efficient netcode that ensures deterministic outcomes on the puzzle board
  • User testing at actual VR arcades to help identify usability issues

Sky Command (2017-2018)

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Sky Command was a project I directed during my senior year at USC. The game was a re-imagining of another school project (see below), taking the same sense of frantic player cooperation and bringing it to a VR action experience. It is a cooperative, 2-player VR game designed to be played in a VR arcade or part of similar location-based entertainment (LBE). A playthrough lasts 15 minutes and is a whirlwind of frantic communication and riotous action. With your partner, you have to fly an airship through enemy territory and destroy critical enemy infrastructure, all while defending against enemy ships and repairing damage aboard your own. We aim to have players to laugh, scream, and shout, and then go and pull another of their friends in to play again.

I was Technical Director on the project; I shared responsibility for maintaining the creative vision on the project with the project’s Art Director, Kat Gray. We ensured that each team member understood the experience goal and aesthetic of the game, guided development and kept it inline with our ultimate vision. I also led the engineering efforts, managed 5 other engineers, and coordinated with UX designers, audio designers, writers, and artists to produce the necessary features and tools for development. I built numerous systems, including but not limited to: player locomotion, player avatar networking, repair gameplay systems, enemies and their behavior, and a tutorial framework.

From Light (2015-2017)

(website)

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From Light is a 2D puzzle platformer with mechanics based on photography, especially long-exposure photography. The game was in the PAX 10, a group of “the ten best indie games in regard to gameplay and overall fun-factor” curated by a panel of 50 industry experts, at PAX 2015. The team is currently looking for funding to finish development.

I worked on the project as an engineer from 2015, before it was accepted into the PAX 10, until Spring of 2017, when I left the project to focus working on Sky Command (see above). When the game was accepted into the USC Games Advanced Game Projects course in 2016, I took on the role of Lead Engineer. Managing 3 other engineers, my responsibilities included week-to-week sprint task planning and personnel management, facilitating technical communication with and among other disciplines on the team, defining technical requirements for game systems, and ensuring tech debt was minimized. Some major features that I implemented included two overhauls of the locomotion system (a from-scratch system based on raycasts, later replaced with the Corgi Engine package), a level-streaming system, a system for arbitrarily slicing collision geometry, a dialogue system for NPCs and an accompanying tool for creating in-game cinematics (“scripted sequences”), tools for procedural terrain creation, and shaders for normal mapped sprites and a 2D lighting system.

Logo for the game. PAX 10 Logo Photo of us at the booth.

Sky Command (2016)


Sky Command was a class project at USC. I partnered with Kat Gray, and together we made an asymmetric cooperative/competitive multiplayer game about airship battles. In its current iteration, each airship is controlled by a team of two. One player controls the gun turrets while the other flies the ship and manages its health. The catch is that the navigator has to use an overhead map and can’t look around in first person. The gunner, on the other hand, has great spatial awareness through first-person visuals, but that’s all they have.

I did all of the programming, building the game in Unity and using Unity’s built-in networking functionality for the networked components of the game. Some of the systems I developed include a multiplayer lobby, 3D vehicle physics, weapon systems, a tactical minimap with display ambiguity, and optional VR support.

The game was accepted into the USC Winteractive Festival in 2016, out of more than 40 submissions.

Galactic Steel (2015)


This was a final project for a class at USC. I worked with another programmer over the course of 4 weeks to produce what you see here. We went through a lot of iterations on gameplay and aesthetic, searching for something that felt really solid to play. The art and sound is almost entirely from the Internet, mostly places like DeviantArt and OpenGameArt.org. The game was made in Unity using C#, and FMOD for sound. I programmed much of the core movement and combat system, enemy behavior, sound integration, and tooltip system.

Galactic Steel is a space-themed 2D “hack and slash”. The player commands a battle-mech, wielding a large sword as their primary weapon. Gameplay is centered around chaining together attacks smoothly and accurately in order to build up damage bonuses. You are also given a rocket-powered dash maneuver, a reflective energy shield, and a blinding stun attack that helps you evade and outmaneuver opponents which are much more agile than you.

A screenshot of the gameplay. A screenshot of the gameplay.

I’ve hosted the game on itch.io (downloads available there).
fake embed

Possession (2015)


For a semester in 2015, I worked as an engineer on a graduate student game project called Possession. Built with Unreal Engine 4, it was an RTS where the player could possess any unit and control it from a first-person view. I primarily worked on a building system, which involved prototyping a UI, networking the C++ code, and providing hooks into blueprints for designers.

The game website is no longer up, but you can see some of it through the Wayback Machine.

H2GO (2015)


This was done in a 24-hour game jam. Besides programming, I also coached the 2 freshmen programmers on our team. All the art was done by a single person, the talented Katie Yu. Two other team members did level design. The game was made in Unity using C#.

The theme of the game jam was “Phases”, so we brainstormed this gameplay of moving between solid, liquid, and gaseous phases. The idea is that solid form allows you to move laterally quickly, but is fragile (impacts can shatter it). Liquid lets you squeeze down small spaces or soften impacts. Gaseous form lets you ascend.

I’m actually pretty proud of the algorithms that went into this, given the short time. The fluid forms are clouds of particles with n-body spring-like attraction, while the fluid separation is done by performing a k-clustering test. Then, the visual shape of the fluid is created by running a convex hull algorithm on the group of particles, generating a visual mesh based on the result. It was the first time I had implemented any of those algorithms.

Solid. Liquid. Gas. Liquid.

I’ve hosted the game on itch.io (downloads available there). The project is on Github.

fake embed


I also have a number of games from game jams: Game Jam Games


A screenshot of Carl Gets An Interview. A screenshot of Watership Leaf. A screenshot of Lord of the Stoopids. A screenshot of Taproot.


Interested in looking at my non-game work? Here is my high-school senior year research project, and here is a website I created in a hackathon in high-school.

 
 
 

Levels

In high school I made some levels in Half Life 2, Portal 2, Team Fortress 2, Crysis, and Halo CE. Not many of them survived over the years, but there were a few that I recorded video of. Here are those videos:




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