By Evan Barker (Game Designer, “22)
This semester I’ve had the delight of working as a Systems / Level Designer at Power Level Studios. Danny Forest (the CEO and Director), Carter Ivancic (another Champlain intern and a Systems / UI Designer), and myself meet virtually through Discord every week to discuss concepts and designs for Soul Reaper , a game currently published on the Steam Marketplace. Although I can’t mention too much about the project, I can talk about the process and experience I’ve had so far.
Since we are a team of 3, meetings are often used to give updates on work and brainstorm new designs for the following week. The first meeting of the semester, Danny wanted to get right into the process and immediately hit us with big questions about the design of the game. It required us to think on our feet and tested our ability to jump on ideas and run with them. By the end of the meeting, we had a viable idea for one of the mechanics in the game. We didn’t end up going with this design in the long run, but meetings like those is what makes the process so enjoyable.
It’s great real-world experience where we’re actually working on a product that could get shipped!
So, the usual schedule goes like this: Monday afternoon we have a virtual meeting (scheduled for an hour but usually leaks over) that outlines weekly goals and individual tasks. Then, we go our separate ways to work on assignments for roughly 10 hours during the week (if you’re a 3-credit intern). At the moment, these are mostly tasks where I’m conceptualizing designs using Adobe XD, Illustrator, and my notebook. I’ve also worked within Unity to build 2 levels so far!
Then, Carter and I usually meet to bounce ideas off of each other, make edits, and prepare what we’ll present to Danny on the following monday. Our group uses a git repository and bitbucket to manage data and version control when we update week to week.
Danny has also been great with letting me lean into my level design specialization. Since most of what we’re doing on the current project requires UI and Systems design, he let me start a side project where I was building new levels from the ground up with Soul Reaper ’s existing tileset in Unity. Even though it comes second to the main project, it’s been awesome to work on something more my wavelength that I can express my specialization through.
I was really nervous when starting this internship. I was getting hit with a huge case of imposter syndrome and felt that I was going to look like an amateur coming into the project. The thing is, internships are experiences that you’re allowed to go into knowing just the basics. You’re there to learn and contribute to a project. But, as it turned out, I knew and understood a lot more than I thought I did! Either way, you’ll come out of it far more knowledgeable than you were before, along with some great industry connections. With any luck, you’ll also have a finished product to put on your resume so you can land that dream job!
The internship so far has been excellent, and I can’t recommend it enough. Working with Danny and Carter has been a great experience and I can’t wait to see how the project ends up.