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The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes

House of Ashes is the third instalment in Supermassive Games' horror anthology. During the Iraq War, a group of special US forces find themselves trapped underground within the ruins of an ancient Mesopotamian city. While uncovering the mysteries of the tomb and those that came before, the group are preyed upon by a vampiric evil not of this world.

After the release of Little Hope I joined the team working on House of Ashes for a short period of time. As the main bulk of the project was close to completion I was mainly tasked with bug fixing and polish. One key task I spent most of my time on was completely overhauling a level and its narrative to fit with the games new direction. This involved adapting and recycling existing content into something new while trying to retain the levels atmosphere, pacing and making sure it enhances and supports the games overall narrative. The level in question (Sand Caverns) is featured in the first video above.

Contributions

Prior to moving to the core team on the Devil in Me, I aided the design team on House of Ashes with various bug fixes and improvements. I mostly worked on the collision and exploration portions of House of Ashes, however I was tasked with completely reworking the level "Underworld". 

 

Initially "Underworld" played out very differently and involved Nick hallucinating traumatic events from his past. After collating player feedback from Man of Medan and Little Hope, we decided to change tack and remove any semblance of hallucinations. Reworking the level included altering the narrative to introduce the Vampires sooner as well as re-pacing and redesigning both the player paths to accommodate the changes.

Underworld

After falling into a cave system, Nick and Jason find themselves cut off from each other and the rest of the squad. As Nick explores the caverns he witnesses a strange creature lurking around in the dark. While searching for Nick, Jason hears his calls and a mysterious clicking sound following him. The duo reunite and come across a large stone temple. Inside, their squad mate Merwin is tangled in barbed wire and seriously injured. As they try to give Merwin medical aid, the creatures return and begin to stalk the group. 

Roles & Responsibilities

  • Iterating upon gameplay mechanics such as interactions, exploration cameras, event triggers etc. 

  • Integrating and editing third-party animation data to create the games sequences.

  • Balancing and adjusting the pacing of sequences based on playtesting and director feedback.

  • Building and iterating upon the collision and navmesh throughout the game.

  • Aided the core team in bug fixing and additional design work using the studios proprietary tool set.

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