Gregor Smith - Game Designer

Son of a Witch

Son of a Witch is an exploration focused game about a young man and the recent death of his mother, a witch who kept watch over nature. Now that she is gone, her son must journey through four seasonally themed areas to calm the guardians of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.

This was my first project in a custom C++ Engine and in a large team. I was the Lead Designer and Game Director for this team of 12 and, though it didn't quite work out how we wanted it to, I'm very proud of our work.

On SOAW I orchestrated the games vision to keep it within scope given our requirements. I worked alongside 2 other designers to create the levels, enemies, narrative, and interaction systems.

Challenges

Son of a Witch was a project filled with challenges, some of which we overcame, some of which we succumbed to, all of which we learned from.

The biggest issue our team faced was the requirement to create the game in a custom C++ engine while simultaneously making a game. None of our tech team (of 3 people) had built an engine from the ground-up before and this led to a lot of time spent figuring out how to do things, rather than how to do them effectively. By the end our engine was a functional but buggy and disjointed system that the tech team pulled together very well in order to ship the project.

This issue lead to obvious problems for our design team (also 3 people), most of which were not confident in their C++ ability. As our tech team was trying to put the engine together they had no time to implement an editor so all of the level creation, gameplay systems, and U.I. had to be implemented through C++ which was time consuming and overly technical for a lot of the team. Though this negatively impacted the quality of the project, it led to me learning a huge amount about C++ and my ability to learn an engine, language, and system quickly. I did a great deal of the level, gameplay, and U.I. work for the project in C++.

The solution to these problems would be to rework the vision for the game we started with, which was a Harvest Moon style game that I know now is grossly overscoped for the project’s restrictions. A lack of experience and some stubbornness meant that we did not embrace a smaller scoped game until right at the end of the project’s life cycle. This was a huge mistake from which I learned a lot about scoping a project appropriately. In the end, I implemented a huge amount of the gameplay and feedback systems in the last few weeks of the project, which served as a good lesson in when to cut.