Game Design grad Damien Le Lievre worked on the recently released game Tesseric, which is available now for free on iOS and Android. The game has been getting some buzz on mobile gaming websites, including Android Shock and Super Game Droid. We spoke with Damien about his early passion for video games, his time at VFS, and working in the gaming industry.
What were you doing before you came to VFS?
Damien: Before coming to VFS, I was running my own photography company in Ottawa, Ontario and attending the Ottawa School of Art, pursuing my interests as an artist. Video games were a huge part of my life and I would spend much of my time playing them, watching them, reading about them, and coming up with my own ideas for games. I owe my entire career to Super Mario World and Legend of Zelda - when I first played them they had such a huge impact on me, which would stay with me for the rest of my life and continue to inspire me.
Have you always known you wanted to be a game designer?
Damien: I think since the first time I picked up and played my first video game, I was so enthralled and absorbed by them that I knew my future had to involve them. When I was much younger, I would come up with games I wanted to play and worked on the skills that I needed to make them a reality. Even when I was running my business as a photographer, I knew deep down that I still wanted to pursue game design as it was my true passion. I think the reason I enjoy game design so much is because I get to be as multifaceted as I want to be. Being a game designer allows me to be both artistic and technical and wear a lot of different hats.
What was your experience like in the VFS Game Design program?
Damien: My time in the game design program was a blast. I knew very well going into it that it was definitely not going to be an easy task, but being something I was very passionate about, I was not going to let that stop me. During the program I made a lot of friends, and learned more in the span of a year than I ever have my entire life. It was amazing to be surrounded by, work with, and be taught by people just as passionate about games as I am. It was also fascinating to get so much exposure to different people’s ideas and approaches to video games.
You recently shipped your first title – tell us about the game and your experience on the project.
Damien: From my first meeting with the Director of Tesseric, Evgueni Naverniouk of Lexan Software Inc., I knew that it was a project that I wanted to be a part of. Tesseric is a four-dimensional puzzle game built for Android and iOS devices. The goal of the game is to navigate your cube (aka a Tesseract) around a 4x4x4 world, matching up the next move’s colour with coloured orbs floating in the world.
The game rewards players that plan their strategies many moves in advance and those who take daring risks. Brave players can let these orbs sit for a while and turn to stone that impede their movement; then consuming a newly spawned orb near a stone allows the player to chain combos and score much higher. As the player levels up, the time they have to eat these floating orbs before they turn to stone lessens and the players ability to think multiple moves ahead is tested and strained harder, with the payoff being a much larger score at the end. We also introduced a competitive mode where players can wager a score they think they can achieve and must exceed it in order to stake a claim on the global high score table.
Working on Tesseric taught me a lot about game design, programming, and the Unity engine. Working with Evgueni and Alex Naverniouk, CEO of Lexan Software Inc., was a fantastic experience and helped me push myself way further than I could imagine. I worked on Tesseric while I was also a Unity Programming TA at VFS and I felt that doing both the project and working at VFS would help me push my skillset further. I was putting in at least 60 hours a week for a number of months and there were many times that the task ahead felt daunting, but my drive to succeed kept me going. I definitely did not want to let anyone down.
Check out the trailer below:
What are you working on next?
Damien: Currently, I am working as a programmer at Fathom Interactive in Vancouver. Alongside that, I have been working on a multiplayer dungeon crawler with some VFS co-workers. I also have a few projects of my own I have started up. One of my recent projects includes programming in assembly for the Super Nintendo. The SNES was the first console I ever played and I want to pay homage to the games that inspired me when I was younger. I also have another competitive multiplayer game in the works for the future which I’ll soon be talking about on my blog and website.
Thanks for speaking with us, Damien! Good luck!