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Hedge Legends

PRIMARY ROLES

-Lead Game Designer 
-Gameplay Designer
-Level Designer
-Environment Artist

SECONDARY ROLES

-Systems Designer 
-Game Balancer

DESCRIPTION

Hedge Legends is a unique team based boss fighting game mode my build team and I made over a 6 month period to be one of our LAN event spotlight games. It was designed to by played with varying amounts of players and can support up to 24 players with 3 players per team. Hedge Legends is about finding and looting chests, fighting other teams, buying items at shops, solving puzzles, and most importantly killing bosses. The goal of Hedge Legends is to be the first team to place all 4 unique boss heads on your team's pedestals to win the game.

RESPONSIBILITIES

Led the project from concept to final product.

Designed and planned out the core Systems, gameplay features, and gameplay loop.

Designed the map layout, module layout, lobby layout, and built 98% of all of them.

Led game balancing and user experience.

Designed the loot table, monster spawn, team progression, and shop systems.

Worked collaboratively in a small scrum style team.

Hosted numerous alpha, closed beta, and beta tests.

Documented my design and artistic processes.

• Created the module framework and worked hands on with the team to create assets in an organized manor.

• Finished Hedge Legends on time to be the main attraction at our fall 2021 LAN.


 

Game Design

Concept to Final Product

Challenges

The concept of Hedge Legends was originally pitched from one of my fellow build team members that went by the name Chief. His pitch for Hedge Legends was a changing maze that had areas to find loot and ender eyes which led to the goal to finish an End portal in order to escape and win. 

The build team and I liked the concept, but the gameplay loop was way too short and it was for a very small group of people which wouldn't work for our large LAN events. The more we investigated the gameplay loop and pitch we found glaring balance and progression issues we had to overhaul. 


Eventually, I took on the role of lead designer on the Hedge Legends Project. I expanded the idea from the pitch and carefully designed not only the map, but 77 out of the 81 modules, the gameplay loop, and the loot tables as well. 

By our first beta tests our players loved the game. At launch we had almost double the expected players at the event wanting to play. It was the largest Minecraft event turnout in the PONG Organization's history. We now host Hedge Legends at almost every LAN event since its launch. It gives me great pride and joy knowing our work brings so much happiness.

Making Hedge Legends had its own challenges from start to finish. One key issue was project management. The previous project lead, Chief, stepped away from the project 1/4 of the way through development and a lot of our builders struggled to keep the project afloat which set us back in development.

I stepped up as the project lead to work with our team to redesign the game as well as design and build the map. It took 6 months to design and build the map. I was in college full time at the time and I worked through my spring semester all the way into the fall semester so that it would be done on time for our PONG Fall LAN event. 

There were many design puzzles with how the game should play out. This took a while to solve and led to many talks about design philosophy within the team. Thankfully I did my best to find the middle ground so that we could create the experience we all wanted and strived for at the end of the day. I can't be happier with how Hedge Legends came out! It was a bumpy road, but in the end I see Hedge Legends as one of my favorite projects.

Scope and Development Time

Challenges

Hedge Legends was designed and built in a 6 month period. It launched at the Fall 2021 LAN at UW-Stout as the main event for the LAN. 

Hedge Legends was the biggest and most ambitious project the PONG Minecraft Build Team has ever undertaken. The scope started small at pitch, but grew fairly quickly once we started designing the core aspects of the game. 

Hedge Legends is a massive maze designed in square sections which I call modules. Each module is separated by leafy walls. These modules have many types and block palettes depending on the Quadrant in which they are located. In total there are 81, unique 20x20 block modules separated by hedge walls 3-5 blocks thick.

 

The time I had to make Hedge Legends wasn't too short, but I was mainly the only one working on the project due to team issues at the time. This made the process take a lot longer since I was also in college and working a part time job. 

Due to the sheer scale for the game and the way I had to adapt the pitch drastically, Hedge Legends became a large project fairly quickly. That being said I worked smart and decided on my module plan early which made it easy to build on. I triple checked my maze map design and made countless mockups for room layouts and room types. Then I made a whole scale map layout with backup copies just in case. From there I color coded each module type and designated areas in which the team could build modules off to the side with wall layouts in place to plan for entry points into the rooms. 

Making the map took up most of my time, but I spent a lot of my other time planning loot tables for chests as well as creatures that spawn and shop prices. Thankfully some of my other teammates handled making the boss mechanics. It was definitely our largest and most intensive project. It turned out great gameplay, balance, and aesthetic wise.