BVW – Round 1

Subway Tunnel

Assignment: Design a virtual experience where Character A is scared of Character B. The player must help Character A overcome their fear and there must be a visible state change at the end.

Team: John Baxa, Christian Bruggeman, Phillip Chung, Cheng (Orange) Qi, & James Vollberg

My role: Producer, 2D Art, Writer

Development process after the jump!


  1. We started our brainstorming focusing on characters or situations where help would be required. We decided on a rescue mission because it offers an emotionally charged environment and goal. We selected the level to be a collapsed subway tunnel because it offered a scalable level we could easily grow/shrink based on scope. Also: being trapped underground (or being involved in a subway crash) was a terrifying concept to several members of the team.
  2. From there, I focused on setting up our initial pipeline, writing a script, creating concept art, and storyboarding the overall experience. Christian focused on creating initial gestures for exploring the environment. Phil began modeling our subway car and blocking out the overall level.
  3. Once complete, Jim and I split the unwrapping and texturing. He focused on an initial subway car and I tackled the overall level. Orange started collecting music and sounds, while Phil began to focus on modeling other details of the level. Christian pulled everything together into his build for interims.
  4. At interims, we were lauded for the number of assets and overall mood we managed to create. However, we were encouraged to try and strike more fear into the audience and make them care about the firefighter character performing the rescue.
  5. From there, we decided to add a second half to the experience: you rescue the trapped civilian, but now you must get out. We choreographed several key moments to create a greater sense of danger in the environment: a ceiling collapse, discovering a dead body, a subway car turning over, and the overall tunnel collapse. At finals, we were commended for adding a greater sense of tension and urgency to the game.
  6. For our Final BVW Show performance, we heightened the performance even more—having Jim (our firefighter) carry Christian (our trapped man) while playing the game. We also added several more environment details to add a greater sense of collapse.

Lessons learned:

  1. Creating a tangible sense of fear in a game can be very difficult
  2. It is also challenging to get an audience to care about a player character in a very short amount of time.
  3. Modular design where we could have easily expanded/reduced the level was very effective and allowed us to focus more on animations.