Incognito Entertainment PS3 2007

Warhawk is a fast-paced, multi-modal third-person shooter set in a WW2-inspired sci-fi universe. It was one of the first AAA console games to receive a full digital release; it was also unique in that it was a multiplayer-only title.

Combat in Warhawk takes place on foot, in ground vehicles like the 4x4 and tank, and in the titular Warhawk: a combination high-speed fighter jet and VTOL weapons platform. DLC packs later added a heavily-armed dropship that could transport ground vehicles through the air, an APC that served as a mobile spawn point, and a jetpack.

Warhawk became very popular among the hardcore, competitive multiplayer crowd, and received frequent accolades from players and press alike for its fast, visceral gameplay and tight game balance.

Development

I was a game designer on the core product, primarily responsible for laying out pickups and spawn points throughout all the maps, and developing and maintaining the design tools by which we did that. I also wrote all the in-game flavor text, created the load screens, and designed the game playlists for our official dedicated servers. And finally, I managed the overall game balance and weapon and vehicle tuning.

Once we transitioned into DLC production I moved into a lead design role, where I was instrumental in the concept and design of each of the three packs. I also built the early in-game blockouts for the “Omega Factory” and “Tau Crater” levels.

Lessons learned

Warhawk was my first AAA title, and it’s here that I learned how large-scale game production actually works: how teams are organized, how game direction and game design differ, what the technical infrastructure of a large team looks like, etc.

I joined Incognito Entertainment as a junior designer. By the time Warhawk shipped I had become de facto team lead for design, and after a large portion of the studio split off to found a new company, we who remained went on to produce three DLC packs for which I acted as design lead. DLC is an incredible opportunity to practice executing full production cycles quickly, and by the time I’d gotten through three of them I had a pretty solid grasp of how to take a product from concept to completion.