Josh Sutphin

I'm a hybrid game designer, technical designer, and gameplay engineer. I aim to create games in a way that's sustainable for our creators, respectful toward our audience, and progressive for our community.

Games matter, but people matter more. ❤️

I've held lead design positions on Destiny 2, Starhawk, and Warhawk.

I also ran indie ventures Third Helix, Kickbomb Entertainment, and the Utah Games Guild. And if you're a developer, you may have seen my popular technical guide to Doing Thumbstick Dead Zones Right kicking around the internet.

Here's what I've made:

Destiny 2

Bungie | Design Lead | January 2020 - June 2024

I led a team that drove content and tech standardization efforts within the studio. We produced frameworks and best practices for both creative design and concrete implementation, and supported designers with tools, workflows, and technical guidance for executing on those conventions.

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LEGO Brawls

RED Games | Senior Engineer | June 2018 - November 2019 said "Thanks to its superb touchscreen controls, LEGO Brawls is currently one of Apple Arcade’s best games for playing on-the-go."

I was a primary contributor on LEGO Brawls, a Unity-based casual mobile brawler produced in partnership with LEGO and Apple Arcade. I was deeply involved in the initial pitch, designed the core software architecture, designed and coded our touch controls, implemented core game systems like platforming and power-ups, and integrated a deterministic rollback networking strategy for smooth, stable multiplayer games.

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The Raft

RED Games | Senior Engineer | April 2017 - March 2018

I was the development lead on the project, and for most of its life I was also the sole engineer. The game is built in Unreal Engine 4 and nearly all game logic is implemented in C++. Key tech pillars for this project were the avatar posing system, which translates the HMD and hand controller positions into reasonable full-body articulation complete with walk cycles and facial expressions, and the network replication implementation which, in addition to normal network multiplayer support, had to solve for extremely high-frequency and unpredictable pose updates as well as correctly synchronizing each player's virtual space with the physical space they're also co-inhabiting.

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castAR | Lead Design & Tech | July 2016 - April 2017

I acted as both design and tech lead for a small team prototyping games in Unity for the castAR augmented reality platform. This entailed understanding and de-risking the myriad technical challenges associated with building for hardware that was itself still in development, as well as the design challenges that came along with augmented reality in general being a new-to-the-world interaction style whose rules and conventions had not yet been established.

Utah Games Guild

Co-founder | May 2014 - March 2018

The Utah Games Guild logo, depicting two game controllers plugged into a beehive, which is the symbol of the state of Utah

The Utah Games Guild was dedicated to growing and energizing the Utah independent video game development community. As co-founder I was instrumental in organizing several local indie game showcases at major expos including Salt Lake Comic Con and Salt Lake Gaming Con. I also managed a partnership with Youth Tech Hub and the city of Eagle Mountain to present the EM City Tech Jam, a one-day event designed to introduce kids and teens to game and app development, and was a supporting coordinator of our quarterly Game Nights at The Leonardo, a local STEM museum.

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Legacy of the Elder Star

Kickbomb Entertainment | Founder | March 2013 - June 2016 said "Legacy of the Elder Star knocks it out of the park"

I founded Kickbomb Entertainment and built Legacy of the Elder Star, an innovative and vibrant arcade shooter in the tradition of Gradius and R-Type, developed in Unity using C#. I did all the design, programming, writing, music, and marketing, and hired an artist for most of the art and animation. It was funded 100% independently and is currently available on Steam and for PC, Mac, and Linux.

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LightBox Interactive | Lead Game Designer | August 2012 - March 2013

I worked with a team of eight on the concept, design, and business model for PlunderNauts, a whimsical space-pirate combat game and LightBox Interactive's first foray into the free-to-play mobile games market. I was also personally responsible for the technical implementation of the game’s galaxy map, UI, and mission progression systems.

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LightBox Interactive | Lead Game Designer | January 2009 - May 2012

G4TV: Best Multiplayer E3 2011

I built a seven-person design team and coordinated with other department leads in a studio of 50+ to design, develop, and ship the award-winning Playstation 3 hit Starhawk. I developed a set of technical standards governing my team’s use of Lua for mission and game mode scripting, and designed and coded most of our in-engine level design toolset, while simultaneously supporting my designers' career growth and development. I worked extremely closely with our writing and music teams to structure and score the narrative campaign, and provided numerous press interviews, both on- and off-camera.

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Incognito Entertainment | Game Designer | January 2006 - December 2008

Gaming Target: PS3-Exclusive Game of the Year

As a designer for Incognito’s award-winning PS3 hit Warhawk, I scripted complex behaviors and in-game tools using a proprietary C-like scripting language. I also tuned and balanced game controls, weapons, and general mechanics, and wrote flavor text for all the game elements, as well as assisting the producer in coordinating the scripting team. After the game shipped, I moved into a lead design role for its three DLC expansions, for which I was closely involved in the concept and product design as well as whiteboxing each of the new levels.

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Created 11/26/2022 • Updated 6/28/2024