Remnants                                                                                    Stats, Balance, Narrative

Single player action dungeon crawler using light to enhance the mobile experience


 C#/XML - Visual Studio

Ogmo Editor

Android Studio


Remnants was started by some very talented people and good friends of mine in mid-2016. I was not part of this original team. After several months of development, they decided that additional help would be needed to push the project forward. It was then that they reached out to me to join the team. I am still grateful for having had the opportunity to work with all of them on such a great game. Remnants was developed over a total of 10 months through most of 2016 and early 2017. In that time we gained and lost some team members, did two major overhauls of the entire game and finally released our first real game.

Download now from Google Play Store!

Team Player

The biggest challenge for me with Remnants was adapting to a team and design that was already in place. In a mix of curbing my ego and learning the new dynamic, it took a bit for me to get adjusted. Much of the game was already fixed when I joined the team (mechanics, controls, art) so to be most effective I was brought on to specialize in systems.

My job was to balance out the combat and loot drops. And sometimes doing my job was hard: finding motivation and feeling personal value in the game did not always come easy. But, what challenged me most also allowed me to grow. Teamwork is about doing what is best for the game. Teamwork comes from group effort, not individual work. Teamwork is about being proud of the game, not of yourself. My time on Remnants made me a better team member.

Narrative is a System

It is my personal belief that narrative is a system. It informs the mechanics and creates meaning. When working on Remnants, we decided to really push that assumption and see if it held.

Already deep into the spreadsheets and numbers that comes with balance testing, narrative elements were added to each item. With a focus on environmental storytelling and mood over plot, Remnants grew into a dark narrative about desperation and depression. In the end of the universe there is no hope and very little light.

This became the central conceit that linked narrative and mechanics - changes in game difficulty also caused changes in game narrative. Mood was reflective of light both mechanically and thematically. Items add to gameplay and to mood; the more loot that drops the more the player becomes invested in both. Remnants ended up testing my assumption, and for this game at least, proving it right. Narrative is a system and when treated like every other system it can enhance the total player experience.

Balance, Test, Balance, Repeat

And now to address what I was actually brought onto the project to do: balance. What I found was that the best way to balance test is with a calculator and lots of play. The calculator is useful for theoretical balance - the pure numbers that drive the simulation. But in reality, only the experience of play can prove if something is balanced or even fun.

Because that is that other thing I learned: balance does not always equal fun. Balance is for when the player is performing at peak and the numbers perpetuate themselves. Fun is when the player wants to enjoy the game and not care about the numbers. Play experience finds fun, not a calculator. So in balancing Remnants, I played it several hundred times trying to find the fun. The result, I hope is a game that is both fun and balanced. And in the end, I just left my calculator anyway.