Jason Eldred

Interaction Designer

Jason Eldred

Overwatch

Overwatch is a 2.5D military style sniper game that focuses on the relationship between an elite sniper, code named Overwatch, and a new Recruit. It was made in DigiPen’s proprietary Zero Engine.

Connor Tilley and Mathew Cech were the principal programmers on Overwatch. Their creation of Gameplay systems and Visual Novel systems made clever use of Zero Engine’s developing features. With their guidance, I and Jade Kelly got our first real tastes of gameplay programming. The lessons I learned in making the 1 and a half gameplay levels we were an invaluable base to the programming I would learn later. Jade Kelly and I also developed Overwatch’s narrative, then wrote and recorded all the dialogue in the game. This was an ambitious undertaking. While some of the first draft lines still make my skin crawl, the process of writing, directing, and recording was extremely rewarding. That recording, and the other sounds in the game, are all thanks to the impeccable Carsten Ronshaugen.

Design Layout for Airport Level specifically focusing on gameplay zones, enemy placement, and paths.

Overwatch consists primarily of two sections. The first is an engaging gameplay loop: compensating for scope sway and distance, firing a bullet, hearing the gunshot, and watching it fly and impact its target. We decided, to match the narrative, we wanted a character rather than the player, to be the central driver of the action. While the player’s actions are essential, so is listening and engaging with what the young Recruit has to say.

Beautiful Background for Our Airport Level by Sean Gill

To add meaning to the gameplay sections, to make them impactful on an emotional as well as ludological level, much of our game is composed of narrative Visual Novel sections. They help setup not only gameplay sections, but also Recruit and Overwatch as characters, with specific hopes, fears, and personality quirks. Later, at the end of the game, we use the Visual Novel sections to explain to the player the repercussions of their decisions on the characters’ lives.

Design Layout for Pier Level, focusing on enemy spawn points and event zones.

Overwatch resulted from a frustration with game narratives and a desire to try making our own. From the beginning, we knew we wanted to integrate story with engaging gameplay. While exposition happen outside gameplay, via Visual Novel segments, we aimed to keep players engaged with imagery and dramatic voice work. While introducing our characters, plot, and world could be done through Visual Novel, the action, the journey, and the climax of our story are inexorably part of gameplay. This is a game about what you DO as Overwatch, who you are and how you've changed, and how that influences the young Recruit with her life in your hands.
From our first prototype, we knew we had a fun gameplay loop. Calibration, compensation, physics, and other tools all helped us make the second to second experience of sniping draw players in and keep them playing. What we had was a good system and the tools to make something engaging and authentic.

Finished Background for the Pier Level. Never implemented into the game.

Target range Level by Jade Kelly.

From our first prototype, we knew we had a fun gameplay loop. Calibration, compensation, physics, and other tools all helped us make the second to second experience of sniping draw players in and keep them playing. What we had was a good system and the tools to make something engaging and authentic.

The story of Overwatch is not the one we set out to tell. It is instead the reincarnation of that story, which suffered content and time restrictions, forcing massive rewrites. The fact that this game exists as a whole is thanks to an enormous effort to keep the spirit of a story through the storm of development.

Attempting what we did as Freshmen, in a semester, under the weight of a severe course load was, perhaps, overly ambitious. But, in another sense, it was the only game we could have made. What mattered at the end of the day wasn't our budget, our hardware, or our technical aptitude, but what we learned making the game, and of that I’m extremely proud.

2.5D Sniping game focused on narrative and sniping simulation.


  • Role Creative Director

  • For Knight Stands – DigiPen

  • Date Spring 2015

  • Type Video Game – Zero Engine

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