Choplifter HD


The first professional game project I worked on was an unreleased title called "HEI$T".  Developed by inXile Entertainment for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC, HEI$T centered around a bank robber named Johnny Sutton (played by famed character actor Bruce Campbell), just released from prison, who put together an eclectic crew to plan and pull "one last big job" that would make them famous.  Set in 1969 San Fransciso and inspired by classic heist and chase movies, the game played a lot like many of the GTA-style titles of the time, but had a certain extra panache due to its psychadelic time period.

A main feature of the game was pulling smaller heists to build up your crew's skills.  Each crew member sported a unique personality and talent.  (For example, Cracker—voiced by the highly-recognizable Christian Slater—was, as one might expect, the team's safe-cracker.)  While some crew members followed orders well, others might be trigger-happy with the bank guards or get distracted and let witnesses slip away, so a heist might require equal parts corralling civilians and keeping an eye on squad mates.  Squad management was handled through a combination of giving orders and providing positive or negative reinforcement to influence a team member's behavior.

As the game was never released, I'm not able to say much about my work on it..

I was brought on as a Scripter / Level Designer mid-way through the project.  Much of the game's foundation was already in place, but it was going to need plenty of iteration, documentation, and bug-fixing to reach a shippable state.

I was fortunate to arrive at inXile at a moment when some redistribution of responsibilities needed to take place to reduce the burden on some of the designers, so despite my inexperience with the industry, I was able to take over multiple levels:  a mission to recruit "The Kid" to the squad, an early mission involving an Opium Den, and the all-important final heist of The San Franciso Mint (which involved first making a trip to Alcatraz).

As development progressed, I took on other responsibilities.  For example, my observation that certain basic controls were never taught in-game earned me the task of figuring out how to work an extra tutorial into the Prologue chapter of the game.  When I had some extra "bandwidth," I also volunteered to write some supplemental in-game text ("flavor" text for many of the missions, as well as character bios—I worked my own name into the background for Crumb by having him serve time at San Quentin state prison).