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PERSONAL PROJECTS

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This section of my portfolio includes a variety of personal projects and exercises exploring the different aspects of game design, from UI to balancing and so on. Almost everything on display here is constantly being worked on and improved upon on a daily basis. I try to update this page as often as I possibly can!

You can also contact me through the form on my homepage in case you have any further questions.

I hope you'll find this as interesting as I do. Enjoy!

The Legend of Zelda 1986 'Fan-Expansion'

I challenged myself with this project because of my desire to explore and understand the roots and origin of action-adventure games. And what better way to do exactly that if not by designing a fan-made extra 11th dungeon for this classic game. I treated this bonus level as if it was a supposed dlc released years after the original launch of the title.

This means I didn't alter or introduce any mechanics or items since I wanted to keep as close as possible to Miyamoto's original vision.

Another import thing to specify is that for this design I'm considering a fully upgraded Link (both in terms of heart canisters and equipment) at the start of the level.

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Designing the level layout - size and length

My design intent was to have Link defeat a final boss to save Zelda one last time. To do that he would first have to unlock a door by collecting three keys guarded by their respective mini-bosses.

To replicate the pacing and experience of the original game I knew I had to focus on exploration. This is the reason behind the equal number of critical and optional rooms. The player can explore up to 50% of the level without progressing through the mandatory path. I chose to balance the progression this way to ensure that the least amount of adventure isn't in any way too short while granting at the same time a satisfactory challenge to the completionist audience.

How to read the layout

The available paths are indicated by arrows, with each arrowhead corresponding to a door. Black arrows represent the critical path the player must take in order to progress through the level and beat it, whilst red arrows correspond to all the other optional paths which the player can choose to take in search for resources and to obtain full level completion.

Furthermore, the letters 'a' and 'b' mark the side paths that can and, in some cases, must be taken.

I also added a total of three 'merchant rooms', with one of them being part of the critical path, in order to ensure that the player has the means to thoroughly explore the entirety of the map.

Designing the level layout - strategy

The iconic non-linearity of the game allowed players to decide what obstacles they wanted to tackle first and which ones to avoid completely. So I tried to provide a vast area in which time and resources can be spent fighting enemies or finding loot. In my personal opinion, extra levels and dlc should be made to reward players rather than challenge them with almost impossible tasks. Through the placement of enemies and items I tried to make it so that by the end of this adventure, players feel neither overpowered nor put under unnecessary stress caused by the difficulty of the dungeon.

In conclusion

I structured the level around three 'acts' plus a final one because collecting keys even nowadays provides a sense of engagement at first which is then followed by one of accomplishment later.

The greatness of the first Legend of Zelda game lies in inventing a formula that even 30+ years after being introduced to the world of game design still compels players to keep pressing forward. 

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