What's BrickHeadz?

LEGO BrickHeadz Builder VR is a LEGO sandbox, building, and puzzle game that was built for the Google Daydream VR. In the game, you place premade characters and objects on a table in front of you to get them to interact.

Project Overview

Game Details

Game built for: The LEGO Group (by Schell Games)

- Genre: Character-based sandbox and building game

Platform: Google Daydream

Game Engine: Unity

- My roles: AI systems designer · Content creator 

Logistics Breakdown

- Year: 2016

- Project Duration: 1 year

- Team size: 15

Gameplay

Process

My Contributions

  • Content pitching: ​Pitched + refined list of character and object types

  • Systems design: BRAINz personality system; profession and emotion combinations that led to different interactions between BrickHeadz characters

  • Puzzle design: Players had to decipher picture diagrams to solve puzzle and unlock new characters

  • Character vignette storyboarding: Created storyboards describing the 10-30 second stories that the BrickHead characters played out when they interacted with each other and the objects nearby

  • Content creation: Worked with engineers to build and use custom authoring tools to implement the character interactions

  • UX/UI: Worked with other designers and artists to design and iterate on central storybook menu, Daydream 3-DOF hand controller, etc.

Systems Design

  • Took point on designing the "BRAINz" system, the main character interaction AI system in the sandbox portion of the game

  • Defined language and base rules of the system, created documents to standardize language across the team

  • Designed "Profession" and "Emotion" swapping system

  • Worked closely with Greg V., the AI engineer on the project, to design nodes for Vignettitor, Schell's in-house node editor, to drive the interactions (e.g. Approach, Spawn item in hand, play animation, sync animation with other character, branch on emotion, set emotion, spawn VFX, swap head/body, etc.)

  • Collaborated with Michael Sanchez, an animator, to create a library of 100+ short animations that we could use to string together into dozens of interactions between characters. Library was mostly composed of reusable animations (e.g. walks, runs, sit, head tilts, pick ups, look-arounds) as well as several one-offs (e.g. several wrestling moves)

LEGO BrickHeadz VR - Invitations Design Doc 02
LEGO BrickHeadz VR - Play Mode Overview
LEGO BrickHeadz VR - Invitations Design Doc 01

Content Creation

  • Worked with client and design leadership to refine list of characters and associated objects (e.g. Chef + grill, wrestler + wrestling ring, Valkyrie + weapons rack)

  • Used node system and library of animations described above to implement a matrix of dozens of unique interactions between characters based on their emotions, professions, and which characters and objects were nearby

  • Created a number of Easter egg interactions based on rare combinations of professions and emotions

  • Developed set of puzzles and a character/construct unlock order that ramped up in difficulty as the game progressed

LEGO BrickHeadz VR - Valkyrie professions and emotions
LEGO BrickHeadz VR - Switching emotions and professions
LEGO BrickHeadz VR - Vignette content tracker

Samples of game design docs and trackers that I created as needed during pre-production + production

Design Documentation

  • Wrote documentation on BRAINz system, the functionality of all nodes, and the process for creating new characters/constructs/puzzles for designers if they needed to create future content

  • Used documentation with new team later on to create second round of DLC content

LEGO BrickHeadz VR - Design documentation
LEGO BrickHeadz VR - Content graph example
LEGO BrickHeadz VR - Single character graph example
LEGO BrickHeadz VR - Walk action node
LEGO BrickHeadz VR - technical documentation

Samples of in-game character interaction implementation + associated systems

Samples from documentation of systems that I took point on

  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn - Grey Circle
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram

© 2019 by Marlena Abraham

myIcon-2019-large.png