Disney Melee Mania

Disney Melee Mania (2020-2021)


Disney Melee Mania is an arcade battle arena game, where holographic representations of various Disney and Pixar characters compete in bite-sized 3v3 multiplayer battles.

I contributed a substantial amount of early design work for this project, though some of the systems and features underwent iterations by other designers between my work and the launch of the game, as I had moved to another project within the company by then. In particular, I was involved with the design and balance of the progression systems (both within and outside matches), the framework for the game’s NPC AI and early reward distribution and balancing.

Below you’ll find some highlights of the work I’ve done on this project, as well as some screenshots (at the bottom).

Game Design (Implemented)

  • Designed and balanced initial meta progression system for champions – an out-of-match XP/Level progression that would provide champions with extra health and increased damage for abilities. Also created a guide to ease balancing of future champions added to the roster by setting up a table of stat modifiers based on archetypes (ranged, melee, etc), physical properties (big, small, etc.) and quirks (quick, non-aggressive, etc.) of champions and their abilities.
  • Designed and balanced initial team-based in-match progression system that provided players with progression throughout the duration of matches. The system would provide power progression for the player’s entire team at the same time, ensuring everyone one the team benefit from the actions and contributions of all players on the team, reducing tension between team members and freeing them up to go after different objectives without worrying about keeping up with the rest of the team.
  • Wrote initial design for Mystery Boxes rewarded to players as part of the player/champion progression journeys. These boxes act as the primary dispensers of in-game currencies and character fragments used to unlock new Champions in the game.
    • Mystery Boxes would dispense a guaranteed minimum amount of currencies and minimum amount and tier of champion fragments, but with a chance of getting additional currency and/or champion fragments of higher tier champions, based on the quality level of the box.
  • Wrote initial design for Perks system, where player can earn equippable passive bonuses that can be equipped in perk slots that unlock at specific levels throughout a given champion’s progression.
  • Designed an “early character unlock” system that let players unlock additional champions early on from a small pool of random champions for variety between players, while ensuring that all players eventually unlock all the champions from said pool.
  • Designed base systems for camera, movement and action controls for the different control schemes supported by the game (mouse and keyboard, touch controls, controllers)
  • Wrote revised design for “sentinel” NPCs and bosses that players can defeat in the main game mode to further their team’s power progression, and fleshed out the specific behavior and abilities of these NPCs
  • Designed the initial Boss Spawning event that takes place during the main game mode, which incentivizes players on both teams to converge to fight over the Boss and the power progression boost granted by the items dropped by the boss when defeated.
  • Wrote initial design for in-game communication tools used by players to ping team members via champion-specific emotes and commands like “attack”, “move” or “defend”
  • Designed system for handling and displaying multiple buffs and debuffs per champion during a match. In order to keep the system easy and understandable for players with a minimum of on-screen effects and UI elements, potential buffs/debuffs were split into different categories, each of which could only contain one active buff or debuff at any given time. Stronger buffs/debuffs would always overwrite existing buffs/debuffs within a given category.

Additional Game Design (Not Implemented)

  • Designed a charge/stamina-based system to supplement the cooldown timer for primary attacks, where each primary attack would have a specific number of charges available, with varying recharge intervals for each. The system was ultimately never implemented.

AI Design/Scripting:

  • Designed initial modular behavior tree system for NPC AI Champions, Bosses and Sentinels, which allowed for reuse of different aspects of AI behavior across different AI profiles, while also supporting hot-swapping some of those for alternate behaviors where needed. AI Champions used different subtrees in combat based on their ability types (18 different types initially), but shared the same core behavior tree setup for movement, target selection, objective handling, etc. This let the champions be a bit smarter about when to use their abilities, so they’d be more likely to use AoE abilities with multiple enemies nearby, more likely to use ultimates, crowd control abilities and team buffs when nearby allies needed assistance, etc.