In 2014, I worked with Digital Leisure on creating an artistic vision and greater world for what was then meant to be a Casino MMORPG, but is rapidly becoming the spiritual successor to Playstation Home on PS4 and Steam. In this document I offer my involvement in the humble beginnings of this project.
Digital Leisure, probably the longest running games company in the GTA, was ready to get into "next generation" (at the time. As of 2016, this is the current generation) games development, and chose a casino MMORPG as it's target. Digital Leisure had previous experience creating both MMPROGs as well as Casino games, and I was excited to be able to lend a hand by developing its world and aesthetic for not only the casino itself but also its initial table games, digital games and slots.
HIGH LEVEL OVERVIEW
Timeframe: 8 Months
Efforts: UI Design, Brand Guidelines, World Building, Concept Art, Level Design
Unity's Involvement: Game design stayed stable and consistent throughout development. Casino game design is largely about fairly complicated mathematic equations based on player input and flashy user feedback (for win states - there are no lose states in a casino game), and we knew from the beginning what social features were, "must haves." As such, we did not need to rapid prototype in Unity for this project, but it was still the engine of choice for the final game.
UI Design: From the beginning we wanted to go with super high chroma colours and high intensity visual feedback (2D/3D animations) as "win states."
World Design: This part was the least nailed down, and my primary function on the product.
WORLD DESIGN EXPLORATION
At the beginning of this project there was no world designed; they asked me to go completely blue sky with it, and just produce a lot of drawings, with a focus on variety and quantity over quality. In the end I produced hundreds of sketches and drawings covering at least 20 different "themes."
Eventually, I drew these:
This wowed people internally enough that it became the ultimate direction selected for the entire casino. I followed up with a map layout for the entire casino, then hundreds of prop drawings, turnarounds, colour passes, and area drawings were created.
Once this was done I was able to start creating the overall UI as well as slot and table games. With the core casino designed, it was a lot easier, as the concept art for that informed the overall direction for these.
Upon it's 2015 release on PS4 it got more than 750,000 installs in its first 3 weeks of release. It continues to be extremely popular, and has expanded far beyond its original scope.
If you've made it this far you should go check it out: http://casino.digitalleisure.com/