Games Development

I recently completed a Master of Science in Games and Extended Reality at Dundalk Institute of Technology.

This course was aimed at developing skills and competencies to design, develop and evaluate games and immersive user experiences with virtual (VR), augmented (AR) and mixed reality technologies. In doing so I was able to develop my skills in writing and artistic project direction though practical application to the medium of video games.

In the course of my study, I was particularly focused on developing interactive narratives, and exploring the unique aspects of games as a storytelling medium. This course also provided me with a foundation in coding (primarily C++), game engine development (using both Unreal Engine and Unity), 3D animation (Blender), and methods for managing the development pipeline for projects employing these skills.

A selection of projects I worked on during the course of my study can be seen below.

So It Goes: A Narrative Generator

Solo Project

So It Goes is a narrative generator game prototype (built for PC using Unreal Engine 4.27) in which the player is invited to explore a series of 3D environments from a first-person perspective, and find an emergent story based on text prompts.

The player makes choices to define the nature of the story, meaning that each playthrough offers a unique experience. In the current prototype there are eight levels with two key choices at each stage – leading to 4096 possible combinations. The story structure draws inspiration from Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey.

Key Project Features:

  • Player-driven narrative experience
  • First person exploration
  • Eight unique levels to explore
  • 15-20 minutes for a single playthrough
  • Narrative delivered via text pop-ups
  • Easy to use controls
  • Clear User Interface
  • Consistent visual design
  • Deployable to PC as .exe
  • Story emerges through player choice
  • Gamified Narrative – advancement requires exploration and interaction

Each level was designed to have a unique look and feel, while also complimenting the narrative elements contained within. This process employed colour theory, sound design, and also drew heavily from the hero’s journey framework in order to maximize the impact of the game on the user. The intended result was an experience where each of these elements combined to create a comprehensive experience which made use of as much of the capability of video games as a narrative medium, working with the available time and resources.

VR Reading Space

Group Project created by: Kenneth Morris, Stephen Dignam and Bernard O’Rourke

VR Reading Space is a virtual reality experience designed as a group project art the end of the second semester in our M.Sc. It has been build in Unreal Engine 4.27, primarily with PC VR in mind. My roles in this project were: Project Owner, UI/UX Designer and Narrative Designer, although with a small team all of the members had a hand in every stage of the build.

VR Reading Space is based on a simple concept: to provide the user with a peaceful, meditative space in which to engage with a poetic text. The space employs animation and interactive audio which are triggered at certain key points within our level. The idea of the experience is that the user is dropped into a peaceful forest scene and can explore to discover interactive triggers for animated text and spoken word audio of our chosen poem.

The text we have selected for this ‘The Stolen Child’ by WB Yeats. The current version is meant as a proof of concept, and it is envisaged that further development would involve employing a greater range of poetry.

The key to this experience is to create an experience in which the user can feel relaxed and comfortable. Our team aimed to build an experience that is pleasant to navigate and rewarding to explore. As such we identified certain key features, or unique selling points, which were essential to our experience: ​​​​​​​

Key Project Features

  • Strong Visual Design
  • Open ended experience that encourages exploration
  • Animations at key points
  • Triggers to activate Spoken Audio
  • Immersive audio
  • Easy to use controls
  • Clear User Interface
  • Deployable to PC as .exe
  • Runs with tethered Quest 2 headset

Escape from the Killbot Factory

Solo Project

Escape from the Killbot Factory is a short demo of a platformer game built in Unreal Engine 4.27. The project brief was to create a 3D obstacle course.

I began this project with the objective of creating a fun, challenging environment in which the player was asked to navigate a series of obstacles. The player character is a Teddy Bear, a fun, cute cartoonish avatar. The game world, in contrast, would be a potentially frightening place, and as such would be somewhere the player wanted to aid the player character to escape from. In terms of gameplay, I envisioned a fast-paced action platformer, one in which the player must use quick movement and timing to succeed.

A key element of this project is level design – the optimum route through the level is a series of escalating challenges involving moving platforms, pitfalls and roving enemies. The constantly declining battery meter serves to place a constant time limit on the player to encourage them to always be pushing forward and to take risks.


Solo Project

This short animation was an exercise in the use of Blender 3.0 to create 3D assets, environments and lighting setups, and to employ then animate these assets using the animation timeline.

The goal of this exercise was to design and animate a complicated contraption which achieved a simple objective. In my case I decided on modelling a mechanism for turning on my wireless speaker wirelessly, using elements including a vibrating phone, a golf ball, a fulcrum which launched a plastic cup, and falling dominoes.