Hack, Slash & Backstab

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Hack, Slash & Backstab is a couch co-op game in which you fight through a dungeon crawling with enemies together with one to three friends to reach an end portal, BUT only one player can enter it and win, so while you work together to fight your way there, you need to keep an eye out for the strategic moment to “backstab” your friends and make a run for the portal—and you need to make sure no one else beats you to the punch.

My role in all this...

When development on HSB began, I was a programmer working on enemy AI, but I soon switched to working on the UI. The team and I came up with a wide variety of menu themes using the materials present in the dungeon before finally settling on the stone and weapon motif.

A lot of my menu drafts involved painting different stone and metal textures similar to the ones in the game world. I also looked into different patterns of stone and metalwork that we could take inspiration from. Andy, the director, ended up opting for a different look for the final menu design (which, in fairness, looks fantastic), so this design direction never made it past these drafts.

I was also one of the people who worked on the layout of the instructional screens. While the decision was ultimately made to expand out to four separate “books”, some of the content from my condensed versions still made the cut.

I also worked on the in-game HUD. I mocked up potential ways to show cooldowns as well as simplified icons. We ended up opting for a much simpler over-head UI, which while less immediately understood by players, was a much better use of screen space. Andy did his own version of the corner UI to match the final menus, so like the corresponding menu design direction, these drafts were the furthest this got. On the other hand, my ability icons did make it into the final game. If we had more time, I would have liked to redo them with a bit more detail to go better with the rest of Andy's art, but I am still glad they succeeded in visually conveying the different abilites.