“Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?”
in Game Design
My Role: Senior Game Designer
Studio: Blue Fang Games
Publisher: The Learning Company
Released: February 2011
Criminal mastermind Carmen Sandiego and her V.I.L.E. henchmen have launched a global crime spree, and it’s up the player to track them down. Players interview witnesses for clues about the criminal’s identity and whereabouts, fly to cities to track down leads, and finally issue an arrest warrant and put the suspect behind bars. Players have a certain number of days to complete the case, but can take shortcuts by spending Facebook Credits.
• Wrote comprehensive design specs: player leveling, game flow, monetization, etc.
• Used proprietary tools to input and manage all game data, including NPC characteristics
• Performed research related to in-game content and edited writer scripts
This project was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me. Like many in my generation, I’d grown up playing the original incarnations of Carmen Sandiego on PC. It was one of the games that my late grandfather and I bonded over. So when the chance to help design a brand new version of the game for Facebook presented itself I jumped at the opportunity.
Throughout production I wrote 10 to 12 highly detailed design specs covering a range of different features and game systems. The specs included flowcharts, photoshop mock-ups, state machine breakdowns, and spreadsheets as needed. After incorporating feedback from the Creative Director the specs were sent to the team and used as a blueprint for implementation. Features included the player leveling system, case status system, ACME database, Facebook notification, monetization, etc.
I was also responsible for working with engineering to integrate the proprietary design tool used to edit game data, update strings, track/implement in-game content, and make changes to the database. As the tool progressed I used it to populate the game with the vast amounts of data it required before launch. I also spent time researching various city locations and helped to edit and format text that was submitted by the contract writing team.
All in all, this project was a great experience and I really enjoyed the time I spent with the team working on it.