Layton Hawkes - Game Designer

Presentations & Research

Ultimate Indie Act: From Big Company to Releasing a Game Solo


What does it really take to make a game solo? In the last year game designer Layton Hawkes made the change from a big company to one-man development team. He will present the creation story for his first title Puzzlepops! From its origins to recent launch on the App Store, and show the stats. Come and hear some of the surprising lessons learned across design, development, marketing and live-ops when you’re doing it all!

The Game Design Process: Live!

Game Connect Asia Pacific 2015

Presented in collaboration with Luke Muscat, Creative Director at Prettygreat.

"Don’t get me wrong, conferences are great. So many smart people, so much to learn. We carefully examine what people have spent the last 12 months doing, and how well they did it. Their expert solution to the problem. And it’s great. But there is another way to learn. Something I have always found to be the most powerful of all. Watching other designers work.

Sometimes they make amazing things. Often they don’t. But watching people go through the process provides another learning opportunity. What did they try? Why? What were they thinking? How would I do it differently?

Luke and Layton will talk through their design process and philosophy and then each open an envelope containing a design challenge. This won’t be set up, they will have no idea what hell they are in for. And then they have 30 minutes to talk through their process and thought process while also trying to solve it. Will it be a success? A train wreck? That’s the beauty of it. Nobody knows."

Doubling Day 7 Retention: Taking Creative Risks with Bears vs. Art

Casual Connect Asia 2015

Using examples from Halfbrick's Bears vs. Art, this session showed how the developers used split testing to increase retention and creatively free themselves from a cautious start to soft launch. After first stumbling and making small changes, they embraced a new and successful development approach. In this speech, I discussed how to avoid Halfbrick's mistakes and shared the key lessons that led us to double our day 7 metrics.

Gamesauce interviewed me about this session, games dev, inspiration and my thoughts on the what the future holds, check it out here: BALANCING THE TECHNICAL AND THE ARTISTIC

Perfecting Our Puzzles: Lessons in Level Design From Bears vs. Art

Games Dev Brisbane 2015

Using examples from the development of Halfbrick's Bears vs. Art, this talk explores the key lessons learned from designing hundreds of authored puzzles. When developing a casual game with challenges requiring critical thinking, while being widely accessible, the team needed to work smart to curb player frustration in inventive ways. We learned much about what influenced a player’s perception of difficulty, their critical decision-making, and their experience of failure and achievement. Hear how to create successful puzzles for your game using simple methods of mixing chance-based/logical reasoning mechanics, directing attention with visual cues, and creating environments of shared responsibility.

The Right Mix: Balancing Logic and Chance to Create compelling Puzzles

Casual Connect USA 2015

Using examples from the development of Halfbrick's Bears vs. Art, this talk explores the tension between the logic driven and the chance-based, randomized elements in puzzle design. We found these elements influenced a player's perception of difficulty, critical decision-making, and their experience of frustration and achievement. Hear how to create more compelling puzzles by balancing logic and chance effectively.

Visually Inspeared: Player decision-making and Visual cues

AalBorg University, Copenhagen 2011

Visually Inspeared was a directed research project undertaken at Aalborg University in 2011. The report contants a thorough investigation of visual cues, and if they are capable of effectively guiding a player towards a defined goal in a game. As game designers have a tendency to use textual feedback to inform players, it was interesting to investigate there was another solution. What difference could be seen by the change from textual to visual feedback? After an analysis focusing on important aspects of perceptual psychology, visual cues, and examples of visual feedback in current games, a prototype was designed and developed to test visual cues in effect. I managed the production of this prototype and four other team members working in Unity 3. This included tutoring and teaching important C# and level design concepts such as teaching and testing game mechanics.

The resulting tests performed on the prototype showed a strong indication that visual cues were effective and able to guide the player, as the prototype taught the game mechanics on its own, without any textual feedback systems.