DREAMWILLOW is a top-down 2D twin-stick shooter made by the University of Michigan's video game development club, where you resurrect your felled foes to fight alongside you in a dreamlike forest.

Development Info
  • Developed by WolverineSoft Studio
  • 3 month development cycle (09/08/2019 - 12/08/2019)
  • 30 developers
  • Unity Engine
  • PC, Mac target platforms

My Responsibilities (Lead Designer, Lead Programmer)
  • Led enemy and companion design pods
  • Designed and balanced enemy/companion systems
  • Designed and balanced levels
  • Designed other necessary game systems
    • Character movement controller
    • Interactable system
  • Held meetings with designers, artists, programmers, and audio engineers

What I'm Proud of

  • Establishing a throughline aesthetic allowed for consistent enemy designs amongst different artists
  • Set up a baseline set of enemy behaviors early on, giving pod members a lot to work with right away
  • All pod members' (not just designers) ideas were heard and discussed in designer brainstorming sessions
  • Actively updated public tasks/schedule allowed for transparency of who was working on what and how we were doing as a team
  • Events-based style of programming enabled abstract interfaces between code, audio, and animation

What I Could've Done Better

  • Took too long to establish my pods' workflow pipelines
  • Initial wishy-washy critique on art and audio just led to further complications and lost work down the line
  • Wasn't proactive enough in checking in on pod members' work or potential problems
  • Didn't enforce a content-lock on enemies until very late in development, causing for lost work
  • Enemy/companion balancing didn't happen until very late in development
  • Companion system caused terrible feedback loop
  • Animation became a big, unforeseen bottleneck, leading to lower througput of finished enemies
  • Didn't dedicate enough time to code reviews, leading to some unmanagable scripts
  • Unclear version control protocol led to git conflicts on enemy prefabs

Lessons I Learned

  • Always be proactive about reaching out to teammates on potential blockers
  • Trust in teammates to handle straight-forward critique early on to avoid lost work later on
  • Playtest more often with people outside the studio
  • Balancing is best done as an on-going process, not a last-minute task
  • A lot of ideas can be cool, but not all ideas add actual value or player choice to gameplay
  • More enemies doesn't mean more depth if they don't change how the player has to play
  • Identify bottlenecks early on so we can allocate more resources or descope when necessary

Related Links

Alex Kisil

Feel free to contact me at any time! Email is the best way to get in touch with me quickly.

Ann Arbor, MI 48105


+1 (586) 321-6151


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