My name is Paul van der Heijden, I'm a game programmer with C++ and C# experience and I've been in the industry for 1.5 years now. I began as a graduate intern with no real C++ or game development knowledge to speak of and grew past Junior Programmer to Programmer and became a contributing and productive part of the team. I'm highly motivated to succeed in what I do and it has been motivation that kept me tackling each new problem with maximum effort.
The fields of game programming I have enjoyed most are the ones related to Gameplay, AI, Online code and Physics.

In the past 1.5 years I've worked on Fairytale Fights, a title that shipped worldwide on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, along with the accompanying 'white room' teaser demo for both platforms and the episodic PlayStation Network version that shipped for the Asian territories recently. After Fairytale Fights, I've been part of redesigning key systems for a solid base layer that has been used in three large-scale prototypes.

Fairytale Fights

Fairytale Fights

Fairytale Fights is a cartoony hack & slash brawler game that shipped worldwide on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 in September 2009. It focusses on a quick pick up and play principle, allowing a friend in the room or a friend across continents to pick up a controller and immediately jump into the fray. A multitude of melee and ranged weapons and potions as well as super powerful glory attacks made for a fun game session.

It had some problems as well, the new control scheme where the right thumbstick was used for combat transformed the gameplay to consist of just randomly and constantly flicking the thumbstick. The camera view was scenic, but not very suitable for platforming jumps and caused frequent deaths, slowing the pace down dramaticly. Finally, the game lacked flow, since the entire story that was conjured up never really made it into the game. The website and the critics tell the story, but the game never does.

For this game I worked on:

  • Xbox LIVE and GameSpy online matchmaking
  • Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 platform specific requirements
  • High level gameplay code
  • Episodic version for the PlayStation Network in Asia

I also spent time on the tool chain for both artists and engineers:

  • Additions and modifications to UnrealEd
  • A performance tracking tool that communicated with UE3 to look at texture & memory usage during play sessions
  • Refactoring our custom continuous integration server to be a usable and multi-purpose tool for creating builds and disc images
Fairytale Fights Fairytale Fights Fairytale Fights

Fairytale Fights 2

After completing the Fairytale Fights patch and during my work on Fairytale Fights for the Asian territories, I've been part of redesigning and rebuilding a base layer with key features that we could then use for the next games in the IP. The goal of this layer was to provide non-game-specific features that expanded the Unreal Engine without placing any limits on what we could do with it.

The parts of this base layer I worked on are:

  • On the fly drop-in/drop-out support
  • Designing and implementing the foundation for a completely new damage handling system
  • PlayStation 3 multiprofile support
  • Adhering to Microsoft and Sony technical requirements for local and online profiles

Little Red Parachute

Little Red Parachute

One of the prototypes created after Fairytale Fights was Little Red Parachute. The basic premise here was to replace little red's riding hood with a parachute and a wingsuit and drop her out of the sky. On her way down she can score points by grabbing gems conveniently located near cliffs with cool obstacles. What started out as an idea on half a page ended up the primary focus of the studio and an impressively complete vertical slice prototype. Unfortunately the foreclosure of the company has stopped this project from seeing the light of day. I was brought in on the project a little late due to my work on the base layer, which is also used in this game.

My main task here has been to create high quality and easy to tweak free fall physics for the game. I created them to be very easy to understand for anyone maintaining the code, and very easy to tweak for the game designers toying around with the gameplay feel. The physics system includes free falling, steering, downward speed manipulation, air drafts in any direction and of any force, speed boosts and tumbling or grinding off a wall. All this has been decoupled from the animation to allow the player to experience a nice sense of going to high speed stance and then boosting down.