I started at Zynga Boston right when
Indiana Jones Adventure World, (then just called Adventure World,) was launched. I was part of the level design team, and during the 9 months I worked on the game, I created 18 new levels. During the transition to the Indiana Jones license, I also lent support on pre-existing levels.
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“Poacher Problems” was the first level I released for the game, though I took over the level when it was half-finished. I was already starting to have fun with the design; there’s a Street Fighter reference when the player sabotages a poacher’s car.
“Creepy Crypt” was the first map I took from concept to completion, as part of our Halloween release. I was playing around with more advanced goals here, as the player had to “undo” the actions taken by the villains they were trailing.
“Radio Tower” had a lot crammed into little space. Compared to what came later, this is an amazingly small map. Completing the level rewarded the tower itself for your home base, which was a big hit with players.
“Last Stand” was many player’s favorite level, and was our first experiment with player choice. (Players got a different reward based on who they talk to at the end.) You had to fend of waves of angry beasts by blowing up bridges and setting up barricades. I think most players liked that you end up blowing up most of the village by “accident.”
“Ancient Forge” was in the series that introduced Indy. I was not the first nor last to work on this level; the scramble to add Indy caused levels to change hands a few times. The final layout is my work; later changes were to scripting and dialogue.
“Path of the Pyramids” did two significant things: 1) It was the first map to use treasure rooms as building interiors, and 2) it introduced another Indy character, in this case Harold Oxley, who was in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
“The Elusive Ocelot” was attached to the Zoology Tent feature, which I designed in concert with another designer and a PM. It introduced the player to uncovering a hidden animal to collect by accomplishing specific tasks.
“The Golden Source” was the first map in the series that led up to our Egypt release. It was also the last in-game appearance of Forrestal, a character who later appeared as a skeleton in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
“The Lost Oasis” was my first map for our Egypt storyline. It created a new mechanic: positioning crocodiles in such a way that the player could run across their backs like a bridge. Very pulp adventure.
“Heart of the Queen” was a nightmare, thanks to a combination of huge energy costs from PMs and a contrived Valentine’s Day plot. It was so big it broke the game during testing. I was proud of it though, for the puzzle to raise water levels in the baths, which hadn’t been done before in our game.
“Lake of Fire” tested if a medium-sized map could meet our target energy costs without relying on “hackables.” It worked, but the combination puzzles inside fire wheels made it the map players hated most. I take a perverse pride in that.
“Easter Island” was fun, and inspired by LucasArts adventure games. The player and Indy use ventriloquism to scare away a guard, and the lines they used paid tribute to other Lucas properties like Star Wars, Monkey Island, and Fate of Atlantis.
“Valley Village” was the first Tibet map, so it needed to be impressive. A yeti stampede has knocked down the village walls, and the player must dig through debris to rescue villagers, including Marion Ravenwood, who you can see at the top left.
“Monastery Mayhem” dealt with the reason Marion was in Tibet: a thief has stolen her medallion and fled to this monastery. The medallion in question was the head of the Staff of Ra, which appeared in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
“The Great Cairo Caper” was my last map for AW. We’d done a number of maps in small villages, but never in a real city, so I figured it was a good way to go out. This map also re-used the crocodile bridge mechanic.
Getting on the plane at the end of “The Great Cairo Caper” brought the player to this familiar warehouse. I wanted to make one last callback to the series before I moved onto a new project, so the player made a quick visit to Area 51.
At Zynga Boston’s first (and only) annual Hack-a-Thon, I led a team to create a “beastie” that was larger than normal, filling a 2×2 tile space. We ended up creating the Tyrannosaurus Rex, which not only won the Hack-a-Thon, but also made it into the game.