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Gaming Gourd

Scorched Earth


Gaming Gourd

Scorched Earth as my capstone project brought an end to my academic career in spectacular fashion. Throughout its 1.5 year project cycle, it saw the end of a global pandemic, multiple major life events, and the emergence of modern AI technology. It 

solidified our intentions to continue our team beyond university into our own studio, Gaming Gourd, and brought us to GDC for the first time. It pushed our skills to the limit as we created spaces to explore, experiment, and make mistakes so that we might learn as much as possible and expand our skill sets. 

When designing this capstone project for ourselves, we didn't just want to make a game. We wanted to answer the question "What does it feel like to be creating a game facing a full, multiyear long production cycle?"  In response, our capstone become just as much about learning the intracacies of game production and testing out our pipelines within our team as it was about building our prototype. Though its future is currently unclear as it remains on hold while we work on our current project, Improv Fight Night, it is one I will always look back on fondly for all that it gave to everyone involved. 

  • Producer / Co-Director - Created and maintained large production workbooks, game design documents, meetings documents, asset catelogues, and more alongside Michael Mrizek.

  • UI Specialist: Art, Design, and Programming -  Created, implemented, and animated main UI menus using Unity's UI Toolkit, including creating Editor UI tools to generate new inventory item types and manage complex trees of stats and conditions. 

  • Concept Artist and Art Pipeline Designer - Primarily created character and UI concept art; Additionally developed ethics-first AI brainstorming to concept art pipelines to help speed up the concept side of prodution and increase the sustainability of our project for our team members. 

  • 3D Artist (Secondary) - Focus on creation and implementation of various flora and background elements found throughout the prototypes, including trees, signposts, and teddybears. 

  • Thesis Co-Author - Co-Authored the 328 page Master's Thesis, Navigating Burns and Burnout in an Industry Imitation, with Michael Mrizek. This covered a wide variety of topics, including the ethical usage of AI in the production process, fostering sustainable practices in a dynamic work environment with a small team, creating space for experimentation, navigating proper representation in climate crisis topics, and much more. This thesis paper includes numerous examples of our production and documentation processes in the Appendix, starting on page 78.

  • Programmer - Focus on UI, Backend systems (Saving and Loading), and Editor tools, with work done on various other topics; Additionally, maintained coding documentation policies, training, and enforcement throughout our code base.   

  • Game Designer - General throughout the project. 

This project was created for the capstone project of the  MFA  in Games and Interactivity program at American University, and spanned 3 full semesters. 


Tech Stack

  • Dev Platform: Unity 2022.3 

  • Code Editor: Microsoft Visual Studio Code

  • Version Control: GitHub, GitHub Copilot Max, Git LFS

  • Artistic Software: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Blender 3D, Substance 3D Suite

  • Planning Workspaces: Google Drive Suite; Microsoft Office 365 - Word, PowerPoint, Excel; Atlaissan - Jira, Confluence

Development Time Frame - 1.5 years with university; estimated 2+ years for full production of concept. 

Team Size - 5

"What would you do in a wildfire?"