Kognito Health Simulations
January 2018 – Present
Kognito is a New York City studio making branching conversation-based role-playing games. Products are designed to educate about empathetic communication skills through fun, interactive simulations.
At the studio, I split my time programming in-house development tools and writing narrative design documents for specific products.
In-House Tool Development
Kognito employs a cross-disciplinary team of designers, artists, and programmers with varied technical abilities. I build Python, web-based, and C# development tools which allow these teams to prototype designs together and to iterate revisions quickly. These tools primarily integrate with our proprietary branching game engine and Unity. My main responsibilities are to empower designers and to expedite the development cycle. I manage the workflow of these tools across design, programming, distribution, and training.
Narrative Design Documentation
Each Kognito conversation game is built within a proprietary branching game engine. This engine controls the main game loop. My task is to design and write the dialogue, flow-logic, and player feedback for conversations in this engine.
One of the most common challenges involves balancing realistic character behavior with entertaining game-play. I often write many revisions of a given script, incorporating rounds of feedback from internal and external stakeholders. While integrating feedback, I frequently face other limitations as well, including scope and timelines. Because I am toward the front of the pipeline, each narrative decision I make has a ripple effect across other development teams.
Other common challenges include assembling and debugging the flow-logic to ensure the characters’ behaviors match the intended documentation. Once voice-over audio and animation are integrated, I playtest and debug conversations to create a smooth player experience. Sometimes these changes are technical, such as client-requested features, and other times they are creative, such as patching narrative plot-holes discovered after recording is completed.