I have an MS in Management from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and a BA in Game Design & Development from Quinnipiac University. In my free time I compose music and do sound design for my friends at Artii Games, an LLC we formed to release our passion projects under.
I am fascinated by audio and the role it plays in shaping our experiences. I am always training my ears and learning new tools and techniques for sound design and music composition.
Naturally, I am passionate about the design of experiences in general--game design, UX design, QA... Whenever I am interacting with a product, I am thinking very critically about every facet of the experience--dissecting it and trying to understand how each individual component is affecting me as a user.
I am currently looking for full-time employment. If you are a looking for a full-time, part-time, or contracted Sound Designer, Composer, Game Designer, or QA/UX Tester, then you have come to the right place. Be sure to download my resume or send me an email! (Both can be found in the top-right corner of this web page.)
This page contains games that I have worked on or am currently working on.
GalaxyValkyrie is the game I am currently working on with my friends at Artii Games. It is a sequel to AstroViking. While developing AstroViking, we had to make some hard decisions, cut a lot of content, and almost completely redesign the game due to time constraints. Now that we are out of school and untethered by time constraints, we are working on this passion project and creating our original vision.
Like AstroViking, GalaxyValkyrie will be a top-down shooter. However, the goal is not to simply survive waves of enemies indefinitely, rather, it is to explore procedurally generated dungeons. The upgrade skill tree is gone and replaced by a new system, where you will find Medallions throughout dungeons that grant you various buffs. Like other Rogue-likes, the game is meant to be beaten in one sitting. You have one life, and you must formulate strategies based on the random loot you find along the way. There will be permanent unlockables and achievements to encourage replaying the game many times.
Platform(s): PC (Steam), Nintendo Switch
Team Size: 4 people
I am the game's Lead Composer and Sound designer. My primary responsibility is to ensure a high-quality, aesthetically consistent soundscape. I am also composing about 95% of the game's music. We had a guest composer do a few tracks. I wrote up a sound design document for him to follow, to ensure his music fit the aesthetic of our game.
Since the scope of this project is much larger than our previous projects, we decided it would be best to purchase a sound effect library that we can all draw from as we see fit. In previous projects, I would create all the sound effects from scratch, but that just is not feasible for this project. In some instances, however, I edit the library sounds to better fit our needs--lining them up with animations and adding to them. I have also keeping a spreadsheet of all the sounds we need and all the sounds we are using.
Aside from sound, I am also contributing to micro and macro design decisions--regularly meeting with the team to discuss our thoughts. I am QA testing and playtesting, and getting my friends and family to do the same when possible.
Here is some of the music I have composed for GalaxyValkyrie.
In this video I playtest a build of the game with many new features implemented that I had not seen yet. I figured I may as well document my experience so the other members of the team can see what the game looks like through a fresh set of eyes.
Team Size: 3 people
Development Time: 3 months
I was the team's SCRUM Lead. I conducted early brainstorming sessions and helped guide the team towards an idea we could execute within our short time frame. I conducted playtests and collected feedback, which I then used to drive discussion with the team, make micro and macro design decisions, and make weekly lists of tasks on Trello. In fact, our original intention was to create this game as a Rogue-like with procedurally generated dungeons and a variety of settings... but we were receiving a lot of negative feedback from playtesters, and the team was losing motivation. With deadlines fast approaching, I held a meeting in which I proposed that we axe many of our ideas and focus on creating a simple, mechanically satisfying game. With much of the self-imposed pressure lifted off our shoulders, the team's morale was reignited. The resulting game was the endless, wave-based survival game in space (because everything is cooler in space) you see here today. We are currently developing a sequel to AstroViking that is much closer to our original vision.
I was also the game's Composer & Sound Designer. I created all of the game's music and sound effects, and did all of the sound design and mixing. I worked closely with programmer George "Andy" Mechalakos to develop an adaptive audio system in Unity that would allow us to play multiple music files at once and control their volumes through triggers in the code. By controlling the volume of multiple individual sound channels, I was able to implement music that changed depending on how many enemies are on screen, and other variable factors. When there are no enemies on screen, the "intense" instruments fade out, leaving only the "calm" instruments. When enemies start spawning, the "intense" instruments fade in, changing the feel of the music.
This is the version that plays when enemies are on screen.
This is the version that plays when all the enemies have been defeated.
This is the version that plays when the player accesses the Upgrade Menu.
This version was meant to be used in a Holiday Update that never got finished.
I composed the music for TimeTekker.
Shortly before releasing his game on steam, my friend, Ryan O'Hara, hired me to compose the music for his otherwise solo game. This was a short but incredibly fun project for me. In an effort to compose music for a "space-ninja" aesthetic, I researched traditional Japanese music. I decided to combine the sound of the koto (the national instrument of Japan) with Eastern pentatonic scales and low-bit, arcade-y sounding synths.
This page contains some of my favorite, original compositions.
I composed this for a JRPG I made with my friends as a Game Lab assignment in college. The idea was that if you stole from the shopkeeper, you would enter a boss fight with him, and this track would play--a much faster, more energetic version of the shop theme.
I composed this for a Global Game Jam game, where you played as an alien on a small, foreign planet.
I chose to have a tuba take the melody for the first section, as it is a very derpy instrument when tasked with playing melodies.
During the second section, I used the whole-tone scale, as it has always made me think of outer space for some reason.
The boss theme for our upcoming sequel to AstroViking.
In this composition I used a technique that I like to call "pseudo improv". Essentially, in this piece, I explore what it might sound like if a metal guitarist and an NES sound chip traded eights. While the chord progression may be simple, I think the constant barrage of new melodic ideas makes for a tense boss fight. Of course, there is a moment near the end of the track that calls back to the main theme of the game. I think there needs to be some part of the track that motivates the player and reminds them what they are fighting for.
The theme of the area right before the final boss.
I composed this track as if it were to be played by a string quintet. I think string quintets are fantastic at delivering tension, and this track is meant to do just that. Despite the grim melody, the galloping tempo and callback to the main theme at the end are meant to get the player in "hero mode."
The theme that plays when you encounter a shrine in one of the procedurely generated dungeons of AstroViking 2.
The shrines offer brief moments of respite in an otherwise tense and hectic game. In order to create a sense of divinity and otherworldliness, I combined the sounds of a choir and a theremin-esque synth.
The theme that plays in an icey area in AstroViking 2.
Before I began composing this piece, Ryan, our artist, showed me his concept art for the area. The image he showed me depicted a ruined, stone castle with a statue of a dragon, all covered in a dusting of snow. I thought to myself, "Okay, this is clearly a cold, lonely, but once regal place."
In order to create an atmosphere of emptiness abandonment, I chose to go light on the texture and instrumentation. Rather than some thick pad, I chose to use a quiet, electronic piano synth to provide chords. There are very few instruments playing in this piece.
In order to invoke the sense that this place was once inhabited by royalty, I used a trombone synth. When I think royalty, I always think of brass horns.
And of course, every ice level needs sleigh bells. They're the universal instrument of snow.
TimeTekker is a simple, arcade-style game, that really only has a few different screens. There is the title screen, the gameplay, and the game over screen. This is that track that plays during actual gameplay.
It was clear to me that Ryan was going for a space-ninja aesthetic, so I combined the sounds of video game-y synths with the koto, the national instrument of Japan. I also opted to use a pentatonic scale and a marching 2/4 meter, as these seem to be common elements of traditional eastern music.
The music that plays on the title screen of TimeTekker.
This page contains various audio projects I have done, either for classes or for fun.
Shortly after I graduated from QU, my former game design professor, Elena Bertozzi, hired me to do some contract audio work for her game.
I sat in one of the school's recording studios with Prof. Bertozzi and voice actor / professor Andrew Scott, where we recorded dozens of voice lines. Prof. Scott provided his voice, while Prof. Bertozzi gave him acting directions. I monitored the audio to ensure we got a clean recording. I later edited the audio in Adobe Audition, cutting it up into clips, removing noise, applying some EQ, and exporting the clips.
This is a cover I did in Pro Tools, just to get familiar with the software. Normally I use FL Studio as my DAW, just because it's the DAW I was exposed to first.
Originally, my intent was to do a cover of the Lost Woods theme from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, but when I was done with it, I thought, "You know, covers are kind of boring. Why not add something interesting to this?" So, I decided to reference the Forest Maze theme from Super Mario RPG by adapting its melody to fit in the Lost Woods theme.
I would say that this was a great way to familiarize myself with Pro Tools. I got to use multiple note input methods, the mixer, and several plugins. I also learned a lot about how DAW's interact with sound cards--as Pro Tools completely hijacked my computer's audio. Luckily, I have a dedicated sound card in my PC, as well as the sound chip on the motherboard, so I was able to give Pro Tools access to my sound card while everything else uses the on-board chip. It is getting a bit comical how many pairs of speakers I have on my desk now, though.
My first project in Game Audio, a course I took at Quinnipiac University.
The assignment was to create a narrative only through audio. I believe we were required to change environments at least once in the narrative. For example, going from an outside location to an inside location.
In my narrative, I have a silent protagonist in an RPG visit a shop. The shopkeeper tries to sell him various objects, all of which have distinct sounds to them.
The assignment was to add sound to a video clip provided by the professor.
This was my first time really thinking about panning, in the context of sound effects. Normally when you work in a game engine like Unity, you would use a plugin that allows for positional audio. This means that if an audio source is to your right, you will hear it in your right speaker. If the audio source is far away, it will sound quiet. Well, when you are manually adding all the sound to a video clip, you have to position (or pan) all of the audio yourself.
If I had more time, I would have liked to add scuff sounds as the protagonist climbs--each time he makes contact with the wall. I also would have liked to go over his footstep sounds and more meticulously sync them up.
This page is meant to be an archive for some of my blog posts from game design and UX courses.
1:02 - I show off the adaptive music I composed.
3:57 - I talk about the development of this game and my time in Quinnipiac University's Game Design program.
7:27 - I show off the poorly designed pause screen and talk about how I would change it.
0:27 - Bad Design - FL Studio
2:54 - Good Design - Nintendo GameCube Controller
5:57 - Bad Design - AstroViking's Pause Screen
8:58 - Good Design - Android OS's Settings Menu
10:08 - Good Design - Piano Keyboard
11:29 - Bad Design - Touch Screens in Cars
At first glance, you might think a video game like Super Mario Odyssey is a product, not an experience. And, yes, it is a product. But video games, due to their interactive nature, are unquestionably experiences as well.
After graduating college with a BA in Game Design and Development, the “magic” of video games was pretty much lost for me. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy video games anymore—it just means that while I am playing games, I am much more…analytical. I am constantly thinking about how the game’s systems and mechanics are affecting me. It also means that it takes a lot for a game to really capture my attention for an extended period of time.
Super Mario Odyssey (SMO) did something that no game has done in a long time for me. It brought the magic back. From the moment I started playing this game, I was hooked. I still am to this day.
SMO is a “3D platformer collectathon”. What that means is, the gameplay consists of seeing shiny objects and then going and collecting them—usually by jumping over stuff. What sets SMO apart from the rest of the games in its genre is its incredibly deep and satisfying movement and its excellent level design.
Mario has a wide variety of acrobatic moves at his disposal (complete with impactful, squashy-stretchy animations), which makes platforming feel like parkour.
The world is a playground that perfectly accommodates Mario’s moveset, with shiny collectables placed in clever locations that test your mastery over said moveset.
The “gameplay loop” essentially goes like this:
I can’t stress enough how important it is that the movement and world are…well-designed. Movement is satisfying in and of itself. All I need is an excuse to move around the world. And objects are placed perfectly so that I can always see another object off in the distance taunting me.
It is worth noting that this gameplay loop is reinforced with other gameplay loops. Actually, the above gameplay loop is merely a small part of a larger gameplay loop:
Designing a loop within a loop like this is brilliant. When you need a break from collecting things, you can go cash in your collectables for rewards and progress the game’s narrative. This helps keep the game from feeling monotonous.
Even once I had finished the game--collected all the collectables and broken the loop--I still wanted to keep playing because the movement just felt so rewarding to improve at. So, I decided to speedrun the game.
It takes a lot for a game to hold my attention like this.
Back in late January - early February there was a bit of a back-and-forth on YouTube between game design channel Extra Credits and game journalist Jim Sterling of The Jimquisition. Now, this wasn’t an official feud or anything. It was more like Extra Credits would upload a video, then, next week, Jim Sterling would upload a counter video. Then, the next week, Extra Credits would upload another video elaborating on their views from their previous video. Then, the next week, Jim Sterling would upload another counter video elaborating on his views from the previous week. I do not recall either of these content creators blatantly calling each other out, but for a time their videos were essentially presenting opposing views of an argument - the price of a AAA video game.
As an avid viewer of both Extra Credits and The Jimquisition, I remember this as an exciting time. I looked forward each week to hearing their views on this topic that matters quite a bit to me.
Extra Credits provides the perspective of someone who has actually developed games and worked in the industry. In their video, “Games Should Not Cost $60 Anymore - Inflation, Microtransactions, and Publishing - Extra Credits”, James Portnow (the writer behind Extra Credits) essentially argues that games should not cost $60 anymore, rather they should cost a lot more. Portnow estimates that games should cost $75 due to inflation alone--even more if you take into account other factors. Yet, industry executives suspect that if the price of games were to exceed $60, consumers would not want to buy anymore. Therefore, in order to stay in business, games must stay at $60 and include other streams of revenue such as DLC, microtransactions, loot boxes, etc. Portnow basically says that we must either learn to live with higher priced games or $60 games double dipping when it comes to monetization.
“But make no mistake, those really are our only two options right now.” - James Portnow (Extra Credits)
Jim Sterling presents a much more pro-consumer view, as he is not a developer, but a journalist, critic, and consumer of games. Sterling argues in his video, “Games Should Not Cost $60 Anymore (The Jimquisition)”, that AAA games should not cost $60, they should be free. He points out that monetization methods such as microtransactions and loot boxes evolved from free-to-play games. Perhaps Sterling’s most important point though is that no matter what a publisher charges for a game up front--$60, $70, $80, it doesn’t matter--they will continue to use predatory monetization methods such as season passes, loot boxes, deluxe editions, and more, regardless of price.
Now, I’ve taken game design courses. I’ve taken economics and business courses. In fact, I’ve even taken a “business of games” course. I’ve had to make granular decks and cash flow statements for hypothetical game companies, and let me tell you, it’s not easy to run a sustainable business on game sales alone. If a company is making all of their money from sales, then they essentially make all their money on the first day their game launches, and then try to live off of that money until their next game launches. What is a company to do if they do not sell as much as they estimated? At best, it throws a real monkey wrench into the dev cycle of their next game. At worst, the company goes under.
Jim Sterling himself acknowledges that a business is not just trying to make some money, it is trying to make “all the money”. If there is money left to get, a business will always try to get it. That is the whole point of a business. That said, I do not think that a business can really be faulted for trying to get money out of their customers. I think something that neither Extra Credits nor The Jimquisition really considers very much is the role that consumers play in the pricing of games.
As long as consumers are willing to pay, businesses will be willing to charge. So what does this mean? This means that if you don’t like games with predatory monetization methods, stop buying them. If you are willing to pre-order a game, or pay for loot boxes, or season passes, or whatever, then you are signaling to publishers that you are okay with these monetization methods. Game companies will continue to use these monetization methods as long as they continue to work. So if it really bothers you, stop allowing them to work.
The only AAA games I have bought in the last several years are Nintendo games. Why? Well, 1.) because I genuinely enjoy most Nintendo games, and 2.) because Nintendo does not engage in any business practices that are so bothersome to me as to push me away as a customer. This isn’t to say that Nintendo as a company is perfect; they are well-known at this point for creating artificial scarcity in their products by simply not making enough supply to meet demand, thus causing demand to seemingly increase. Yet they are somehow able to make enough money to keep on keeping on without double dipping in monetization. Take a look Sonic Forces and Super Mario Odyssey, two recent games released on the Nintendo Switch. Both games feature character customization with absolutely no microtransactions. You unlock cosmetics simply by playing the game. I very much like that I can continue to enjoy Nintendo games without constantly being badgered to fork over more money. So, as a consumer, I will continue to give Nintendo my patronage.
If there is one thing I want you to take away from this blog post, it’s that you as a consumer hold more power than you realize. Game companies must adapt to please you. Exercise your power.