Forces of Freedom:
What was Forces of Freedom?
For those of you that don't know, Forces of Freedom (FoF) was a team based tactical mobile shooter. It's roots and inspirations were found in games like Socom, Rainbow Six, Arma and World of Tanks, with the goal of bringing intensive tactical gunplay into a digestible mobile format, with one of the successful taglines being, Coffee Break Esports. FoF was developed for roughly 4 years, beginning as a prototype made by a handful of people and ending with over 25 million downloads and a team of over 30.
What did I do?
Initially hired in mid 2018 as a level designer and gelled with the product due to my love of shooter games and an interest in history. I quickly became involved in balancing the core systems and features of combat as well as designing new levels to get the most out of what the game had to offer. My first big release, OPERATION HIGHWAY, was an intense desert map set to the backdrop of the gulf war, with two distinct gameplay areas, a ridge which allowed players to get a height advantage over their opponents but had less cover and blindspots, and a road with a high density of cover which facilitated more close range firefights. This was my first release on a commercial product and the feedback was immense, firstly people loved it which was a great relief on my end but the change in gamplay style did find some players finding it a much more intense and stressful experience. As a team we learnt a lot about what works for our game with the community, constantly iterating and refining each level's experience to give something unique and exciting, and by the end we had 5 released maps as well as a 6th on the horizon.
I became a designer shortly after the release of OPERATION HIGHWAY, with one of my core focuses being on the consistent balancing of our roster of soldiers, the creation of new soldiers and to be a voice to the community for anything core game related. This was a fantastic experience for myself and was an opportunity to really explore my passions as a game designer. I aimed, with the help of the player experience team to do monthly updates to the roster. Balancing, testing, iterating and responding to feedback from internal team members and from the community as they would play. On top of this I designed over 20 new soldiers that were planned as part of a constant release schedule, with a designed delivery system similar to Rainbow Six: Siege, where players can view the upcoming roadmap and see when map or soldier drops were planned. This was an amazing experience as a new designer and although most of these plan soldiers never made it into the product, I learned so much from collaborating with the team to design new and interesting characters.
Not long after I became a designer on the project, myself and the lead designer approached management with a direction change. This was after multiple conversations about the metagame, release plan and live ops being over scoped and un-achievable for the team that we currently had and we need a solution, fast. We came up with a pitch detailing the switch from, tiered freemium soldiers that would be released in eras (similar to World of Tanks), to a more hero based approach, with each soldier being a named character with a narrative tying them to a period of history and allowing us to expand upon them, giving them cosmetic items that we could sell alongside the characters.
This was our biggest hurdle as a development team, although everyone agreed with the new direction for the product it took a long time to ingrain it within the team that this was the way forward. Both myself and the lead designer continued to present the vision of the product as a slow growth of characterful soldiers to become a roster of heroes, allowing each player to identify and connect to at least one.
While working on Forces of Freedom I became not just a better designer, but a better employee. I learned how to utilise many of the soft skills that make working in a team easier as well as taking on a lead role in many instances when we as a team were lacking a voice. My ability to use data to inform my design approach and to change perspective when needed allowed me to predict what the community and players would want while delivering something new at the same time. My experience at the studio was invaluable and my design skills have become more refined, being able to communicate ideas and present features in a way that tackles a need.