Aqua Blast

A match-three game developed by Ember Entertainment, Inc. available on iOS and the Google Play Store.

In it, the player completes levels to restore a sprawling aquarium to its former glory.

2D Level Design Intern

• Planned and developed new level content for players of all skill levels

• Used A/B tests to revise early levels for improved player retention and conversion

• Learned and utilized Ember Entertainment's custom editor to build match-three levels

• Scripted tutorial and dialog events in Lua

• Conducted competitive research on other games in the genre

Original Levels

These levels are ones that I developed from scratch for the Gift Shop event, a limited time, reoccurring event with it's own level track. For completing all the levels in a single run of the event, players would unlock special flair for their aquariums.

Since players of all skill levels would have access to this content, I tuned these levels for a specific balance of mechanical complexity and excitement. To achieve both, I focused on giving each level a "hook" that highlighted the less-obvious aspects of the game's system in a novel way, such as the falling sand after the bomb explosion in level 16 (see below). In doing so, I strived to make these levels feel fresh while also helping players develop relevant skills for the main level track.

Gift Shop Level 16

Gift Shop Level 3

Revised Levels

The videos below show two versions of level 9 from the game's main track: the "original" version and my revision of it.

While working on Aqua Blast, one of my main tasks was to improve the player retention and conversion rate for the first 50 levels of the game.

To achieve this, I started by meeting with other members of the team to discuss a change to the order in which the game's mechanics are introduced. In the original version, "anchor chains," obstacles that lock a piece in place, are one of the first mechanics taught to the player. I hypothesized that the slowing effect this mechanic had on the early levels in the game was at least one contributing factor in the underperforming levels.

To test this, I replaced each level that used anchor chains with one that used barrels instead. These new levels went beyond just swapping the chains for the barrels, as I also designed each one to teach players a specific way in which barrels interacted with other pieces and powerups.

After running an A/B test on these and other changes to the game's early levels, my modifications proved to meaningfully increase player retention, and replaced the original versions in the main track.

Level 9 - My Revision

Level 9 - Original Version