Thanks for joining us today in our team highlight series! We'd like to welcome Brandon Yuan to the team! Brandon is a Level Designer and working on our latest game, Path of Kami.
This interview is conducted by Steven Seidman, a Narrative Designer at Captilight. Steven: Brandon! You’re here, how have you been getting adjusted?
Brandon: I’ve been doing well, I’m happy to be apart of this and looking forward to the project.
Steven: Awesome, being one of our newer members I’m sure you’re shocked you’re doing an interview so soon.
Brandon: I wasn’t expecting to, but I think it will be fun.
Steven: Oh, it will be. It… will… be…
(Brandon looks around nervously noticing the room is windowless)
Steven: Okay, so tell us Brandon who you are?
Brandon: Uh, well I actually struggled a lot with this question. You see, I just graduated as a level designer, but in the past, you would’ve found me doing gameplay programming and systems design. Even further back you would’ve seen me making an art portfolio or trying to become an inventor.
Steven: A mixed bag. Why level design?
Brandon: I find level design gives me an excuse to draw from this varied patchwork of knowledge I’ve gather throughout my life. It’s actually how I first got into making stuff for games. While I dreamed up impractical and foolishly impossible inventions in middle school, I was also messing around in the editor for Starcraft Brood War.
Steven: That reminds me of when I was a kid, with writing. Always dreaming the impossible.
What inspires you to want to make games?
Brandon: The act of creating fun in on itself is what ultimately drives me. I want to make content that engages people… I’ll know I’ve made it when something I’ve worked on has a meme happy fandom behind it. I don’t even have to be creative on the team, just involved.
Steven: What excites you about Path of Kami? Inspiration, your thought process?
Brandon: Well this is the first team I’ve joined outside of school! Working in a professional team itself is its own wellspring of excitement for me, but ultimately, it’s going to be seeing my levels help bring the game’s vision into reality.
I look at Spyro, Breath of the Wild, and Okami as I design levels for this project. It’s a cool learning experience trying to see how they integrate their mechanics and encounters into their respective worlds. I also have been grabbing inspiration from movies like The Last Samurai and some of Kurosawa’s films, with their scenes helping inform the basic layout as well as the composition of areas from the player’s point of view.
Steven: How did you get involved with Captilight?
Brandon: I was… receiving rejection after rejection, and with the pandemic taking away more opportunities I fell into somewhat of a moping state. One day I spotted Captilight’s positing for Level Design Internship, and seeing it was remote was great for my situation, so I clawed out of my stupor and jumped on that.
Steven: So, in 10 years, you’ll be talking about your origin story in an interview and you’ll be like that was the day it all changed…
Brandon: Haha, yeah, I like your optimism.
Steven: What gets you up in the morning?
Brandon: My alarm… Mostly… And… Imagining how my lunch is going to taste.
Steven: How’s it going to taste?
Brandon: My mom’s probably going to judge my health choices, so I’m not gonna say.
Steven: Ah, so it’s a personal taste.
Brandon: Haha, yeah you could say that.
Steven: I try, haha. Two final questions Brandon. Which character do you feel the most for?
Brandon: I’m actually really excited about the Wisp, which would be cool to see how her relationship is with Akatsu and how its dialogue hints at its true nature 😉.
Steven: and finally, what advice would you give to someone wanting to work in the games industry?
Brandon: I’m no guru since I’m still fresh out of college. If I would say there’s one thing that’s important it’s research. This industry is difficult and a lot of starry-eyed people go into it without knowing how much work it is. You can have passion and dreams, but you need to also ground yourself with realistic expectations of the industry, and have a strong work ethic and persistence.
It’s also important to keep your chin up. I’m still learning how to do this one. It’s super, super easy to be discouraged and feel like you’re not cut out for the industry when you get a lot of rejections, but if you keep at it you will eventually get there!
Steven: Brandon, thank you so much for coming down and doing this interview.
Brandon: No problem, I do have one question though.
Steven: What’s up?
Brandon: What’s with this windowless room?
Steven: Oh! This is the level design room and we were waiting for a level designer to decorate it, it’s windowless and empty because we wanted to create that blank slate feeling. You can add windows.
Brandon: I’m going to need more than an editor to smash some windows into this place. You got a hammer?
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