The Coalition (Xbox Game Studios, Microsoft)

From one of gaming’s most acclaimed sagas, Gears is bigger than ever, with five thrilling modes and the deepest campaign yet. With all-out war descending, Kait Diaz breaks away to uncover her connection to the enemy and discovers the true danger to Sera – herself.

The world is crumbling. Humanity’s reliance on technology has become their downfall and enemies are uniting to wipe out all survivors. As Kait you must journey across the biggest, most beautiful Gears world to uncover the origins of the Locust, and fight with your squad to protect what’s left. Play solo or with a friend in local split-screen co-op, or online co-op. Battle alongside your friends anywhere with cross-play between Xbox One and PC. Skim across glaciers, sail over deserts and descend into sunken ruins to discover the largest and most diverse Gears world ever created.

I’m currently a Game QA Analyst at The Coalition (Xbox Game Studios, Microsoft) working on Gears 5.

In my role on the Multiplayer Gameplay QA team, I’ve been responsible for the following:

  • Multiplayer Gameplay / Core Gameplay / Maps / Game Modes / Weapons / Characters / Customization testing across our Versus, Escape, Horde, and Bootcamp modes.

  • Network Testing (Owner) across our Versus, Horde, and Escape modes.

  • Art QA for the E3 2019 Hive Demo.

  • General (All) QA for the ELEAGUE Gears Summer Series Invitational build (Esports).

  • General (All) QA for the Gears 5 Versus Tech Test build.

  • Platform Specifics QA for our Xbox One, WinStore, and Steam builds.

  • Performance / Stability QA for our Versus and Escape modes.

  • Adhoc testing for our Versus, Escape, Horde, and Bootcamp modes.

  • Assisted with Localisation testing for our Versus, Horde, and Escape modes.

  • Assisted with QA tasks for our Campaign mode.

  • Assisted with Test case writing / maintaining up-to-date technical documentation for the QA team.

Gears 5 was released worldwide on September 10, 2019 for Xbox One, WinStore, and Steam.


Defiant Development

Hand of Fate 2 is a dungeon-crawler-deckbuilder that has adventurers explore a dark fantasy world built from collectible cards distributed by a magical dealer in a meta boardgame. Each overturned card reveals a new trial: third-person combat, high-risk high-reward minigames or Tabletop RPG-style decision making. I was Junior Designer on this title during my time at Defiant Development.

In my role on the Design team, I was responsible for the following:

  • The setup, appraisal and adjustment of camera rigs across 40+ combat arenas featured in the main release.

  • The sequencing of all VO content with character animations for the 'Dealer' character in the main release and Endless mode (Free DLC).

  • General game balance and difficulty scaling for core content featured in the main release and Endless mode (Free DLC).

  • QA and game testing for the main release and Endless mode (Free DLC).

  • The conception, development and release of the documentation accompanying the Hand of Fate 2: Game Master’s Toolkit (content creation toolkit).

  • Post release support directly with the Hand of Fate 2 community on a variety of platforms.

Hand of Fate 2 is now available on PC, Mac, Linux, Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch.



Heartbeat 2018 by Blushbox

{<>} is a cooperative 3-player card game about relationship maintenance that borrows mechanics from the tabletop RPG genre. Players can expect to take part in narrative authorship, character creation and development, and roleplaying. While it’s a game focused on the understanding and maintenance of relationships, we hope that it serves as a fulfilling, nurturing, and informative experience for you, your playing partner, and those who assume the role of Happenstance, a third player whose role is to author moments in your relationship.

{<>} was created in 48 hours at the Heartbeat 2018 game jam (a love, sex and romance symposium created by Blushbox). I was designer on {<>}. The game was made in partnership with Albey Amakiir, Erika Verkaaik, and Aaron Williams.

{<>} was Finalist for the ‘Excellence in Narrative’ award and Winner of the ‘Non-Digital Game’ award at the 2018 Freeplay Independent Games Festival Awards.

Download the game for free, click here!



Tiny Sail Games (SAE Institute)

G.I.A.N.T.S is a cooperative local multiplayer puzzle game for 4 players. The developers vision for the game was to combine the qualities of Journey (thatgamecompany) with the cooperation of a game such as Human Fall Flat (No Brakes Games), in an effort to deliver a hybrid experience that would be fun for a wide spectrum of players and ages.

As Project Lead I was directly responsible for directing our development team of 10 over 6 months of development; for running weekly team meetings & discussions; for keeping the project in scope in order to meet our ambitious creative milestones.

As Game Designer I was directly responsible for developing the core game concept with the team; for designing levels that complimented cooperative puzzle solving; for creating and testing gameplay flowcharts with our various gameplay interactions, these including our core game mechanics; for developing our colour blind friendly game settings; for our animated cut-scene direction, including narrative and storyboard development alongside our artists; for level art and set dressing (various); for lighting and post FX over the entire game; for design documentation (development, iteration, and management).

Our team was awarded the 'Creative Achievement Award' for the class of 2017-2018. G.I.A.N.T.S was recognized as being the best and most outstanding major project of any higher education program offered at SAE Institute (Brisbane) for the 2017-2018 year. Our game has also been featured on Kotaku AU.

Download the game for free, click here!


Freedom Through A Lens

Created for #ResistJam presented in partnership with Indie Cade

Freedom Through A Lens is a photography exploration game in a painterly visual style created for the #ResistJam. We abide to the 'Freedom of Press' diversifier, in that the game showcases press and journalism through gameplay. I was directly responsible for developing and owning the core game concept; for set creation that complimented our gameplay mechanics; for creating flowcharts for various gameplay interactions (photography hotspots); for all character dialogue writing and the final story which was all implemented using Fungus; I was external collaboration liaison working with our graphic designer/artist.

Media Highlights:

Waypoint VICE - "Picture the Surveillance State in this Game"
New Normative: Progressive Gaming - "How public demonstrations become playable"
Warpdoor - Freedom Through A Lens
FreeGamePlanet - Freedom Through A Lens
Jupiter Hadley - YouTuber and writer of Indie Games
GameJamCurator - Resist Jam: Treasure Chest #20

Download the game for free, click here!


Remnants of Celestial Giants 

Nicholas Staracek (SAE Institute)

Remnants of Celestial Giants is a photography exploration game inspired by the keywords: Remedy, Vermilion, and Parallel. In this game you will explore the remains of the past, navigating a landscape that was once home to an indigenous tribe. This land has since been abandoned and overrun by time and age. Document your findings with your disposable camera, and share them with whom, or where ever you please.

Rituals have been practiced by many ancient tribes for generations, one that has originated from the northern African region of Morocco is "Gnawa" or "Gnawi". This well preserved heritage see's the combination of ritual chanting, music, and dancing and was typically dedicated to the remedy of evil spirits and illness, as well as other aspects of prayer, healing, and in respect of their believed gods.

This was a solo project completed for the #Make-a-thing game jam. Some of the main things that I focused on with this project were to design, create and implement the VFX, Shaders and Graphics into the project that made the game visually distinct; I also iterated on an established C# code base to better suit my vision which included the implementation of a system that would post the users screenshots directly to social media.

Download the game for free, click here!


Home Grown

Nicholas Staracek (SAE Institute)

Home Grown was my first major project at university. It explores the feeling of home in the form of the player growing and caring for their own garden. I was directly responsible for the design and ownership of the core game concept; for designing and implementing our unique visual style into the Unity Engine; for all lighting, VFX, Post FX and graphics work in the Unity Engine; for scripting our core plant growth cycle for all four plant types, the day/night time cycle, the audio acceleration/pitch/volume system used for our plant growth, the companion planting system and the watering and feeding mechanics at the core of the game; I also created all of the music in the game.

Download the game for free, click here!