Free Realms

2009, PC and PS3

I joined Free Realms as it rebooted from a port of an existing console game to free-to-play on PC, to a full-fledged, original IP free-to-play MMORPG for kids. It was a complex design task not just because of the scope of an MMORPG and the size of the team (which peaked at 47 designers) but because we were inventing a new style of MMORPG play. Decisions like what stats to display (or even create), how inventory worked, how kids could communicate with each other, how to build a world they could navigate, etc. were an ongoing source of research and R&D. It was also important to me that activities in the game be 100% optional and neutral in terms of gender.

Key design challenges: designing systems, progression, and a world for kids as young as 8, creating a gender-neutral yet freely expressive character style and world, managing progression across vastly different activities such as combat versus cooking versus exploration.

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