Hello & Welcome

 Hi, I’m Chad Bordwell. I've been working in the game industry since 1997 and I specifically started my design career in 2000. As a designer I've shipped over 10 AAA titles, such as Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Quake4, and most recently Farcry 5.

Primarily my roles have been in game design, level design, and mission scripting. Most of my work has been for single player titles that also support cooperative game play. The majority of titles have released for Playstation, Xbox, and PC.
In 2020 I started my own company Dark Arts Development primarily to work with game developers as a contract game/level designer.  Currently I work remotely as a Senior Level Designer for Squanch games while living in Toronto Canada.




My Current Contract Information


With the start of the new year I've been contacted by many companies asking if I'm interested in new roles.  My current situation is I'm under contract with Squanch Games until March 16th.  So far they have not expressed whether they are interested in renewing the contract or not.

Although my current contract does allow me to work with other companies I've found most prefer that I work exclusively with them so until March that would not be possible.

That being said feel free to contact me if your company is interested in working with me before my contract ends or if you'd like to talk about roles starting after March 16th.  

Thanks for your interest and have a great new year!


Level Design Process

 When a project's development team gets into production mode everyone wants to jump in and start working. However there is a definite order to the process to avoid chaos and many ways that teams could end up "putting the cart in front of the horse."

Myself as a level designer there are some things I need before I can do my job and some things that get in my way if done too early.  Here is the process I enjoy working with.

1. I need the expectations for the level.  

2. What is the environment going to be? 

3. Are there missions or story points that need to be conveyed?

4. What abilities will the player have at this point?

5. What enemies or challenges are expected to be present?

5. What is the expected difficulty?

This helps paint a much clearer picture of the level and what I need to design.  Next I feel it's important to have the artist do some concepts of the environment.  What is this place going to look like?  Do the directors agree?  Is everyone happy with this look?  These concepts help establish a mood for the level as well as keep all the level designers in sync as to what the agreed upon look is.

Gather reference material.  Layouts are more believable if they reflect real life.  So find reference not to copy but also to help keep you grounded and inspire you.

Next I like to do a "paper layout." This of course doesn't need to be on paper, it can be in Sketch Up, Photoshop, Illustrator, or whatever you're comfortable and fast as using.  Once it's made get some eyes on it and see if everyone is onboard.  Keep in mind the information gathered combined with the concept art.

Then if time allows I like to build a very rough scale test in the editor to get an idea of the size of the space.  This is especially helpful when making city or urban areas.  This helps establish building sizes and the play space distances.  This can of course be done during the block out phase but it's nice if you have the time.

Next of course is the block out where we create the basic shapes and layout of the paper plan. I don't want to get into the details of how you create a successful block out, that's not what I'm going for in this article. But remember to create your sight lines, cover and other elements essential for game play.

Once the level designer has created the block out it's time to add some enemies and get "fun" happening.  Is the game play fun?  Is the cover working?  Is the space interesting to play in?  Get lots of eyes on the level.  Have lots of people play.  IF everyone is happy move on to the next step.

Once the block out is approved and fun the artists can replace the block out pieces with models and add the details to make the environment look like a real location in the game's world.

Squanch Games WON'T Be doing VR in the Next Game

Since I started working at Squanch I've been asked this question a lot.  Will the next game be VR.  Of course I wasn't allowed to talk about the project, but Squanch CEO Tanya Watson publicly gave the answer.  Nope.

There's no need for me to regurgitate the article so go read it for yourself.

Squanch Games Shelves VR

Farcry 6

Here is the project I was working on when I left Ubisoft.  In Farcry 6 you can expect the typical Farcry experience this time based in a Cuba-like world .  If you're a fan of the past Farcry games then here comes some more of it.  Glad to see people seem excited for it.

Ubisoft News & Recent Harassment Allegations

As I'm sure many of you are aware Ubisoft has had some issues come to light regarding employee allegations of harassment and poor management.  If not you can follow the link. HERE to learn more.

I worked at Ubisoft Toronto for 8 years and worked with some of the individuals in question.  That being said I do not find these allegations surprising. The writing was on the wall for a long time with this individual and no action was taken.  Seeing interactions between this person and others from the outside I couldn't tell if they were welcomed or not.  I suspected issues (from seeing him following various women around like a puppy) but I never witnessed more.  However I also didn't attended company social gatherings.

Ubisoft Toronto in my opinion spent WAY too much money on booze and parties.  They had an after hours party in the building once a month as well as individual team parties after most milestones.  With multiple team this was a lot of partying.  All parties included beer and many times hard liqueur. I rarely attended these because I had a long commute and could never see how I could party then drive the hour home.  I would much rather the money had been given as an employee bonus instead, so we all could enjoy the rewards.  Plus we now see that these parties gave potential office predators a prime hunting ground.

For me personally I found HR at Ubisoft to be a COMPLETE failure as a place to go when you're having personal or career issues.  For instance I entered the game industry to make games, not to become a manager.  However I found Ubisoft unable to handle a veteran developer uninterested in moving into management.   It seemed if you're content in your role you will be replaced.  I went to HR about these issues and look, I don't work there anymore.  Guess how that went?  Of course these issues I encountered are nothing compared to the sexual harassment others encountered working there.

So now that this dirt is all out there in the public eye, management is suddenly very concerned.  CEO Yves Guillemot made a statement about how shocked he is and how change needs to happen.  His statement HERE.

In closing I'm thrilled to no longer be employed at Ubisoft Toronto and am truly saddened to hear some of my co-workers had to endure this type of treatment daily. ALL events at Ubisoft Toronto were ravenously tweeted and posted on Instagram for the "Look how awesome we are." PR pieces.  I don't think an event would happen at UbiTor if it couldn't be part of a PR spin.  UbiTor worked hard to publicly created an image of being at the forefront of equality & LGBTQ issues in the gaming industry, but internally failed to uphold these beliefs.

UPDATE: And the news continues.  Serge and Yannis also stepped down as well as the head of HR Cecile Cornet.  Serge was the guy that made all the go/no go calls for most if not all Ubisoft titles.  Yannis was the president of Ubisoft Canada.  I would assume Cecile resigned for protecting them instead of taking action however that is just my speculation.

Read more HERE

NOTE: HR is there to help the company.  The company signs their pay checks, their job is to protect them.  They aren't there to help employees with their problems.  They're there to stop employee problems from hurting the company.  Be on your guard, question the things they say.  My girlfriend went to her company HR department about a harassment issue.  They express how important it was that she came to them and scheduled a meeting with her for the next day.  Magically she was "laid off" that afternoon.  Was it wrong and illegal?  Sure but it still happened and she didn't have the funds to fight it.  So really consider that before going to them with an issue.  I'm not saying don't address the issues with them, I'm saying be prepared.  HR is not your friend.

Time to Announce a Squanchy Career Change

I'm pretty excited to share that I have accepted  a contract role as a Senior Level Designer for Squanch Games to work on an unannounced title.  You may know Squanch Games as the company started by Justin Roiland, co-creator of Rick & Morty.  Their most recent shipped title was Trover Saves the Universe which I personally loved.

Also in more exciting news since I've chosen to work remotely here in Toronto.  Because of this I needed to start my own corporation due to international legal mumbo jumbo. So I registered one in Ontario and called Dark Arts Development Inc.  That technically this means I've also created my own game company!  So far 2020 is looking pretty exciting.

I'd also like to thank Ubisoft Toronto for inadvertently forcing me out of the dead end job doldrums I was stuck in while working there.  Making the same title again and again and again, that's the stuff which crushes your creative soul. So thanks for not caring and good luck to those still trapped in the Ubi "game factory."