Meet the Dev Team: Luke Sigmund, Lead Systems Designer

Welcome to the latest installment of our Defiance “Meet the Dev” series, where we introduce you to members of the Defiance team and share a bit about who they are and what they do. This time we’re talking with senior game designer, Luke Sigmund.

Elizabeth Tobey: Let’s start with your name, title, and how long you’ve been at Trion.

Luke Sigmund: My name is Luke Sigmund, and I’m Lead Systems Designer. I worked on RIFT for about a year, and I’ve been here on Defiance for about six months. I was at our studio in Redwood Shores before moving to the San Diego studio.

Elizabeth: What’s it like working in different studios?

Luke: It’s pretty similar, actually. I like it better down here because San Diego is warmer and cheaper. But working on RIFT was really great, and all the people up there are awesome. Acclimating was easy here because I worked at SOE [Sony Online Entertainment] and still know a lot of people in the area.

Elizabeth: What is your overarching job on Defiance?

Luke: When I started here I was working on arkfalls, which are dynamic content sequences that spin up in the world. Arkfalls include really big boss fights, hellbugs, stuff that emerges from pieces of Votan ships that fall out of the sky, things like that. I created big dynamic events that basically take over a zone. So day-to-day I was prototyping stuff to see what’s really fun and what isn’t, and moving from there.

Now I oversee the Systems team making sure all the itemization, balance, UI, AI, and all that gets done and meets the goals we’ve set out.

Elizabeth: What is “fun” is so subjective ‑ can you define the art and science of determining what is fun?

Luke: We start with the core player experience we’re trying to build, and we say, “All right, we want a player to be able to play these events a bunch of times without it getting repetitive or boring.” Then the process begins: I make something, play it a bunch of times and see if it feels stiff or too familiar. If it’s not matching up I say, “OK, what can make that better?” It’s a really iterative process.

Elizabeth: Have there been any parts of the game you’ve needed to change completely or decided to scrap?

Luke: Scrapped is a strong word, but right now we are actually overhauling the way we do itemization and weapon stats to get more overall variety and more balanced play experience.

Elizabeth: What’s the coolest thing you’ve done so far?

Luke: This might be kind of nerdy, but I’ve been overseeing HanSoft, which is the project management software. Getting the design team working in HanSoft has been the coolest thing I’ve done to date. I lay out everything and HanSoft provides us an overall vision of all the stuff we have to make and how long it’s going to take. That feels really good.

Elizabeth: What’s it like working at Trion?

Luke: It’s great. All the people here are really nice and everyone’s really welcoming. Everybody here is pretty senior – they’ve worked in the industry for a long time – so you get to meet a lot of people with different perspectives, different experience. Across the design team, people have worked on games that I really, really liked, and not just games that I also worked on.

Elizabeth: What games are you currently playing, besides Defiance?

Luke: I’m playing League of Legends, mainly, because it takes all my time.

Elizabeth: So how about when you’re not making games or playing League of Legends?

Luke: I have three dogs, two boxers and a miniature pinscher, so my fiancée and I spend most of our time training them and hiking and hanging out with them. We also started organic farming in our back yard, so we have this big plot of crops. We’re growing squash, cucumbers, carrots, and green beans. We were growing baby spinach, but the cucumbers killed them. We bought a bunch of seeds so we grew everything from scratch, and now it’s like the squash plant is prehistoric size, it’s gigantic. The leaf is bigger than my head. It’s unbelievable. I’m going to get some overalls though, so I’m like a real serious farmer. It’s important, I think, to look the part.

Elizabeth: Well that’s all I’ve got. Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions.

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