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    I make interactive things.


    gamer / developer / designer

    I'm a Game Designer focused on systems design in either a multiplayer and narrative context.


    I'm currently working on an unannounced title at Wildlight Entertainment. I made game modes and core systems on Apex Legends for almost 3 years, ultimately leading the game modes pod and creating roadmaps for modes strategy.


    I graduated from USC in 2019 with a degree in Computer Science (Games) with a minor in Screenwriting. I'm an avid player of just about anything - from Cities: Skylines to Grand Theft Auto to Kentucky Route Zero to Pandemic.


    Along with a background in programming C++ and Java across games, mobile projects, and standalone applications, I have experience in game and UX design - both on the board and on the screen. Particularly, I'm a sucker for design that facilitates player-driven stories or fast-paced, competitive gameplay. Also, I love film dearly, and have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of TV. Ask me about my turntable and slowly growing vinyl collection.


    Here's a few games where I had a prominent role in Programming + Design + Project Management

    Apex Legends

    Game Modes and Core Systems Design


    Apex Legends is a live service Battle Royale developed by Respawn Entertainment. I joined the team shortly before the launch of Season 2 (Battle Charge) and contributed to updates through Season 12 (Defiance), primarily focusing on game modes for Limited Time Events, as well as contributing some core systems.


    Over the course of my time working with the Apex Legends Design team, I grew my responsibilities to prototyping and shipping larger features with significant iterative playtest and minimal guidance from leadership. In my last 6 months with the team I oversaw a pod of designers, producers, and content departments dedicated to producing new game modes.


    Project Responsibilities:

    • Planned modes with game director and design director for Limited Time Collection and Thematic Events to drive player engagement and retention during keys parts of each season with compelling and novel gameplay dynamics
    • Prototyped, pitched, and iterated in production on numerous features within Apex
      • Solos, Duos, Armed and Dangerous, Winter Express, Always Be Closing, Battle Armor, Flashpoint, Control
      • Crafting System, Trident Vehicles
      • Identified modes as an opportunity for testing proposed meta changes in a live environment which resulted in meaningful gameplay changes being integrated into the core game - such as the evolving armor only meta
      • Coordinated with content departments to bring modes to shippable quality as the design vision holder for the feature
    • Oversaw a pod dedicated to prototyping and producing LTMs and other experimental modes, as well as maintaining recurring seasonal modes and Arenas
      • Created a roadmap focused on producing foundational modes with high replayability that could be expanded with additional content in the future
      • Worked with a senior producer to balance creation of new modes while also supporting legacy mode content and maintaining a seasonal release cadence
      • Identified and targeted mode production for a casual audience that is not currently engaging with the more competitive slate of permanent modes in Apex (Battle Royale and Arenas)
      • Guided other designers in prototyping and iterating on new mode concepts
      • Coordinated modes content with team directors and other stakeholders


    Highlight - Control Mode (2022)


    In late 2020 I began prototyping a mode for Apex that was designed to create a casual, low-stakes combat environment where players could practice core skills in Apex like character abilities and gunplay. Originally we planned to make a TDM, but eventually gravitated to an objective-based mode to give players more extrinsic goals and provide the opportunity for different gameplay dynamics and replayability. We wanted to be mindful and create something with a reasonable pace and combat density that felt different from the core Apex experience, but wouldn't cause players to churn from high mental load.


    Control was a significant departure from the other modes in Apex and required a number of systems to be built from the ground up. We took lessons learned from creating Winter Express to create a more versatile objective and scoring system, and attempted to evoke games like Battlefield and Halo with the spawn system and introduction of vehicles into infantry gameplay. We repurposed sections of the BR maps to keep level design and environment art content to a minimum while also building systems that would allow level designers to add cover and other map toys that would exist in Control but not in other modes to improve the gameplay experience.


    The timed event system arose out of a desire to direct players attention to specific objectives and break them out of defending loops that may leave them out of the most interesting moments of combat. By placing point bonuses on specific objectives, the design intent was for players to focus their combat on specific objectives and create large team battle that made Control feel unique. This system was extended into a framework for introducing new gameplay dynamics mid-match such as airdrops that supply powerful weapons. The intent is that this framework will be extended with new timed events, and once it grows enough, for random subsets of timed events to be chosen to make each match feel unique.


    Once the mode was approaching production, I was joined by game designer David Swieczko and UX designer Jamile Marcellino to iterate on the loadout system, looting and weapon meta, as well as UI/UX.


    Highlight - Winter Express (2019, 2020)


    Before Winter Express, most LTMs we created were variants of the core BR ruleset, whereas Winter Express was our first mode that was radically different. The original pitch was KOTH on a moving train. However, in our initial tests - where the train was always moving and the point was always active, capturing the train was almost impossible and there were teething issues like managing your loadout. From this first iteration the framework for the actual mode formed - inspired by Rainbow Six Siege, the game would be broken into objective-based rounds with one life rules. The moving train would become a mechanism for changing the combat space with each round, as well as give time for each squad to reposition and plan their approach. Designer Roger Abrahamsson would join me to polish the spawn system, and designer Jake Keating would provide us with a method for player to catch up to the train - the jump pads. Level Designer Rodney Reece would work with me to create compelling combat spaces at each train stop.


    In 2020, we planned to bring the mode back with significant changes based on player feedback. The core piece of feedback we addressed was players complaining about long respawn times. While we didn't alter round behavior, we made sure that the downtime between rounds was decreased by adding a new station to decrease travel time and adjusting the track layout. We also introduced the hovertanks from King's Canyon as a respawning location for teams that would allow them to keep up with the train as it repositioned in addition to a respawn orientation sequence that would make the respawn process feel faster event if player input didn't activate until necessary.

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    Highlight - Crafting (2020)

    Crafting was my first opportunity to introduce a new system to the core gameplay of Apex. I'm a more casual player so I wanted to build a system that would allow me to build a loadout that could give me a fighting chance in late game combat, but do so through reinforcing gameplay loops related to exploration and rotations as opposed to combat. The situation I was trying to solve was that the better you were at killing other players, the better gear you got since it would gradually collect in the loadouts of killers.


    Collecting crafting currency was introduced at random POIs around each map to encourage players to rotate in unique ways while they were engaging with the crafting system, and Replicators were placed in proximity to allow players to redeem them once they'd collected enough. Some weapons were made crafting exclusive on rotation to drive engagement and also counteract randomness in an effort to encourage competitive play. This system was also a learning experience in tuning a currency and resource economy using data and qualitative feedback as drivers.


    At the same time, we were testing replacing all armor in the game with evolving armor, which would grow in power as you dealt more damage. This provided an opportunity to integrate crafting more deeply into our core looting loop. Before, armor power would be driven by randomness depending on what you found in loot. With the introduction of evolving armor, players could grow armor power by being skilled in combat. With the introduction of evolving armor upgrades in the crafting system, we could also reward players with armor power through the skills of navigation and pathfinding - effectively taking a system based on randomness and providing multiple paths to growth and victory for our players with a system redesign.


    Highlight - Flashpoint LTM (2022)

    Flashpoint is an LTM that removes healing resources from the mode and drives players to engage in "Flashpoints" - specific areas of the map where players could auto-heal but also expect to find other players to engage with in combat. This mode had a lot of trouble finding it's footing as we struggled to define the kind of gameplay experience it was offering. Originally it was intended as part of a "hardcore" Apex with limited healing around "campfires" and the introduction of features like fall damage. At one point it was proposed as part of a mode where players would fight in an area of the map covered in snow and would take persistent damage unless they were near a "campfire," inspired by survival games. As we tried various prototypes and struggled to find something that worked, it was clear the core was the auto-healing the "campfires" provided and we started looking for ways to reinforce that.


    Instead of trying to create a more difficult gameplay dynamic, we explored alternate dynamics the auto-healing could provide. Inspired by Battlefield 3, which had automatic health regeneration, we instead explored how auto-healing could create combat in Apex where disengaging and flanking was possible without having to hide and heal manually. Healing in Flashpoint didn't require you to stow your weapon so you could stay in the fight and fight back even as you were hit. The campfires grew in size to cover entire POIs and we leaned into the dynamic of creating healing zones with fierce combat. We integrated Always Be Closing circle rules to keep players moving from flashpoint to flashpoint, and pushing for tense moment sin those rotations since players would be left exposed without healing outside of these zones. Finally, we telegraphed which zone the circle would close on so players with defensive legends could set up and fortify areas in advance to try and get an advantage in late-game combat.


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    You can read about or hear me discuss some of the features I worked on here:


    Dev Blog - Crafting (Season 6 - Boosted)



    Dev Blog - Winter Express 2020 (Season 7 - Ascension)



    Dev Blog - Control Mode (Season 12 - Defiance)



    Devstream - Crafting (Season 6 - Boosted)



    Devstream - Flashpoint LTM (Season 6 - Boosted)



    Platform: Steam, Origin, Xbox One/X/S, PS4/5, Nintendo Switch

    Engine: ReSource (Propreitary)

    Languages: RespawnScript

    Date: May 2019 - February 2022








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    A unique aerial combat game for virtual reality.

    Awarded Mashable's Best of E3 2019 Award

    Showcased with Indiecade


    "by far the best defense for how VR might still redefine the future of play"

    "almost rivals the instinctual simplicity of the iPhone's touch mechanic"

    "inspires some of the most visceral embodied sensations I've ever experienced in VR"

    - Mashable


    "The playing field and mechanics gave me a true sense of immersion, competition and intensity"

    - UploadVR


    Ascend is a first-person VR arena shooter where you rise to greatness in a crucible of visceral and kinetic aerial combat. Rise above your enemies through intense engagements and leverage the power of VR with our unique lean motion system to tower above your opponents.


    The player is given control of a jetpack, which they can fly by throttling the controller and leaning in their direction of flight. This is done by dynamically estimating their lean origin, while still allowing for free movement, all while leveraging leaning to minimize motion sickness.


    Ascend is an advanced game project at USC. A large multidisciplinary team is working on the project, targeting a Steam release the Summer of 2019.


    Project Responsibilities:

    • Directed vision for a multidisciplinary team of 40 engineers, designers, artists, producers, usability, and marketing students.
    • Documented player experience goals and presented game demos and vision to large groups of stakeholders.
    • Worked with production to increase velocity and parallelize content development pipelines.
    • Developed a team culture with a focus on sustainable work hours while hitting production targets.
    • Worked closely with Engineering and Design teams to drive vision, implementation, and tuning on four warriors with unique ability sets.


    Prototype Responsibilities:

    • Iterated on locomotion controls to find a comfortable movement scheme that minimized motion sickness.
    • Integrated Photon PUN Networking API for multiplayer
    • Designed a level that takes advantage of flying afforded to the player while creating areas requiring skillful maneuvering on the part of the player.

    Here is an early gameplay demo of Icarus from early January 2019.


    Platform: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows MR

    Engine: Unity 2018

    Languages: C#

    Additional Tools: Photon PUN, Probuilder, Shader Graph, Photoshop

    Date: July 2017 - May 2019


    To demo Ascend, reach out to us at myampols@usc.edu


    You can read a feature from Mashable on Ascend here:



    You can read a feature from UploadVR on Ascend here:







    The Maestros

    A fast paced, Action-Strategy RTS where you control a commander building and transforming an army to become an unstoppable force on the battlefield.

    As part of the Maestros team, I joined as a dedicated User Interface / User Experience engineer. I joined the project as an intern with no knowledge in Flash/Scaleform or Unrealscript, and within six months, I had completed a top to bottom rehaul of the game menus and in-game HUD.


    Project Responsibilities:

    • Worked with Flash and Scaleform to rebuild and design new, user friendly, and graphically appealing interfaces
    • Integrated a brand new progression system from scratch in the UI and in any pertinent front-end code
    • Worked with our network engineer to design and integrate a new account creation system with functional user verification
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    Platform: Windows PC

    Engine: Unreal Engine + UDK

    Languages: Unrealscript, Flash, Actionscript 3

    Additional Tools: Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator

    Date: May 2016 - October 2018


    The Maestros is out now on Steam:



    "a cool concept [...] an abbreviation of the standard RTS match that incorporates the best innovations of the MOBA genre."

    - PC Gamer


    "has the potential to challenge with new dynamics of strategy [...] and it certainly adds a freshness to the concept of RTS games."
    - MMORPG.com


    "immediately fun but promisingly deep"

    - Rock, Paper, Shotgun


    A devlog about my interface design process can be found here:



    Find out more at:







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    Sky Command

    Join a friend to fly a top secret military ship behind enemy lines, while you struggle to keep the ship together under fire in this installation-based VR adventure.

    On the Sky Command team, I led User Experience and Systems Design for the team. In this role, I focused on room-scale interactions that allowed the user to engage with the space while maintaining the immersion of the experience.


    Project Responsibilities:

    • Designed and implemented elevator locomotion to enlarge playspaces while maintaining a 1:1 room footprint
    • Designed and integrated an AI companion for guiding new users through a room scale VR experience while introducing players to the game world and narrative.
    • Scripted modular, magnetic handles in VR that provide 1:1 visual feedback on user interactions while using mounted objects
    • Prototyped a modular repair system driven by atomic actions for placement by level designers

    Platform: HTC Vive

    Engine: Unity 2017

    Languages: C#

    Additional Tools: Photon PUN, Sabre CSG, VRTK, Adobe Photoshop

    Date: August 2017 - May 2018







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    A competitive 4X strategy board game where players take control of a fleet of expeditionary ships and explore the Vanguard system in a race to discover and colonize the habitable planet.

    Our game uniquely asks players to control two independent ships with their own resources as they explore a procedurally generated board that builds throughout the game. We've also built a deep card based combat system and a tailored story, both of which are tied to exploration, so as players explore the final frontier, they encounter perilous situations, quests, and build themselves into a formidable competitor on the intergalactic stage.


    Project Responsibilities:

    • Rapidly prototyped an original game concept, creating the systems that served as a baseline for the current version.
    • Led a team of specialized designers to ensure a cohesive final product with deep systems.
    • Worked with our production artist to unify our design throughout the game.
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    Additional Tools: Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator

    Date: April 2017


    Intrepid is currently testing it's third major iteration after a lengthy rebuild of our resource management, combat system, ship improvements, and the integration of 2-5 players. This prototype is still fairly new, so excuse the roughness. 


    Read our new 3.0 ruleset here:



    You can see our old ruleset and our pre-3.0 production design here:









    Here's some published research work I've co-authored.

    Making Learning Fun: An Analysis of Game Design in Science Learning Games

    UCI-ISR-14-3 / October 2014


    This paper analyzes and draws quantitative and qualitative conclusions from playtesting twenty-six science learning games. Science Learning Games are defined as games where game mechanics or play are focused on the domain of scientific research and education.


    This paper was co-authored with:

    Walt Scacchi of UCI's Institute of Virtual Environments and Computer Games

    Ryan Lim of Northwood High School


    This paper can be read here:




    Learning game design and software engineering through a game prototyping experience: a case study

    ICSE GAS 2016


    This paper builds on a case study introduced in Making Learning Fun, focusing on the design process behind a game engineered from a compiled set of best practices discovered during the analysis of science learning games.


    This paper was co-authored with:

    Walt Scacchi of UCI'S Institute of Virtual Environments and Computer Games


    This paper can be read here: