Transformers: Heavy Metal

Heavy Metal was a geolocated mobile Transformers game. Players would ally with their favorite Autobots and venture into the world to power up, collect Mini-Cons, and defeat Decepticons.

I started working on Heavy Metal in 2019 when it was a prototype. We built our vision of a geolocated game using charming, in-house created heroes and villains (shoutout to Photosynthmo). We reskinned it with Transformers and added an AR moment of Wheeljack that my friend Steve Hoogendyk animated. We had a great trip down to San Francisco to show Niantic our prototype. I don’t recall the exact month, but Seattle had gotten so much snow I could barely make it out of my neighborhood and to the airport.

Over time I became the lead of the tech team and built it up from just a few people to more than ten. As time went on, I did fewer features and mostly did project planning, team management, and bug fixes. I felt like my best work was when the team was smaller, but I enjoyed the challenges throughout the process. I was particularly proud of the recruitment tool I built to test basic C# skills in fun package – complete with an easter egg.

After 3 years of working on HM, I’ve collected hundreds of screenshots and videos. It’s fun to see the changes and refinements over time. Here’s an early example of the map, the main screen in the game.

The rarest Mini-Con of all, Unset. Unrelated, HM was my first experience with protobufs.

Heavy Metal was the longest project I’ve ever worked on. Going that long without shipping anything was very difficult for me. Kanji Book, Downwordly, and Pine Tar Poker were outlets for me, but working more than full-time and then building creative projects on the side is a good recipe to not enjoy either. Ultimately the pandemic caused excessive harm to an already difficult project.