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DefJam Rapstar was a AAA title for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii consoles that gave the player the experience of a top Hip Hop performer.

Unlike other ‘karaoke games’ that one might find a couple of rap tracks appended to, Rapstar was solely devoted to giving the player the best and most beloved tracks available from the top Rap and Hip Hop performers ever.DefJam gave us massive support in gaining access to both current and classic hits. Our team felt strongly about putting an emphasis on scoring the user in a more natural and meaningful way than previously seen in other games.There was also the significant hope that Rapstar could be used as a crowdsourcing tool to find fresh talent. So we packed the game full of tools for recording and editing user videos that could then be uploaded to the community.  The community could view and vote on there favorites, letting the talented rise to the top.I worked with my lead, 4mm’s creative team, & Def Jam’s team to craft a videogame-ready design based on their combined visions. This included creating several distinct themes plus iterations. 3 fully approved in-engine 3D UI designs were created and implemented during the project due to evolutions in creative focus.Originally hired as a 3D artist, my lead quickly leaned on my secondary skillsets in graphic design, FX, animation, technical art, UI/UX. The experience I’d already shown on the project, led him to hand over training & oversight of our new intern to me as well.

In Rapstar, as the player shifts through the menu the camera shifts through different parts of the abstracted city. Envisioned to be a crystalline NYC that would react & light up around the player, this took quite a bit of technical work.

I borrowed TRI’s FX Lead & primary materials expert to design the shaders that would achieve this. Learning a great deal about material systems during this process allowed me to manage those tasks as his focus shifted back to TRI’s other projects.

This example of quick learning plus my reputation as a problem solver was directly cited as the cause of being drafted to the FX department when Rapstar wrapped up & all of Terminal began work on Kinect Star Wars.

  • created 3D art assets
  • created & modified the 3D city over game’s evolution
  • placed 2D, 3D, & FX assets in levels
  • designed menus
  • designed menu icons
  • designed achievement icons
  • designed tool icons
  • created 2D art assets
  • scripted & placed 2D & 3D UI assets into Infernal’s scaleform-like prototype
  • created various 2D & 3D font assets & effects
  • created, modified, & assisted with the various game FX
  • taught intern how to make game art
  • taught intern how to use TRI’s systems
  • assigned tasks
  • monitored & corrected work when needed, etc
  • handle port of all assets to PS3 & Wii
  • recreate & redesign all assets in a format the Wii could handle
  • worked with material expert to learn shader system
  • worked with material expert on player location reactive shaders
  • created materials & shaders
  • worked with coder to design 2D & 3D text & UI systems
  • created & worked with coders to implement in-game camera-based menu movement system

Developer: Terminal Reality
Release Date: October 2010
Producer(s): 4mm & DefJam
Console(s): Xbox 360, Playstation 3, & Wii
Genre: Music/Karaoke