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Beasts of Maravilla Island

Lead Designer

Banana Bird Studios, LLC
May 2019 - Ongoing

Beasts of Maravilla Island is a game where you play as a young explorer named Marina, who must solve puzzles using the world around her to earn the trust of the magical animals on the island of Maravilla and photograph their majesty.


Play the PC demo now!

Beasts of Maravilla Island began in the USC Advanced Games Projects program, and has since been further developed by the team now known as Banana Bird Studios and picked up by the publisher Whitethorn Games. It will be released early 2021 for PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox. Its core lies in the awe and reverence of wildlife, and our goal as a team is to capture that majesty while allowing players to have meaningful interactions with the creatures in the game. Unlike in many other games where you must damage or kill nature to progress, we focus on "shooting" through a camera, emphasizing capturing magical moments and the wonderful behaviors animals exhibit through photography.

In-Game Screenshots


My role on the team is Lead Designer, so I am in charge of leading my team of 2 designers within a larger team of 27. Our responsibility is to craft the world of Beasts Island and the meaningful interactions with the creatures that players will have on the island, all while being advocates for the player.

As Lead Designer of the indie team behind Beasts of Maravilla Island, I've delegated, guided, and worked with my team to quickly create and iterate on designs in every aspect of the game, both in-person and remotely. I made sure we all kept the player experience goals in mind and remained within the scope of the game. Furthermore, I drove my team to think in the terms of the game’s core values of conveying meaningful, non-violent interactions with animals, and of creating a low-stakes game that was still packed with the wonder of exploration and adventure. My tactile duties included creating documentation, presentations, and diagrams to effectively communicate ideas to the rest of the team, as well as designing and greyboxing levels and puzzles, and implementing technical designs using the team’s proprietary tools.

My responsibilities include:

  • Guiding the designers to quickly ideate and iterate while keeping the core pillars, player experience goals, and scope aligned with the vision of the game.

  • Designing the mechanics, levels, puzzles and animal encounters.

  • Creating documentation, presentations, and diagrams to effectively communicate our ideas to other team members and supervisors.

  • Greyboxing the world and puzzle areas using Unity and Probuilder.

  • Being able to iterate rapidly while keeping the essence of the game and the purpose of the puzzles intact.


Level Design Samples

Early Documentation Samples

New Objective List Document
Created September 2020, pre-beta, for the team's UI engineer.
The concept was a team effort between myself, our creative director, and our UX designer, but the document was made completely by myself. It is a new iteration of the Objective List, which previously lived in the pause menu.
Photo Feature Document
Created August 2019, pre-production, mainly for the engineering team, though it also contains the audio and art needs.
The design and documentation was a team effort between myself and my two designers. The final camera layout has changed much throughout the iterative process. 
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