Greetings, traveller! My name is Stoyan Stoyanov – a name so generic my parents thought I deserve it twice. And so, my creative destiny was sealed.
Game Designer by trade, I have always had a huge focus and fascination with problem solving. This led me to physics and programming in my early years and then through narrative structures & eventually channelled me towards games – the ultimate puzzle in my eyes. Whether it be Producing and being a Lead Designer in various student/hobby projects, doing technical design work & balancing for a professional studio – or most recently handling quest design and narrative, I have always taken every new task with eagerness and excitement as I thrive on challenge! After all, creating a modern high-profile title requires an amazing collaborative effort from various disciplines where skill goes hand in hand with communication.
As a designer I seek to draw inspiration from my varied background and hobbies – in particular informing my design with my understanding and knowledge of physics and coding. Structure, numbers and logic are my secret tools – the solid foundation on which I build with creativity. Games are deceptively technical and I have always been drawn to their inner workings – what makes a Nintendo game feel so good mechanically? What numbers click together to create classics under the pretty surface? Why did Super Mario Odyssey’s movement take 6+ months to develop? Even the most visually captivating game can crumble under bad technical design decisions and in a day and age where games can look so good… it’s even more important to make sure they play well too.
This approach can be evidenced in my work – every project done with extensive research and careful attention to numerical interactions. I have had roles ranging from Producer to Design Lead to Quest Designer, eagerly taking on the task of bridging disciplines and giving order to the design process. I have also eagerly balanced gameplay systems, designed & assembled levels, implemented UI and wrote dialogue as I was eager to better myself in all possible aspects of development. There’s never too much knowledge for a designer, after all!
My Honour’s dissertation was a systematic breakdown and analysis of the “Science of Slick” or what are the psychological and numerical approaches and techniques that result in a “satisfying” core gameplay experience – a large undertaking for which I received an award & industry attention. Trying to create a framework and defined rules for terms as vague as “game feel” is a challenge that is wholly captivating to me and no doubt a natural evolution of my physics days.
In my professional career I have been responsible of enforcing standardized templates, handling documentation, balancing, analytics research, level design and aiding in designing new mechanics – alongside more creative endeavours such as writing dialogue and flavour text. Working in a large company taught me efficient workflow using industry standard tools, rapid release cycles, crunch and how important communication is for bringing a product to life. Games are made by people, after all.
Most recently I was a Quest Designer in CDPR on Cyberpunk 2077 which was a narrative-heavy position with lots of independence. My role included designing quests, creating the storyline on a detailed level (including writing dialogue and lore), and as a content owner (QD’s report to Directors directly and have little to no production oversight) coordinating various departments, creating tasks for them and guiding the entire implementation from pitch to release. As quest designers we were the “power users” of the company and the only people who had the “big picture” – knowing both the entire scope of the story, the gameplay systems and editor features. As a result, I was also involved in cross-disciplinary help (including working as Cinematic Designer), feature requests, team coordination (global passes, writing guidelines) and training interns and other colleagues in the editor and design principles. All in all, the huge degree of freedom (and responsibility!), creative control and the challenging project meant I learnt what felt like a decade’s worth in my time at the studio.
In my own spare time I have a variety of hobbies and interests. Day to day I am a firm believer of the age old healthy body, healthy mind mantra – with a love for cooking, nutrition and fitness. On evenings, I am either frantically jotting notes as I’m playing the latest games, buried in a book, expanding my absurdly large music collection or obsessively researching the latest piece of tech! When all the intensity gets too much I try and seek out new creative outlets which has led me to try a wide array of things such as learning Chinese, sword fighting and photography! I am also an avid skier with a competitive background and sucker for anything cute – dogs & alpacas preferable.