Hello potential employer or curious browser!

My name is Marco Catena, I am a young university graduate seeking a career within a creative industry. My main passion in life is video games and have worked on many personal and educational projects associated with them. I even completed a (BA) Computer Games Design course at Teesside University, achieving 'First Class Honours'.

I consider myself to have a great sense of humour, a clear focused and motivated mind set with a passion for creating and playing video games. Other than video games I am interested in new technology, architecture, creating artwork and doodling.

Feel free to check out my work hosted on this website and you can email me at: mcatena@marcocatena.com for anything career related or even if you just want to say 'hello'!

Miscreated (PC)
I am currently a level designer on the upcoming video game ‘Miscreated’ for PC.More info coming soon.
Church Compound is a custom multiplayer map that I designed and implemented for the video game ‘Crysis 2’ (PC). The purpose of creating this map was for me to expand my portfolio work and have a greater understanding of multiplayer map design for first person shooters. I designed the map to work with most of game types available for ‘Crysis 2’. 

The map is set up to divide groups of players and giving each team their own advantage when traversing the playable space. I’ve included multiple pathways around each main area so that the player has as much freedom as possible to tackle each multiplayer objective. 

Due to the multi-layered design of the terrain I have included steps to each area of the map so that the player is encouraged to take alternative routes to objectives and areas; this gives a more dynamic feeling to the map as players take different approaches to an objective. I’ve attempted to cater to each play style to allow any player to feel comfortable playing the map; I have included sniper outposts, open direct routes for run and gun players, lots of vegetation and alternative paths for stealth players. 

From designing this map I have a greater understanding of level layouts for first person shooter multiplayer maps, and  have learnt a lot about how to correctly set up a map to allow for different play styles and also balancing the map to not allow for an unfair advantage for each player. Also I have learnt how to correctly set up multiplayer objectives in CryEngine 3 along with player boundaries and environmental design to make a fun and engaging multiplayer experience. 

The map is currently available to download now on CryDev.net:Download
(2012) Church Compound (Crysis 2 Multiplayer)
Teddy Defender is a project that I worked on during my final year at university, I was in a group with 8 other people on this project and our goal was to create a fully functioning game in 5 months to be released on the Xbox Live Indie Market Place.

Teddy Defender is a simple tower defence game where players take the role of ‘Bear’ and protect his owner ‘Jimmy’ from his nightmares that enter the bedroom whilst he sleeps. The player’s job is to place toy defences on the bedroom floor to destroy the nightmares before they infect Jimmy’s dreams.
I was the lead designer on this project and my initial job on the project was to come up with a basic concept for our game. Since we didn’t have much time on this project this process had to be done quickly, so I gave basic information about gameplay mechanics and art style to the rest of the team and allowed them to have their own input on the design process.

This was the initial sketch that I drew to show how I wanted the game to look and also highlight some gameplay which the programmers could work on and also some basic HUD elements. Little has changed in the final product.

During development I continued working on the design of the game and blocked out and created diagrams for game’s level. I went through many versions of the level layout and tested each one and discussed with other people to get their opinion on the level design.

As well as working on the game design of Teddy Defender I also designed and created the menus and the in-game HUD for the game. I wanted the menus to have the same aesthetic design throughout the game and also in keeping with the theme of children’s toys. The idea of using a glossy shine to each icon was to make them look like a toy that had been injection molded in plastic to fit with the theme of children’s toys. Since all of the player commands were for the ‘good’ side (the boy’s toys) I wanted the icons to represent that in the design of the menus and HUD.

During the development of the project I contributed to the asset creation process. I  created a few low polygon models for the scene, the sky dome model and the bedroom walls. When making the bedroom walls I left it quite empty so the artists on the team could fill the scene with their own assets.

Once all of the gameplay features were set up, the programmers provided the designers with XML files which could tweak numerous of features in the game. Everything to do with defences, enemies, the scene, enemy waves and players tokens. Each XML file contained certain properties which had values which when changed effected that entity. For example I could change the speed and health of the bat nightmare and also the amount of tokens the player receives from it. I played through the game countless times and changed the values of anything that felt off, I even let my friends play the game and got feedback from them, and asked mainly about the difficulty curve of the game.
Teddy Defender - Xbox Live Indie Market Place
Teddy Defender Official Game Blog
(2012) Teddy Defender
For my final year final year project at University I decided to create a fully functional level using CryEngine 3 and the Crysis 2 Mod SDK.
In this project I wanted to demonstrate my level design skills effectively using scripted events and also environmental design to immerse the player. I wanted the quality of the scripting and also layout and design of the sequences to be at an industry standard.

Level Back Story:
"In 1986 following what was almost a global catastrophe the government secretly offered 200 political prisoners amnesty and 1 million dollars each if they agree to help shut down and clean up the damaged nuclear reactor that has turned a once thriving city into a ghost town. They must also encase the nuclear reactor in concrete to prevent any further contamination or exposure to the city. These prisoners consist of scientists, engineers and labour workers. The latest state of the art personal protective suits and equipment together with full private follow up health care was also promised for the prisoners once the job was complete.
However  whilst they were working on the nuclear reactor the government army secretly built a huge concrete wall around the infected area to stop anyone from getting in and out of the town, since the government doesn’t have any anticipation of releasing these prisoners. Abandoned and stuck in this situation the prisoners were forced to live underground to avoid the patrolling troops and helicopters. 
The abandoned prisoners eventually discovered that there was no escape from the city and the healthy survivors decided to form a society underground in the hope of one day leaving and seeking revenge on the government. In 1995 the government then abandoned the project and left the survivors to die from radiation poisoning. Little did they know that some of the prisoners survived the radiation.
50 years later the government dispatch a surveying team to test the reactor stability and radiation levels around the area. They later discover that there is a society formed by the survivors of the restoration work in 1986 and that they have been living underground all this time. To prevent the rest of the world from discovering this government secret the survivors are hunted down by government elite troops.
You play as one of the city’s inhabitant’s and you discover a window of opportunity to escape the city after witnessing the capture and slaughter of your friends. Alone, split up from the rest of the group and hunted down by the government you must sneak past the soldiers, rescue your remaining friends, and escape.”

Overall I believe the project was a success on what I first set out to do; the design and scripting of the level is to a high standard and the level flow and progression is done well. By increasing the difficulty of the enemies and presenting the player with fresh environments and scenarios made for an interesting and engaging level design. The use of weather I felt was particularly effective as it was not only a gameplay changer but it also visually represented the progression through the level; as the player moved through the level the rain increased and thunder storms are eventually present.

I do believe the start of the level felt heavily scripted due to its incredibly linear direction from one location to the next, but I did this to guide the player through some key events in the level that helped convey the story and also the context of the players actions. Without the opening and the train station sections the level would not have any interactive context to the back story. With these sections I was able to present the player to the environment, its dangers and also the a type of home the city inhabitants might live in.

In the end I did have success by having a greater understanding of the CryEngine 3 editor and I am now much more comfortable when comes to creating environments and scripting events in the engine. From just looking into existing levels built with the engine from ‘Crysis 2’ and just looking at online documentation and resources I have taught myself how to use this program effectively. I have successfully created a level that can be played start to finish complete with scripted events to keep the player interested. It has also given me a better knowledge to how high budget first person shooters in the industry are constructed using a game engine like CryEngine 3.
Read Full Report
(2012) CryEngine 3 Project
Terra Incognita was a  group University project that I worked on which collaborated all of the 2nd Year games students into one development team to design and implement a complete video game into the ‘Unreal Engine’. Everyone who took part in the project were split up into 6 teams with each team creating a level for the game; I was in ‘Team A’ working on the first level in the game. My role within the team was a level designer, and I was tasked to design a few areas in the level as well as some extra work including cutscenes, scripting and creating  new enemy types using ‘Unreal Kismet’ and generally helping out other members within the team with tasks.

One of the areas which I worked on was a large door puzzle that the player encountered in the middle of the level. The player would firstly walk down a pathway from the ‘tribal village area’ and be confronted with large ‘Fungal Worms’ which I designed and scripted using ‘Kismet’. These enemies surprise the player by coming out of a hole in the rock and attack the player from the side and head on. These enemies were static and completely scripted using ‘Unreal Kismet’.
Once the player had worked their way through the pathway they would then find the door puzzle. In order to open the doors to continue with the level the player must turn two cranks to allow water to rotate the large gears that control the doors. However one of the cranks is missing and must be retrieved in order to open the doors. This entire puzzle was scripted using the Unreal ‘Kismet’ and ‘Matinee’ tools.

Other areas which I worked on included a cave section which the player would have fallen into and had to find a way out, I also worked on the opening to the game making ‘Matinee’ triggered sequences where the player must escape from a collapsing cave.
(2011) Terra Incognita
Alton Castle was a little personal project I started to play around with CryEngine 2’s model import system. First I modelled Alton Castle in 3Ds Max using reference images of the actual building in Alton, Staffordshire.

Once I had modelled and textured the castle I then imported it into CryEngine 2 and used the engine’s tools to build an environment to showcase the model. I used assets from the PC video game ‘Crysis’ which are already packed into CryEngine 2 to ‘dress up’ the environment.
(2011) Alton Castle
One small successful project I worked on was a game modification for the PC game ‘Crysis’. Myself and my team mates from the crymod.com community released a City map where the player must fight off enemy soldiers and download secret information from the enemy base and survive the soldiers before being extracted from the city. The player was free to choose between 0-5 marines to accompany them and also to infiltrate the base either during the day or night. The level is non liner so the player can chose how they complete the mission scenario given to them. The purpose of the map was to work with a community members AI mod and to create him an environment that would allow his Advanced AI modification to utilise the game space for tactical onslaughts and cover. 
My role within the project was a lead mapper and cutscene designer. I designed areas in the level that players could interactive with as well as placed appropriate assets in the level to make it a convincing world with fun gameplay elements. 
As a team on an online community, communication was key to make this project a success. It was very difficult to keep up with the progress of everyone in the team, so myself and the modification leader would organize meetings using online instant messaging with other team mates so we could update everyone with the latest assets, design plans and also check on progress of the other team members.
We first released the modification in September 2008 however there were a few bugs and some areas we felt were a little under developed. Since the modification was very popular, we continued to work on it as a team a few weeks after release, adding more cutscenes, assets, weapons, better lighting and other gameplay elements including a shooting range mini game. The final version of the modification was released in January 2009 as a free download with a multiplayer map version for the PC game ‘Crysis Wars’.
The modification has been download more than 10,000+ times and has been featured in a UK gaming magazine, ‘Total PC Gaming’ issue 13 and in a double page article in a German magazine ‘PC Action’ with the modification on a free DVD, which we felt as a team was a tremendous achievement.
Mod DB Page City Assault
Since the ‘Lost Dimensions’ modification that I was working on previously was never finished, I decided to use the temple level I created and convert it into a multiplayer map for ‘Crysis Wars (PC)’. The map has plenty of sniper positions and paths to different areas of the temple. I wanted to allow the player to have many tactical advantages, so there are 2 main sniper posts on either end of the map and also a mini gun at the top in an exposed area.
I released this map in 2009 with over 800 downloads so far. Island Entrance (Multiplayer Map)