Brent Carr Ellison, Game Designer
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The Ghastleybriar Zoo Incident

During my time at The Guildhall at SMU, I served as Team Lead/Producer for four completed game projects. This included The Ghastleybriar Zoo Incident, a 6 month, 14 person Source (Half-Life 2) mod.

In addition to managing the team, I also wrote the original concept document, provided input and feedback on the game and level design, wrote the game's story and dialog, scripted various game elements and programmed the game's GUI in C++.


The Ghastleybriar Zoo Incident is a 3d platformer inspired by the works of Edward Gorey. The player takes on the role of zookeeper Edward Mump as he tries to recapture the animals freed by the zoo's latest attraction, the sinister Umbuggler.


Edward Mump's primary tool is his animal bag, which he uses to knock Grummies, Oddbobs and Rumpuses unconscious. The more animals he stuffs in his bag, the bigger and stronger it gets.

The gameworld is small but open, and we used the bag mechanic to gate the player's progress. Bigger locks require a bigger bag to bash through, so players could only reach the final encounter by capturing up to a certain quantity of animals.


Personality and style was the big focus on this project. We made extensive use of HDR lighting and Tim Burton-esque geometry (along with sepia colors and a film grain-filter) to create a unique look for the game.

In addition, the player is accompanied on his journey by the voice of the Zoo Director, who alternately encourages and mocks the player's progress. In the end, it turns out to be The Umbuggler along along, who bursts out of the director statue in the hub in a bid to devour Mump and all the animals he's gathered up.


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