John Swisshelm
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Double Fine Productions


  • Mechanics Design and Scripting
  • Level Layout
  • AI Scripting

Project Highlights:

  • Time: 2 weeks
  • Team: 14 developers
  • Mouse-driven exploration
  • Sense modes: sight vs. smell and hearing
  • Two accordion song "spells"

Black Lake is an exploration-stealth prototype where you track animals through a dark forest and use an accordion to mend dreams and avoid danger.

  • Talia must track the fox to recover the mystical feather.
  • Follow fox tracks with the lantern on.
  • "Sense" sounds and smells with lantern off.
  • Play a lullaby on the accordion to put bramble foxes to sleep.
  • Follow smell trails by turning lantern off.
  • Entering the fishy dream of the fox.

Led by senior artist Levi Ryken, Black Lake was developed in two weeks for Double Fine's Amnesia Fortnight game jam in 2012.

My job was to help the team turn the already strong and distinctive art style into a playable folktale experience. The key mechanics were tracking and avoidance, using a binary "sense" system. When Talia's lantern is on, she can navigate easily and spot tracks left behind by her fox quarry. With her lantern off, however, her senses of hearing and smell are increased, letting the player find non-visual clues and be alerted of nearby danger.


2014 John Bernhelm (formerly Swisshelm)
Massive Chalice images and logos © Double Fine Productions