John Swisshelm
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Double Fine Productions


  • Tactical Combat Design
  • Strategy Systems Design
  • Level Layouts
  • UI Wireframes
  • Kickstarter Management

Project Highlights:

  • Turn-based Tactics
  • Unique 300-year strategy campaign
  • Genetics-based systems
  • 3 Core Hero Classes
  • 6 Hybrid Hero Classes
  • 7 Core NPC Types
  • Funded by a $1.2 million Kickstarter

Massive Chalice is an epic strategy game where you nurture heroic bloodlines and fight tactical battles to defend a kingdom against a 300-year invasion.

  • Heroes ready to deploy.

  • Turn based tactical combat.

  • The Caberjack: a knockback-focused melee class.

  • Brothers under attack!

  • Alchemists carry explosives into battle.

  • Strategic kingdom management.

  • Weapons and armor research can take decades.

  • Induct Sagewrights to aid research progress.

  • The Timefist punches enemies into the future!

On Massive Chalice, I designed tactical combat systems and character abilities for the core hero classes and enemies. Each hero has a skill tree with eight skills that allow for different synergies as battles rage on a tactical grid.

Using custom level building tools, I created the layouts for dozens of levels and spawning variations. I also designed elements of the strategy layer, created a suite of UI wireframes, tuned building and tech costs, and built the rules for the marriage and genetic trait systems.

Above: Massive Chalice Early Access Trailer

I was fortunate to be involved with Massive Chalice from the very beginning. Along with project lead Brad Muir and producer Anthony Vaughn, I helped create and manage a successful Kickstarter campaign. I wrote the campaign page and award tiers, posted updates and concept art, and fielded hundreds of questions from backers. I also designed a mockup of what came to be our Backer Bloodline Editor, which enabled over 2,000 backers put their families and custom sigils into the game!

"...(Hero) abilities all emphasise how important positioning is, and they all combine to create wonderful moments of tactical opportunity and exploitation.
...Across the board, Massive Chalice's enemies are interestingly designed, and their idiosyncratic abilities make for wholly unique threats and, therefore, highly engaging battles."
- GameSpot

...the system inspires a wholly unique train of strategic thought... a refreshingly unique take on both turn-based battles and ultra-long-term strategy." - GameSpot

"Yet, the fact that it makes me question the morality of my own decisions so quickly, and leaves me eagerly waiting future playthroughs in hopes of greater successes, is encouraging. I believe this could be the start of something good, and all indications thus far suggest investing in this Kickstarter was money well spent." - TechnologyTell


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