OpenAI Sonic

I was the lead freelance level designer for OpenAI’s Sonic the Hedgehog Retro Competition


The goal of the project was to develop custom courses using the level features and tilesets of the first three Sonic the Hedgehog games using a custom romhack editor. These levels would be used in time trials that teams from across the world would race machine learning bots on. These teams competed in a contest run by ethical software NGO OpenAI for international recognition in a highly visible research paper.

The primary challenge of this project was creating interesting new gameplay out of Sonic’s unique moveset. I could not reuse existing level layouts, but I could not create new objects or level features. I was required to design new challenges, puzzles, and paths that did not exist in the original game. I handled design, implementation, playtesting, and iteration over the course of a three month period.


For analysis on a basic Sonic level, please view this document.
For image-based maps of some of the levels I produced, see here.
For all level data from the OpenAI Project, please view this GitHub Repository.

You can learn more about the project, its results, and conditions in this writeup by OpenAI.