A look back at 2020

Vivianette Ocasio
3 min readJan 1, 2021

As this decade comes to a close, I’ve been thinking a lot about all the unplanned changes that occurred in my life.

Riot Games -> Phoenix Labs

For starters, I didn’t think I would leave Riot Games and look for employment during a pandemic. As I worked on more immersive experiences, I realized that my aspirational goals did not match the opportunities within Riot. I learned that I have design philosophies inspired by Walt Disney Imagineering and craved the opportunity to work on projects that allowed me to be a better UX gaming version of an imagineer. To think beyond UI and actually work collaboratively to create bespoke experiences for millions of players worldwide.

With this realization, I interviewed many game studios and found a great team that I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of and create meaningful multiplayer experiences together with. At Phoenix Labs we reimagined what it would be like for a Slayer to hunt for Behemoths in the Shattered Isles. I gained amazing mentors who are actively coaching me in areas I’ve identified I want to improve. I’ve picked up more technical skills by diving into Unreal Engine and improved my Figma and design documentation capabilities. I love working with my team and I can’t wait to see what new experiences I ship to Slayers in 2021.

My latest work can be seen in the Dauntless Reforged update, specifically Hunting Grounds, Island Events, and Slayer Links.
My latest work can be seen in the Dauntless Reforged update, specifically Hunting Grounds, Island Events, and the new player experience. Additionally, I designed and shipped the Slayer Links social feature in late summer.

We adopted Mochi!

Larry and I were feeling pretty lonely after our last fur companion passed away, so on February 16, we took a trip to the local adoption center and rescued this poodle mix. She is really sweet and LOVES to cuddle and play. She is also a little gremlin.

Having this little bundle of fur and warmth with us while we continue to socially distance has reminded us of how much happier we were when we had pets to nurture.

We saw this picture of her at the adoption site and immediately requested to meet “Katana”. It was love at first sight! Also, she didn’t like her name and didn’t respond to Katana, so we gladly switched it!

Next up: Vancouver, Canada!

When Larry accepted the offer to work at Phoenix Labs this Fall, we evaluated our plans on staying in LA vs moving to Vancouver. We understood that in order for both to grow as leaders in our fields, it would be easier or better to do so while surrounded with amazing people in a traditional studio setting, rather than staying remote permanently. Therefore, we decided to move just before the holiday season and are now happily acclimating to Vancouver life… and LOTS of rain. It really hurt to not be able to give farewell hugs and see friends before the move, but I have high hopes that we will visit often in the near future and hang out with folks after much needed Covid-19 vaccines.

First day at the Phoenix Labs HQ, embracing my new normal.

These were my biggest changes of the year and we are now at the end. I look forward to a kinder and less volatile new year, so that I can go back to focusing on personal projects, new hobbies, more games, and lots of self-care.

That’s pretty much my year!

Thanks to all the awesome people out there who have been supportive through this tough year and inspire me every day.

Vivianette Ocasio

UX Designer on @PlayDauntless at @PhoenixLabs at daytime, anime gremlin at night • Prev @riotgames • Lifelong passion for #UX and #gaming • @CGT_Purdue alum.