Month: December 2018

Artwork 3: Intervention

What I decided to do for Artwork 3 was making a poster that says “Write down your ideas! What sort of RA/RD event would you actually go to?” and a lot of blank space underneath for in order to let people write underneath. I only did this for the third floor of WVE, which was conveniently the floor I lived on, because it was where the main RA (Resident Assistant) and RD (Resident Director) office in the building are along with the only laundry room and main common area.

It was a little hard to develop the project because I don’t like to take up space or gather any attention to myself. So inspirations of how the project came to be came from From Jen and Derek’s presentation, I noticed that Tactical Media the line ‘anger is an energy’ and ‘create spaces, channels, and platforms for power reversals’. In terms of wanting anonymity, I looked at Michael Rakowitz’s parasite and decided that it’d be less stressful to leave a platform and let others use it how they choose.

Something that always irked me was that the RAs would make events that no one would be interested in and practically no one goes to and the money they’d use for that is chipped in from every resident on their floor. The RAs are nice and always say that we should email them if we have any ideas, but it’s not anonymous and that makes people uncomfortable.

I didn’t want to show myself and keep anonymous. So I decided to make project to at give people a way to write down their ideas and not interact with a human being.


The plan was to keep the poster taped on for a few days and then collect it. I taped the poster near the door of the laundry room which is close to the other areas.

Some of the things written on the paper on the first day such as “bring back the free succulents” and “pizza night, every week. (Just for our floor)(smily face)”. There were more jokey inputs, but one revealed more about problems that needed to be solved such as “free beer, hockey tickets, (I couldn’t read the last thing)” and “return my laundry dollars”.

I kinda hoped for more things written on paper due to the foot traffic to the laundry room, but then I realized that no one carries writing utensils with them when doing laundry and probably don’t want to go out of their way to get one out of their bag when dredging themselves back to their room.

If I was to do this project again. I’d pin a pen near the paper so it’d be more accessible and maybe add the words “collected in # days” like a countdown to give people some sort of urgency to put their ideas down.

Indie Game Show and Tell: Hyper Light Drifter

The game I chose for the show and tell was Heart Machine’s 2016 game Hyper Light Drifter, a 2D action role-playing game in the style of the original Legend of Zelda,

In Hyper Light Drifter, you play as a nameless wanderer, travelling through a destroyed, alien land as you attempt to complete a quest of unknown consequences. Aside from the menu, there are no words of any kind. Instead, the player is presented with alien script and beautifully rendered pixel art and have to discern for themselves  what is going on and why.

You know a few things, such as the world is destroyed, and that the player’s character is afflicted with some unknown illness that, from time to time,  causes them to cough up blood and pass out from time to time.  But what you don’t know makes the game that much more interesting.

Hyper Light Drifter is not just a game about dealing with illness (Alex Preston, the game’s director, has spoken about how the game acts as a way to express his own experiences with Congenital Heart Disease), but a game about loneliness and isolation. Aside from your floating robot companion, the only people you talk to are shop owners and travelers you meet along the way.  Most times, you are alone, trying to complete an esoteric quest by solving some unknown riddle. It can be confusing and disheartening at some points, but when you finally complete a task, you really feel like you’r fighting back against some unknowable terror in a world you don’t belong in.



Artwork 4: Hyperion (Tallest Tree)

For this last project I made a Twine game. My idea was the ecosystem of a forest, specifically that of the coast redwoods in California. You play as Hyperion, the tallest living tree in the world. There are four stats: erosion, pesticide impact, hydration, and fire risk. They grow each turn depending on which situations are randomly chosen from the links clicked. There is little autonomy, only in the form of in-between turns that reveal more text and heal  one point, which is not enough to make a difference. It plays between the normal mode of a Twine game, which is augmented story-telling, and the mode of games where your choices make a difference and you have to conserve your stats.

I decided to use this mechanic to illustrate the state of a tree: it has some processes it goes through, but it’s helpless in the face of global warming to protect itself. Writing from the point of view of an inanimate object was an interesting exercise in how they would experience things, and a switch from most games which are about the human condition, not the environmental one. (Originally there were background illustrations as well, in the form of foot prints of the animals described, but they looked weird so I got rid of them. I might add them back in as gifs.) It also became a slightly educational game, as I did a lot of research and incorporated those details into the game.

Originally the idea was that no matter what you clicked, nothing you did could change the outcome of you dying. I kept the game mostly the same through my iterations, except I added “surviving the year” as a sort of winning end state; however, if the player decides to live another year, inevitably they’ll die. I also added in the “Breathe” stages to give the player extra interaction and add more prose. I wanted to encourage replayability so that the player would cycle through all the possible disaster options.

My inspiration was many different things. Several different Twine games, including howling dogs by Porpentine, which deals with monotony, and Sentry by David Labelle, where you are in the position of a content moderator doing the same thing each day, and are sometimes inexplicably fired. Also, Romero’s The Mechanic is the Message game Síochán leat with its inevitable unwinnability which was mentioned in Works of Game. I like how the actual gameplay is what tells the story in the style of art games. I have more text than just mechanic, but the helplessness is the same; hopefully, it helps people understand more about the fragile state of the redwoods and calls them to action.

The download link is here. When you download and open it, it should open in your browser:


Artwork 4: From Above

My Final Project, From Above, is a on-rails first person shooter in which the player is tasked with destroying as many enemy targets as possible in thirty seconds, while avoiding civilians. However, the twist is that there is no distinction between enemy and civilian, and there are no consequences for destroying any potential civilian targets.

The game is very simple, and short, but it aims to address the effects of warfare upon our modern society, and the effects of modern society upon warfare. With the advent of Unmanned Arial Vehicles (UAV for short), many soldiers are now completely detached from the suffering they inflict upon people. UAV pilots can be sitting in an air conditioned office thousands of miles away while dropping bombs on civilians from thousands of feet in the air. While the player in From Above isn’t that high up, being above and away from the people you’re killing makes it seem much less personal and nasty.

As mentioned above, players are unable to distinguish between civilian and enemy targets. The main reason behind this choice, and why there’s no score or docked points on the “Mission Complete” screen, is because, much like in real life, there aren’t many immediate consequences to these actions. Despite being one of the highest funded branches of the government, the military lacks accountability. As seen during the infamous My Lai Massacre,  the military would rather try to bury a massacre than convict those responsible.

In the end, the root of problems like detachment from the battlefield and the lack of accountability is the military’s detachment from the people they’re supposed to be helping. During the Vietnam War, the US Military was ostensibly trying to help the South Vietnamese, but a lack of connection with and understanding of the Vietnamese made their mission doomed to fail. The same can be said for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, who are told that the United States is trying to help them after their village is destroyed. The player character in From Above is ostensibly there to help the unnamed people who they end up bombing.

As for inspirations for this game, two of my biggest came from very different places. The first is Kieran’s Space Invaders game, in which the only way for the players to truly win the game was to not shoot at the approaching aliens. While what the player does in From Above doesn’t really affect the final outcome, I liked the idea of a game that subverts or messes with your expectations. The second is the famous, or infamous as the case may be, “Death from Above” mission in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.  While the player character is a AC-130 pilot instead of a UAV Pilot (meaning that they’re actually inside a plane right above the battlefield), the outcome is still the same. Death is rained down from above, and there is nothing that the moving dots can do about it. It is hard to tell whether the game was trying to make this a cool moment, or was actually trying to send a message by showing how cold and dispassionate this kind of fighting is, but it’s a mission that’s always stuck with me, and many others.

intransit: Final Project Artist Statement


It’s no secret that I’m fixated on trains, especially subways. I know nothing about the technical aspects; it’s more of an interest in their aesthetics, in the nature of being between destinations combined with the grittiness and the eerie feeling many subway stations have. There’s a quote from the fiction podcast “Alice Isn’t Dead,” written by Joseph Fink, that tends to come to mind: “While it’s you who leaves a place and you who arrives at a place, it isn’t necessarily you in between.” This can be applied literally, of course, but especially metaphorically, in terms of being between phases in life and the constant change someone goes through. It’s that connection between literal and metaphorical liminality that a lot of my work and my inspiration comes from.

This game is extremely personal. I came up with the initial concept when I first started college, moving into a new phase of my life. I didn’t get a chance to work on it until now, and in a way I’m thankful because in the time since its initial conception I’ve learned a lot about transitions and moving through life and making decisions. I feel like this is a work that will never truly be finished because of this constant personal development; hence, it’s unfinished now, because I didn’t want to rush it or force any contrived endings.

There are countless inspirations for this piece. The ones from class include pretty much all of the scores of Yoko Ono and their meditative, mysterious tone. ARGs like the Jejune Institute from the film we watched and even another classmate’s final project inspire me, too, since the nature of those games is to blur the lines between fiction and reality. My work often has to do with morphing reality, even if it’s a purely fictional narrative; I write about impossible things with a root in real experiences, abstracting emotions and events to convey how they feel, rather than the literal. Anything about breaking reality appeals to me, and I’m heavily inspired by works of surrealism and horror. Media that comes to mind along those lines are the SCP Foundation, an online fictional scientific wiki about strange things and places,  and the aforementioned podcast “Alice Isn’t Dead” and other works by the writer, such as “Welcome to Night Vale.” They treat impossible, terrifying, surreal things as normal, mundane happenings. “Alice” specifically is all about using horror as very blunt metaphor for society.

In short, any work that contradicts reality as we know it and/or can serve as an allegory for life inspires me. I tried my best to capture the strange, creepy tone I love in this game while making it very clear it means more than what it’s saying literally. I look forward to developing it further.

Artwork #4: Alpha’s Test

My final project was a narrative and puzzle solving game called Alpha’s Test, in which an artificial intelligence has been tasked with creating a test that it cannot solve, sort of like a Turing test. The problem is that Alpha, the AI, cannot imagine a test it cannot also solve.

You play as a bot, a little bit of Alpha set to trying the tests and, hopefully, at least for Alpha, failing them. At the moment there are eight total tests; Readiness, Counting, Pathfinding, Motion, Accuracy, Faith, Lava, Levitation, and The Final Test. Each test works on a different principal, using different mechanics and different settings to challenge the player. The entire time, Alpha is talking to you, explaining the tests, and telling you to quit. Alpha wants you to quit more than anything, so that he can succeed. The further you go, the more “QUIT ===>” buttons there are along the walls.

Each test gets progressively harder, and eventually, Alpha realizes that you will be able to solve any test that he can make a solution to. To this end, The Final Test has no proper exit, and Alpha laughs at you as you run from zombies that spawn around you to one of the quit buttons in the room, the only way out. This is a test where the only way out is failure, and the price of failure is a reset. This specific part was inspired by a document I saw about AIs cheating the rules of their tasks to complete them, such as oscillating to create “velocity”, clipping through walls to find the exit to a maze, or mating and eating the children for energy. Alpha figures out that the only way for him to win is for there to be no way for it to win.

The game as a whole is about the frustration of attempting to do something that is above your level, a feeling that I very much identify with fairly often. Alpha cannot create something he cannot solve, and I cannot draw the images in my head as they appear, perfect and pristine. The aesthetics of the game were inspired primarily by the Magic Circle, the Stanley Parable, and the Portal games, because of their shared theme of testing and puzzles with the guidance of a snarky and sarcastic friend/potential enemy.

I can’t actually upload the world file here because wordpress won’t allow it, but email me and I can send it over if you want to play it. 🙂



Artwork #4 Expression/Experience: Drawin’ Blanks

Drawin’ Blanks

You are college students who have been assigned multiple final projects for the end of the semester. However, after many weeks of rigorous conception, multitasking, and academic heavy lifting, you are now near the end of your motivational rope, and your creative well runs dry. Faced with this frustrating plateau, your task is to “think outside the box” to generate multiple sets of good ideas. Will you slowly build on them over the course of time, or wait until the last minute hoping for inspiration to strike?


  • 4 decks of cards
  • A box
  • A timer
  • 2 players


  • Start a timer for 5 minutes
  • Place decks A and D outside of the box, leave decks B and C inside
  • Players sit adjacent from each other and take turns drawing cards from any pile
  • Each player’s goal is to obtain a set of cards of the same suite/color that add up to 10
  • When such a set is obtained, it is placed face up on the table and an additional card of that color may be placed adjacent, up for grabs by the opponent player should they have a set that requires that card. If such a card is unavailable, choose any other color and place it adjacent to the full suite.
  • The objective is to have the highest number of full sets by the end of the round, getting through all the decks as quickly as possible
  • Each deck has a specific theme/pattern that must be discovered in order to determine the best strategy

Other rules:

  • If you have 2 sets or more you must play at least one
  • Can take multiple aux cards from the opponent’s completed sets if they all complete one of your own set
  • At the end of the game, players can exchange blank cards for 1’s or draw one card for each blank they have, after which any blanks are considered worthless
  • When arranging sets at the end of the timer, players are no longer required to take turns or place down aux cards next to full sets

Deck themes:

  • Slow and steady
  • Last minute pressure
  • Progressive overload
  • The good student

Designer’s Statement

For this game I found myself scratching at the bottom of the barrel in terms of drive, both motivationally and creatively. Perhaps creative exploration within academic confines is not for me. My original idea was going to be a game called “wall jump” based on a singular, fast-paced twitch mechanic that handles movement and combat, but I was hard-pressed to find the time to learn Unity in order to develop it fully.

By my second iteration I had had a conversation with the victim of my previous artwork, Seven Siegel, and expressed to him my inability to think of (or at least give energy to thinking of) truly meaningful great ideas. I told him that I was “drawing blanks” and having trouble “thinking outside of the box”, and that I don’t like to settle for mediocre concepts fo the sake of a grade, usually leaving me either empty-handed or scrambling for inspiration at the last minute. He looked at me with a face that said I had just answered my own question, saying “I dunno drawing blanks, thinking outside the box? Sounds like you got plenty there” and in a moment of inspiration, I figured out how to convey my plight. That night I went home and put an ironic amount of effort into something that was supposed to be and feel half-assed.


The end result was a surrealist expression of different themed approaches to “the crunch” or needing to tap into one’s creative center in general. Sharp mentions conceptual affordances and how they can be manipulated in order to subvert what is and isn’t possible and create something entirely unique and engaging for its own reasons. For this assignment, I dug deep to twist the traditionally accepted conceptual affordances of card games; instead of the assurance that every hand is going to BE something, most hands are quite nothing. This, combined with the overall game-feel is ultimately evocative of an art game that doesn’t feel like a game. It feels like a struggle.

P.S. I have been getting an HTTP error every time I try to upload images to this post. I will try to fix it, but for now here are some imgur links.

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Artwork 4: The Monotony

For my final project, I knew what topic I wanted to do. Something that’s consistently been on my mind since I started college – monotony. It’s honestly my greatest fear – ending up in a cycle of just boring-ness every day. I don’t want to go to a dead-end job from 9-5 doing something completely unrelated to what I want to do just to go back and do it the next day. Therefore, I wanted to make a game based around the concept of “breaking the cycle.”

I found inspiration in several places, but mainly three. The first was a fellow classmate’s project, Kieran Sheldon’s “Fathom Society” ARG. In it, Miriam speaks of questioning the world around you, of poking holes in the universe, and of finding new realities. This tied in very well with my theme, as I wanted to experiment with finding new realities instead of consistently seeing the same one. The second was an ARG we learned about in class, the Jejune Institute ARG. In it, once again, we see a high focus on odd occurrences and off seeing the world around us in a different light. I wanted to channel the feelings of mystery and wonder it gave its participants into my own game. In it, the lines between reality and fiction are often blurred, so I wanted to create a game that distinctly makes the character wonder if what they see is real. The third main inspiration was a game titled “Every Day the Same Dream,” a small game based around the exact same fear I have in the future. In it, a man wakes up, goes to work in a cubicle like all the other wage slaves around him, goes home, and repeats. If you go far enough, you can make it on the roof, where you’re prompted with “Jump.” However, doing so puts you right back where you were, implying a cyclical hell. My desire to avoid this is what prompted me to try and make something that does so, and breaks that cycle. I also took inspiration from random other sources for various aspects of the game, such as Sword Art Online and Divergent.

As for the game’s medium, I eventually settled on making a Minecraft adventure map. I did this because I believe the game’s aim cannot be expressed well as a tabletop game, and because I don’t have the coding or artistic skill to make the game work in a traditional, coding based environment. Therefore, I chose something I do know how to work in well, Minecraft. It took a lot of Command Blocks and Redstone, but it serves its purpose well, at least I believe.

The game acts as an unofficial sequel of sorts to Kieran’s ARG. It takes place long after the events of our class, and you learn what has happened in the meantime, as well as the origins of Miriam and the Fathom Society.

I’ve linked a video of the map being played, as the world file is too big for WordPress.

Ed Sheeran “Photograph” vs. Matt Cardle “Amazing”

My choice for the appropriation show and tell ended up being the use of notes and rhythms by Ed Sheeran in “Photograph”, copying Matt Cardle’s “Amazing.” In it, you can clearly hear the same note pattern from Cardle’s song in Sheeran’s, just sped up and an octave higher.

Here is a video playing the chorus side-by-side with each other, and you can clearly hear the resemblance:

I’m very interested by this because it seems to be one of those “big fish vs. little fish” battles. Matt Cardle, a former X-Factor winner, is not nearly as big as Sheeran is. Sheeran can easily win this battle popularity wise, as people won’t pay nearly as much attention to Cardle’s song. A lawsuit was filed over this by Cardle, which was settled out of court for $20 million.

This, to me, seemed suspect. Sheeran has the resources and the money to fight this and probably win out of sheer money and power alone, but he decides to concede. In my opinion, this seems to be an admission of guilt by Sheeran. It also sort of makes you wonder: did he expect a lawsuit out of Cardle? Did he include the bit knowing full well that he had the money to pay whatever Cardle wanted and still turn a massive profit off of it? These sort of situations beckon these questions, questions that likely will never be answered.

Indie Game Show and Tell

The game I’d like to present is “Limbo”, a 2D platformer released by an indie company called “Playdead”. This game tells a story through very minimalistic visuals and gameplay, but with the few things this game does, it does very well. For example, the game’s color palette is merely black and white, with a shadow-box/silhouette kind of aesthetic, but the amount of detail the game provides through other means such as dust clouds or inertia is incredible. Because a player’s focus is drawn away from the normal things eyes gravitate towards, they are able to notice the more minute things that really pull together how believable an environment is. The game also does not give you a direct narrative, but rather incorporates that through small interactions of nuances in the visuals.

Limbo does an excellent job of creating a game with a captivating world through very unconventional methods, and overall I enjoyed playing and replaying each stage of the game. It was a refreshing take on platformers, and I would definitely recommend others to play this game.

Image result for limbo