Month: November 2019

Indie game show and tell: Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight is an 2d platformer by Yacht Club Games. After a very successful Kickstarter the game was released on 2014 for all platforms. The game is Mega man like where you complete levels and each with unique bosses and collecting power up. Shovel Knight uses 8-bit pixel art to give a retro feeling. Even though the game has a retro graphical style, the game feels fresh and unique. The main mechanic of Shovel Knight have you jump and uses your shovel to bounce on enemies and other stuffs. Each stage is unique and difficult to some degree the bosses is definitely the highlight. There are 8 knights/bosses, a stage before the final boss and the final boss itself. The bosses is difficult initial but with enough practices, they can be defeated without taking damage. An unique mechanic to this game is that you can destroy the checkpoints in each stages. By destroying these checkpoints you essentially make the game more difficult for yourself. If you destroy all of them in a single stage you have to redo the entire stage when you die. I heard of this game for while and I decided to watch a let’s play of it. The let’s play convinced me to get it on my 3DS. By the time I got the game there were 2 DLC already released for free. Each DLC is a full on campaign, essentially you get 3 games for the price of one. Each DLC features one of the bosses as the main protagonist. Each knight plays differently and have different mechanic to make the game feel fresh. I later found out that the DLC was decided by the fans. Yacht Club Game held a voting poll for which 3 bosses to be the playable for the DLC. This fan interaction is one of the reason as to why I love indie games. Another reason that I love indie game it’s its music. Shovel Knight has a high energy and jumpy 8-bit soundtrack. The main composer of Shovel Knight is Jake Kaufman who is also responsible for the soundtrack of another famous indie game: Shantae. 2 music in the game was composed by the composer of Mega man: Manami Matsumi. I have completed the base game with along with both DLC and their new game plus, as well as some challenge mode. Shovel Knight is definitely one of my best game of all time.

Intervention Piece- Free Conversation

Artist’s Statement:

My work, “Free conversations”, was heavily inspired by the popular intervention piece “Free Hugs” and a piece called “Free listening” that I saw while visiting a friend at MIT. The goal of my piece was ultimately to have a conversation with a stranger, to produce a normal social interaction in a strange way. This goal has been achieved by both the “Free Hugs” and “Free listening” works, in which a sign is used to do such, with the normal social interactions being hugs and listening respectively. I took this concept, and expanded it to a different interaction: conversations. Conversations in general are a good way to engage and learn more about other people, and thus the “Free conversations” game was born. The format of the idea followed that of its predecessors, consisting of primarily just a sign with writing advertising the “product” being distributed. In addition, I’d say there was a little bit of influence from the Jejune institute which we studied in class. The Jejune institute was an ARG in which players encountered and took part in these strange public displays, such as the protest against Octavio and the phone dance scene. Both of these parts of these games are intended to encourage playfulness in the public arena while also providing an entertaining scene for those watching. Ultimately, “Free conversation” also acted as a bit of a spectacle, since the “free social interactions” concept has become quite popular, and thus people will get some entertainment out of it. The concept of someone walking around with a sign is in itself funny, and ultimately it did entertain people. Many people who didn’t directly engage in conversation with me, engaged either by taking pictures or just laughing at the sign. Interestingly, we talked in class a bit about how interventions could be used to entertain someone going about a menial process, such as waiting in a line. Ultimately we decided that rather than just standing around with the sign, we would walk with it, which played into this concept as many people who decided to engage in a conversation were just walking to or from a club meeting, and seeing a guy with a “free conversations” I’d like to think made their day.


The poster I made for the intervention:

Me, at the start of the intervention, standing in Curry with the sign, waiting for my first customer:

My first customer, we had a nice conversation about politics, though we both didn’t really know that much about politics. We mainly discussed the impeachment process and we both agreed that we weren’t fans of Trump:

My second customer, Hannah, who I knew from NUTV. She saw me with the sign and decided to come over and talk. We conversed about Thanksgiving and food in general as she was on her way to eat dinner. She told me her favorite Thanksgiving food is cranberries:

My third customer, he was on his way over to play the fourth floor to play pool with one of his friends, but saw me  and wanted to stop by and talk. Before he came up to me, he had been working on some complex probability homework as a part of his engineering major:

This girl came up to me to take a picture of the sign. I asked her if she wanted to have a free conversation, but she told me she couldn’t because she was running late for a club meeting:

My next customer and I had a lovely conversation about Kanye, who I don’t really know that much about, except that he has a new line of really weird merch which people have been talking about. I asked him his opinions on it, and he told me he would only wearing clothing if it looked good, not if it was a special brand:

We had a brief conversation since the guy came up to me to talk, but the girl yelled at him because they were having a conversation. It was pretty funny:

In this picture, I’m talking with my next customer named Katherine, who saw me and really wanted to chat. We talked a bit because she was running late for a club meeting as well. She mentioned that she had seen a lot of similar interventions in like NYC (like Free Hugs), but that they weren’t that good, so she was happy to see something similar here in Boston:

These three guys were promoting something for a club, and when they saw me, they wanted to talk about making bread by hand, which was very random yet very interesting.

These two guys were in Marino and they were skate boarding by. The guy on the right asked me if I knew how to skateboard, and I told him I didn’t, but that it was interesting. He said he didn’t want to talk if it wasn’t about skateboarding, so he told me he’d be willing to teach me, and I gave him my Instagram. It was very odd.

My final client was a student named Christian who’s from my hometown and is really close with my brother, but I hadn’t seen him while at Northeastern. So we had a brief conversation in Blackman, catching up on everything.

Pranav Gopan – Artwork #3 News in Runescape

Something that has always fascinated me is bringing the real world into the digital space. Thanks to the many MMORPGs out there, people can communicate via text or voice chat in different game worlds. Some use communication for strictly game purposes, such as completing tasks or missions. Others enjoy the social aspect of it. In worlds meant for slaying dragons and collecting jewels, you may find parties with players dancing and talking leisurely with one another. And of course, there are those who don’t use communication at all. For my project, I wanted to explore an aspect of communication that isn’t frequently used in video games. In the real world, we learn about what happens outside our homes via the news. It’s important to stay updated, as what happens outside can have a direct impact on our own lives. When we play video games, we immerse ourselves in the game world. Despite the joy that comes, it’s important to stay grounded from time to time.

I created a score that involves the following steps.

  1. Choose an MMORPG.
  2. Enter a game world with a decent amount of players.
  3. Customize your avatar so that it is bright and noticeable.
  4. Open a web browser and load different news sites and fact pages.
  5. Go back to the game world and find other players.
  6. Type out different news headlines and facts around them.
  7. Try to relate the topics to what is happening in the game world.
  8. Wait for a response.

As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to find a way to bring the real world into the digital. This score was how I did so. The MMORPG that I chose was Runescape. For an hour, I traveled to different parts of the game world and encountered various people. My main goal was to spark reactions from other players and possibly carry out conversations. At first, I would stand next to players and type out random news headlines. For example, one headline was, “Trump says Ukraine whistleblower must testify, blasts offer of written answers”. However, I did not get many reactions when I did so. Most people would walk away or not reply at all. After some time, I decided to try a different approach. There is a place in the game world with many cows and I found one player slaying them. I began searching for cow facts on my browser and typed them out on Runescape. After saying, “A cow will chew about 50 times in a minute”, I received my first reply. The other player responded, “Nope”. I wanted to keep speaking, so I typed, “Cows have great senses”. The other player responded, “You can’t tell me what to do your not my moo”. For me, this was a win. Though the conversation was simple, I at least received a reply. I continued my journey to an in-game ore field, where I saw a few players mining. I took this as an opportunity to search for real-life facts about fracking. After describing fracking in the game world, one player replied, “Really? Didn’t know that”. I felt happy at this moment. Mainly, it was because someone learned something new through the score.

From what I observed through this experience, players don’t enjoy listening to the news in game worlds. However, when performing long mundane tasks, such as slaying cows or mining ore, players are interested in listening to relevant facts. I can understand seeing how these tasks take up a decent amount of time and can get pretty tiresome. Having someone there to surprise you with knowledge might make the experience a little better.

Link to gameplay:

Pranav Gopan – Indie Game (Loved)

In almost all video games, players have to follow a set of rules or instructions. If they deviate from them, chances are, they will lose the game. Loved, however, is a unique exception. An indie platformer game made by Alexander Ocias, Loved begins with the question, “Are you a man, or a woman?” If you choose man, the game will respond, “No, you are a girl.” If you choose woman, it will tell you, “No, you are a boy.” Following this, the game asks if you need instructions to play. If you respond no, it will tell you that you will fail. From the start, you will understand that the narrator does not want your best interest. The platformer part of the game soon begins and the narrator’s text will occasionally reappear on the screen. Here is where the game gets truly interesting. The game world is black and white, with minimalistic art and eerie music playing in the background. Often, the narrator will tell you to do a certain task, such as touch a statue or take a certain path. If you listen to the narrator’s instructions, the game world will change into a detailed version of itself. The narrator will hauntingly tell you that you’re doing a good job. On the other hand, if you refuse to listen to the narrator, the game world becomes more colorful. The narrator will try to demean you each time you do, but it might be better to simply ignore it. The game is very short. It takes 5-10 minutes to complete one run-through. Depending on how you play (listening or refusing the narrator), the game will give you a different ending. If you consistently listen to the narrator, in the end, the narrator will tell you that it loved you. If you refuse frequently, it will ask why you hated the narrator. Though there are several interpretations for it, Loved is meant to be a game about dealing with abusive relationships. The narrator’s text can represent inner thoughts that stop us from achieving our potential. It wants you to follow a set path and not deviate it from it at all. Each time you do, it scolds and demeans you. It can also describe an abusive partner that forces you to act a certain way. When you beat the game by refusing, the narrator is clearly hurt, showing a personal connection to the player. By the end, you might have feelings of guilt, despite the narrator’s clear desire for control. Overall, Loved is an experience that comes with a bag of mixed emotions. Though short, it is thought-provoking and leaves you to question what it means to truly love another individual and yourself.

Indie Show and Tell

For my indie game, I chose Super Seducer, a dating simulation game by self acclaimed “dating guru” Richard LaRuina. I love this game for its ironic value. The game itself it created by a man who believes himself to be an expert of love, and thus the entertainment comes from the ridiculous options he includes in the game. To see such a man who prides himself as a love expert do something ridiculous, like sneak up behind two girls sitting on a couch in order to woo them. Ultimately the game acts as a look inside the mind of a fool who considers himself an expert and the ridiculous actions he believes people may think would be rational responses in a normal interaction.

Indie Game Show & Tell

I chose Doki Doki Literature Club by Team Salvato. It’s a game masked as a typical Japanese dating simulator. After multiple hours of gameplay, things start to get a little weird and twisted, and you get the sense that it’s not a regular dating simulator. Part of why I consider this not only an indie game but an art game is that Team Salvato acknowledges video games’ abilities to be an art form and a way to express things not available in traditional media.

Spoilers ahead:

The game gets super twisted and self-aware. One of the characters has the ability to manipulate the other characters’ game files and she begins deleting their files- killing them in-game. She eventually gets one-on-one with you, the player, and the only way to progress the story is to delete her file from the game.

I chose this video with this timestamp because it shows a section where the character within the game is extremely self-aware. She mentions the fact that she gets shy when people are recording her, “knowing” that the gameplay is being recorded.  (Lots of profanity in this video)


Indie Game: Hollowknight

Hollowknight has quickly become one of my all time favorite games. I love it so much that I’ve been trying to 100% complete it. I’m almost there at 90%. Some of the reasons I love Hollowknight is because of its characters and music. The characters all have individual personalities and the music is absolutely beautiful.

One moment in the game that sold me was when you have to defeat the Mantis Tribe. Usually in the game, all the characters are fighting to survive. When you fight the Mantis Lords, however, you fight for honor.  When you enter the mantis territory, you are immediately hit with a bunch of enemies. Getting through all these enemies is a really tough battle. Eventually you reach the Mantis Lords, which are three times as tough. Whenever they defeat you, you have to fight through the entire tribe again in order to have a rematch.

The Mantis Lords are my favorite boss. Unlike other bosses, who start attacking you once you enter the arena, the Mantis Lords wait you to you challenge them. Not only is their battle theme intense, I love what happens after you beat them. Once you beat them and the battle ends, you don’t end up killing them. Instead, the Mantis Lords stand up and bow to you. After this battle, the rest of the mantis tribe also bows to you whenever you approach them and become passive characters. The tribe also rewards you with gifts for gaining their respect.



Intervention: CS:GO Karaoke

For my intervention, I decided to try to get people to do Karaoke in Counter-Strike:Global Offensive. Initially, I was thinking of doing something at the circle on the edge of Centennial Common. The reason I wanted to use this location was that it sees a lot of traffic and is also a good space that wouldn’t be in the way of people’s daily commute. I wanted to do something there that brought a smile to people’s faces, or something that just brightened their day a little bit. I was mainly inspired to do this after our parachute intervention. However, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do to do that. So I looked to the video game interventions for inspiration and decided to do something in my most played video game, CS:GO. I decided I would try to do karaoke in CS:GO.

Each game-mode within CS:GO has its own community, and I’ll briefly explain each and how receptive or not receptive they were (or would be) to doing karaoke.

Competitive: People who are playing the game in its most competitive form. They really don’t want to be bothered, I didn’t try. I knew if it was me on the other end in a competitive match I’d be really annoyed.

Casual and Deathmatch: Not as competitive but people mainly don’t want to be bothered or aren’t using their microphones. Often people hop into these servers to warm up or just get some game-time in without the time commitment. Most people weren’t responding in this game mode, or had a negative response.

Surf: A casual game mode where people are either not listening to their game sound, or are having casual conversation. I got some responses here but nothing substantial.

1v1: This game mode houses multiple 1v1 encounters where everyone can voice chat. The people here aren’t necessarily trying to improve because if they were they’d be doing deathmatch or competitive, but they are often engaged in casual conversation with the people in the server. Due to the relaxed nature of this socially active setting, I had my best results here. Of course, it is the Counter-Strike community, and there was still a lot of negative reception here, but there were also the largest amount of good interactions here.

I had tried multiple different well-known songs, but I got the best reception when using Bohemian Rhapsody. Additionally, I had the best feedback when I sang along.

In this video, there is a short clip of a few people singing along, and the second clip is someone who sang the whole of the song with me. From his point of view, he is singing in time, but due to the voice-chat delay, he is a second or so behind from my point of view. It’s not the most pleasing version of Bohemian Rhapsody I’ve ever listened to, but I think it brought some “good vibes” into that server that I was on.