A Long Respite

Artist’s Statement:

I got the initial idea for this project by looking at what it meant to be an artgame. After reading John Sharp’s, “Works of Game” I was inspired by his description of an artgame game. I understood that artgames use the innate properties of games like interactivity, player goals, and game mechanics to create expressive play experiences that explore metaphysical questions around life, ethics, and aspects of the human condition. Unlike normal games, the systems in artgames tend to model ideas and concepts rather than phenomena from the physical and social world. This concept spoke to me because I have long been critical of the way the current gaming landscape tries to force an experience onto its players. Many modern games explain every single thing from every control to every facet of their narrative. I wanted to get away from that by creating an artgame that centered its interactivity, player goals, and game mechanics to give the player an experience that I found lacking in the modern gaming landscape. I believe that the modern gaming landscape lacks many games that try to get the player to experience a narrative without the use of any words. Even in the case where games do create a narrative without words they often rely on out-of-game descriptions, cutscenes, or endings to show the player that there is a deep narrative present. I wanted to get away from all of that and present the player with an experience and environment that has no given explanation. It’s up to the player to discover everything, end when they want, and interpret the game in their way.

This project relates to a few of the artgames discussed in the readings. One of the games that relates is “The Marriage” by Rod Humble. “The Marriage” does not explain its mechanics, message, or narrative to the player and instead leaves it up to the player to discover and interpret for themselves. The mechanics themselves are simple yet the combination of the mechanics and how the squares react are what make the game so interesting to play. The readings also stated that it was unlikely that people would come out of the game with the message that the creator intended. This game is similar to what I wanted to do with my game because I want the player to experience the game without being told what to do. If they come out of the experience with a different meaning than what I intended that is perfectly fine and even encouraged by me because it will make conversations about my game more interesting. My game also attempts to use its subtle mechanics to help paint a narrative. The game also relates to “Papers, Please” because it has a very stylized art style and ends when you want it to end.

A lot of the other influence and intention is explained in the “Documentation / Process” section below.


Documentation / Process:

This section will spoil a lot of the intent behind the game so I would only read this part if you do not want to experience the game in the way it was intended to be experienced. After I decided on how I wanted to convey my narrative, I then wanted to figure out what I wanted my narrative to be. I decided that I wanted to have my narrative be about a fallen samurai because I had Japanese history and the game “Okami” on my mind at the time. I didn’t want to tell a sad story though, instead, I wanted my narrative to be whimsical and use VFX and audio as well as a well-crafted level to tell its story. This along with inspiration from the Xenoblade Chronicles series gave me a start on what I wanted the level to look like. Xenoblade Chronicles 1 and 2 both feature ethereal, majestic trees that I wanted to try to replicate. I thought that a magical-looking sakura tree would be the perfect place to bury a samurai. Furthermore, a well-respected and battle-tested samurai would likely want to be buried in a peaceful spot where they could be one with nature. This helped me settle on the island surrounded by water and helped me pick the sounds that I wanted to incorporate. I added wave noises that increase in volume as you approach the water as well as the song “Satorl Marsh (Night)” from the Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition soundtrack. I felt that this song would be the perfect choice for the game as it strikes an immaculate balance between Zen and whimsy. The song is one of my favorites and often makes me more in tune with my emotions like I hoped it would for the player. This song choice also helped inform my next decision which was to add a day and night cycle. I wanted to make it feel like even though you were dead the world kept moving, time kept moving. The area of Satorl Marsh (where the song is from) is also extremely interesting as it is unassuming during the day, but at night the trees start to glow, ether starts to float into the atmosphere, and the music gets intense. Using this inspiration I created the ether particles that move into the air to capture the sense of whimsy and beauty that area had. These visual effects also make the island feel spiritual in a way like the tree and particles make the island seem like a place where spirits would want to rest. This idea informed a lot of the decisions related to my mechanics. The spiritual feel of the island made me want to make the player character the spirit of the dead samurai who was chained to this island after their death. To accomplish this I started by creating a movement system with low-gravity physics. This was in an attempt to make you feel floaty like a ghost or spirit. I also added a very high jump/float if you press/hold the space bar to increase this feeling. Additionally, I removed the player’s shadow and made them be able to walk through the sword and tree showing that they do not have a physical form. Despite all of this, I still felt like it would be hard to tell who you were. To fix this, I made it so that particles of a humanoid figure follow where you were at night. This makes it so that the player is rewarded for looking around and that you can see that something ghostly is going on. Lastly, to accomplish the feeling of being chained to the island, I wanted to make it so that the farther away you got from the katana the slower you would move. Nothing is stopping you from moving far away, but it is clear that the island wants you to rest in peace.

Through playtesting, I learned that the tree trunk and the grass were distracting from the overall Zen and carefully crafted feel of the level, so I tried my best to improve them. I also learned that players had extremely different interpretations of what was happening, ranging from “the island is pretty” to “I liked that I was a ghost samurai.” I think the thing that I heard that made me feel like this was successful was when a playtester told me that they enjoyed that they had to think through the game and they liked that nothing was told to them.



Hidden Blocks can be Fun!

Artists Statement:

For this project, I started by asking myself if there was any existing process or idea in this world that I wanted to change or go against. This proved to be quite a difficult task at first. There are many things that I wish could change but a lot of them felt extremely serious or I struggled to grasp how I would come up with an idea for a game from it. That is when I asked my friends what they were thinking of doing. Jonathan mentioned that he was thinking of using Mario Maker for his project. That’s when my idea hit me! I love watching and playing difficult Mario levels, known as Kaizo levels in the community. Kaizo levels are extremely prominent because of their difficulty and because of a concept that has been lovingly dubbed the “Kaizo Block.” Kaizo Blocks are hidden “?” Blocks are infamous in the community because they are purely meant to troll players and impede progress. They often find themselves in places where players feel safe to jump so they will try, hit the block, and fall into a pit. They can also be used to supplement bad level design by serving as an invisible wall to prevent players from doing something unintended. These terrible traits are what made the concept so infamous to the point that players sometimes will not finish a level if they hit a Kaizo Block. The Kaizo Block rightfully feels like it should be a concept that stays in the dumpster, right? That is when my idea came in, what if I could show people that they are fun? After all, Kaizo Blocks are just hidden blocks that can be used as a tool. That kicked off my journey to find a way to make hidden blocks fun, which ended up being extremely difficult. Throughout the process, I was inspired by “Spacewar.” When I was in high school, I had the chance to play “Space War” against someone while Steve Russel watched. That experience and the story behind it have always been an inspiration to me. He was able to take something that people had one intended way of using, in this case, the university computer, and turn it into something fun that would spawn communities around the world. I wanted to also change the Kaizo Block from a dreaded part of a level into something that the community would find fun. Another inspiration was the switched Barbie and GI Joe dolls. The idea of shifting what everyone was used to while also making a commentary on the state of the medium appealed to me. This project was an intervention because it was posted to the community and anyone in the game can randomly run into the level or choose to play it. I wanted to do this because often players who see hidden blocks will quit the level, but if they tried my level they would hopefully find the fun and beat it.


Documentation / Process:

As I mentioned above this process was a difficult one. The level went through a lot of different iterations as I learned more about what I could not do with hidden blocks. It turns out that they were way more limited than I thought when I started. I tried to make a bunch of interesting contraptions with horizontal moving Thwomps and Kaizo-style difficulty, but I swiftly realized that I was being limited by the Hidden Block. Next, I tried shifting over to the New Super Mario Bros. theme to make a simple level but around ground pounding the hidden blocks. That did not work either because of the limitations of the hidden block. I was ready to throw in the towel when I was hit with an idea. Since I can only hit a hidden block from below, what if I up-toss a shell? I tried it in the Super Mario World theme and it worked… sort of. It didn’t work the way I expected but it did make the hidden block visible. I could work with this concept. That spawned the level that I ended up posting. The basic concept of the level is that there are two sub-areas. The first has all the blocks visible but needs a key to open a door, the second has all hidden blocks and the key. Players have to get the key and open the door to finish the level.

The level can be found while playing randomly online or by typing the code: 1VB-XP3-NQF

I was shocked by the results of my level! Within half a day, my level was played by 12 community members, had 120 attempts, had 2 comments, and 1 like! Random people were playing my level and at least 1 person enjoyed it! There were a few metrics that I did not expect though. The clear rate was 6.66% and the world record completion time was 5.65 seconds. This meant that the majority of people still found the level difficult and that people were beating the level in an unintended way. This initially made me disheartened until I remembered my inspirations. I was inspired by Kaizo levels and intervention art. 5.65 seconds is seemingly impossible unless you do Kaizo-level tricks like a shell jump. That is cool because people were finding the fun and the level was difficult like a Kaizo level should be. Additionally, this brought an interesting detail to my attention. Sr Depreso had the world record on my level. I don’t know too much about them but I know they are a prominent Mario Maker 2 level creator, with one of their levels being featured in a Watch Mojo video. That meant that my intervention had worked!



“Find the Fire Emblem” – Samik Mathur

How to Play:

  • The game needs 2 people, one person plays as “Ike” or the Player, and the other plays as “Ashera” or the DM
  • Ashera must place the board in front of Ike and place all the information and items face-down
  • Lastly, Ashera shows the player the card that says that they are Ike
  • Then the game starts
  • Only Ashera can see the location of items and ensures that Ike is following the rules presented on the card
  • Ike wins the game if he obtains Lehran’s Medallion

Artist’s Statement:

For this project, I had 2 initial goals: appropriate from Fire Emblem and make a game that is open-ended. I wanted to appropriate from Fire Emblem because I was heavily inspired by the series when coming up with the basic premise of the game. I had the idea to make a game where the player has a set amount of actions they can perform before they die so that every time they had a new life they were a little better off than before. Unlike a roguelike, I wanted to make the benefit of another life something more immaterial. With that, I settled on making lives useful because you would have more information about your surroundings. This is where the inspiration from Fire Emblem (specifically Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance) came into play. I could appropriate the grid-based movement system to make the player’s life equate to a number of steps, I could use famous items from the game to serve as tools to get you to your ultimate goal, and I could use lore from the series to contextualize your adventure. Lastly, I wanted to make sure that the players’ approach to the game was open-ended. This was inspired by the Dada Movement and from games like Super Metroid that emphasized trying new things and not explaining a lot. I wanted the player to interpret the board and realize what was happening on their own, so I did not give much information to the player.

This work relates to the Dada Movement for a few reasons. The first reason is that I used images from another artist and used them in a constructive way for my game. Dada artists often took images from other places and used them in collages, especially in cities like Hannover. Another way this relates to the Dada Movement is that I used lore or a story from another place to influence my work. The reading Dada artists in Cologne were often inspired by Christianity when making their works. My game took the story of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and adapted it. Lastly, I built my game to be open-ended and ordinary-looking. The game is made with simple paper and the only materials you need are your mind and the paper (though a pencil helps). The way the game is played is also very open-ended because there is nothing saying what you should do on a life, only an end goal and 1 restriction. This is similar to how Dada artists like Duchamp took ordinary objects like a chair and bicycle and transformed them into an open-ended piece of art.





A fish from the Atlantic.

An Asian grain.

A green vegetable.

A creamy substance.

An ancient ingredient.

Something from Turkey.

A Himalayan rock.

A Middle Eastern herb.

And something spicy.


Mix whatever you desire.

Apply what you mixed.

Cook everything.

And enjoy!


2023 fall




Artist’s Statement:

My work was inspired by my and my parents’ love of cooking. When I was younger my parents would cook for me and I would try to learn by observing them. When I was in 3rd grade we had an assignment where we had to make a recipe for something in my Computer class. I decided to make a recipe for a Philidelphia Roll, my favorite sushi, based on what I observed. Rather than ask my parents how they made it, I decided to make the recipe on my own and show it to them afterward. When I showed my parents my work they were surprised because I had only missed 1 step. My friends who also loved sushi also saw what I wrote and asked if they could use my recipe. This experience showed me that making recipes for others that are abstract can be fun and helpful. This experience partially inspired me to make my score. Another large inspiration was the work of Yoko Ono. I was inspired by the abstract nature of Ono’s work as well as her formatting. I found the minimalist and abstract nature of her work quite beautiful as it left a lot up to the reader’s interpretation. I tried to emulate that in my work to make my recipe feel unique to anyone who tried it because they could end up using different ingredients or different cooking techniques. Ono’s short yet descriptive phrases also inspired me to make my recipe feel like it is painting a bit of a picture or has a bit of history behind it. Lines like “An ancient ingredient.” hopefully inspire the reader to do some research or think to find an ingredient that fits the category which can be fun and inspiring. Ono also inspired my formatting down to the style of date I used. Lastly, I was inspired by the worldwide nature of the Fluxus Movement. Unlike many artistic movements beforehand, Fluxus was experienced in many different parts of the world. This spoke to me because I love combining flavors from different areas while learning about them. This inspired me to use ingredients from Turkey, the Himalayas, Asia, and the Middle East while also using traditionally American and European ingredients. My goal with this score is best described through the following interaction. One day a family friend said to me that he really hated cooking because it wasn’t fun to follow recipes and make the same thing every day. I told him that the way to make cooking fun is to try things out, go to different grocery stores and use new ingredients, don’t just follow a recipe, make the food your own and even if it’s bad it’ll be fun and something you learn from.