James O'Brien

The Equation Group: Final Iteration

General Description:

You’re an informed individual living in a world obscured by enemies.  You can choose to fight back and see the world for what it is, try to inform others, or simply live with it.

Artist’s Statement:

The experience I wanted to provide in this game was that of feeling frustration while trying to help others, as well as a feeling that you’re being obstructed and blinded unless you take action.  I also wanted to make sure there was the option to not fight and just live with the obstruction.  I think I succeeded fairly well in crafting an appropriate experience.

I also wanted to send a message that there’s a bunch of domestic surveillance programs in the U.S. and that something should be done about them.  I tied this to the main game mechanic by having it display the names of some of these programs, hopefully leading to the player googling them or something.  I really just wanted to increase awareness about this issue as well as the issue of people not really caring that they’re being spied on.

I had also intended to make the instruction screen a bit difficult to read, making it difficult to find out what is going on and how to do something about it.  This was done in order to relate to how it is difficult to figure out what kinds of surveillance are going on and what to do about them; however, during the presentation, the projector ended up making it significantly more difficult to see that what I’d intended.

Additionally, I wanted to make the actions of fighting back and informing people simple and easy (control-wise), but still make sense, and I think that having it be one button (left-mouse button) worked out nicely.  I also think that having the core mechanic of my game be so closely tied to its message was commendable.

I think that overall I was fairly successful in getting my message across, and if nothing else I improved greatly from the play-testing sessions.

Also, I wanted the central game mechanic (hitting the eyes away/informing people) to inform the player as well if possible.  I think that I did an ok job of it by making the hit bubbles have the names of spying programs in them, and the mechanic walked a thin line between being too vague and being too cumbersome to read.

Here’s a .zip with a .app and .exe (and data folder for the .exe)


Eyer: Iteration 2

Hey, I was about to post my play-test builds and realized that I forgot to post my second iteration, so here’s the second iteration build.  This build was bugged, but when you ran the project in Unity (the program I made it with) then it worked fine.  Unfortunately I have since overwritten those files in Unity, so the bugged build is the only authentic thing I have.  This build is only for windows.



Final Project Draft 1

This should serve as a basic design document as well as an indication of where code will be appropriated from.  The experience I am trying to provide is that of deliberating with whether one should put themselves at risk to protect others that don’t seem to care that they’re being attacked.


  • the map is a bunch of houses and grass.  possibly some white picket fences.
    • houses
      • just there as set pieces
      • enemies can go through them, player and civilians can’t
  • enemies
    • dark and shadowy
    • they have a big eye
    • they float around
    • possibly have an animation
    • they attack the player as well as civilians
      • they suck little message-looking things out of civilians
      • they damage the player
    • reuse capstone project code from seeking missiles and wandering enemies, possibly from the a.i. companion as well
  • player
    • has a rolled up newspaper to hit enemies with
      • you can use it rapidly
      • “whap” sound effect
      • you don’t kill the enemies they just kinda leave you alone after you whap them enough (around 3 times)
    • you walk slowly
    • balance is such that you can defend yourself easily but it is hard to keep other people safe
    • if you lose all your health you get sent to russia
    • win condition involves dick-picks or something – see last week tonight
    • reuses capstone project code from the player
  • civilians
    • they don’t try to fight or avoid enemies
    • they just kinda walk around
      • possibly talk to each-other in speech bubbles or send little message-looking things to each other which enemies could intercept
    • they don’t die
    • reuse capstone project code from wandering enemies

Intervention: Minecraft Infrastructure


I decided to download a pre-made Minecraft map that contained a city, change my character to look like an engineer, and then go through the city and inspect its infrastructure, culminating in me granting it a grade.  The infrastructure I inspected was mostly things like highways and transit systems; as the map, understandably, did not include structures like a water treatment facility or dam.

Some intentions of this work were to highlight the suspension of disbelief inherent in Minecraft, as well as to bring up a topic which is often outside of the spotlight in reality, and largely non-existent in the game: the maintenance and inspection of infrastructure.  A common assumption in Minecraft is that what you, the player, build will basically remain a monolith untouched by the passage of time; one of my goals in this work was to challenge that assumption.



The bridge can be seen here.  Due to numerous broken suspension cables, it has received a grade: F, and has been deemed unsafe for use.



The rails are shown here.  Due to their sturdy construction, decent maintenance, and lack of protective railings, they have received grade: B.



The roads are shown here.  Due to their quality construction and flawless maintenance they have received grade: A.



The waterway is illustrated here.  Because of its lack of pollution and the absence of much flood prevention measures,it has received grade: B.



The transit system is depicted here.  Due to the sturdy building materials, decent maintenance, and exposed wiring, it has received grade: B.



The park is shown here.  Due to its small size, lack of public facilities, and poor lighting at night (possibly reducing safety), it has received grade: C.



This is the infrastructure report card, illustrating the various grades given to the different parts of the city.

Intervention Proposal

I intend to download a Minecraft map someone has made that looks like a city and change my character to look like an engineer, ideally a civil engineer; although, civil engineers don’t have any particularly iconic attire as far as I am aware.  I will then go through the city and basically pretend to inspect its infrastructure, after which I will give it a grade.  I expect the infrastructure to mostly be things like highways and sewers, but maybe the map will come with a dam or maybe I could make one, it largely depends on whether I feel it’s necessary at the time.


I could grade people’s stuff on a multiplayer server, though this would be a bit more difficult to adequately record any would rely on their cooperation somewhat.




The Talos Principle is a game which prominently features solving puzzles, exploring a narrative, and traversing a series of sandbox environments which are, in my opinion, populated fairly densely by greco-roman architecture, futuristic machinery, and the occasional late-1990’s era computer terminal.  A major theme in this work is the philosophical examination of humanity by comparing humans to machines in various contexts.

A comparable game that comes to mind is Portal, purely from the mutual focus on puzzles and narrative, as well as the environments; which seem to be designed in such a manner as to draw attention to their clashing elements.  One difference I find particularly notable is that the narrative in The Talos Principle is delivered primarily via text logs, with the vocal narration playing more of a secondary role in terms of story delivery, instead serving primarily as a means of conveying goals that the player should seek to accomplish.  In comparing this particular aspect to another game, I feel Bioshock in particular has similar elements.

As for a description of the actual gameplay, it is fairly bare:  basically, you solve a bunch of puzzles with various gadgets to unlock more puzzles, which you then solve until eventually it runs out of puzzles.


The game is attached as a .zip that has a .app and .exe of my game.

Controls are WASD to move and SPACE to shoot.

Note that if you use the .app, you need to right-click -> open because obviously people need to be protected from unlicensed applications rather than, say, hard-drive firmware viruses.



Artist’s Statement:

I wanted to use overwhelmingly familiar things in such a way that they’d create an alien feeling in the user.  Originally I had wanted to exactly copy the gameplay of asteroids, but I decided to make some minor alterations to make it more playable, thus avoiding the situation where the player is feeling frustration rather than a sense of being in an alien situation.  I’m fairly happy with how it turned out, though I’m sure there’s some bugs in it somewhere.

Indiecade Hack ‘n’ Slash

I played “Hack ‘n’ Slash” by Doublefine.


Why I picked it:

It was made by Double Fine and I have liked many of their past games.  When I looked into it a little I saw that it had a neat concept: changing the programming of the game do progress; that basically sealed the deal.

What I liked about it:

I liked that, though it was a fairly bare game, but it still managed to craft a cool world with more depth than I would expect.  I also liked that I felt like I was really good at it because I’m a CS major, so that was cool.  This game spoofed a lot of conventional adventure game motifs, which I also found amusing, and I found the overall humor and tone quite enjoyable as well.

Final Scores


Final Score:

Enacting the Inevitable:

Find a surface in your home that is filthy,

Clean it,

Do a daily activity on it that makes it filthy again.


Find a surface in your home that is filthy,


Clean it,

(The cleaned surface)


Do a daily activity on it that makes it filthy again.


Artist’s Statement:

I drew inspiration from my daily activities and wanted the participant to be a bit more conscious about what they are actually doing during their daily routine, as it is quite easy to just be going through the motions without thinking about it.  I believe that by understanding their routine they’ll gain a better understanding of themselves, and that understanding generally leads to making better, more informed decisions in their life.  In the words of Plato: “The first and best victory is to conquer self.”

Additional Scores:

Naught but react:

Wait for a snowstorm that shuts down your university,

Find a dining hall that will be open while other eating establishments are closed, preferably using the internet to find the information,

Walk there through the cold, observing the other people going places as well,

Once you get there, be disappointed with the available food in said dining hall,

Eat some mediocre food and go back home.


Look at the class syllabus, see that it describes the first assignment as being a single score,

Write a single score and post it on the class blog,

Look at your class mates’ posts, observe that they have two scores,

Wonder if you missed something,

Quickly write a second score just to be safe.