Team Mike

Michael Rinaldi – Final Artist Statement

The basic concept of my game and my playtest data can be found in this post:

Mike Rinaldi – The Second Mind cutscene sequence

As mentioned, one of the main themes of my game is control. I want to play with situations where the player is forced to do something that they don’t necessarily want to do. With more and more open-world games showing up nowadays, giving players autonomy and the ability to do whatever they want is important. But, I wanted to see what happened when I constrained the player in situations where they want to have choices, such as in dialog with other characters.

I also wanted to play with the perception of a ‘game’. The Narrator’s view of this game is most likely different than the player’s view. It believes that this game is a ‘typical RPG’ in which you solve puzzles and defeat enemies, but it is a lot more than that. It also involves helping the townsfolk and bonding with them, but the Narrator completely ignores this section. Having someone advocate against helping others and actively trying to prevent you from doing so creates an interesting conflict. I wanted to create a feeling of sympathy and helplessness with these cutscenes, to gauge the effect of similar cutscenes that I’ll implement in the future.

As displayed by my Indie Game show and tell, The Stanley Parable and Dr. Langeskov were both inspirations for the Narrator character in this game. Both of these games continually take note of the fact that they are games, and so does the Narrator in my game. It blurs the definition of a ‘game’, which is very similar to how the Dada movement blurs the definition of ‘art’.

————— Play the Demo of this game here! —————

If you want, you can select ‘New Game’ to play all the content I added previously. But the section for this class is under ‘Experimental Design Demo’ on the title screen.




Experimental Design is all about pushing the boundaries of gaming. It is about creating nontraditional games that make people think about art, complicated subjects, or even themselves. I am a Computer Science and Game Design major, so I have not taken many art classes in my life. So, this was relatively new to me. While I read books about the Dada movement, Happenings, and the avant-garde, it seemed somewhat disconnected to game design, at least to me, at the beginning. But, by the end of the class, I realized why these readings are necessary in order to create new and experimental games.

The Dada movement and the Happenings were new and experimental ways of creating art. They questioned what art even was, and they employed new tactics like performance and the exquisite corpse to create unique art pieces never before explored. Experimental Games do this as well, and these movements are a great precedent for creating such games. One important fact I learned from the Happenings, and from Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit, was that the art piece was not necessarily the ‘art’, it was the performance and the experience that gave you a certain feeling that you could not get by just looking at the piece. This is especially important in games: you get a completely different feeling from playing the game than by watching it, and finding ways to instill the experience in the player is your job as a game designer.

This experience was shown in the film The Institute that we watched. When I began watching the film, I thought that there was some sort of external, worldly motivation behind it, but in the end, it was just to instill a certain experience in players. This experience was very strong and impactful, as one of the players named her dog Jujune, and got a tattoo based on the Institute. It gave the players a new way of looking at the world, just like this class gave me a new way of looking at both the world and experimental games. I feel that this had a great impact on my art pieces that I created this semester.

Most of my art pieces were about the experience created and when they were implemented and performance, because this is the aspect of the class that I got the most out of. My first piece, the step counting in Ruggles piece, let me feel the general crowdedness of the station. Just ‘counting steps’ does not evoke much on its own, but when it is performed, it allows the artist to understand more about and connect with their environment.

My second piece, the Ticket to Ride appropriation game, was an outlier, because I am a very avid board game player. I did not experiment with this one as much as I would have liked. The traditional rules-based gamer shone through here, however I feel that the appropriation allowed me to experiment and that it was beneficial.

My third piece, the Intervention on an online game server, was about evoking emotion through an experience. I wanted to create a more laid-back and friendly environment on a server that is mainly competitive. This was not that easy to implement and get working the way I wanted it to, because of the general ignorance of online players to ‘trolls’ and things that they did not care about. However, I found a way to get something working, and it did lighten the mood in the room for a bit.

Overall, this class opened my eyes to the many artistic movements that were pushing the boundaries of the traditional, and which of those movements succeeded and why. Many game classes are about traditional game design, but I feel that all game designers should take a class like this one and learn about experimental art movements, because it allows the game industry to become more diverse and creative, giving players more choices in what they play, and how they feel while playing games.

Mike Rinaldi – The Second Mind cutscene sequence

For my final project, I want to add another cutscene / series of events in the town to my game The Second Mind.

Basically, the game is about AI, teaching, control. The main character is an AI, and you can control him whenever you want. the main mechanic is teaching the main character to solve puzzles, defeat enemies, and more. In terms of control, the Narrator basically controls everything in the game (outside of AI Mode and player movement). And even then, you control the main character against his will.

The feelings that I would express would be empathy, futility and helplessness. Sometimes, the Narrator can control you against your will. It does not care for the sidequests where you help the townsfolk, so it intentionally tries to prevent you from doing them. For example, it would give you all ‘bad’ dialog options, and you would have to pick one. And for certain characters, you would need to talk to them in order to make them feel better. With the Narrator actively harming this, it creates the feelings of helplessness and longing, and you wish you could actually help the NPC by saying the right things, but you just can’t.


For this version, I added two cutscenes. The second one expresses the futility and empathy that I wanted to. You are tasked with keeping one of your friend’s hopes up, but the Narrator gets in the way of this (by giving you bad dialog options) and it causes a scene.

Players thought that one of the main themes was ‘lack of player control’. This is an overarching theme of the game, but I wanted people to feel the empathy more. Someone mentioned ‘the illusion of options’, and described the character as being an ‘accidental asshole’ because of the Narrator’s dialog choices. That same person did not like the fact that all of the dialog options were bad, and it’s ‘stripping control from the player’. That is intended, although the game needs to not be explicitly frustrating to play.

Most players did not use AI mode in dialog, even though you could (and it theoretically leads to better dialog answers). This is something I should explain better.

Many people laughed at either the actions and dialog of the Narrator, or the lack of choices that you had. The Narrator is supposed to be a funny character, but I think this might conflict with the feelings I want to evoke with this sequence. I’ll have to look into that more.

I had one playtest that went exactly how I wanted. My playtester laughed at some of the Narrator dialog, tried to use AI choices (especially when the Narrator prevented it), and verbally expressed their distress at being forced to say things that were bad to say. Emotions expressed were ‘sadness,  distress, anxiety’ and they wanted to ‘try to fix this poor man’s life’.  More people expressed this sadness at viewing bad dialog choices. I think this playtest went well, but I have to tweak a couple things.

exp1 exp2 exp3

Mike – indie game show and tell

My Indie game is ‘Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger And The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist’ This game definitely falls into the ‘experimental’ category. It is very similar to The Stanley Parable, because it was made by the same developer. Also it’s meant to be  a similar experience.



This game embraces the fact that it’s a game, at multiple times during the story. This happens in The Stanley Parable as well. There is a narrator in this game also, and he guides you throughout the story.

Something I like about the game is that you find out the story at your own pace while playing the game. There are collectibles that you can find that will increase your understanding of the story, which is great. Overall, I feel this game is great at telling the story it does, and it’s pretty short and free, so you all should play it.


For my final project, I want to add another cutscene / series of events in the town to my game The Second Mind. I worked on this game for two months just because I had free time, and I really like the way it turned out so far. It’s just a demo right now and I plan on extending it later. I’m at a point where I would need to add more story, so I plan to do that with this project.

Basically, the game is about AI, teaching, control. The main character is an AI, and you can control him whenever you want. the main mechanic is teaching the main character to solve puzzles, defeat enemies, and more. In terms of control, the Narrator basically controls everything in the game (outside of AI Mode and player movement). And even then, you control the main character against his will.

The feelings that I would express would be empathy, futility and helplessness. Sometimes, the Narrator can control you against your will. It does not care for the sidequests where you help the townsfolk, so it intentionally tries to prevent you from doing them. For example, it would give you all ‘bad’ dialog options, and you would have to pick one. And for certain characters, you would need to talk to them in order to make them feel better. With the Narrator actively harming this, it creates the feelings of helplessness and longing, and you wish you could actually help the NPC by saying the right things, but you just can’t. Sometimes, life is like this as well. Sometimes, there are things you want to do, and something else is stopping you from doing so, whether it be another person, the laws, or even a mental disorder. But that doesn’t mean you stop trying.

You can check out the game here:


Online Chatroom Intervention – Unaware Game Participation – HvZ/Tag

As I explained in class, I am a huge fan of both casual and competitive games, but competitive games can become boring very quickly because they lose some of the important aspects of casual games, namely player interaction and playing for fun. Being a proponent of having fun with games, I wanted to go to an online chat room full of competitive players and see how I could get them to have fun in a different way than being competitive.

A big inspiration that I had was the video we watched in class, The Institute. There were very many parts of this video that involved combining real life and the game world, for example dancing while you were on the phone, and using real world locations to tell a story. I wanted people to see my piece and have fun watching it, and even be motivated to join in.

The players didn’t even know what they were getting into, either. This counts for unaware game participation, they saw flyers in the streets, and did not know they were being pulled into a game when they took a slip and began their journey to the institute. I really liked the way they did this, how people were willing to follow along with this game just because they wanted to. I wanted to replicate this behavior in my piece. I feel peoples’ attitudes towards something would more dramatically shift if they decided to participate on a whim, so this is why I favored unaware game participation.

I also wanted my piece to deliver an important message, much like The Institute did. The Institute wanted people to take life less seriously, to play in the world, and to be in a perpetual state of ‘Divine Nonchalance’.  I proposed a different message, but one along the same lines: sometimes, competitiveness takes the fun out of games and I wanted to break up the competitiveness in the room with some lighthearted games.

I decided to choose a Pokemon Showdown server, which is a site where you can have competitive Pokemon battles. I was a member of certain server ‘leagues’ beforehand, which tend to focus on competitiveness, improving battling skills, and defeating other leagues on the server for dominance. I quit because I didn’t have time to participate, plus I wasn’t getting much out of the competitive side because it was getting boring. I decided to try to spice things up by playing a chatroom game that wasn’t entirely related to competitive Pokemon battling to see how the players would react.

I decided to have a Humans vs Zombies game in the chatroom. Certain ‘Zombies’, denoted by their nametag, would challenge users to CC1v1 battles (the quickest and most random Pokemon battling format out there). If the Zombie won, the loser would have to change his/her name tag to a Zombie tag, and challenge others to convert them as well. This provides a totally different context for the competitive players to relate to.

I do have online friends on this server, but not too many, because a lot of them quit as well. I did manage to get at least 2 or 3 people to agree to the ‘Humans Vs Zombies’ game idea, though. Due to this fact, and that I wanted this to mainly be an unaware game that people jumped in, I did not feel I needed more people. The plan was to have the players see what was happening, and then they’d join in and agree to the game once a couple people were playing the game.

Once I started, I realized this project was doomed to fail. I only had one other zombie, and the others who were going to play were online but not responsive. I believe that this is a result of multiple facets, one being the fact that this Humans vs Zombies game requires a lot of effort to participate, especially in an unaware crowd. Also, people did not see the point behind the activity, so they did not join. They just thought I was another troll and ignored me. After all, my name was ‘ZOMBIE ON FIRE’ and they had no connection to me whatsoever. Pictures are below:

img_2213  img_2215

So, I decided to go with a different approach: a simpler and more personal game. I changed my name back to what it normally was (Kant Ketchum), so people knew I wasn’t a troll. I still wanted the unaware game participation, also, so I needed to think of a really easy to play and fun game. I decided on a game of tag – all you had to do, was tag someone else when you got tagged. Typing in someone else’s name gives them a notification, so they will know when they got tagged and they’ll definitely consider whether to participate or not. This is very simple, fun, and it creates a game within the server. Some pictures are below:





This game of tag worked a lot better than the Humans Vs Zombies game. People were willing to continue, and it seems they had fun with it. I really liked the inclusion of emoticons while playing the game – it really gave the game a more personal feel to it. The competitive language used (“loses to ferrothorn”, “toxic doesnt touch poison”, “when is alliance cup”) really contrasts with the tag game, and I loved that about the piece. There can be long conversations about competitive topics, and breaking that up with some fun conversation is something I appreciated.

Although the impact my game had was minimal, I feel that I did add some fun to the lives of these competitive players, no matter how competitively they played this game. Overall, there could be improvements, but this was a fun piece to work on.

Appropriation Project – Serpent To Ride

As mentioned in my earlier post, for my Appropriation Game, I wanted to take a traditional game and make something new, that required a totally different skill set and mindset, and adding at most only one or two extra materials.

Some appropriations that influenced me were Yoko Ono’s White Chess, the concept of Readymades, and examples in class such as Human Go. By coloring the whole chess set white, Yoko Ono shows that both factions are essentially the same, and on the same team, and that they shouldn’t be fighting. The main mechanic of this game is remembering where your pieces are, and this makes chess both a game of mental planning, and a memory game, which adds another difficult layer on top of an already complicated game. While I liked this idea of adding complexity, I wanted to see how far I could stretch the boundaries of a game instead of seeing the results of one simple change, because I thought it would be more difficult, interesting, and informative.

The concept of Readymades and Fluxkits showed that you can do interesting things and create works of art by just using the objects that you had on hand. You have to fully examine whatever object you would be using, determine its affordances, and choose the best way to utilize the object, whether it be for display or some other purpose. Fluxkits used common household objects such as matchsticks and film reels for artistic use. And certain Readymades were displayed as pieces of art, including Marcel Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel, Fountain, and Bottle Rack. So, I wanted to follow in the footsteps of the Dadaists and use an unconventional household object in my game. I wanted something that could be used instead of trains as pieces for the players on the Ticket to Ride board, and paperclips stood out to me as a simple way to show the locations and paths of each player, and they were just wide enough to fit on the Ticket train pathways.

Some of the Appropriation examples in class were influential to my game. Human Go, a variant of Go that is life-sized and played with humans as playing pieces, was something that showed me how playing pieces can really change the game. It’s harder to see the whole board the larger it is, and the larger the board, the slower the game goes. These are all results of the size of the playing pieces. I wanted a different experience than Ticket to Ride, so I shied away from the typical ‘placing trains down to complete routes’. Instead, I decided to use the routes as pathways you could travel on, and your player would not be in any one location permanently.

Inherently, this lent itself to a game similar to Tron or Snake, where your tail gets longer and longer, and you have to avoid all walls while trapping the other players. For a full description, see my previous post here:

But after my second playtest, I decided to change a few things. The motive behind some of the actions was questionable at best. For example, completing routes would move your snake out of a dangerous situation, moving potentially across the whole map, but your tail would get longer. Having a longer tail would make it easier to trap others, but also you have less area to move.

My playtesters said that they would like it better if there was a more concrete win condition, because although adding more paperclips makes the game eventually get to an end state, it was particularly difficult to actually trap players. And it was especially frustrating when a player got eliminated early and had to wait for the next game, unlike the traditional German game style that Ticket to Ride is (a game in which everyone is in it until the end).

So, my first change was to make this game more interactive, which meant drawing a hand of 3 color cards, and after you move, you replace on of the visible color cards with one from your hand, and redraw. The visible color cards represent pathways that no player can travel on. This way, it provides player input and strategy about which colors to hold, and which colors to use to trap other players, instead of it being random.

But, eventually I came to terms that the German style might be better, but more playtesting would be necessary.
This new style has the same basic play as the old version of the game, except there are two major changes.
1) The winner is the first player to get to four completed routes. Each player starts with 3 face-down routes, and whenever they complete one, they get another one face-down. The rules entailing route completion still applies (instead of moving up to 6 train spaces on your turn, you can turn a route face up, provided you are on one of the cities, and if there is a clear, unobstructed path from your city to the destination, then you move your snake along that path and add 5 paperclips to your tail). As your snake grows, there is less space to move, making it harder for you to get your last couple routes.
2) I removed the ‘player death’ aspect of the game. Players cannot die. Instead, if they cannot move, they just do not move. Thus, blocking players off is still relevant because the more freedom you have to move, the more likely you are to complete your routes.

Along with these changes, I’m still keeping my first change as it does allow more player interaction. This new version still keeps with the themes that I discussed earlier: creating a new experience by changing something in an existing game, using readymade objects as playing pieces, and using the playing pieces’ affordances in a well thought out way. Although it does make the game more like Ticket to Ride by focusing on route completion, my game goes about it in a different way, allowing the board and the blocked spaces to be more fluid to provide a unique experience.

Playtesting this game in class went well, and the players liked it and thought it was fun. We started with 5 paperclips each in a 3 player game, and we went to 4 routes completed. Each player started with 3 routes, and got one whenever they finished one. The colors and movement were fine, and playing colors to block others off was pretty common, and it became known that ending on a location that had many paths out of it was good because of this. Players were much more willing to block themselves off for a turn or two, just to get to the destination they wanted. I think this tradeoff is good, as it gives each player more options. I think that there are still imperfections with the game, but I am pleased with the result of this project.

Appropriation Playtest – Serpent to Ride

So for my Appropriated Game, I wanted to do something that took a traditional game, and transformed it (with mostly the same pieces) into a whole new game experience. I wanted to see how the game pieces could be used differently, and how to apply a new spin on something made entirely for one purpose.

I started going through all the games that I had available to me. I ruled out most board games that had cards with specific lines of rules text on them (Dominion, Betrayal at House on the Hill, Munchkin). But one of the most intriguing games that was not ruled out was Ticket to Ride. In this game, you have a board with cities and train tracks, cards that have colors, and route cards that only mention two cities. Looking at the Ticket to Ride board, I noticed that there are only a limited number of possible movements to get from one city to another. This is an important mechanic in the game, and I decided to take that one step further and transform that into the mechanic of my appropriated game. Another important game that influenced me, and this decision, was Tron. In this game, there are four competitors trailing paths as they move, and if you collide with a path, you are eliminated.

In my appropriated game, the point would be to cut off your opponent by making strategic plays and moves, using the Ticket board as a playing field. This game is titled ‘Serpent to Ride’. Alien Serpents have been dropped onto the US around the industrial revolution, and they must cause as much destruction as possible.

Each player starts out on one of two cities (designated by a route card). They put a train there (signifying their head) and then they trail behind their head five connected paperclips (which lay on a pathway from that city). On their turn, each player must move to one or more other cities, as long as the distance of their move doesn’t exceed 6 train cars. They take their paperclip trail with them as they move their Serpent head. Any paperclip trail signifies spaces that cannot be moved on. After everyone has moved, a color card is drawn, which signifies which color pathways the players cannot take. A maximum of 3 of these cards are visible at any given time, and as the 4th card (7th card, 10th card, etc) is revealed, everyone gets a route card (each player starts with one). If, on your turn, you are on one city on a route card, and there is an unobstructed path to the other city, you play the card, move your Serpent to that city along the legal path, and then you get five more paperclips attached to your tail, effectively making less room for your opponents and making it easier to trap people in.






The paperclips are a bit hard to see, so maybe I’ll get something more visible for the next time.

Overall, this game works best with either 1) more players or 2) more paperclips covering the board. The game was relatively slow because we only had 2 players, so I was thinking of changing the starting number of paperclips for your serpent based on the number of players.

The playtesters said it was a fun game, and they liked the concept and mechanics. They felt the slowness as well. The route mechanic was not used as much as I had hoped, but I think it’s important and I will see in a future playtest. The color flipping did provide a situation where someone couldn’t use a route card in their hand, and it did constrain players’ movement, so I feel that was successful at least. Overall, I think it went well.

(By the way, the last picture is an example of a lose state for red because the red serpent is entirely blocked by the green serpent and cannot move)

Appropriation Show and Tell

One of the most well known examples of appropriation in recent times is the red, white, and blue Obama poster that says ‘HOPE’ on the bottom, designed by Shepard Fairey.


He took a photograph and appropriated it into this poster. Pretty soon after it caught on, other artists appropriated his work as well, as shown in the wikipedia page, displaying characters such as Anonymous and Gil Fulbright.

A lawsuit was held over the picture, which revolved around Fair Use. The AP claimed that the poster did not constitute fair use. Actually, what Fairey did did not constitute fair use, however the original artist, Manny Garcia, did not forgive Fairey, but he voiced his opinion that this poster did constitute fair use. Overall, Fairey and the AP agreed to a settlement and to work together going forward with the Hope image.

City Footsteps Piece – Mike Rinaldi

So far, one of the main themes of this class has been on the definition of art. Allan Kaprow’s Happenings and George Maciunas’s Fluxus movement challenged the traditional definition of ‘art’ and sought to explore how far they can stretch art as something to be marveled. The most important lesson I learned from some of Kaprow’s Happenings was that activities that do not make very much sense on the surface, sometimes are not meant to make sense. The motivation behind some of these Happenings was the effect that it created on the participants and on the observers. The picture of people licking jam off a car hood immediately comes to mind. That looks unpleasant to me, and something I would not do myself, but it is definitely something I would stop and look at. I tried continuously to think about what kind of metaphor this act would represent, but nothing immediately came to mind. And then it hit me: sometimes the ulterior motive behind these acts is to just perform an art piece. These pieces were being performed for the effect that they created and not for anything else. It was very confusing for me, because I have never thought this way before. But in some way, it did make sense. People taking everyday objects, things that were unconventional to use in art, and utilizing them in interesting ways only for the desired effect on all parties involved. This goes hand-in-hand with the Fluxus movement as well; attempting to blur the line between art and life, and trying to make real life an art form in of itself. FluxKits gave everyone the opportunity to be an artist, with cheap materials that were easy to access, sometimes objects you had in your own house. They wanted art to be immersed into the environment and everyday life. And thus, creating an art piece that somehow involved daily life was one of my main goals coming in to this assignment.
Reading Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit only reinforced the fact that a very important aspect of art is the effect that the piece has on the performer or observer. Some poems were deliberately impossible, like ‘Throwing Piece’ (due to the nature of gravity) and Announcement Piece II (you cannot send a moving announcement if you are dead). But surely throwing a stone into the air as high as you can gives you some sort of feeling, whether it be futility or exhilaration.
So I wanted to find an act that the motivation behind it would be to have some sort of effect on the performer or observer, without it being an explicit metaphor for something. Looking further into Grapefruit, I found Walking Piece, in which you tried to mimic the footsteps of a person in front of you. The effect I thought this piece would give was a better view of someone else’s life, because you got to experience how fast they walked (if they were rushed or calm) and what they were doing. I liked this theme, so I wanted to create a similar piece, but on a larger scale because naturally, the city of Boston allows that. So why not get a better view of a city’s life, instead of a person’s life? So my piece became:

Sit in a crowded area for a day.
Observe each person that passes.
Count their footsteps.

This fulfilled both of my goals of experiencing daily life, and causing an effect on the performer (noticing the relative tempo of certain city areas). After presentation in class and some feedback, I tweaked the piece to:

Sit in a crowded area for five minutes at a time.
1) In the morning
2) In the afternoon
3) In the evening
Observe each person that passes.
Count their footsteps.

I like the idea of getting a general slice of Boston, and the multiple time frames with five minutes at a time gives me a similar effect to my original piece, but it takes up less time. The ‘one day’ time frame was just unreasonable and was unnecessary, so I removed it. The motivation behind that was due to the many impossible pieces in Grapefruit, but the time frame does not really add much to the piece.
9:37AM Ruggles T station, area near CharlieCard machines
476 steps
-When there was one person, I could get into their frame of mind, which was rushed (for the most part)
-When there were two people, I could keep up with counting their footsteps.
-When there was a whole crowd of people, I struggled to keep up. I was just ticking numbers in my head very rapidly.
-While I was doing this, I didn’t notice that I was cold (I noticed this both before and after the time frame). I was only focusing on the people and the counting. This actually surprised me.
-There were periods of emptiness and periods of crowdedness, related to the bus schedule. Some buses were full but most were not.

1:22PM Ruggles T Station, area near CharlieCard machines
302 steps
-There were significantly less people here this time. I had to look around instead of focusing my eyes on the spot I did last time.
-However there was a somewhat continuous flow of people along the main passageways through Ruggles.

5:23PM Ruggles T Station, area near CharlieCard machines
568 steps
-A lot more people than the morning shift
-I sat down just as a bus arrived, a very large amount of people passing by in about 2-3 minutes. But after that, it calmed down
-Again, I didn’t notice I was cold, I only focused on the numbers.