Art Games: Smash Bros is Serious Business

Without much doubt, Super Smash Bros is a game series familiar to many people who are familiar with video games. Known primarily for crossing over characters from Nintendo’s franchises (and occasionally other third-party characters), the series pits these characters into a fighting-game context.

The series has also been known to have a notable competitive scene that has launched several gaming tournaments dedicated to the games. However, some of the game’s developers have expressed concern for these competitive communities, citing the skill gap between casual and competitive players.

A proposal I have in mind for bridging the gap between casual and competitive play, while maintaining a sense of communal gathering, is to host a version of the game in the form of a puppet show. Partially inspired by Isla Hansen’s Motion Capture America (2015), which also involved puppetry and motion capture in the video game context, the player characters are represented physically by hand-made puppets. The movements of these puppets would be captured to move the on-screen characters on the stages, and particular movements would trigger attacks while physically moving the puppet would move the character on the stage (walking/running/jumping).

The idea of using motion-capture puppets particularly comes from the story-world elements presented within the series itself. The fighting game genre as a whole tends to be built like a theater stage, in which the elements shown on the screen are arranged 2-dimensionally. The fighters themselves are “actors” in the digital productions; additionally, they are also like puppets in terms of having to be chosen and controlled by the player. The third installment of the series even hints at this with it’s story mode, in which the characters are represented as inanimate “toy” trophies that come to life when needed to fight. (Check out this advertisement for the Nintendo 64 version, which represents the characters humorously in costume) 

Additionally, this form of motion-capture gameplay is meant to be seen as an absurd and silly form of playing a game that is often seen as highly competitive. Players can attempt to master the controls to play this form of Smash Bros competitively, or they can chose to play casually for the novelty of the controls. Either way, I would want the experience to be silly and light-hearted, as the game series often present itself to be.



Residents: Updates Post-Spring Break

Render of Installation Proposal:




Main frame, and “shelves”

More animation drafts and overview (still image):




03/27 Update

Upon getting advice about shortening the projector’s throw distance, I modified the standing structure into two 1-ft segments. I am using a “mirror technique” in order to shorten the throw distance of the projected image by pointing the projector back at a mirror that bounces the light back to the tracing paper.

The resulting image is a little distorted (trapezoidal shape of the screen), but I’m not too bothered by it (and it shouldn’t be too hard to adjust)


I ended up adding door hinges to the side panels so that the structure would be able to “open” and “close”. I had them initially taped and then drilled into the main frame. The projection surface/tracing paper also ended up being removed and replaced by a more appropriately-sized sheet (so there is no seam visible in the middle of the surface).

HOUSE: Updates 2/20

As of this week/last week, I’ve started doing basic/”still” character animations and refining the layout of the house space. Projector configurations are still up in the air, as I’m still looking for a replacement to my toy projector for something that will give me a little more fine details. For, now, it’s better to work on the content itself.

Cleaned-up version of the house structure that will be used in the projection. It should comfortably fit a “rectangle” of 18in x 24in (3:4 units). This sketch also highlights where two of the characters are in relation to the house (or at least, the two characters I’ve worked on so far)
Sample animation of “bedguy”; this character reflects self-contemplation after a rough day

I also have two screenshots of my desktop, featuring how I usually work with Clip Studio and a SP3 in creating these kinds of animations.

And here’s a video link to how animation playback in the program (kinda) works in real-time. 

House: Bibliography Links

A compilation of interests and content that might be related to the overall HOUSE being built.


ARTISTS and works – A collection of Shana Moulton’s projection/performative works at Kunsthaus Glarus. Projections of images onto various surfaces – Mika Rottenberg and the Amazing Invention Factory – Fictional logic for otherwise ordinary objects – Tony Oursler and fun projections onto fun objects


Visual Guides/Concepts Study in Time & Space (Jerrold Chong) – Hand-drawn appearance, and use of overlapping/repeating animations – Rainbow Narcosis (Johnathan Monaghan) – Abstracted and somewhat absurd visual transitions Velodrool (Sander Joon) – Hand-drawn animation and some pretty interesting visual gags Peak (Jin) – Visual style of character(s) (something similar to what I’d be going for) – Dollhouse projection (front projection) – Recently found this method of projection to be effective for this project


Miscellaneous Inspiration Desire (series), Jacolby Satterwhite (2009-2014) About 3 years ago I visited the Whitney Biennale (which I also consider one of the first times I was “seriously inspired” to pursue art as a career) and saw this artist’s work and learned of the background behind its creation (which is also inspired by a family history) de Paume, Joshua Mosely (2014) Also seen 3 years ago, a stop-motion animation that’s uncannily realistic and captures a sense of “human awareness” through character and camera movement – Transforming a space with visually intriguing objects (though this is a series of illustrations, and the article also features other illustrations by the artist)  (March 8, 2016) The Door Is Always Open, Gary Baseman, Aaron Rosen (2013) – Catalogue of Gary Baseman’s first museum retrospective, which also takes a closer look at his personal Jewish upbringing as an inspiration for his works. Personal inspiration for character design and themes (interestingly the book’s “chapters” are titled as rooms of a house)

Art Games: Project 1

Or, the maze! This is my first Unity game, so I hope all goes well and bug-less.

The game (which currently has no title) is a maze for the most part. You navigate the game by walking/running, and running into certain cubes will take you to different places in the maze. The “end” can be reached through several means, but there isn’t a real goal other than to explore this enclosure you find yourself in. Screen Shot 2017-02-13 at 8.13.09 AM.png

You can download WebGL folder here. Be advised that the WebGL version doesn’t work nicely with Chrome, so I recommend a different browser like Firefox.

The standalone version (for Mac) is here as well. (I have yet to create a windows version)

Screen Shot 2017-02-13 at 8.13.32 AM.png

Art Games: Teleporting Mazes

A couple days ago I started getting the hang of using Unity and managed to get a better hand on integrating scripts within game development.


The objective I have in mind is navigating a series of “rooms” via touching objects that teleport the player to another location. The main area of inspiration comes from Osamu Sato’s LSD Dream Emulator, which is a game I have immense admiration for. One of the most striking aspects that I recall from LSD was bumping into otherwise ordinary objects (such as the walls of the various “levels” or areas) and having the scenery suddenly change. In my experience, this game element of surprise and the unknown was what made the game so interesting and memorable for me.


(Sample “map” of gameflow, it is also totally subject to change)

For this “maze” game, I think it would be nice to reference this feeling of being lost and hopelessly confused in a world that seems to change so often.

HOUSE: Makeshift Update

This weekend I made time to at least test how I want to project images onto a surface for the “house projection”. I ended up making an interesting result!

Originally, the setup I had in mind involved forward-projecting the animations on the “sculpture” component.


This is a really rushed “model” of what I considered, and tried with various cardboard boxes. While the setup looked well-lit for the purposes of the potential installation, this would only really be suitable if the gallery space were pitch-black. (Given that the slightly-edited picture above is really… not good)

I started with researching alternative surfaces for projecting images – particularly, on transparent/glassy surfaces that I could potentially light from behind the sculpture.  However, it was worth noting that this method could be potentially be out of my budget for what I’d be willing to spend on. So I found an alternative in rear-projection techniques that required more accessible materials. (Here is a link to an instructables project using this kind of projection) 



The makeshift “cave” I made here involves a box holding the projector that blocks off light from most directions, except for the surface it projects on. The surface projection is a sheet of translucent vellum paper (originally intended for scrapbooking!), which I drew on to see how it would show up. The bed drawing, made with a Faber-Castell pen, ended up being the most opaque and true to what I wanted. Based on these results, I think I want the “furnishings” of the house to be hand-drawn at this point!