Making the Global Game Jam 2014 Keynote Video

General Info, tweeted!

KahoAbe GGJ Video small from Kaho A on Vimeo.

I am honored to have been included as one of the keynote videos shown at this year’s Global Game Jam. I was pretty much blown away to be in the same line up as Richard Lemarchand and Jenova Chen. Humbled indeed! I loved the illustrations by Noji in Richard’s keynote. And what an incredible event to be a part of. I am such a fan of game jams, and the history and reach of the Global Game Jam is huge. It’s like a humongous collective and collaborative ball of game development love. It is no surprise that great games have come out of it!

When I was invited to do the keynote, I was so excited because I knew this was a completely blank slate to say and do whatever I wanted, as long as it was not a talking heads video, I was told. Since I am not very good at video, I thought I would illustrate and animate. I found that out the hard way during the course of making this video that I am by no means an animator! Luckily my friend, former fellow Fellow at Eyebeam and amazing animator, Nick Fox-Gieg, gave me valuable guidance through the process. I used Illustrator to draw the scenes, and used Adobe Flash to animate some things with simple tweening (same skill from 2003, when I last used Flash). Nick had an old version of Kurst SWF renderer which is a tool that breaks down the swf frames into stills, and then with his suggestion, I reassembled it in Adobe After Effects. I added the fade ins and outs as well as my cringe-worthy voiceover, and that was it!

Looking back at the video, there are quite a few things that I would have done differently, but I had a time constraint and I had also gotten sick with a bad cold that came with a very attractive eye infection in both eyes. I wish I could have added sound, and made some of the animation smoother and more complex. There are some parts I actually had to leave out, due to lack of time (and crusty eyes!), but it is probably not worth explaining in detail at this point. However, I did laugh a lot, while drawing the different bunny outfits — my personal favorite is the JCVD one. I hope people recognized that one!

I also hope that the underlying message about pride, diversity and innovation is clear. There are so many things in our lives that can inspire the things we do and make, and it can be a part of our creativity in a very elemental way. And the effects of this kind of creativity can be really wonderful for others as well as the creator.

Ooooor… you could have thought that the keynote was just about bunnies getting dressed up — then I guess, that’s fine too!


Costumes as Game Controllers: Lightning Bug Game Projection Testing

Costumes as Game Controllers, Face-to-face Games, tweeted!

I am a huge fan of cinema, and I like projection mapping and know of the magic projections can do, but I have never been on the development side of the experiences. To make the Lightning Bug game, I originally envisioned a large dome with the hope to make the experience more immersive for the players. Note in this sketch that the projectors are on the outside of the dome.


At the point in the project, I think half a dome, a quarter of a sphere, should be enough. Concentrating on the half dome will make it exponentially easier to make it a full dome later. I don’t know enough about projections and to take small steps is the saner route to take.

I will be fabricating the dome myself, keeping in mind portability and stability. I need to travel with the dome, and so it needs to be lightweight and collapsible. It needs to also be stable enough so that we can create some kind of consistency with the projection so that it can be set up anywhere. The dome will probably be some kind of stretch fabric with conduits for flexible plastic rods, kind of like a tent. I am not sure what the flexible plastic rod material would be, so right now let’s call them “bones”.

Fortunately, my good friend Kyle Li is working with me on the projection part of the game. He’s got experience working on projected installations and dome projections too. He’s amazing! Last week, at our first meeting Kyle suggested a few alternative ways to project on to the dome. One way is to project from the inside against a curved mirror. This is a good alternative, because the seams on the screen won’t block out the projection, because the “bones” would be on the outside. There is also the option to projection from the inside without mirrors, but the players could interfere with the projection, depending on where the projector is and how high the projected image would be on the dome surface.


Yesterday Kyle and I had our second meeting, and we tried a paper miniature version of the dome. Kyle took some amazing photos of the various options. The two tree models represent the 2 players.



I am so excited about where this is going. The next steps in the actual projection testing will take place inside the large space that Eyebeam is going to let me use for the last several days of this month. In the meantime, I need to do more research about the following to prepare to work in the large space:

  • Calculating and making 2D patterns for the gores, sections on the dome. I was using a parachute calculator on the internet, but I soon found out parachute domes are not exactly what I am looking for. *fail*
  • Researching fabric. Will probably go to the fabric stores in the garment district and look for a semi-opaque material that is tough, possibly stretchy and white.
  • Researching materials for “bones”

Movies as Inspiration for Physical Games & Jean-Claude Van Jam

Eyebeam, Hit Me!, Inspiration, tweeted!

While I do tend to like foreign films and independent films most, I have always had a soft spot for action films, even the gratuitously violent ones. No matter how fantastical or b-class it might be, I find myself jumping in my seat, cringing, cheering for the good guy and on occasion covering my mouth in disbelief. I am a sucker for this stuff, no doubt.

When I designed Hit Me! I was looking for inspiration — anything — with the idea in mind that I wanted to create a game that was intense and exciting — not just to play but also to watch. I went through my mental rolodex of action film memories, and stopped at Jean Claude Van Damme’s Lionheart.

I studied games such as Twister, Sumo and Fencing for inspiration too, but at the end the fight scenes from Lionheart had a big influence on the game. The circle of spectators, the performance, the spectacle of the 2 fighters fighting a bare fisted, no holds barred fight, and the raw, spontaneous setting of the abandoned parking lot where the fights took place — It had it all. These were elements that I wanted to incorporate into the look and feel of Hit Me! Here is an example:

Movies are wonderful inspirations especially for games played in the physical world, because they contain scenarios that connect space, story and characters. Also because it uses a visual language that has been understood by viewers. The latter is actually an useful tool. For example, think of all the nail biting scenarios in all of the action films you have seen over the years — there are certainly patterns we can identify — not just in story but also with the characters and the environment that is involved. These patterns can be used and recreated in the game in order to evoke the same feelings in the player and also the spectators.

So I am so excited by Jean-Claude Van Jam, because it highlights the potential of using films as inspiration for games. I can’t wait to see what parts of the films the jammers will use in their games. I hope there will be physical games too!

Jean-Claude Van Jam — August 17-19, 2012 7PM
Eyebeam Art & Technology Center (540 W 21st Street, NYC)
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