An award-winning puppet show video game.
- Game Developer's Conference 2018, San Francisco
- More locations coming soon!
Puppet Pandemonium is a performance-based puppet show video game. Players act out a streaming session by two "Stitch" streamers, playing through a collection of minigames and ultimately battling on the evils of fascism. Puppet Pandemonium is a game, but it was also designed to help players tackle their fears of public speaking.
This was the first time that our team created a puppet show. Extensive work and revision went into building both the puppet theater and the puppets themselves. The puppet theater was iterated on using an immersive VR prototyping environment. Several iterations of puppets were created to ensure high quality of construction and ease-of-use. The puppet theater was designed in virtual reality, and the player configuration was modified based on the results of virtual reality design testing.
Puppet Pandemonium tells a story that is humorous, but also discusses the consequences of online monitoring and anti-net neutrality legislation. The experience and games were designed to ease players into a colorful cartoon word, then teach them about the current fight for net neutrality in Congress.
I was the sole developer for the initial game prototype. This prototype of a colorful, highly animated infinite runner game called Extreme Kawaii 2 YOLO was created for Puppet Pandemonium’s submission to the Alt.Ctrl showcase at the Game Developer’s Conference, 2018. The prototype went through several phases, working through both single and split screen mechanics for representing the seven player gaming experience.
Game variables such as speed, velocity, and jumping mechanics were iterated on with the art and design team. The prototype was developed to allow non-developers to test different gameplay mechanics with minimal assistance required from developers. This iterative, collaborative prototyping approach resulted in successful acceptance into the Alt.Crtl showcase.
Puppet Pandemonium was developed over six months. Development consisted of four themed minigames, a dialog engine, and an electronics interface. The project was created in Unity using C#. Gameplay consisted of both 2D and 3D environments, requiring the integration of both 2D and 3D art assets within the project. The hardware inputs were wired to an Arduino, outputting button press information to the main machine over a serial connection.
Quick testing and iteration was crucial to the development process to identify issue early. For example, during testing buttonmashing players overpowered the game's input stack and caused a delay in recognizing new input. As a result, the input stack was rewritten for the final game version.
The team embraced iteration across art, design, and development. The design of the physical puppets evolved over time to improve usability and the sturdiness of the build. The puppet theater was modified for both size and functionality, due to changing requirements around conference exhibition booth size and an increase of the number of players in the game. The art style continued to iterate along with the physical design, finally settling on a colorful and surreal aesthetic that paired well with the physical design and extended the playful visuals within the interactive presentation.
The minigames and dialog were iterated on constantly by all team members in order to make sure the game was fun but challenging for all players. The team also made observations and took feedback at the Alt.Ctrl showcase, making improvements to the script and gameplay for future audiences.
I was the lead developer for the project, completing the submission prototype independently and then working with an additional developer for the final game. I designed and developed two of the Puppet Pandemonium minigames. I also designed and implemented the electronics for the project. I also represented the projected at the Game Developer’s Conference, giving demonstrations and speaking with media contacts.
The game was first demonstrated in the Alt.Ctrl Showcase at the Game Developer's Conference, picking up the ALT.CTRL.GDC Award at the 2018 IGF Awards.