Gallery Write Up: Llewellyn Gallery

This event took place on May 1st at the Llewellyn Gallery in SUNY Alfred State’s SET building. The show is called Cross Wired: A synthesis of digital and paper art. The two pieces that I looked at in particular were two videogames.

One is a game where the player is a symbol, “Hero”, and he or she goes around, purifying the ‘evil’ characters and freeing the other ‘good’ symbols. It is a game that is set in a 3d world with 2d images where the character can travel between the layers of the trees and interact with the environment – this can be jumping over things or climbing trees. This project appeared to be created with paper and Photoshop. The environment was created using paper cut outs of trees pasted into the layers that the character travels around and through. The characters are symbols made in Photoshop using a brush. These are well designed and the viewer can distinguish between the good and evil. ‘Good’ characters have thinner lines and feel lighter while ‘evil’ characters have heavier lines. The animations for this may have been done in flash before being put in the game.

There is also a custom controller for this game. The critique of the controller is that, while pretty, does not feel intuitive with the game play required. The up and down buttons are placed on the left, the right and left arrows on the right and the action button in the center. While playing, the viewer has to leave the direction controls to use the action button. From my experience, I would lose my place on the buttons and therefore have to repeat the action I just did because I messed up. Generally, direction controls are placed in a cross formation on controllers to the left and action buttons are on the right. This helps with smooth motions and the player intuitively knowing where buttons are. Most controllers for game systems are set up this way.

The other interactive present is a game that involves two people to take control of two characters – a sheriff and a vampire. The sheriff tries to shoot the vampire who is eating the hearts, or life force, of NPCs. The way that this game has the split screen set up is unique. The vampire is not visible to the sheriff played. Instead, he is invisible in that player’s screen. The sheriff must pay attention to where and when bodies drop from the vampire. The lower screen is where the vampire character plays. A black background, floating hearts and a silhouetted vampire give a unique way to play with two people. While simple enough to figure out, it isn’t overtly obvious where the vampire is.

I like the mechanic of the silhouette in the lower screen, however, the clue mechanic could be improved. After five NPCs are killed, the sheriff receives a clue. This is a long time to wait and perhaps three deaths would be more adequate. Another feature that could be added is after all NPCs are dead, instead of an instant win for the vampire; the vampire could be given a chance to kill the sheriff. A sort of ‘boss’ mode for the final winner.

I saw these two video game pieces as art. Video games as art has always been an interest of mine; these two games have inspired me to consider what I might do for my own interactive art piece.

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