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Archives: Mount Brainiac

12.18.2016

Several years ago I worked on a slew (gaggle, murder?) of games for Sifteo's now defunct cube platform, as mentioned in a previous post.

In 2010, Sifteo contracted me to work on an educational game: Mount Brainiac. Little did I know that it would end up on display in the Museum of Modern Art as part of the "Talk to Me" exhibit, a showcase that examined ways in which humans interact with machines.

The first generation cubes presented hardware limitations such as this palette:

As a result, I had to rely on optical mixing to achieve the colors not represented. Here's some of my favorite artwork from the project.

Cutscenes

 

Environments

 

Characters

Archives: Sandwich Kingdom

05.02.2016

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of working with San Francisco startup Sifteo on their cube gaming platform. Instead of relying on a traditional controller or a D-Pad, players interacted by shaking, tilting, pressing, and neighboring the cubes. As a result, the hardware led to some interesting design challenges.

The flagship game was a Zelda-style adventure that featured a princess searching for ingredients to build a magical sandwich and fulfill a universal lunchtime prophesy. Due to the platform's unique inputs, the game eschewed combat in favor of exploration and Sobokan puzzles. The game's colorful graphics, sprawling levels, and epic story made it a hit with kids, even those too young to read the humorous dialogue. In fact, when we showcased the game at Indiecade East 2013, we witnessed many kids return for the second day of the event to continue their playthroughs.

With additional cubes, the player can see more of the map at once. Did I mention that the small LCD screens on top of the cubes were perfect for pixel art?

Here is some of my favorite artwork I created for the game.

The venom-spitting camel spider didn't make it into the game. I sure wish I could keep one as a pet. 

A sample level made with the tileset from the starting world. 

In-game cutscenes featured these portraits to accompany dialogue text.

Positive response to Sandwich Kingdom prompted the creation of a sequel: Ice Palace. This installment introduced new puzzle elements like ice slides and fierce owlbears. 

For more information about the project, read these posts from designers Lily Cheng and Joshua Herbert.

Sifteo was acquired by 3D Robotics in 2014. The cube platform is defunct.

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