Bigger Ain’t Better

by Christin Bongiorni, Maryyann Landlord, and Gregory Rose

They say some men just want to watch the world burn. In Bigger Ain’t Better, some men just want to watch the world burn… in their stomach. Bigger Ain’t Better is a 2D puzzle-platformer experimenting with size. Eat food to make your character bigger, and bigger, and bigger. Eat enough, and you’ll be big enough to even eat the previous level. Size introduces a whole new dimension to platforming puzzles, affecting both what’s possible and how you traverse a level. And be careful, because Bigger ain’t always Better.


Greg – Narbacular Drop Team

There weren’t really interviews with the individual team members or the programmers, so I’ll treat all of them together. If you haven’t heard the story, the team that made Portal was initially just a student team at Digipen (a game school). Portal was initially Narbacular Drop, which had the original portal mechanic, but with much different aesthetic, and story. You’re a pixie trapped underground.

Valve came to the release fair, saw the game, and offered some feedback, and then eventually offered to have them show the game at Valve offices, where Gabe Newell offered them jobs to finish Portal.

The initial feedback was in line with Valve’s style:

JB: One thing I remember in particular… In Narbacular Drop there’s a lot of cases where we have places where you can screw yourself. You can drop your box in the lava and you have to reset the level. And in Valve design terms, that’s retarded. You can’t screw the player. That was one big thing that came up. The art design – everything was pretty brown and muddy. So when people first see the game they say…

KS: Quake.

JB: Yeah, it’s a first-person shooter. So there were a lot of things that we did wrong in that sense. You couldn’t tell the ceiling from the floor, there was no grounding in reality.

One takeaway for me is to show games I make to people in industry, and ask for feedback. At the very least, I’ll get feedback, and as long as the games are decent, there’s not much to lose.

Tagline – Greg, Jing, Maryann, Swetha, Tess


Tagline is a combination of tag, snakes and ladders, and hopscotch, with a dash of icebreaker. Like in tag, one player is chosen to be “it”, and they chase other players and try to tag them. However, in Tagline, when you’re tagged, you also have to tell an embarrassing story about yourself to the other players. Additionally, all players can only move on a grid drawn on the sidewalk.  The grid has various sketches drawn throughout that, like in Snakes and Ladders, can act as shortcuts or slow you down. Players can interact by blocking each other so that another player gets tagged.

The idea of gamification here is to get players used to interacting with each other by playing a game and following all of the same rules. For this or other reasons, people seem to find games a lot more natural than the contrived nature of pure ice breakers, and our goal was to create a more engaging and successful way to get to know new people.

We found during our tests of this game that in a group of friends, this game became intense, competitive, but most importantly fun! With a group of strangers, however, the stories shared during the game and the competitive atmosphere provided a good way for us to feel comfortable with each other and get to know one another. In the end, everyone walked away feeling happy and feeling as if  we truly got to see into a bit of each others characters.

Gregory – Best Game Fest

Light Fight

Light fight is a turn-based 4-player team game for night time. 4 players split into 2 teams, each player armed with a flashlight. The goal for each team is to get at least 3 of the other team’s feet illuminated. A judge helps decide if a foot is “illuminated”. Players can use cardboard boxes in the middle for defense. Players can also win by having both members of a team reach the opposite side of their starting positions, although this only ever happened once the entire day (during one of the games I played). Another twist — when shining your light, you have to aim it before turning it on — once it’s on you can’t adjust it. This adds an element of skill in addition to the strategy of the game. There’s also an element of luck in the configuration of the boxes.

It’s a pretty neat idea. Light fight is pretty reminiscent to the game Ninja, in that it’s physical and turn-based, but it’s also very different in a few ways: shining lights means the angle between players matters first, and then distance; having no physical contact makes it less violent and react-time based, and more strategic; having teams also contributes to that. However, the team-based aspect was in the background for most of the time. You really can’t effectively “attack” 2 players, so the game mostly splits into two 1-on-1’s. The “judging” part was also very tricky, since it’s a very fuzzy line what constitutes shining light on someone’s foot or not, and even moreso hard to tell before shining a light. I like how the game has a lot of room for strategizing: I stuck one foot out to another player, but they were far away, so they stepped in towards me, thinking their partner would get my partner’s 2 feet the next round. But in doing so, she perfectly exposed herself for me to shine light on both of her feet.


In Scattershot, up to 4 teams compete to control ships on a 2D field. Each player on a team  uses their phone to open a web browser and control a single laser on the ship, and nothing more. Ships move around based on propulsion caused by firing lasers; firing all on one side at the same time lets you move forward; or just firing one causes you to rotate.

The idea seemed interesting. The movement mechanic is a good way to represent how “in-sync” two players can think together, and compete both in that and strategy-wise. However, to me, the game was pretty hindered by high and unreliable latency (~3-5 seconds) between firing and shooting. I’m not sure if this was a technical issue, an intended mechanic, or both. This made it pretty-much impossible to strategize, but my partner and I ended up just independently trying to fire, accounting for the delay, and hit enemies from wherever we are, because the shooting distance made position pretty irrelevant, since there weren’t any strategic obstacles. It did remind me of an interesting game at GDC where up to 5 players push pedals to control independent rockets on a space ship, which was actually pretty fun, so I think with some technical improvements this could work.


Flavor Change – Greg, Melanie, Sylvia

Flavor change

In da hood where 3 rappers try to accumulate street cred:
3 rappers start with 5 street cred + 3 street cred in the crowd (center of the table)
Each turn rappers take a decision in Rock Paper Scissors style. rappers can choose diss freestyle (fist) or peace out (open hand).
There are 4 possible outcomes:
Outcome 1 – one rapper chooses diss freestyle: this rapper pumps out some fresh lyrics against the other two rappers, gaining 1 street cred from their homies because his/her rap is so sick.
Outcome 2 – two rappers choose diss freestyle: these rappers both give 1 street cred to the third rapper because they get up in each others grillz and make each other look pretty bad.
Outcome 3 – three rappers choose diss freestyle: all rappers look wack and put 1 street cred in the streets because they’re all jocking each other’s style.
Outcome 4 – three rappers choose peace out: the crowd is so impressed with their chillness, and the rapper with most street cred proposes once, without discussion, how to divide the street cred from the crowd–by endorsing each other. If at least one rapper agrees the decision becomes effective. Otherwise, nobody gets any mo street cred.
The game ends when the first player is out of street cred and the player with the most street cred wins, becoming the King or Queen of Rap.


Michelle and Greg-Subversive Play

If you’ve ever heard of the phrase “Hate the game, not the player,” our spin was to make it “Hate the player in the game.”

Our idea for subversive play was to transform frustrating multiplayer game experiences into something a little more gratifying. While playing a normal game (Mario Kart), we kept track of all those little negative experiences, creating a point system to quantify our anger. Then, using a simulation game, in this case The Sims, we recreated each other’s in-game avatars, and exacted our revenge on them in various ways for each of negative experiences: we cause them to have involuntary bladder accidents, get into fights, die in a cooking accident, drown, etc.

More information on Mario Kart:

Playing a game like Mario Kart can be frustrating. Thanks to the pseudo-random balancing element of items like red shells, blue shells, and the many comical obstacles, one can go from first place to last place, mere feet from the finish line on the last map. One of my friends even coined the term “nonsense zone”, a devilish area roughly from 4th to 7th place where you can be doing fine one second, and shot back the next. The mechanism is this: you have many players in front and behind you, all relatively close, who can throw bombs, bananas, fake item blocks, red shells, etc. any which way. It’s very easy to get hit, often with little to no time to react; even the best players are susceptible. Once you are hit, you become a sitting duck to be hit by any of the several people behind you again. All of this takes place over the course of a few seconds. In sum, you can be doing fine and then BOOM LAST PLACE.

To the cool-headed rational person, these are just parts of the game that you have to accept. Grit your teeth and bear it, so to speak. But what if you’re not cool-headed and rational? This is what we explore in our project.

Gregory Rose

oh look a gregory

My somewhat outdated website from before I knew any better:

Um here, have some quotes

“I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something about that. Then I realized: I am somebody.”
– Lily Tomlin

“Knowledge is understanding that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”
– Pakistani Proverb

“I see now that the circumstances of one’s birth are irrelevant; it is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are.”
– Mewtwo