Jom and Terry (and the Magical Cheese)
Storytelling through physical controllers
For: Interaction intelligence
Project team: Quincy Kuang, Annie Dong
Storytelling with Controller
In the realm of video games, storytelling is predominantly achieved through digital interfaces. Whether it's through hyper-realistic graphics or stylized designs, narratives are primarily conveyed via the screen. However, an equally significant aspect of the gaming experience lies in the physical interaction with a controller. "Jom and Terry" shifts this paradigm, offering a gaming experience where the story unfolds through the physical controller itself, rather than relying solely on digital output. This unique approach invites players to engage more deeply with the game, experiencing the narrative through tactile and interactive means, thereby enriching the storytelling process in a novel and immersive way.
The game is a 1D cat chase mouse game where 1 player controls Jom (the cat) while the other player controls the Terry (the mouse). Jom's goal is to catch the Terry, while the Terry's goal is to eat the magical cheese, represented by the yellow pixel. Because Jom is a nimble cat, it can walk two pixels at a time and is represented as two pixels in size. While Terry is only one pixel in size and can only walk 1 pixel each time, he can choose to enter mouse holes that will transport him to another mouse hole on the floor. The magical cheese teleports every few seconds to make sure both Jom and Terry are engage in the game. Here are two win conditions for both Jom and terry:
To make the game more intuitive, we named our character after the popular cartoon "Tom and Jerry" except with a spin, where Tom become Jom and Jerry becoming Terry. We also used their color scheme to represent them better in the limited graphics of a 1D game.
Initial concept of the controller design is based on the unique qualities of cat and mouse. We thought it would be interesting to have Jom and Terry's controller to be respectively a cat and a mouse, and the inputs the controls the movement would be mechanism that are similar to the way the move or behave in the cartoon.
We thought that a direct representation of a cat and mouse would be very surface level, thus we took inspiration from artist and the cartoon.
Méret Oppenheim is a surrealist artist who makes objects using unexpected materials to reflect social issues. Her piece Object (1936) shows a fur wrapped tea cup set representing affluence and femininity. In our case, we thought that this fur like appearance immediately alludes to the character of "Tom and Jerry" from a material/texture perspective. We also took inspiration from the cartoon and represented both Jom and Terry in simple geometries to develop the narrative without being too direct. Jom ultimately took on the shape of a bowling ball as it is both a comfortable shape as a controller and also represented his character.
Méret Oppenheim: Object (1936)
Tom becoming a bowling ball
We started with electronics of the controller. For Jom we want to user to feel that although the control is simple, they need to slow down to have accurate control of the cat, thus we choose joystick to achieve this effect. As for Terry, we want the user to feel like they are constantly clicking and running away from Jom, so we added many buttons that needs to be clicked to maneuver Terry properly.
Scale is also an important factor to the controller experience. We purposely made Jom much bigger and Terry smaller to add more to the narrative. We believe deep down, Jom and Terry are friends, thus we made a magnetic holder that lets Terry sit on the shoulder of Jom when the game is not being played.
The game is written in P5JS, and hosted as a html on a live server through visual studio code.
Play test 1
One problem we realized with our earlier design is that there is a bug where Jom can never catch the mouse. We fixed this by making Jom two pixels