(a game for) Two

An experimental game to get two strangers to communicate and trust one another.

(It was also my MFA thesis)

📽 a silly early teaser video >

What is it?

(a game for) Two is a game that seeks to initiate communication and trust between two players. It takes the basic method of how people get to know one another, abstracts it, and reconstructs it into a play experience.

The two players, shipwrecked on an island, must make their way through mountains, along cliff faces, and through an abandoned village to the opposite side, where a boat is waiting to take them home. The path is gated with a series of trials that aims to test the ability and willingness of the players to trust and communicate with one another.

What I did

Role: Lead Designer and Coder

  • Game Design
  • User Testing
  • Programming

In addition, I worked with a number of talented people who helped me on this project:

  • Claire Hosking (world design and 3D modeling)
  • Chris Muriel (art design)
  • Evan Stern (producer)
  • Andres Villareal, Jason Gibson, and Benjamin Young (audio and music)
  • Peter Brinson, Steve Anderson, Jeffrey Lin, and Kellee Santiago (thesis supervisors)

The Experience and Development

A series of 3 trials

The experience strung 3 puzzles back-to-back, each designed to facilitate communication in an increasingly more complex way.

The physical installation of this game mattered: it was designed for two computers to be set up, back to back, so players could see one another.

Tools used

  • Paper prototyping
  • Unity3D
  • C# scripting
  • Local area multiplayer
  • Maya3D and Rhino

The game installed and shown at MOCA Los Angeles during E3.

The first challenge was a simple 'bridge crossing challenge', where players had to climb up a tower by crossing a series of bridges. The bridges would pivot, and required the two players balance with one another in order to both make it safely across.

In the second challenge, players were instructed to "Find the real version". A horde of clones of each avatar, some acting randomly and some mirroring the exact movements of the players, were dropped all around the players. They simply had to find the real version of one another. Easier said than done when there are hundreds of copies.

The third and final trial required the players to communicate. They were tasked with crossing a gorge, with a bridge connecting one side to the other. However, the bridge that each player saw was actually the correct path for the other player. Players would have to move together, guiding one another across and trusting that the empty space they were about to step out onto would hold them.

The first challenge. The series of increasingly difficult bridges required basic timing and coordination. None of the challenges were completely explained, only stating a simple goal, such as "Climb". Each puzzle contained secrets that needed to be discovered by the players.

The beach where the two players land.

The same landing beach, seen from the player's view.

Early prototypes

Early prototype of the second challenge, "The Find". In the early design of the puzzle, I experimented with limiting the number of clones visible to the player. This led mostly to confusion. Playtesting showed that by giving players full view of hundreds of clones, the objective became more apparent and what was meant by "find each other" was more clear.

An early working version of The Cliff in Unity3D. This puzzle remained largely unchanged (although made more beautiful and the paths made simpler to navigate) throughout testing. You can see the red player navigating through the red path. What you can only kind of see is that the current player is standing on what looks like nothing.

A very early paper prototype of (a game for) Two. This puzzle would eventually become The Cliff, which was the idea from which the entire project emerged.