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An alt-ctrl potion
making game

Position: New York
Duration: Oct - Dec 2019
Team: Yufei Zhang, Yating Wu
Role: Game design, Interaction design, Engineering, Fabrication
Technic: Unity development(C#), Arduino(C), circuit design, Wood work, Laser cut
Award&Exhibition: GDC (Game Developer Conference) 2020 Alt.Ctrl (San Francisco, US)
                                       BabyCastles Null Reference Exception: Game Exhibition (New York, US)
Press: Gamasutra 2020 “ALT.CTRL.GDC Showcase: Cursed!” Feb 20

/ Overview

Cursed! is a two-players alt-ctrl potion making game. In this game two players play as two new wizards, they all want to become the apprentice of the grand wizard, but the grand wizard will only take one of them and the other will be turned into a crow. In order to win, one needs to be the first to remove all the curses on them. 

/ Ideation 

In the process of brainstorming a concept for a game, alchemy and magic was just a domain that both of the creators think has huge creative space to make something quirky and intriguing. Compared wirh making a traditional magic adventure game, we drew some concepts and then came to this image of two players fighting over a pot trying to put curses on each other. Our team believes it would be interesting to use the combination of alchemy and curses. 

About the inspection of controller: It's our team’s philosophy that the controller should make the action as realistic as possible, so when the player saw the controller for the first time, they can just interact with the controller with a very short learning period. However, that does not mean the game itself is simple. The difficulty of this game comes into play when the player has to find the corresponding recipe and grasp the timing of adding potions.

Prototype 1: Paper Prototype (2 rounds of user tests)
Board Game Version of Cursed! 

Prototype 2: Full-Functional Prototype
Playtest with 100+ players at BabyCastles Gallery’s Exhibition 

/ Prototypes&
   User Tests

/ Design & Implementation

The main game controller is made up of a pot, two sets of potions, two bowls, and one magic spellbook. The players need to see their image on the monitor, try to figure out what kind of curse they have, and what potion combination will remove that curse. But there is only one pot, and players need to fight for the pot, think through about what potion should be added into the pot, and maybe how to stop the opponent making them what they need.

The colorful look of the curse and potion elements are mostly for communicating the game information. It’s so the players can quickly figure out what potions are in the pot and what kind of curse they have on them right now.By making the looks of curses on players more exaggerating, when a curse is added to a player, it would be fun to see it other than just being frustrating.

Also because of the topic and the narrative of this game is a bit heavy, and our team don’t want to make the vibe of the game all depressing and heavy by making all the assets super realistic. We add some cartoonish style into the arts to lighten the game atmosphere.


The game is programmed in Unity and the illustrations/animations are made in Photoshop. We use serial ports to connect unity and arduino which is the processor of the controller.

The shelves are all made in wood, we made them from scratch. The rest like the pot, the book and bottles are all items we bought from shops and then altered using laser cut and paintings. And then of course there are all the electronics.

YatingWu Design 2022 — Shanghai