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The perfect puppet 1+1

The Perfect Puppet 1+1 project included a 3d animation film and a multi-level desktop game. My questioning of adolescents’ personality formation in relation to their family contexts directly formed the basis of this animation film The Perfect Puppet. Based on the same concept, I went one step further to create the game Escape Puppet Unreal as a sequel.

Both the animation and the game are inspired by a Vocaloid Chinese song, "The Puppeteer and His Proudest Work”. Its highly narrative lyrics tell the story of a puppeteer so obsessed with the idea of making a perfect puppet that he repeatedly modifies it to the point of destroying it. This story echoes my experience of growing up in a single-parent family, where my mother’s high expectations put enormous pressure on me. Through my film and my game, I wish to address the tension between the creator and the created, so as to promote mutual understanding and eventually strengthen the bonding between parents and their children.

Part 1: Animation

This animation is also my solo thesis project which took me 1 year and a half to complete. The interior lighting is a stand-out part of this project. The warm orange-tone lights in sufficient brightness at the beginning of the story represent the love and hope of the puppeteer for the puppet, while in the third part of the story, even in the same location, the blue-tone lights in low brightness and low angle really depict the tension and unsettling mood. Moreover, the change in the camera length also works as a complementary help to present the shift of moods. Last but not least the editing of shot length and music cue also integrates the emotions and promotes it to the next level.​​

Part 2: Game

Although the origin of my project is somewhat tragic, I wish to endow it with a more optimistic overtone. For this reason, I designed my game to be an adventure of atonement. After the puppeteer’s destruction of many puppets, the collective pain of those puppets forms a strong power, which traps their master in an unreal world. While the majority of the puppets wish to confine the much-hated puppeteer to this nightmare for eternity, one puppet still has hope and expects her old master to show regret, tenderness, and trust. She offers the puppeteer an opportunity to collect the body parts of his torn-apart puppets, so as to escape the nightmare and to complete a new puppet, whom he will treat differently.

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Level 1 is a map of an endless gallery in the puppeteer's dream, showcasing his past creations. 

Level 2 represents the graveyard of the puppeteer's daughter. Angry puppets destroyed by the puppeteer are also waiting here. 

The pitfall of this level is the threatening puppet hands spawning randomly across the map. Watch Out! The hand only appears when the character gets close. This mechanism is inspired by the game,  I Wanna Be the Guy.

New graves appear once the player gets close. This feature is inspired by Plantes vs. Zombies. 

Following the apology is the confession. Level 3 therefore takes place in a church. 

Infuriated puppets are lurking around, and the puppeteer needs to hide behind the bench. Resembling the children's game, Red Light, Green Light, this level is a metaphor of the puppeteer’s desire to play with his daughter again as a loving daddy. 

To escape this level, the character needs to collect three puppet hands. Hands kill you, but hands also help you. The relationship between the puppeteer and the puppets is subtle and fragile. Hatred and distrust destroy their link; yet confidence and love can also rebuild their bond. If you trust the puppet’s helping hand, you can escape this level.

The puppeteer needs to collect puppet faces – masks that camouflage the puppets’ deep emotions. “Do they have souls? Did they ever feel the pain when I destroyed them?” The puppeteer is questioning, wondering, regretting, longing to apologize and to be forgiven.

The puppeteer still needs to find an eyeball to complete his collection. He ends up in his studio, where he will meet the kind puppet who was helping and guiding him throughout this nightmare. With the parts he has collected, he can now make the perfect puppet, instead of destroying it this time.

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