Killer Queen Black Animations


Welcome to a brand new post about a game from a simpler time, 2018. That year I joined a creator panel to present Killer Queen Black to the gaming convention Play NYC. The title garnered much excitement, as both a sequel to and the first home port of the popular arcade original. Despite the (then) unfinished state of the game, the demo match on stage quickly became competitive.

Fast forward to recent sad news for the community: online multiplayer is no more. The platform Killer Queen Black relies on, Gamesparks, has been discontinued. While local play lives on, our multiplayer battles deserve a farewell salute. To commemorate, here are some of my my favorite animations I contributed to the game. Due to the abundance of character actions, inbetweens, and character skins, I ended up drawing over 2300 frames total! Credit belongs to our art director, Blake Reynolds for designing the base sprites.

Behold the notorious snail feast! For those unfamiliar with the mechanics, runners can sacrifice themselves to interrupt the snail's journey. Blake Reynolds animated the eating interaction, which I then reskinned for every worker type. 

The next bunch are entrance animations for the character selection screen.

Blake Reynolds made the rough frames for the queen entrance above.

Here's a traditional victory dance for one of the runners.

As a bonus, please enjoy an assortment of emote popups I made. It was challenging to keep them readable and expressive with the small size and limited framecount (24 each).



Around this time last year, I worked with Cicada, a Boston-based art collective, to create an installation for the new Grubhub headquarters. I crafted the environments and animation in addition to the physical logo signage and decals. After several months of visualizations, the development culminated with my in-person visit to fine tune the experience on the actual hardware.

(Night sky background)

The elevators now open to a custom, interactive LED wall that spans 30 feet in length. This is the largest screen my art has ever been displayed on, a stark contrast to the mobile phone games that started my career.

We built around the concept of public signage, visually unifying all the mini games and even the physical instructions into the theme. The environments were inspired by places we played in as children.

(Court background)

Players are detected with two body-tracking Kinect cameras and represented on screen as stick figures with flat colors, mimicking those on public signs. For the rendering, I chose an undetailed style to complement the simple figures. I relied on the classic arcade motif of red versus blue to code the characters and introduced purple as universal neutral messaging. Due to the additive nature of light, the color palettes underwent many adjustments for readability on the LEDs.

By default, the game runs in "passive mode," cycling through several scenes where the players interact with falling particles. Water flows, sand clumps, balls bounce, and jello... does its thing.

(Splash pad background)

The players make associated gestures to enable "active mode," where they can compete against each other in three mini games. Each gesture activates the appearance of gear on the character body: a helmet for laser dodging, gloves for handling chemicals, and a martial arts belt for the fireball throwing. This feature serves as confirmation; both players must make the same gesture to agree on the competition.

(Intro animation for the Fireball Faceoff minigame in the "active mode" liminal space/holodeck/danger room)

To see some footage of it in action, check out my thread on Twitter. A coworker on the project, Jyro Blade, also uploaded some relevant media here on his site.

(No lava lamps were harmed, I promise)