UW-Stout Game Expo, Senior Show, STEMM Student Expo cap fall semester with public showcases

Among hundreds of projects, Mochi Masters unites family, food, music and fun into rhythm-based video game
The Stout Game Expo will feature the works of about 250 students from 6 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 13, in the Memorial Student Center.
Abbey Goers | December 4, 2023

Family, food and fun all rolled into one is the theme of an original student-designed game – Mochi Masters – to be premiered at the Stout Game Expo, western Wisconsin's largest game developers' event.

The Stout Game Expo will feature the works of about 250 students from 6 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 13, in the upper level of the Memorial Student Center. It is followed by the School of Art and Design Senior Show on Friday, Dec. 15, celebrating more than 100 seniors’ and juniors’ creative and collaborative endeavors. And the STEMM Student Expo will be from 1 to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 7, in the Memorial Student Center.

Stout Game Expo, Dec. 13

During SGX, first-year to senior students in game design and development-art; and the game design concentration in computer science will share their tabletop games, board and card games, conventional video games, virtual reality experiences and rhythm games.

Mochi Masters, a cooperative two-player rhythm game, draws inspiration from the art of making mochi, Japanese rice cake, a process that requires two people to work together to pound out the rice.

Mochi Masters
Isabel Smith was inspired by family traditions to create Mochi Masters. / Isabel Smith

Isabel Smith, a game design student from Greendale, is the producer of the original game concept. She was inspired by family traditions and by rhythm games she played as a kid, like Cooking Mama and Dance Dance Revolution. 

She created the game in her Exploratory Game Design and Development course, serving as the lead for a group of 14 students collaborating to bring the game to SGX.

“In the game, two players play as a father-son team working together to save their familial mochi shop, guided by Gramp’s spirit. To save the shop, players must finish all mochi recipes, represented by playable songs,” Smith explained.

Computer science student Josh Pederson, of Oronoco, Minn., built a custom controller for Mochi Masters. Players hit the Arduino-driven controller like a drum, inspired by other rhythm games, like Taiko no Tatsujin.

“I built it because I felt that the game would be much more interactive and fun with a controller that wasn’t just pressing a button on a keyboard, but one you can hit,” Pederson said.

“To make mochi, players must rhythmically hit the correct corresponding symbols on the controller to increase their combined score. Once the players’ score is high enough, mochi is successfully created and a new recipe is unlocked,” Smith added.

Mochi Masters game controller
The custom game controller for Mochi Masters was designed by Josh Pederson. / Josh Pederson

“This is the first time I can recall anyone actually making a custom controller in a game design class, so I'm really excited for it to be played at SGX,” said Assistant Professor Michael Tetzlaff.

The group’s studio, Dango Dragons, is made up of members on the art side: Walker Arand, Stockton, Ill.; Connor Born, Aurora, Ill.; Kris Deising, Alexandria, Minn.; Madeline Dudley, Lake City, Minn.; Trisha Yang, Schofield; and Smith. On the computer science side: Luke Gifford, Roscoe, Ill.; Cody Jantzen, International Falls, Minn.; Madison Melland, Eau Claire; Nathan Morgan-Shimmin, Edgerton; Terra Tvedt, Savage, Minn; and Pederson. They are also collaborating for music creation with Charlie Mueller, of Waunakee, and Carol Gao, from Berklee College of Music.

Tetzlaff’s goal for students in the course is to step out of their comfort zone and try new things, including learning a new game engine or tools, a new art style or gameplay genre.

“I want them to move beyond just making the kind of games that they enjoy playing and think more broadly about audience and who a ‘gamer’ might look like,” he said. “We started out the semester by developing proto-personas to capture the diversity of the SGX audience – ranging from young kids to grandparents to industry professionals. 

“SGX is an exciting event for the Stout community. Even if you don't think of yourself as a ‘gamer,’ come support these students and enjoy the games they've been working on this semester,” Tetzlaff added. “There really is something for everybody.”

Smith’s illustration of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox was recently selected as the T-shirt design for the 55th annual Carson 5 and 10 race, held on Oct. 28, at Carson Park in Eau Claire.

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Several UW-Stout faculty and students’ games were showcased on Nov. 10 in Madison at M+DEV, the Midwest video game developers conference, including senior capstone games Reapers Isle and Grape Juice City. Junior-level games were Golfella, Grazer and Checkmight.

SOAD Senior Show, Dec. 15

SOAD Senior Show will feature students’ capstone projects from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 15. SOAD students will display their creative works in exhibits throughout Applied Arts and Micheels Hall:

SOAD Senior Show
The creative works of more than 100 seniors and juniors will be showcased at the SOAD Senior Show on Friday, Dec. 15. / UW-Stout

The Studio Art Exhibition will be on display in Gallery 209. The show is based on a wide variety of media, from comics to sculpture to photography.

Metals, comics, ceramics, sculpture, printmaking and photography exhibitions and sales by students will be throughout the building. In Furlong Gallery, two sabbatical solo exhibitions will feature the research of Professor Andrew Williams and Associate Professor Kimberly Loken. The exhibition runs through Saturday, Dec. 16.

UW-Stout’s School of Art and Design’s Bachelor of Fine Arts programs in game design and development-art; and animation and digital media, along with the Master of Fine Arts in design, were ranked No. 1 in Wisconsin recently by Princeton Review and Animation Career Review.

STEMM Student Expo, Dec. 7

The annual STEMM Student Expo showcases projects students developed throughout the fall semester – from research projects to prototypes to solving problems for an industrial or community partner to creative activities.

Student STEMM Expo
The Memorial Student Center upper level will be bustling with student research projects. / UW-Stout

The expo will be from 1 to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 7, in the Memorial Student Center. It is an opportunity for first-year to senior students across the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Management to collaborate on projects and discuss their research with each other, faculty, industry partners and university and community members.

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