Xiao Tan

Technical Artist, 
Creative Technologist

Projects    Tech Art Blog    About

︎    ︎


“I Will Wait for You Downstairs” is my thesis project at NYU’s ITP. It is an exploration game that aims to rekindle the delight of playing make-believe and an experiment to observe the imaginative possibilities that arise from combining tangible objects and virtual content.

At the begining of the game, players will be presented with four controllers, each with ambiguous and "weirdly familiar" toy-like shapes. The purpose of each controller will not be explained to the player, and they are encouraged to experiment with them to discover their function. The game is projected onto a screen in front of the players, and the movement of the controllers will cause various in-game variables, such as time, weather, and camera orientation, to change.

Project Presentation


We all used to be kids who love to play make-believe, like imagining a lunch box as a pirate ship or a hat as a UFO. Even the toys we played with were, in essence, lifeless objects, the passion and love we poured into them were lively and real.

But it seems that as we grow up, our ability to make lifeless objects come alive diminishes. What happens to creativity as we grow older?

One research concludes that preschoolers were more likely to give creative explanations than were the 6-year-olds or adults (Changes, 2017)The research goes further to outline the possible explanation of the result: the tension between two thinking - exploration and exploitation.

When we adults face a new problem, we usually exploit the knowledge about the world we have acquired so far and try to quickly find a solution that is close to the solutions we already have.

On the other hand, exploration may lead us to a more unusual idea or a new piece of knowledge. But it may also mean that we waste time considering crazy possibilities that will never work, something both preschoolers and teenagers has been known to do (Changes, 2017).

Player Tutorial


Game Mechanics 

In this project, players will have the ability to control floating toys and experience time and weather-dependent events, such as a deer roaming through the snow or a UFO appearing on the horizon during a foggy day. The player's actions will cause trees to grow and the lens filter to shift to black and white.

There are many more possibilities waiting for players to discover. Even doing nothing and observing the changes in time and weather can be an enjoyable experience. This slow-paced observatory game does not aim to force players to experience anything extraordinary. Instead, it provides a space and tools for players to explore at their own pace.  


The hardware components of each controller include an ESP32 Feather, a Bno055 Orientation Sensor, a lithium battery, and a slide switch, with the exception of the camera, which has an extra potentiometer to control the zoom effect.

ESP32s can connect to WiFi and send the orientation sensor's data to Max Msp through OSC. Max Msp will receive the raw data, categorize them, smooth out the rough part, and scale them to values that can be mapped to different actors in the Unreal Engine.

Blueprints and MaxMsp



Hi, this is Xiao Tan, a New York-based Creative Technologist and Technical Artist. I focus on creating games and interactive experiences with new mediums, including physical computing, alternative controllers, motion tracking, live performance, and VR.

For further information, projects, freelance, or collaborations
︎tanx2202@gmail.com / @real.xiaoxiao