pump it, twist it, sculpt it

PUMBOO is an ALT CTRL (alternative controller) style game that uses gestures from balloon modelling - pumping and twisting - to play. Designed as a one-person game, it has two levels at the end of which the user receives a score. The score is calculated based on how precisely the player controls how much their balloon gets pumped and how accurately they are able to place the twists in their balloon to create a balloon model. Built on Unity with additional physical fabrication, 3D modelling and physical computing, the project was a collaborative effort between Shuhao Liu, Ming Ma and Bolor Amgalan.


concept + design: Shuhao, Ming, Bolor;

3D modelling: Shuhao, Ming;

Arduino + Unity coding: Bolor;

physical fabrication: Shuhao, Ming, Bolor


The initial ideation process involved rough paper prototyping to test several interaction ideas, namely pumping, twisting, blowing and bending. This was followed by a series of sketches for the final controller design incorporating two of the interactions - pumping and twisting. We came up with the name PUMBOO which is a play on the words 'pumping' and ' balloon'. The fabrication process was iterative, going from paper prototyping to foamboard prototyping, to 3D modelling, to 3D printing, then woodwork and final assembly.


Balloon animations

We created 3D animations of balloon models in Cinema 4D. Three different balloon objects were modeled to be shown at the end of each game session, and a long inflating balloon was modeled to be used during the balloon pumping stage. This balloon explodes if inflated too much.

3D balloon modelling & animations were done in Cinema 4D
Twists were also modeled into the long balloon accounting for 10 possible twists in total
WhatsApp Image 2019-12-03 at 13.04.19.jp
The START screen with PUMBOO balloon animation
The INSTRUCTION screen showing how PUMBOO works
Final game flow

Play testing

PUMBOO was showcased at Wonderville as a part of the ENTER PLAYMODE showcase over two days in December 2019. We received many positive feedback for the game's concept and visual language. Some improvements to think about mostly focused on how the controller itself can be made more robust to withstand extensive use in an arcade environment.

After the first day of play testing, PUMBOO's handles needed to be reprinted and some other minor touch-ups were done in preparation for the second day of play testing.