Box Voyage – Dev Blog 2: Designing Rooms

Last time I talked about Box Voyage, I really hadn’t done much for the project. It was only the first week, and I needed to spend some time getting acquainted with the team and project. Now that we’ve had some time to get back into the swing of things, I’m excited to discuss the work I’ve been doing for the project!

Something I want to start with is that I am extremely happy with the dynamic that the team has. This is the friendliest team I’ve ever worked on, with the game’s goal of having fun spread deep within the team DNA. Everyone here is serious about the work we do, but there is an air of lightheartedness in every meeting and interaction that makes this project a joy to work on. It’s easy for leads to take a commanding role over the team, but I feel completely on the same level as everyone, which is very comforting and makes me feel like my work is respected.

And we’ve done a lot of work in the past 2 weeks, actually! The design team has been hard at work, with many meetings trying to frontload as much design as possible in order to free up that bottleneck and get the other members of the team some work to do. A four hour meeting sounds pretty terrible in theory, but I don’t know if I’ve ever been as creatively fulfilled as just bouncing ideas off of each other to try and nail down these rooms for the ship. There’s a great dynamic we have where we’ll just throw the craziest ideas possible out there in order to find fun and unpredictable interactions, and then I’ll end up trying to reign us in and think about things from a usability or progression perspective.

So what have we actually done? The first major task we had was to update the Reception and Front Deck areas in order to make it a smoother experience in the context of the whole game. Box Voyage, at its core, is about poking around and having fun just playing around with stuff. We removed a puzzle that didn’t feel like it fit the nature of the game in Reception and added on to the Front Deck because it lacked much to keep the player around for more than 10 seconds. The intro sequence of the game is really about teaching the player how to interact with the world, so we wanted to put those interactions as simply on display as possible.

Next, we designed some new rooms! The Gift Shop and the Control Room are two rooms pivotal to the progression of the game (being the midpoint and end) so we wanted to get those out of the way immediately. I was assigned to document the gift shop (seen below), where the player will have to solve a simple math puzzle and figure out how to get objects into their basket in order to earn a free pair of sunglasses. The fun comes in figuring out how to manipulate objects and see them interact in surprising ways, such as launching a plane into a potted plant to break a shelf that is impeding progress.

GiftShop

Lastly, we’ve been hard at work designing a few of the other various rooms that are on the ship in hopes of getting a first pass of design done as other rooms are being implemented. The hope is that we can cycle around to rooms after they’ve had their implementation/edits done so we can test and iterate upon them. We’re only just getting through this process now, so we’ll see how that goes!

Next time, I’ll most likely have a more complete vision of the game to share as are currently attempting to figure out the scope with which we can handle on this larger team. However, my time so far I have been having a blast working with the team and designing this game!

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