Box Voyage – Dev Blog 3: Assessing Scope

We’re finally in our normal production cycle, and the semester has already started to fly by! The team has been hard at work filling the game with new content as a lot of deadlines are on our horizon. In this post, I’ll talk about those deadlines and what I’ve been up to myself.Currently, we are a couple weeks out from our first deadlines for the project. We are shooting to show the game at Champlain College’s booth at PAX East on the weekend of February 27 – March 1. Alongside that, the team has been planning to release a polished version of our mid-year demo to the public in order to build up some hype for the game, which we hope to release at the end of the semester. We’re planning to use the same demo for both milestones, and it is pretty much done besides a bit of bug fixing. However, the dates are fast approaching and so this week we’re hoping to put the final touches on everything.

The following week, we actually have an Alpha version of the game due. This build is meant to have almost all of the functionality of the game in and done, which leaves us time to polish everything and make it the most fun experience possible. We’re simultaneously working across 2 versions to fix the problems with the old demo and develop the new rooms for the Alpha build. We are currently working on 2 of the last 3 rooms to get them in, and then we plan to spend all of the time up to Beta actually getting it to be fun.

As for me, I’ve been hard at work with the design team getting the new rooms finished to start implementation. Since the last update, we designed a Salon where the player will have to give a mannequin a haircut, a Restaurant where the player has to cook up some hidden food and serve it, an Arcade where the player will relax and enjoy some classic arcade games, and an Observatory for the player to build a planet from scratch. The first two are currently being worked on, and the Observatory is in its early stages of design and is meant as a stretch goal if development wraps up early.

The main point of discussion for this post involves the Arcade. The Arcade currently is made up of 4 classic arcade games and a ticket system that allows players to play games in order to get tickets to finish the room. The goal is to give players a room in the second half of the game that allows them to stop thinking and just have fun.

The problem, though, is the scope of the room. While each interaction and arcade game is simple in isolation, it would most certainly be a team effort to get this single room done, as opposed to how we’ve been doing two rooms as a time. What’s interesting is that this is the first time during development of a game that I’ve worked with a team on scope on such a small level. Usually, I design a game, get late into development, and just have to cut major aspects. However, this semester has such punctual deadlines, especially with Alpha being due in a couple weeks. Therefore, it makes sense that we’d be discussing the scope of the room. I think it’s an interesting challenge that isn’t entirely unique, but it’s my first time seeing it.

So as we go back to the drawing board and finish up the last of the first round of design work, I’m excited to see how our ideas develop as we continue to reach these milestones. By next post, I’ll be able to talk more about PAX and hopefully we’ll be even further along with the game!

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