Box Voyage – Dev Blog 4: PAX East and Alpha

As I said last time, we are rapidly approaching two major milestones for the game, and so we’ve had a very strange time! This weekend, we are bringing the game to PAX East in Boston through the Champlain College booth in order to show off the demo we’ve polished and get people excited about the game, which we’re still on track to release at the end of the semester. We also have an Alpha build due next week, which I’ll discuss a little bit. The good news is that the game is coming together amazingly and there’s a lot to share! Let’s dive in.

Let’s start with PAX! The demo that we are showing at PAX is a polished version of the midmortem demo of the game which includes the intro, the reception, and the front deck. This is essentially the beginning of the final game, and it shows of everything we think the game has to offer. The art is really creative, the humor is evident, and players who have played this demo seem to think it shows off that feeling of poking around that we wanted to shine through. Seven Siegel, founder of Global Game Jam and Champlain College alum, said the demo was really attractive and shows a lot of potential. Dakota and Mitch are going down to show the game to anyone willing to play, and we’re collecting e-mails and directing players to our itch.io page in order to drum up some buzz for the game. We’re excited to get some feedback, as well, especially because we’ve mostly remained internal with the school for our QA.

The great thing about the PAX demo is that a lot of things got done that we were just being lazy about. There were a few things we had done but no implemented, and a few bugs were lingering from last semester. I actually got to perform the job that I was “hired” for, too! I was originally brought on because of my coding ability, and I was finally given some coding tasks that actually got me into the code besides bug hunting. It was nice being able to work in the code of a large scale project, which I haven’t done before at this scale besides at my internship last summer. I hope someone enjoys ripping the tape off the box, because I fixed it!

So, now on to where we are at in the full version of the game. We have done our first Alpha pass on every room except for the Arcade, which means we have 4 rooms that weren’t in the game originally. I’ve previously talked about the Gift Shop as the midpoint to the game and the Control Room as the end. The Restaurant and Salon are both rooms that play up a bit of the absurdity of the game, with floating mustaches and propulsive fish tanks, but they both fit pretty well into the nature of the game. The Salon tasks players with getting a mannequin to look like a picture through various actions, while the Restaurant is a Rube Goldberg-style room that has players bringing objects through the kitchen and onto the dinner plate.

Our goal for Alpha was to just have everything in on a first attempt so that we can spend the rest of the semester making every interaction burst with feedback and every puzzle feel enjoyable and surprising. We already know that the Gift Shop has some issues at its core with a lot of math and some readability problems, but we’re excited to see how the full game comes together as we rush towards Alpha next week!

This week, I’m joining the programmers for a majority of my tasks as this is our last chance before the build is due to implement a bunch of aspects we need, such as the actual progression beats playing out, a menu to save and quit, the ending of the game, and the Arcade’s actual implementation. It’s nice that I get to get into the code for this week, as I’ve been itching to help out in a more hands-on role.

Next time I’m here, I’ll be able to share a bit more about the future of the project as we will have already pushed our Alpha build! Until then, I’m excited to show our game off this weekend!

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