Box Voyage – Dev Blog 5: Break and Coronavirus

So this is an interesting series of events we’re currently encountering! Coronavirus is the name of the game now and that means a lot of stuff is changing! Lucky for us, we got to a good milestone with Alpha before we went on spring break, which means we’re at a really good point in production to evaluate the project. This post is gonna cover where the game is at with Alpha and how the coronavirus outbreak is going to affect the game.

Let’s start with the good news: Box Voyage is officially in alpha! The game can be fully completed from start to finish, with all rooms having at least the core essentials of their interactions and art. All of the transitions between phases of the game such as unlocking the Front Deck, the box going into lockdown, and leaving the office at the end of the game are all there. It’s really awesome that we can play the entire game because it has felt so segmented up until this point (by design).

Like I said last time, I was able to get hands-on with the code as we readied for Alpha because one of our programmers is very sick and a lot needed to get done. First, I converted the input system to allow for the different push and pull interactions to use the A button and Right Trigger, respectively. This was to give more tactile feel to the interactions, as the button feels like pushing and tapping while the trigger feels like grabbing. We’ve gotten a decent bit of feedback about how the controller doesn’t feel super necessary currently. I agree with this sentiment, and would like to see us use the controller in more unique ways, but I’m worried that we may not have time to iterate on it much.

Next, I had to set up two major progression beats: the player unlocking the sunglasses which allows them to go to the Front Deck to go to nighttime, and after the Fun Meter is filled and is supposed to break. Both are fairly superficial events that are just gating and freeing up content, but they’re still important to the actual progression of the game and give off just a little bit of atmosphere. Below you can see a gif that shows a little bit of both off, where filling the Fun Meter sends the box into lockdown (as well as also showing that a sun is blocking the Front Deck until the sunglasses are earned).

The game has a ton of buggy interactions and lighting issues, and a lot of the feedback we want isn’t there yet given the nature of how the semester is laid out. However, I’m super proud that we were able to both show the game off at PAX to great results and get the game to an Alpha state. It makes me confident that we can indeed finish and release the game before we all leave school!

However, something has gotten in our way a bit, and that’s coronavirus. As many schools have done, Champlain has extended our spring break a week to give teachers time to convert their course work to an online format, and then the following three weeks will have classes held online. Our Beta deadline is fats approaching at the end of March, and we have a ton to do to prepare. As such, the team has agreed to work through a normal sprint during this second week of break. I think this is super important to keep the project on target, and we were already going to work this week if classes had kept going. Working fully online isn’t the worst, but it will certainly test the team’s communication skills!

That’s all I can really say for now as we’re still figuring everything out, much like the rest of the world. However, I’m confident that the game can progress smoothly! I hope to have some clearer updates next time, but for now, stay inside and don’t hoard stuff!

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