Box Voyage is a point-and-click adventure where players take on the role of an office worker whose company cheaped out on their government-mandated vacation and gave them a cruise-ship-in-a-box. In order to leave the ship, the player must explore various rooms and experiment with simple interactions in order to have enough Fun.
Role: Systems/Technical Designer
Development Cycle: September 2019-May 2020 (Onboarded in January 2020)
Team Size: 13
Purpose: Senior Production
Target Platform: PC
Box Voyage is much more of a point-and-click adventure game like GNOG and Windosill rather than the classic style like Day of the Tentacle. Players poke around and explore rooms for objects to interact with, and then they experiment to see what can be done and how it will lead to the ultimate goal of “finishing” a room.
Interactions are simple, inspired by analog toys such as this bubble ring toss. Players use the controller to push buttons, pull levers, and spin wheels to see how objects are affected in satisfying and often humorous ways. Each room has a goal that must be inferred and completed in order to add to the Fun Meter, which will allow the player to leave the box once full.
The ship is comprised of a variety of small vignette rooms based on cruise ship rooms, each with its own personality and puzzles. To traverse the ship, the player will rotate a box of impossible space that holds all of the rooms (as shown in a gif at the top of the page). We worked to balance absurdity and understandability to make for a game that’s easy and exciting to explore.
Contributions and Philosophy
- Worked with the design team to create interesting interactions and contextually-cohesive rooms with a focus on easy fun and feedback
- Assisted in implementation of systems, mechanics, and art assets
- Developed tools to streamline workflow for analyzing playtesting data
- Acted as a liaison between design and other disciplines to aid in understanding of goals and tasks
Box Voyage started as a Capstone game from another team, and I was brought on in January 2020 in order to aid in design work and help with implementation and tools development. The game is currently playable from start to finish in an alpha state, and we plan to finish and release the game by May 2020.
When designing the rooms in the game, we created tactile interactions and boatloads of feedback in order to entice players to explore the rooms and learn how to use objects to complete some sort of contextual goal. The goal of the rooms were to give players an easy fun experience that felt distinct from other rooms and had some sort of absurdist or surprising moment. An example of this in the demo is launching the concierge’s hand off their arm to ring the bell.
As for my Technical Design work, a majority of my job involves helping the programming team out when they need more bodies and acting as the point person when programmers need help clarifying the design. I also aided in the development of playtesting tools that track where players are trying to interact with rooms in order to find sticking points easier.
However, the best showcase of my Technical Design skills is with the Travel Tips feature in the game. When given feedback that the game could use a quest log of sorts, I quickly went to work designing and implementing a quest log for the game with input from the rest of the design team. This is a feature that tangibly helps the UX of the game as players now are clued into the goal of each room subtly. This was a really fun and simple feature to add, and I felt like I was actually helping the team out with it.
I’ve had an incredibly fun time working on Box Voyage. I haven’t ever worked on a puzzle game before, and it has allowed me to expand my repertoire in terms of puzzle design and feedback systems. This is also the first time I’ve gone through the full release process instead of prototype production, so gaining that experience has been invaluable to actually understanding what a project needs to reach alpha, beta, etc.