ETC Interdisciplinary Project, Spring 2018 Semester
Development Time: 3 Months
In collaboration with:
Yunhao Li – Producer
Xuejun Wang – Experience / Lead Designer
Hyun Jong Won – Puzzle / Level / Prop Designer
Victoria Yom – Narrative Designer
Yutong Zhang – Programmer
Xuefan Zhou – Programmer
(Website: click here)
(App Documentation: click here)
(Narrative Documentation: click here)
(Puzzle Documentation: click here)
(Prop Documentation: click here)
Enigma is a graduate student project held at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center. The team is currently in the process of designing an interactive tabletop role-playing experience where the guests embody the characters of female code breakers in Bletchley Park during the WWII period.
The whole experience concerns women who contributed significantly to decoding the German army’s ultimate cipher machine – the Enigma. The players will be asked to collaborate and “code break” the presented puzzles as a unified team. The ultimate goal of this activity is to lead the players to the satisfaction of feeling smart and heroic.
Puzzle – Design Concept
The two experience goals of the puzzle activity are to first, make players feel smart, and get them to actively collaborate.
So we looked into the physical process of code breaking, which was done manually on paper using pencils.
In terms of the mental processes involved, code breaking was an act of mathematical and linguistic pattern finding to unscramble the encoded messages.
Puzzle – Prototypes
In the early stages of the design, we tested with various prototypes that focus on logical and visual pattern finding. Following the motto “Fail fast to succeed faster”, we were able to verify a number of design decisions before arriving at the final design scheme.
Puzzle – Final Design Scheme
We really wanted to echo the physical and the mental processes of code breaking in the puzzle solving experience, hence we have come up with the following design principles to guide the puzzle design:
Puzzle – Level Design
Using these design principles, we have designed a series of puzzles that increase both in complexity and difficulty as the story progresses.
Level 1 – Entrance Exam
In the beginning scene, the four players – two mathematicians and two linguists – are each given a puzzle with numbers or letters printed on a grid. To solve the puzzle, each player connects the numbers and the letters in ways that make sense. Here, you can see that the linguist has started to form the beginning of a sentence “Your job is…” Likewise, here the mathematician is following the pattern of adding 3 to each consecutive number.
Once the individual puzzles are complete, the players are led to compile their drawings onto a single sheet of paper with an empty grid on it.
Once all the lines are correctly traced, they will yield a visual pattern, a word that reads “Pass.”
Level 2 – Bomb Puzzle
The Bomb puzzle scaffolds on top of this gameplay, except, now the players are thrown at a single puzzle simultaneously. Consolidating all the problems into one big puzzle not only sparks discussion between team members but it also forces them to physically work around one another. The coupling of two mathematicians and two linguists allow one to easily help one another from failure. This also eliminates the danger of idle time for some players.
Here, the encryption is more complex, forcing the players to actively use the information found along the lines. As you can see here, the sentence “Clues are hidden in the leftmost column” will lead the players to find the words Event, Date, and Time.
Level 3 – Coventry Puzzle
Using the grid as a bigram conversion table, the players convert the highlighted letters “K, O, R, N” into their respective x and y coordinates, which is revealed to be Coventry when combined.
Puzzle – Documentation
For the documentation, we will be handing off a creation manual and the templates necessary for our client to make more puzzles in the future.
Prop – Design Concept
The main purpose of the props was to provide the players with a sense of setting through its physicality. During our research, we have identified the following objects that code breakers interacted with on a regular basis:
Prop – Prototypes
Prop – Final Design Scheme
Prop – Documentation
We are providing the client with the materials and the recipe necessary for easy self-assembly. These consist of a handbook containing the templates of the individual pieces, and instruction videos that one can refer to throughout the assembly process.
Prop – Documentation Playtesting
App User Interface – Design Concept
App User Interface – Final Design Scheme
Branding – Poster & Half Sheet Design
ETC Open House 2018 Showcase
Meeting a Code Breaker in real life!