Website: click here

Aesthetic: Tabletop role playing, historical narrative.

Platform: Tabletop + Mobile

Game Engine: Unity

Development Time: 3 Months (Spring 2018)

Team Size: 6

Role: Puzzle / Level Designer, Prop Designer, UI Designer

Tasks + Responsibilities:

  • Designing and prototyping the code breaking puzzle mechanics: linguistic, mathematical, visual pattern finding.
  • Designing, playtesting, and iterating puzzle difficulty progression.
  • Designing and fabricating cardboard physical props, and reverse engineering them into construction templates and manuals.
  • Designing, 3D modelling, and texturing the props’ digital interfaces.
  • Writing and recording the narrative scripts to be used as voice prompts controlled by the Gamemaster.
  • Designing the branding materials such as project half sheets and showcase poster.
  • Coordinating actively with the lead and narrative designer to mitigate design dependencies and align design goals.

(App Documentation: click here)

(Narrative Documentation: click here)

(Puzzle Documentation: click here)

(Prop Documentation: click here)

Project Overview

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.


Design Goals

The team was requested by the client to deliver a working prototype incorporating technology + digital interactions into a tabletop role playing game.

Experience Goals


=sense of place + character

-Emotional Breadth

=smart, heroic, frustrated, sad, frightened


=sense of fellowship


Deliverable Goals

We were asked to deliver the following at the end of the semester:

  1. A code breaking activity best reflective / resembling / evocative of the actual process employed by the women code breakers during the WWII period.
  2. A digital mobile app that is an integral part of the tabletop role playing experience.
  3. A physical prop that can be used as a showcase piece at conferences and festivals.
  4. A set of tools and documentation for the client to generate new scenarios.


Design Challenges / Constraints

Intended for a target audience of young adults passionate about history and role playing, the project called for a careful consideration of the historical and cultural context ofall materials needed to be easily printable at home on letter-sized paper.

-the digital apps needed to function both as part of a physical prop and also as standalone objects.




Due to the complexity of the project scope and the different layers of design space to explore, the team faced major dependency challenges throughout the project.



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:

  1. Drawing on Paper with Pencils
  2. Mathematical Pattern Finding
  3. Linguistic Pattern Finding
  4. Visual Pattern Finding



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.

In correlating this information to the visual patterns drawn, the players will then be led to conclude the hidden message to be BOMB, 14 of NOV, 1500.


Level 3 – Coventry Puzzle

The Last puzzle of the series puts a further twist on the game rules by revealing a code name instead.

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:

  1. Military Radio
  2. Flip Clock
  3. Rotary Dial Phone


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







Scenario Playtesting





Branding – Poster & Half Sheet Design



ETC Open House 2018 Showcase








Meeting a Code Breaker in real life!


Client Testimonial