REBECKA WÄRULF

SUPERDEEP BOREHOLE

Game design. User experience.

Tools: Arduino & programming languages HTML/CSS/JavaScript
Role: Prototyper.


A rhythmic auditory game that puts you in the position of a Russian drill pilot deep underground. Your goal is to dig as deep as possible into the Earth's crust.

Trailer

The game

The game was inspired by the urban legend of the Kola Superdeep Borehole where the saying goes that the Russian scientists drilled down to hell.

The gameplay is designed as an auditory experience and should be played in complete darkness. The players interaction with the game is kept to a minimum to have the focus on the sounds and make the player more immersed in the game. To keep the motor going and progress in the game, the player needs to tap on a dashboard in a specific BPM. Failing to keep the beat, a cylinder will break. Break all five of the cylinders, the motor will explode and it is game over. The challenge is to go trhough all 8 levels while tapping the right BPM, with new elements on each level with the purpose on distracting the player.

Listen to the instructions that are given at the beginning of the game

Design process

delta1_1

The game was developed under a time span of five weeks. A lot of focus was put on the story of the game and the different levels. By not implementing any visuals in the game, except blinking LED lights for feedback, a lot of that focus was put on keeping the game interesting. This turned out to be a big challenge because the interaction with the game is minimal and only done though the tapping of the desktop.

Another challenge we encountered was how relevant feedback would be given to the players. To achieve the complete darkness aspect of the game, we re-designed a motorcycle helmet to be worn while playing which blocked out all external light and sounds. LED's and a vibrator were added to the helmet, which is used to give both visual and non-visual feedback.

The tapping of the BPM is executed on a dashboard we created of an old display we found lying around in school. We use an Arduino which is detached underneath to detect the tapping of the players. With the same Arduino, we control the LED lights and the vibrator in the helmet. When the tapping is out of rhythm and a cylinder breaks, the LED lights will flash, and the vibrator will vibrate to simulate the “feeling” of a cylinder breaking.


Short video showing our design process

We did a lot of iterations of the scripts based on repeated playtests. As mentioned, the challenge was to find a balance between the storyline, game mechanics and feedback. The storyline took a lot of turns and the final that is used in the game is nowhere close to the first one we wrote.

Want to try out the game? Follow the link below.
(Use space on your keyboard to do the tapping)

SUPERDEEP BOREHOLE