It’s like a window into my soul.

With our halves (halfway through the project) presentation coming up at the top of next week, this week was largely focused on making sure we are in position to clearly explain the work we’ve done on the project up until this point and our plan for completing it in the remainder of the semester.

One of the main priorities for getting to this point was to complete our budget for the experience and start ordering the materials and equipment we need to actually begin building this thing for real.

The line items above represent a small fraction of what we’re ordering to create this immersive experience. It was a challenge for the team to commit to every last item that we wanted at this stage, especially as we continue to playtest and iterate (meaning that some things can and will still change in development), but we had to complete this step in order to make sure that all our materials will arrive in a timely manner. Additionally, as much as it would be appealing to order materials piecemeal as we need them/as the design changes, having our completed budget at this juncture is much more in line with how budgets work outside of an academic/research setting.

And constraints can be a good thing! It forces the team to lock into a vision and now we can focus on executing the best possible version of it. Yes, things will change, but they can’t change too radically, which is actually somewhat comforting. Drafting the budget also allowed us to finally complete the room layout which accounts for where all the materials/equipment will go in the physical space:

Finally, in between all of the number crunching and slide deck-making this week, the team continued to work together to develop the world and backstory of the experience. Setting ourselves apart from the world of loosely-themed escape rooms, our story actually contains many elements that the players themselves will never encounter, but are important for us as the creators to know because they inform the design of the elements the players will encounter. As an example, the players are coming into contact with bones that belong to an ancient humanoid species on Mars. What those bones will look like is actually informed by hours of research and discussion of what creatures that lived on a habitable Mars billions of years ago might have looked like.

The Buzzfeed-style quiz result at the top of this post represents one of the four sub-types of our alien, currently referred to as the “snoogle” race. A snoogle is a (generally) hairy, cave-dwelling creature that has three regular sexes based on its three possible sex-determining chromosome types: wampus, schnargle, and marf. A fourth variant, the noogle, is a smaller, rare sub-type that cannot reproduce and may either have been revered as a shaman-like entity within snoogle society, or dominated and enslaved into performing physical labor.

And last but definitely not least, after several weeks of hard work, the team managed to get all the sparkles down to one end of this inflatable pool toy. Hooray!