Physical Computing,

Level Design,

Product Design


3 weeks, 2019


Sophia Deng

Liz Wang




How it works

1. To defuse the bomb, players must successfully complete all five levels

2. Players have 1 min to complete a level and the time will reset after a level is completed.  


3. Follow steps from 1-4 (or 1-5) unless the rules say otherwise.


4. One wrong answer and the bomb explodes. Suggestion: Make sure to read all the directions before pressing anything. 


5. Each button has only one wire associated with it.


Our concept was born out of a shared philosophy: “There is no ‘I’ in team.” We were inspired by all the group projects we have to do. How might we allow people to collaborate better under tight deadlines? 


What better way to test collaboration than to simulate a high-pressure, timed environment? Put them in a room with a bomb (only a simulation, of course).




Online bomb games, and escape rooms respectively influenced us heavily for this game. 




Arcade Buttons from Amazon 

TIP120 Transistors

Solid Wires

Adafruit 1.2’’ 4-Digit 7-Segment Display 

An empty Shoebox 

Red and Brown construction paper (for bomb) 

Google Home

12V Plug 


We started prototyping first with the arduino board. At first we considered using buttons mapped to various RGB LED lights in order to confuse players. (as shown on the left). For example, our instructions would tell users to press the button associated with the green LED, which could purposefully mislead them to press the green button and lose the game.


However, it was not as intuitive for users to play and feedback (the LED light turning off) was not very tied to the action of pushing the button. 

After shopping around, we decided to purchase larger arcade buttons that had LED lights built into them. Our plan was to have the light in the button turn off as soon as the player presses it, clearly indicating that the button has been deactivated. To achieve the same effect that we were going for with the old button/LED pairing Idea, we decided to pair buttons visually with wires. So the player would receive instructions like “press the button associated with the yellow wires” 




We began by writing down all the potential game states

  1. Win the game

  2. Lose by time running out

  3. Lose by pressing the wrong button

  4. Moving onto the next level


Global tracking variables or arrays, reset at various stages of the game

  1. Button pressed array (used to tell which button was pressed already and to keep the button light turned off) 

  2. Step Tracker (to tell which step in a level sequence you’re on) 

  3. Instruction Set Tracker (to tell what level you’re on)

  4. Timer (reset whenever you move on to the next level, turned off when you win or lose) 


Processing would control the reactions (aka the sounds) and the start or end game phase


At first, we were considering using MQTT to distribute different sets of instructions to two different devices that each player would be using. However, due to certain time constraints, this became infeasible. We also realized that using paper instructions did not really affect enjoyment of the gameplay and worked just as well. So we opted out of that feature to spend more time on developing and testing other parts of the actual game code.


Level Design & User Testing

We originally designed 5 levels, but after testing with 3 different users, we realized that the 5 levels were too difficult to start with.






















So we then added a 3 tutorials so players would gradually learn the mechanics and better understand the logic of the game before they got to the harder levels.






















From observing players’ confusion with various levels (level 2 and 5) after watching them play, we adjusted the parts of the instructions so the player can more clearly understand the language and the logic.


Challenge Instructions and Answer Key

Behind the Scene

Next Steps


Here are some of the things we would do if we had more time: 

- Use a ticking timer sound. When it nears the end of a minute, it will tick faster to instill more of a sense of panic within players.


- We would create additional mechanics to make the game a bit harder, such as adding wires that you can plug into various spots, or even use motors to change parts of the physical bomb to make it even more exciting. 

- Algorithm for randomly generating instructions.

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