Gameplay Basics

What you need to know to get started

For an Olin College Elecanisms team project we created Bomb Squad, a collaborative game where you and your teammates work together to defuse a bomb.

One player, hidden from the rest of the team, can see and interact with the bomb. The rest of the players can't see the bomb, but have access to the manual, which contains instructions necesary for defusal. Work together to relay information back and forth to complete each defusal puzzle.

The main module of the bomb is equipped with a timer and stike indicators, as well as additional information on the top edge that you'll need for some of the modules. Make sure to solve the puzzles before you earn three striked or time runs out to successfully defuse the bomb.

To start the game, put a penny into the coin acceptor and have your brave volunteer step into the booth.

Meet the Modules

Goals and challenges of each game

The Master Module

The master module holds the leader PIC microcontroller and serves as the master on the I2C bus. To the player, this module is for data display only. A seven segment display shows the time remaining in the game (5 minutes is the default) and how many strikes they have earned. On the top side of the module, a 2x16 LCD screen displays a randomly-generated serial number, as well as colored LED insicators for the randomly-generated flux, rtc, and eps information. "

Code Word Module

The Code Word module is most closely based on the "Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes" game. In it, players see a readout of a five letter word. They must use the switches to cycle up and down through six possibilities for each of five letter until they can make one of the words from the manual. The rest of the players can use different startegies to help their teammate rule out different words. Once they find a word, the player can push the submit button to check their accxuracy. If it is correct, the module is solved and that portion of the bomb is defused. Otherwise, they earn another strike.

Switches Module

The swiches module presents players with eight switches in two rows, with confusing labels that might easily be mistaken or mixed up. Based on how many of the switches' initial positions match up with two lists, players follow one of three protocols to disarm the module.

Morse Code Module

Players watch the flashing red light to decode the Morse Code message. If they know morse code they can pass on the word to their teammates with the manual, otherwise the manual has a table that demystifies the dots (a short flash) and dashes (a long flash) into letters and words. Once you know the secret word, dial in the corresponding frequency and push the button to submit.

Cables Module

The Switches Module presents players with color-coded 3.5mm audio cables and ports. Depending on which cables are plugged in and which of the flux, rtc, and ept LEDs are illuminated, players plug, unplug, and rearrange the cables until the module is complete.

Combo Lock Module

A digital verison of the analog staple, the three-number code you need to crack here is based on arithmetic on the serial number.

Needy Module

The Needy Module doesn't do much, but it still had needs. When the status bar gets to the red zone, press the button to flush your capacitors and return to a safe state. Let the beeping keep going, and you'll earn a strike.

Puzzle Stimuli

The modules change their behavior based on a few different input methods, each of which are outlined in the manual. When we designed the game, we tried to create a variety of stimuli to change the interaction, which would in turn make the manual more confusing and the game more interesting.

Some modules have a randomly-generated state, some are based on the initial state they were left in from the previous game, and some take data from the serial number and status LEDs on top of the master module (these are also randomly generated, but are visible to the user).

Below, we outline the modules we created and the stimuli that determine the gameplay.

Module Description Input Methods
Master Remaining time & number of strikes and serial number & status LEDs Random
Code Word Figure out the code word from over 7,000 possible combinations Random
Switches Match the switch positions based on how well you match two lists Initial State
Morse Code Decode the message and tune in to the right frequency Random
Needy Keep your capacitors flushed Set behavior
Cables Plug in the right cord Initial state and status LEDs
Combo Lock Safe-cracking was never so collaborative Serial Number