2022 Themed Entertainment Association Thea Award
Level99 earned a 2022 Themed Entertainment Association Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement in Attractions, an award considered one of the highest honors in the themed experience industry. I was included on the credits list for my contributions as a three-time intern.
Team 2022 Thea Award - Level99
Me with my Thea Award!
My personal 2022 Thea Award - Level99
2022 Thea Award Program - Level99
Comic Smash is a physical and mental challenge game. Players walk into a comic book themed room which has different sound effect word bubbles around the room. Each word bubble in the room also has a button. In this game, players hear different sound effects played one by one that you might see in a comic book (ex: gasp, pop, ding dong). Players must decipher which word bubble around the room matches with the sound that they have just heard and smash the appropriate button. Players earn more stars for the more sound effects that they are able to correctly smash!
In the first year, Comic Smash was the second most played room in the entire venue of over 40+ rooms!
Level99 Social Media
Comic Smash has been extensively individually highlighted on Level99's official social media in both photo and video form
Playtesting with coworkers
Comic Smash began as a concept pitched by the intern team of January 2019 (myself and three other interns). We pitched this concept in an ideation meeting with the whole company. This concept was one of the most highly voted concepts, so it moved forward to mock up.
For mock up, we brainstormed an extensive list of possible sound effects, sourcing audio files for each. From this collection, we chose a smaller group of the most clear sound effects and assembled these onto a soundboard that could be played with a laptop using Soundplant. We then made sound effect word bubbles out of cardboard and taped them around the room. We then playtested the game with our coworkers, playing the sound on the laptop soundboard, and watching whether they could figure out the sounds and whether they enjoyed the game. The game was successful in playtesting, so a full game design outline was fleshed out with the details of which sounds would be included in the game and where each button would be placed in the room. This game was eventually pushed to the vendor for final production!
Museum Masterpiece is a mental challenge game. Players walk into a museum gallery themed room with a central sculpture of a giant tree. On the tree are several different symbols that are painted across multiple different branches of the tree. The pieces of the symbols will come together and the full symbols will be revealed if players look at the tree from the right perspectives in the room (correct locations and heights). Players earn more stars for the more symbols they are able to find on the tree!
Museum Masterpiece also began as a concept pitched by the intern team of January 2019 (myself and three other interns). We pitched this concept in an ideation meeting with the whole company. This concept was one of the most highly voted concepts, so it moved forward to mock up.
For mock up, we created two different versions of the game. For the first version, we created a set of three sculptures out of cardboard that when viewed all together from the right location and height would reveal the number 2. For the second version, we added a rotation challenge. We created another set of three sculptures on turntables that when rotated to the right position and viewed all together from the right location and height would reveal the number 4.
The game was found to be a very interesting concept in mockup. It was a very unique concept that was very different from the other games in development. However, playtesting also uncovered some challenges to address. The game concept was already pretty challenging to figure out especially if we did not give explicit instructions, so the spinning statues was found to be interesting but definitely introduced too many variables and made it too difficult. Also, the multiple sculptures was found too challenging as well so the game was simplified to only one sculpture.
Playtesting with coworkers
The number 2 that is revealed when viewing the stationary set of sculptures from the right location and height
The number 4 that is revealed when viewing the rotating set of sculptures from the right rotations, location, and height
8-Bit Playback is a mental challenge game. Players walk into a room of colorful light up bocks. On some of the blocks around the room are button panels that you can press. Pressing a panel begins the game of repeating the sequence of flashing button panels in reverse order.
8-Bit Playback began as another coworker's concept which the company was excited about but hadn't had the ability to pursue yet, so I took on this existing idea and took it through the rest of the development process. This idea originally had a theme of "reflections" so the theming in the room was backwards which was intended to hint to the players what the goal of the game was without explicit instruction.
I created a room scale mock up of the game complete with interactive buttons with light and sound and backwards road signs and theming. The layout of the buttons in the room was also strategically set up so that people could not see all of the buttons at once by themselves. In order to see all of the buttons, players had to work with their teammates and organize themselves to be able to see all of the buttons together.
I ran this playtest with external playtesters. Players would enter the room and not be given explicit instruction in order to test how intuitive the game was. Then, the buttons would flash and players would have to learn to repeat the sequence in reverse. I wired the buttons myself and created a set of master buttons for the docent so that they could push the sequence for the playtesters. This system was flexible and meant that the docent could test different sequences and adapt the playtest easily. The person running the playtest could also view the players' button inputs from their set of master buttons easily.
84% of playtesters said that they enjoyed the game and would play again! The best group was a group of 4 which was able to successfully complete a backwards sequence of 17 buttons! Playtesters also really enjoyed the challenge of having to run around the room or organize their teammates to see all of the buttons.
Playtesting setup with master button set and player buttons spread throughout the room
Refined Room Review
After a successful external playtest, I modeled the room in SketchUp and decided the layout of all elements of the room including locations of the buttons. At this stage, 8-Bit Playback still had a backwards road sign theming.
A part of the game that playtesters responded positively to was the challenge of the buttons being all around the room, finding them all, and being able to see them all at once. I played into this feedback by adding different obstacles and items into the room that some buttons would be located on like phone booths and emergency stations.
After this refined room review, the creative team re-themed this room to be 8-Bit theming to better tie this room to surrounding rooms in the venue.
Aztec Guardians is a mental challenge game. Players walk into a temple themed room with multiple mysterious Aztec statues with glowing eyes. When players spin one of the statues, play begins. A projection of a creature will appear on the floor and the creature will move in a path from one statue to another in the room. Players must rotate the statue that the creature began at to face the statue that the creature ended at.
This game was having major mechanical engineering and maintenance issues that had gone unaddressed for months, so I took on this project. One issue was that the statues were extremely difficult to turn, hindering gameplay for players. To address this, I designed and installed a new engineering solution for rotating the statues that made them much easier to turn and would last for tens of thousands of future plays! Another issue was that the magnetic sensors in the statues were not functioning properly, making it difficult or impossible for players to do well in the game. To address this, I tested all sensors and replaced any sensors with issues.
Spinning Statues Repair Process
Statues spinning before
Statues spinning after
Damage of the statues after months of spinning use. The original design for the spinning statues was just two delrin plates sliding over each other. Over time, the delrin plates sustained deep indents and scratches. Additionally, there was a lot of sawdust in between the statues.
I was able to source a turntable with bearings from McMaster Carr which was the same size as the underside of the statues, so installation was simple, getting the game back up and running for players quickly! This turntable was also highly rated and chosen to withstand forces for tens of thousands of future plays.
Statues Sensor Repair Process
A broken magnetic sensor
I tested the IO of the magnetic sensors with the show controller to determine which sensors were problematic. Then, I removed the broken sensors and replaced these sensors with new magnetic sensors and tested the game to be sure that the sensors were working as expected.
Scramble is a competitive duel game. Players throw balls through their opponent's goals to earn points and block opponents from throwing balls through their goals.
This game was very successful in the first venue, so it will be brought into future venues. I wired and tested the break beam sensors for the next few iterations of Scramble.
Other Playtested Games
I also created many other mock ups and playtested many other games. These games did not perform as well in playtesting so they did not move forward to final production.
Color Chaos - This game consisted of many different colored balls in a room. Players had to sort the balls into the the appropriate buckets while the buckets were constantly changing color.
Reflections Bounce - Players had to bounce balls off of mirrors, walls, and other obstacles to get the balls to come backwards through different bucket targets.
Reflections Infinity - Players entered a room with many different colored gymnastics rings hanging from the ceiling. Players would have to maneuver to the correct colored gymnastic rings with their team.
Quiz Show Arena - This was a trivia style game with a 70's game show theme.
Red Light Green Light Dance Break - This was a motion detecting game using X-Band Sensors. Music would start and stop at random times. Players had to dance crazily when the music played and stop dancing when the music stopped.
Prison Break - Players took on the role of escaped prisoners and had to move around the room while avoiding searchlights.