Quality Assurance is an open-ended, satirical sandbox game set in an office space environment, where you are tasked with “testing” a series of bizarre sci-fi products throughout your shift. In Quality Assurance players play as an intern working in the quality assurance department. The player is given free rein of what they do in the game. However, if the player racks up too many human recourses complaints the boss will attempt to fire them. There are three main products the player needs to test.
The first product is the Frostburner. This product can shoot out a fire projectile or an ice projectile which will burn or freeze objects it collides with, including people. The second product is the Scan-N-Shoot. This product can scan an object and shoot out an infinite amount of exact copies of it. The third product is the Tesla Gun. This product can drain or charge electrical components, but be careful of over-charing them as they may explode. There are a couple of secret products hidden in the office which require the use of the other main three products to reach.
About the Project
Quality Assurance was a project I worked on with four other classmates on a team called Gourmet Vulture Studios. I was the lead game designer on the project. I had the final say when it came to most game decisions of what to add and implement. I was in charge of establishing the base gameplay loop: grab a product, complete the clipboard, go to next product. I helped with the ideas for all of the products and I defined all of the clipboard objectives. I built the layout of the office, placed the cubicles, NPCs, and placed most of the other smaller objects. I also helped design the overall feel and I created the lighting in the scene. I helped design the look of the title screen and made the changing background. I designed and implemented the pause and settings menus. I also suggested adding in the “boss” fight against Mega Murphy that can be found behind the small HR doors and for him to shoot a laser from his face.
Quality Assurance was featured in Bradley University’s 2023 FUSE. We submitted Quality Assurance to Indiecade with hopes of being featured there as well. We changed the gameplay a little bit, some controls, and fixed some bugs for FUSE and the Indiecade submission. We used to have the player need to complete each products’ checklist in order to unlock the next, but that took players too long for a comfortable FUSE play time. In order to have help fit within that play time the team and I decided to have all products, outside the two secret products, be immediately available after a short tutorial.
Quality Assurance my first game where I was the lead game designer in a group. I had so much fun making this game with my team. I am very proud of the game I’ve helped make and I learned a lot through creating it. This is by far the best game I have made so far.
Problem Solving For The Project
The initial idea for the game loop was to have the player be isolated in a room with one product and they would have to test it according to the clipboard checklist. There would be destructible objects in the room that interacted with the product being tested. The player would also be able to escape the room and head up the elevator to the main office, where they could explore and continue “testing” the product on their co-workers with a similar HR system, but that would be shown and enacted upon at the end of the day. Meaning if the player got too many HR complaints they would be fired. This old HR system accounted for good deeds as well as bad so the player could preform a balancing act to keep their job. Once the player was done testing they would end their day, see how they did, and start the next day with a different product. All of this was talked about during the ideating phase of the game, nothing in engine.
One of the main issues with the initial idea was the fact that the player didn’t face an actual threat during gameplay. So I came up with the idea of having someone chase the player to fire them once they hit a certain threshold on HR complaints, the boss. So now the boss would chase the player once they got too many HR complaints. However with this there would be a problem with the player being able to lower the amount of HR complaints because I believed it would be less fun if the player was able to continue to ride the threshold where the boss would start and stop chasing them. So the HR complaint threshold was increased and could not be lowered.
One other main issue was the day system. This essentially acted as a progression system for the game, letting the player unlock new products to test out. However that would increase playtime with all the extra menus they’d need to sift through and if the player only played the first day then there would be several products they missed out on. So the day system was consolidated into completing the checklist for a product to then get access to the next. However another problem occurred later down the line when we needed to lower the playtime further for FUSE. Since the player had to fully complete each checklist to get the next product, which took precious time, all of the products would now be available to the player at the start of the game.
Another main issue was the size of the office, making it several floors. No one on the team was a distinct level designer so having too big of a level would prove difficult. So it was shrunk to one floor with the quality assurance part sectioned off in a corner of the whole office.
The team also wanted to have a few more products in the game, however due to scope there are only five. One of those product ideas that didn’t get into the game was the density/gravity gun. The reason was scope, but also because it was already done before. The idea was to shoot something with it and the things density would become less then air, causing it to float upwards, and then be able to change the density back to normal. It would fit Quality Assurance perfectly with being able to have your co-workers float in the air, but that was about it. The other products were more unique and the mini-puzzles in the game around them were more in scope. A mini-puzzle idea was to have a section under the office in the janitor’s closet through a manhole the player would be able to shoot with the density/gravity gun and it would float up. The problem was again map size so it was cut.
I would not call myself a level designer, but I was tasked will having to create the office. My initial sketches and thoughts were to have sectioned off rooms along a wall that held a small testing room and a more common room for each product, planning for five. However, for scope reasons it was cut down to three. So the environment changed. Instead of needing such a large area for product rooms, other rooms could get bigger and shifted around. Plus with the addition of the Mega Murphy fight, which called for another large room to add in.
For the finished game’s unity editor overview of the map, several rooms changed locations and size. The product testing rooms and the tutorial room are put in the top right corner so the player can easily navigate back to the testing rooms if needed. The Boss’s room was placed directly across the testing room area so that the player sees the Boss down a long hallway. The goal was to give the player a slight feel of intimidation, like a looming presents of a supervisor that is always watching. The other rooms were placed in a way that prompts the player to travel across the entire office. This way the player would be able to see almost everything while completing their tasks with hopes to spark their urge to explore its hidden secrets.