Darker Slate. A bit of history is necessary here, in order to fully understand why I wanted to do Conspiracy Box.
A few years ago I was in college for programming. I wasn’t getting much of it in school, and I was eager to make something awesome. So I got the idea to design a website from scratch to learn PHP. What better site to make than a puzzle game? The premise was that it would be a story, and each chapter concluded with a puzzle you had to solve in order to get to the next chapter (level). The site would combine my love of writing fiction, graphic design, and programming all into one awesome-sauce package.
Darker Slate was born. The site is still up, but I haven’t added any new levels in a while. There are currently 17 completed levels, and judging by people’s feedback, many of the levels are difficult, despite having clues to help you figure out the puzzle. Besides the image puzzles, hand-coding the forums was my favorite part of the process.
It should be noted that I created the site for my fiancee, Lisa, because she likes puzzle games. She got to one of the levels that involved math and quit. Apparently her dislike of math exceeded her predilection for puzzles.
Fast forward to present day. I bought her a subscription to Hunt a Killer for Christmas. Turns out it was the perfect gift. And naturally, I was just as excited to see what the first box contained. Everything about the game reminded me of Darker Slate. I got the itch to do a puzzle game the moment she started in on it, so I told her I’d make her a one-off (not a subscription). A box that contained every element she needed to solve the mystery.
This is how I came up with the concept for Conspiracy Box. I’m still working on it (I will probably rename it), and it will be a while before I can release it. The level of detail required to create an entire story along with all the components is intense. And fun. It hits all my graphic design feelers just right. I get to go outside the usual game elements with other media (audio, video, etc.) and I find a lot of it similar to when I used to make props for film.
Once I get closer to completion I’ll probably write a few tutorials on considerations for mystery boxes. One of the things I’ve noticed from watching Lisa unravel Hunt a Killer is that a lot of people just don’t have the mind for it. They miss even the simplest things. They can’t see clear patterns, even when they’re staring you in the face. I’ll be sure to mention that Conspiracy Box is not an easy mystery to solve. Anyhow, I look forward to putting it out there in all its glory. It’s going to be magnificent.