THEM BOMBS

Them Bombs - inside the bomb

07.08.2019

Them Bombs is all about bomb modules. Gameplay-wise, well, they ARE gameplay, the very bread and butter of the entire experience. Visually, they are what makes the bomb a beautiful, scary, and unique whole. From the narrative perspective, they are the little tiny antiheroes capable of turning an average passerby into an Unlikely Hero. So naturally – because they were so important by design – we wanted to make the modules truly special. And it required some mental gymnastics.

Three out of thirty

First, there was a brainstorm. From the clouds of our imagination, 30-something module ideas came pouring down. Some of them almost fully-formed, some remaining as vague as one sentence. At the end of that stormy day (which was actually a month), we chose a dozen of  most promising, challenging, and complex-yet-approachable bomb module projects.

Them Bombs 3 knobs module project sketch
Them Bombs Electric locks module project sketch

Every test the game went through before the release clearly indicated that “Pizza” and “Three blinking buttons” modules would share the Most Tricky and Unforgivable Module prize. And yet, reality proved otherwise and three of them have turned out even trickier than expected – or at least that’s what our statistics show.

Them Bombs most difficult modules

As of today, the puzzles players fail to solve most often are:

1.       Three knobs

2.       4 rotating rings

3.       Electric locks.

The reason? While we can’t be sure, we’ve got a few good ideas, and they can be boiled down to three terms: deception, complexity, and perception.

Them troubles

Them Bombs 3 knobs module
“Three knobs” module is a deceitful one. It makes the players believe its apparent straightforwardness – knobs A and B usually pose little to no challenge, so when rushing through the puzzle, it might seem like knob C should be no different. Sorry, it is – and you’re going to have a bad time if you don’t realize it soon enough.

Fun fact: The module was the last one to make it into the game. Hence its position in the defusal manual.

“Rotating rings” module is the complex one. Firstly, it requires close-to-perfect communication between the Expert and the Unlikely Hero. Secondly, it has the Expert flipping through the manual while the Hero is constantly going zoom-out, zoom-in within the bomb. And lastly, it requires the Hero to recall the color of the bomb’s cover (brainier players will associate it with the background color, and the rest – boom!). Whew, that’s a lot of work!

Them Bombs 4 rotating rings modules project sketch
4 rotating rings module

Fun fact: “Rotating rings” were an ENORMOUS challenge for iPad users - multitouch actually made it really difficult to get the arrows pointing in the right direction. Recently we made it more approachable... but not less challenging, it seems.

Them Bombs Electric locks module
Finally, “Electric locks” is the bomb module relying on perception. Similarly to “Musical symbols”, its difficulty is based on the players’ inability to distinguish between two or more (sometimes extremely!) similar symbols.

This, in turn, forces the team to come up with some of the most creatively-hilarious descriptions like “a campsite full of tents”, “an upside-down radio antenna” or “a pregnant woman standing next to a wall.” The “Electric locks” module is also quite of a trap for Heroes who don’t really care about treading carefully - spreading the lock’s plates too abruptly causes a short circuit, and results in a small (but scary-sounding!) time penalty.

Fun fact: All the symbols you see in the manual are legitimate electronic symbols; none of them was made up.

We hope you’ll approach these with extreme caution next time you play Them Bombs!

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