Week 1- Welcome!

Welcome to Little Big Engineers! We are a 5-person team creating a location-based entertainment experience for the 2022 ETC Fall Festival.

As we kick off our semester of design and development, and as this blog kicks off for the readers, we would like to present a working definition of location-based entertainment. In general, the industry term LBE refers to physical experiences where guests interact with a designed environment. It’s intentionally vague, covering everything from interactive art installations to theme parks. While different modalities of LBE have important distinctions, the umbrella term of LBE is useful, because similar core skill sets are necessary to produce most LBE experiences. Our little team is going to use these core skills to make something bigger than the sum of our parts for the Festival. 

This week, we focused on familiarizing ourselves with each other and the available space, as well as brainstorming. 

Our Team

After going over each team member’s past experiences and career goals, we have named the following roles for our five Little Big Engineers.

  • Nolan- Technology Engineer and Producer
  • Cleo- Software Engineer
  • Lori- Theming Engineer
  • Kat- Narrative Engineer and Assistant Producer
  • Ivy- Artistic Engineer

It was a challenge for us to figure out who would take on production roles in this project. Each of our team members have significant responsibilities outside the project, and the four of us who are TAs represent three of the four Immersion Semester classes. Ultimately, we decided it would be a good balance for Nolan to take on internal project management, and for Kat to handle the website, blog, and meeting notes. 

We are all hoping to gain experience outside our specific named role as well as we prototype and fabricate our final deliverable. 

The Space

With over 90 students on projects and close to 70 in BVW, the ETC is bursting at the seams this semester, and the space available to dedicate to an LBE experience is pretty limited. Our project room is the most obvious space, but we may have the chance to build in another room of the ETC, the Fab Room. To get all the information, we’ve taken measurements of both rooms. Ultimately, we will decide which of the two available spaces we will use based on the project idea. Both spaces are approximately rectangular, but one is a longer and skinnier rectangle, so the structure of our experience (a walkthrough? A sandbox exploration? An escape room?) will be useful to know before we commit. 

3D models of the two room options. The rooms are similar length and width, but the left room has a higher ceiling and the right room is not an exact rectangle.
The measurements of the two rooms created as Fusion 360 models.


We began our brainstorming with a bit of a false start, talking through an idea in more detail than it needed at this point in the semester. For our next brainstorming session, we committed to coming up with five ideas each so as not to move out of the blue sky too quickly. We used documentation from Ruth Comley’s Experience Design class to organize our thoughts and make sure that each idea had guest actions and guest emotions at the forefront.

Three team members stand at the whiteboard in the project room discussing the many brainstorming ideas written on it.
We have been making great use of the whiteboard for keeping track of presented ideas!

Ultimately, we ended up with 30 ideas that were all very different from one another, and several ideas generated on the spot remixing elements from different concepts. We were able to kill a few of our darlings based on easy criteria- something out of scope, or that doesn’t match well with our team’s skill sets. But a huge variety of ideas remain.  

To get to a good idea – instead of just an idea – we’ve been thinking about how to define pillars of a festival LBE experience. It’s been helpful to think about things that break the festival experience that we can mitigate in the design phase, rather than relying on absolutely perfect operations later on.

A large paper we hung on the wall with our constraints, demographics, what makes a good festival experience, and what makes a bad festival experience.
Defining constraints, demographics, and strengths and weaknesses of festival experiences.

Goals for next week:

We will need to narrow our ideas to just a few to present at Quarters in Week Three. In the process of narrowing down, we should get a better idea of what will be required in the experience, so we can make more concrete plans. We also plan to attend the Playtest to Explore ETC workshop, and do our team bonding!