Finally back from the holiday! I wish I could concentrate more on the art aspect for my devlogs, but the digital art aspect for our game is already accounted for so all I can talk about is what I’ve been working on which is puzzle design and physical construction.
Over the break, my team spent quite a bit of time (and money) exploring multiple escape rooms around Toronto. The three prominent ones that I went to was Riddleroom, Escape Games Canada, and Omescape. It was interesting to find that each business concentrated on a different aspect of escape games. Riddleroom had the best and most thought out puzzles. I could really tell they put a lot of time to thoroughly test each aspect of the game, and my favourite part was that the puzzles integrated the narrative of each room very well. Their use of technology (arduinos and lighting) was creative. We got to speak the designer/creator of the rooms himself and he was definitely knowledgeable and passionate about his rooms. Escape Games Canada concentrated on bringing the ultimate immersive experience through professionally built sets- it was like walking straight into a movie production. The atmosphere sold itself, but the puzzles were lacking and mediocre. Omescape, based in Markham, made itself unique by featuring family friendly escape rooms. The one I participated in was Cat Kingdom, which stood out to me the most out of all the games I had done. I found Cat Kingdom to be the most unique out of all the games: the puzzles were fun to solve, technology was integrated well, and the story followed a very cohesive plot that made me feel like I was actually a part of it. Many escape rooms concentrate on the aspect of fear; jump scares, dark rooms- narratives that want you to escape with your lives at stake. Although these themes have been successful, there are just way too many of them and they start to become dull. Cat Kingdom was a nice change of pace and stood out for going against the norm.
Taking the pros and cons from our research, it made me really reflect upon our own game. What makes it unique? Will the atmosphere sell? Are the puzzles creative and enjoyable? These were things I had thought I already accounted for when creating the original design document but I feel we were still missing something.
What?? No Furniture??
So our original plan this week was to start bringing in furniture. The rooms at Sheridan were a no-go since they’re all shared spaces so we’ve decided to use the meeting room OR arcade room which has turned into a testing area for capstone. The space, however, wasn’t our real problem. Apparently we’re not authorized to move outside furniture into the school. This threw us off quite a bit since what’s an escape room without a room? After speaking to an adviser, we were given the advice of building furniture from cardboard. Although it would take quite a significant amount of time to build, it would definitely make our project more portable. This, however, means we would need to change up the narrative and puzzles to make it more suitable for this “cardboard world” theme.
By building our own furniture, this also allows me to be more creative with the mechanics of the puzzles. Heading forward, I’m hoping to fully build a few pieces of furniture to playtest the puzzles separately from the room. As we’ve found from our research, on top of atmosphere, the puzzles themselves are the most important part of making escape rooms a fun and enjoyable experience and therefore should be given more emphasis.
Throughout the past semester, we’ve been searching for “the fun factor” or our game. To put it into one sentence, I believe that the fun is the feeling of success when you solve a challenging puzzle; the feeling that you have contributed to your team.
E.g. We were stuck on a puzzle while playing the escape room Castle at Riddleroom, and I was the one who solved it. My friend tells me I did a good job and praise me. I’m the best.
With this goal in mind, I’ve decided to take more time to balancing the difficulty of each puzzle to the feeling of self-satisfaction. Self-satisfaction is only acquired when the player succeeds but is proportionate to the difficulty of the puzzle.
If Fun = Self Satisfaction
Level of Self Satisfaction = Level of Difficulty + Success