Design Philosophy: Story

Our name implies our mission: to create an immersive experience that takes our players to a new world. Puzzle creation is a serious business to us, and we make the effort to handcraft our rooms and custom events. We put a lot of consideration and effort into making this happen from concept to final product and beyond. Step by step, we put the pieces together, and iterate over time to make sure everything works.

We always start with an idea. This could be an idea for a puzzle, an experience we’d like to have, and sometimes it comes from an outside source when we’re asked to build something custom. Having a single piece like this is important, but we need to put a lot of single ideas together to make one whole puzzle. The most important thing to us is that everything makes sense together. This is where creating a story fits in.

Using a story like Silver Lining, Investigations, or any of our custom events helps us to create a template for how things fit in the world. For example, the world of our escape rooms is currently set in Chicago about 10 years ago. That means we shouldn’t be including anything that was invented since then. While we will on occasion take liberties with this (like using a modern tablet instead of a first generation iPad) we do our best to adhere to these restrictions.

Moving in to specific rooms, we make these considerations even more precise. House Arrest is a standard studio apartment, lived in by a conspiracy theorist. In any given apartment, you might find some every day simple furniture and kitchen appliances. As a conspiracy theorist, Dave is light on technology and heavy on old fashioned pen and paper for maximum security. Since he stays away from tech that might let people listen in on his private thoughts, you wouldn’t find much in the way of fancy electronics or lighting. Instead you might find more every day mechanical devices that depend on physical manipulation rather than button pressing. Switching to the Lion’s Den, Alfred has enough money to afford something a little more elaborate…

This isn’t to say that creating a story also boxes in the possibilities. It’s more a matter of how can it fit into the story. Say we want to do something more futuristic and wholly technology based. This doesn’t really fit with the rooms we have open now, but what if Dave ends up at Leonard’s research lab? The sky is the limit with a mad genius. And if we want to go back in time, there are always ancient ruins to explore. And if it still doesn’t fit? Well, we can always start a new story. There are literally an infinite number of possibilities.

A story creates restrictions, but it also makes an experience more real. We live in a world filled with rules we never really consciously look at, so when you enter an environment which is strange but adheres to these rules, it becomes that much more believable.

Jeremy Hale