Have you ever wondered what it would be like if all fun things weren't fun anymore? Roller coasters? Movies? Video games? Pizza?
It is no secret that humans require an incentive to do an activity or action. This ranges from visiting a brand new country to deciding if lifting your pinky while drinking tea is super cool (pro tip - it depends on the setting). Escape Rooms are no different. The beauty behind the concept that we've found ourselves in is that the possibilities are nearly limitless, but with one caveat - it needs to be fun.
As owners, this is our number one priority. Our usual nightmares of being eaten by a giant ant or being pooped on by Superman have been completely replaced by a group of people not having fun at one of our rooms. We have lost a couple pounds of water weight from the pool of sweat we wake up in, but even that is little reprieve for creating a non-enjoyable escape room.
These are the things we think make an Escape Room enjoyable:
It needs to be challenging, but it needs to make sense
The toughest thing about making an escape room fun is how tough it needs to be. Make it too easy and groups will feel unfulfilled. Make it too difficult and people might go insane and burn down the place. The area between these two is where we want to live.
Most of our effort when creating our puzzles goes into making sure it's 100% solvable without any logic leaps or outside influence. This means that every pieces you may find are all the pieces you need to generate the proper code, key, or combination. Once we have verified this, we work on tweaking the difficulty so that it gives the group a challenge but is eventually solvable with a proper amount of effort. We try to have different levels of effort required thru the game to introduce some ebbs and flows with a couple climaxes here and there.
In the end, we believe strongly that an escape room experience needs to be challenging, and carefully thinking about the toughness and how it should come across will make a big difference on the overall experience for the group.
Clues are probably more important than the puzzles themselves
Every escape room needs a clue system. If a group gets stuck, has a tough time figuring out a specific scenario, or is simply going mad, there needs to be a help mechanism to get them back on track. However, give too much and it removes the fulfillment of figuring out the puzzle. Give too little and the frustration will only get worse.
When designing our puzzles, we spend as much effort making sure the clues that can be given behind each component strike a balance of getting a team on track vs. not giving away the answer to the puzzle. We think of clues as puzzles themselves, but at a lower difficult than the puzzle it's paired with. It's a puzzle within a puzzle (puzzleception). Once a group is ready for a clue, there's usually 2 or 3 hints that we can give at any given time, and it's our job to ensure that we give the one that generates the best possible outcome, which in this case is being able to solve the puzzle all on your own without being frustrated.
Yes - it's just as hard as it sounds.
Unexpected cool moments are awesome
By far the most fun - every escape room gains a lot from having moments that the group will talk about for a long time. Most of the time it's the action of being able to solve the room or coming close, but having very unique or wow-inducing puzzles that take a group by surprise are just as effective. We look to implement these as often as possible, and spend a lot of time thinking of different ways we can introduce new concepts or very unique situations within the theme of the room.
In the end, our ultimate goal is to blow everyone's mind by giving a challenging, unique, and satisfying experience, and the things we've outlined in this post are a very small portion of what goes into creating a great escape room experience. As we continue to learn from all our amazing customers we will constantly improve upon the puzzles, mechanics, and overall experience that are present at our facility, as well as all experiences in the future.