While I love to pompously pontificate on how-oh-so-much I know, it belies my tremendous capacity for mistakes. Here’s some of the many I’ve made in my Escape Room, and what I learned from them.
I think many Escape Room designs struggle with a choice (even if subconscious) between designing a narrative in their rooms versus having enough for the players to work on. I don’t think this dichotomy has gotten enough attention.
For example, imagine an escape room (I’ll call it the Any room) where there are 10 puzzles. You can solve the puzzles in any order. Once all 10 puzzles are complete, the experience is over.
Now contrast that with a room where there are the same 10 puzzles, but you must solve them in a sequence (1st puzzle then the 2nd puzzle etc.) I’ll call this the Sequence room.
One thing I frequently see Escape Room designers talk about is a hierarchy of “generations” to Escape Rooms.
In this, depending on the author, there is something like two to four “generations of Escape Rooms, where locks and safes are the first generation and as the technology in the room grows, it goes up on the “generations” scale.
One distinction I occasionally hear Escape Room owners use is defining the different between puzzles and tasks. Here, a puzzle is something where the player must figure out something. This something could be very easy or very hard, but there is something that the player must work out.
A task on the other hand, is a goal given to the player where the player needn’t figure anything out other than accomplishing the task.