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GUEST POST – WHAT YOU HAVE TO KNOW WHEN BUILDING AN ESCAPE ROOM
Venturing out into the big, bad world of building escape rooms, I, Gareth Beeston of Other World Escapes, came across many times which I felt as though I have to know everything about everything. It's a strange and interesting beast, designing an escape room, because it requires knowledge of a whole breadth and depth of occupations, jobs and materials that you potentially have never worked with before or have been too apprehensive to have a go at it yourself in the past. Just as a quick snapshot of all the things that have tested me throughout the game development process, and all the knowledge that is required, here's a quick summary of some of those hidden gems/demons that are waiting to pounce on you like a gazelle in headlights.
Where do we put a wall?
So putting up the walls in your room, will be one of the very first things you would be doing when actually building a room. The problem is deciding where it should go. Not only do you have to think about the flow and reasoning for the game itself, but also have to abide by fire restrictions, council planning and building control. This is sometimes a difficult battle between compromising the quality or flow of the game in exchange for being fire safe. Being fire safe doesn't necessarily bode well with the amazing imaginative exit routes you had originally planned out.
The Electronics or Mechanics dilemma
Many escape room owners will claim to have 'no-locks' as part of their escape room, which is all well and good, but it requires a leap of imagination in terms of how you would lock something without using any locks. This is where you are forced to either go the electronics or the mechanics route. Having no previous knowledge of either, and with picking a theme such as Mayan, we had instantly given ourselves a huge and unrelenting task to getting a solid game working. As the Maya were around way before any locks had been invented, the struggle of not using locks was not something we could strongly steer away from. Instead, we came up with some very interesting ways to operate doors, open cupboards and praise to the gods. We found that a reliance upon electronics can indeed be rewarding in the short-term, but can be risky in terms of the maintenance required to keep it functioning. This could also be rather costly further down the line. Alternatively, mechanical items tend to be larger and more robust, but players will almost certainly pull on these things a bit harder to 'make' them work. This is a difficult choice, and one you can only make when 'on the job'.
How do I get hold of a candlestick made by Price's Candles in 1911?
We all have many times throughout the build where you have a great plan for a great puzzle and you have built the rest of it. However there is one little snag - you have to find the rarest pokemon card, or candlesticks that have since gone out of production, or a wingback chair in mahogany from 1925. These things aren't the easiest things to find, even on eBay or Amazon, but they are somewhat critical to the immersion and level of detail of the room. This means sometimes forking out large sums of money to make sure that your room follows the exact plans that you have laid out. All of this is if you are very lucky. Many owners will be required to settle for a compromise in this because they cannot simply find what they need.
There are many other things during the build that you find become rather difficult, and make the build a challenging and interesting time. Nevertheless, many of the owners have overcome these hidden boundaries and succeeded in creating some absolutely amazing games all across the UK. Although, it has been a tough few months, it is even more rewarding to come out the other side with a smile and a skip in your step, being proud of the major accomplishment.
Check out our Mayan game at Other World Escapes to see more of what we have done.
By: Garf Beeston
On: June 28, 2017