Why Do Escape Rooms Change Over Time?
Escape rooms usually keep the same general structure and theme during their life spans, but little changes and modifications often happen along the way. Puzzle order, answers to puzzles, locations of objects, and many other small changes can happen over a room’s lifespan to keep it smooth from opening day to the day it shuts down. Let’s explore some of the reasons escape rooms change over time!
Difficulty or Confusion
We playtest all of our puzzles and rooms before opening them up to the public, but the sample size of playtesting is fairly small. Once a room is open to the public, we’re more easily able to spot trends and sticking points across a large sampling of groups. If most groups are getting stuck on the same puzzle or getting the same wrong answer for a puzzle, it’s on us to try to smooth over that experience for future groups. If part of the room or the room in its entirety is much harder or much easier than we expected, this can also be a cause for small changes. We try not to be too disruptive with these changes, so they usually involve things like adding or taking away information from a puzzle’s instructions, or hiding an aspect of the puzzle in a different spot. We want our rooms to feel challenging but doable for as many of our players as possible, and honing in on the trouble spots and smoothing them over is a step towards that. Sometimes a small change like changing the wording of instructions can have a significant impact on difficulty and escape rate.
Maintenance and Wear and Tear
When locked in a room and told to try to escape, some people try to get out by any means necessary. This means that after a group goes through, sometimes we need to replace things that are broken. If a box gets forced open, we may need to sub in another box for the next group. We try to keep backups of every prop and object that we might need to replace, but sometimes even those backups can break. Sometimes when a box breaks, the only replacement box we have ready is incompatible with the lock used for that puzzle. In these cases, we’ll sometimes need to change the lock as well. This usually means changing the puzzle that goes along with the box in some small way to get a different number or letter combination. Some damaged objects are more critical than others, and require us to re-order or rearrange some of the puzzles in the room. It is unlikely that we would add or remove an entire puzzle, because we want everyone to experience the same things, but re-ordering puzzles can allow us to account for hardware failure or broken objects temporarily.
New Ideas and Aesthetic Improvements
Sometimes changes to the rooms over time are purely aesthetic, and don’t affect the puzzles or difficulty at all. These changes are usually things we didn’t think of or didn’t have time to implement when launching the room initially. These can be things like adding more story flavor- logos for the fictional companies, making all aspects of the room fit the theme better, or adding extra details to the background. Sometimes they’re also just to make the room look nicer- repainting chipped walls or worn and torn books and pages. Keeping our rooms fun and looking nice is an ongoing process, and we’ll always keep working to keep our rooms fun and challenging for all of our players!
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