Designing escape room games – GDS2017 report

I only managed to visit a few talks during the GDS 2017. We had a desk in the Indie Expo section with our game WesTurn and that was a bit busy. Nevertheless, here are my notes from one of the presentations.

This talk was give by Martin Vaňo from Mindmaze.
Have you played one of his games – Mimpi? Here is related Gamasutra article.

It was a bit refreshing to hear about different kind of games on the conference. It wasn’t about polygons, scripting and shaders this time. It was about design of real spaces, construction and about terrible people.

Martin said it’s very rewarding to watch live people play your game. It’s different from making a videogame for the whole world and publishing it on the internet.

Escape room market is saturated (Martin is from Prague, CZ, might be different in your country). And this pushes creators to innovate. It’s also great to have good reviews on TripAdvisor.

Visitors of the escape games can very destructive. They might come in drunk and damage items or parts of the room environment. Game has to be often repaired. Fire regulations must be obeyed.

Martin, shared a funny story about lockpickers. These are players who come equipped with tools for lock picking, pick every lock in the game and finish the room in just a few minutes and feeling proud about themselves.

Restrictions have to be incorporated into the game to communicate clearly what is part of the game and what is not. Allowances – marking clearly whether item is to be used or if it’s just a prop. This is one of the differences from making a videogame. In videogame it’s simple to implement only certain mechanics, IRL people can do almost anything .

Affordances and association problems. Using shapes/colors to clearly communicate to players which item goes where.

Story in escape room game should not distract players from puzzles. Making sure players know what is puzzle and what is just part of the world/story.

Martin showed us photos from their work on a new escape game called Galactic Pioneers. It’s a sci-fi room full of cool tech. They even used displays, microcontrollers and a lot of cables. They cooperate with a company making movie props. It looks great!


Here are my other posts about the GDS 2017.

Have you played escape room game? How was it designed (puzzles, props)? What about the story?
Share your thoughts in the comments below 🙂 Thanks



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