Game Designer

Escape the Room

Enter the Crucible

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I set up an eventbrite event based on everyone’s availability. Our original availability we set up on a Google calendar, I then just grabbed that schedule and made edits in Illustrator. That way anyone could sign up for the different sessions and we could coordinate between us. Set up playtests with more than just 1 Game Master.

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PLAYTESTING NOTES

MARCH 12 -1st Session

  1. First Session

    • Labels on cords

    • Box clue needed

      • Hints on sd cards or visual?

    • Could overlap onboarding

    • Can’t close the door super easily

      • Cords need to be bundled and run under the floor mats

        • Monica+David completed(all cords that needs to be plugged in are sticked to the game master’s station)

    • Microphone at start (need different voices)

      • Professor confusing if same as onboarder…

      • Hint from SLA, confusing if from same person as professor voice

        • Needs to be super clear and maybe after a minute, so it’s distinct from the professor and really sets a tone, right now there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of clear motivation to escape

    • Office soundtrack

      • Need to pick something that can play over the speakers very lightly

      • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcLbZFS4Ge8

    • First thing they found

      • The SD cards

    • Red herrings

      • Trash/bell

      • They think the text on the walls are puzzles

    • Microphone puzzle

      • a little confusing that you can say stuff from the beginning but it doesn’t come into play until later

        • THIS WAS DUE TO THE MICROPHONE BEING OUT ALREADY/SET UP; RECTIFIED IN SECOND PLAYTEST

      • They didn’t know to click the mouse to start the sketch, need to add a clue

      • They keep saying the text on the walls as input

        • Then realized “it’s a repetitive letter, not the phrases”

    • Then they found the label 1 in the suitcase, exciting moment

      • “I have a list of names”

    • Went back to the mic puzzle

      • Maybe this is a morse code thing

    • Had trouble with the SD cards

      • “Not sure if this works as a mechanic”

      • Not getting any audio out of the player, needs instructions

      • Having trouble getting the navigation to work** then finally got the audio to play

    • Looking for time

      • (Projector wasn’t working in this playtest)

    • Right now the microphone UV puzzle adds nothing because they are already trying the microphone puzzle

    • 18 minutes remaining

    • So they haven’t even begun to look for a maze, and even if they did, I’m not sure what that gives them --> humanness into the microphone?

    • “Second track really hard to understand”

    • Magnetic force field — they’re not picking up on the text clue

      • They’re thinking the rails on the wall under the webcam are the maze because they’re magnetic…

      • Haven’t even approached the shelf yet, maybe need some visual clues

      • They think the tube under the shelf is a thing

      • Then they went to the RFID box, and they think that’s supposed to be the force field

    • They’ve been messing with the microphone for the past 15 minutes, getting really frustrated

    • Need to indicate something under the shelf like a hand

      • Since the UV symbols aren’t up

    • Totally skipped the microphone by guessing JACK

    • RFID

      • Didn’t have an issue getting the chain out

      • Not clear that rfid is in palm “nothing in fingers”

    • Sign on maze fell off

    • Still finding the robot histories

      • Emily mark jack emma

    • Wants to remove the glove

    • Pedro doesn’t know who “patchmaster” is, said I gave my name

    • Makes sense that the onboarder is SLA, so okay that that’s the same voice

    • Rfid didn’t work

    • They have no idea what to do with the “capacitive wire”

    • Since they skipped, they’re confused that something is still locked

    • Feedback

      • Didn’t look too hard for clues right away, still finding cards (made sense later)

      • Handful of things in the clues that “I’m super lost on”

        • Mention of an office pen, then tried taking the pen on the desk apart

        • Something about walls

      • Unit Jack was the name of a character, so they could just straight up skip

        • Need to hide that in the box

      • Maze

        • Didn’t get the headphone clue to the maze — didn’t even

        • Morse code computer/translator missing

      • In terms of what was found and what was available, hit the wrong order of things

        • Morse code dead end

      • Need microphone in the box

      • Microphone

        • A little inconsistent, tough in a noisy room

      • So microphone and morse code on same computer, or just put morse code translator on piece of paper

      • SD player

        • Wasn’t on at first***

        • The scroll wheel confusing “took me a while to figure out the controls, doesn’t make any sense”

        • SD finicky — how do you put it in? “Hold it in”

        • Keep dropping the tiny SD cards

        • One track was super garbled

        • “Could replace with a room jack that they can plug into, just playing on repeat”

      • Maze really tough

        • sign gets in the way

        • Hole is good

      • Humanness

        • Morse —> UV —> ASCII —> microphone

        • “That’s a tough sequence, that’s at least one layer too many”

        • 7883 wouldn’t have gotten that, you only say it once? When it’s double?

        • All caps an issue

        • Should change the microphone puzzle to just be “humanness” not the ascii text

MARCH 12 -2nd Session

  1. Second Playtest

    • Cords an issue closing door(Fixed)

    • Cameras not stable

    • Professor

      • Too loud

      • Good to have clear motivations for the players, we should really focus on the 30 minutes part

    • SLA

      • (August) I’m going to give the SLA hints from inside

    • Taking the books off the shelf and going through them looking for clues

      • The gloves are hard to look through the books (annoying him)

    • SD cards

      • If order is important, should label the SD cards

    • 7 minutes in, found the hole in the maze

      • Hole, but don’t know what to do with it

      • Need to move magnet sign

      • Found the key with audio cues, without even needing the maze on the wall, just by feeling it

    • Got the lock off the first thing, plugged in microphone

      • Kinda cheating because the UV guy knows what to look for

      • “Not clear what the password is”

    • 20 mins left

      • Still messing with morsecode even after finding the shelf-maze-glove thing

      • “I noticed a wire over here (referencing the red MM wires)” then went to follow the red wire to the MM and tried picking up the MM

      • “Mark translates to “DO NOT LEAVE” — that’s funny”

      • “Still really confused by this guitar”

    • Got the password “Humanness”

      • Worked on first try, great

    • RFID glove hole not easy enough to get hand through, way too small

    • Professor message on open

      • “No let's band together!”

      • If they can’t connect these wires, should get SLA HINT

    • Feedback

      • Liked world building, liked having separate onboarding and tasks, but really uncomfortable to have my hand up for that long (easy fix-- move the handprints down to a comfortable level)

      • Red herrings, got fixated on guitar (should see if more people get stuck on it)

      • SD card doesn’t led to anywhere

        • Because could just match the names to the cards and type it into the morse code reader to get the shelf-glove-maze clue

        • ETME a really big red herring, a bummer that it didn’t lead anywhere

      • Maze

        • Brute forced it — didn’t need the map

        • But liked the idea

        • Got to use the robot as a cue for where the key starts

        • Need some sort of communication about magnet maze

      • Robot specs under their stations (to let everyone know who has what and in case people don’t listen or forget)

      • No clue for the handholding, confused with what to do with the wires. More hint about this needed! Might be UV

      • Two things to do with the computer. Should be in the same brower. Or other way to make it more clear

        • Can we put another monitor on the desk?

      • Headphone

        • May not be necessary. Clue could be got from the sheet of name and other sheets. The cards have too many information to overpass the headphone person.

        • The sound should be useful. “Jack” is already got from the mic puzzle

        • (If all people can hear together, not just the headphone person, that’s more fun)

      • UV: the paper should be able to pulled out. It’s hard to see the last few letters

      • The mic and uv paper could be seperate.

      • Get rid of humanness as a clue.

        • No UV clue.

        • Use ETME as the password

        • “A human connection is the key to freedom/ how you escape” as an obtuse context clue inside the mic to reinforce the final

      • Hint that the box green wire is the connection.

        • Maybe a lock symbol?

      • Maybe use the robots holding hands poster as a clue?

    • The onboarding/world-building is good

      • Need a more intense clue from the resistance. BEFORE the Dr. Professor clue.

        • “We’ve hacked in, and are coming to you in sleep mode.We know you’re trapped here, we will help you escape! Look for the clues and we’ll help you---gotta go, the Professor is coming!”

      • The script can be more oppressive.

        • “You are the SEVENTH ROBOT we’ve had to replace this week, don’t screw it up!”

        • Just make it seem like a worse place to be stuck in

        • Delivery is really important.

      • Use the UV paint to hint in the maze-- UV person wants more to do.

    • Right now the audio clue doesn’t lead anywhere.

  • Instruction from the oppressor: DO NOT TOUCH OTHER ROBOTS.

    • Speak in terms of what you want the players to do.

      • “Robots do not touch”

      • “ Robots do not speak”


MARCH 13 -3rd Session

12pm: Topher, Idit, Jenny, Morgan

  • Turned the light off on their own, but it’s hindering them I think

  • Found the maze on the wall right off the bat, trying to figure stuff out (haven’t connected it to the magnet)

    • Picked up the key by feeling the “robot” picture, but think its a vertical puzzle

  • Microphone jigsaw -- “what the fuck does this mean?”

    • They think they just have to say the password into the screen, no mic

    • They think the flashlight

  • “I can only look at one file on this mp3, is that right? Can someone else listen for me?” “I’m a touchmaster, I don’t think I can listen”

  • They were stuck, so I put the morse code translator onto the monitor, not sure if there was something else that was supposed to do that.

  • Gave them a hint about the maze

    • Still confused, “I bet its this (referring to the RFID box)”

  • We need a walkie talkie or something for hints

  • SD card an issue, he spent a long time trying to find a song only to realize the card had fallen out

  • Gave them a hint about the lights since they weren’t turning them back on

  • They just got the microphone out by sliding it out of the box, not opening it

  • Gave another hint about the maze referring to the circle, but still haven’t found the circle under the shelf

    • Still think its the tube under the shelf, we should cover that up

    • Now they get it, but spending a lot of time on the maze because they can’t figure out the morse code / sound file stuff

  • Gave them a hint to look for more robot histories and sound files

  • Maze: “it’s fun, but my muscles hurt. It’s frustrating, but not in a bad way. I’m wondering if the maze on the wall actually matches, it could be a little simpler”

  • Didn’t realize the “humanness” puzzle was gone, so not sure how to give them hints about the ETME thing...

  • Since they didn’t put their hands on the pads in the intro, they thought that was a part of another puzzle

  • They get really confused when they skip over puzzles and then try and solve the hints later

  • Giving them a bump since they didn’t get the ETME thing, now they’re unlocking the RFID thing

    • “So this chain doesn’t come out?”

    • The RFID didn’t work again, too long?

  • The green MM wire shocked Idit, but prob just static

  • Feedback

    • Don’t think they needed to be separated, took too much time

    • But Jenny loved her role

    • Idit didn’t understand her role

    • “But roles were really fun”

    • Like the robot uprising story

      • “But too much story for one room”

      • Friends or frenemies? Confusing to have that much of a moral thing in 30 mins (need more throughout

    • Feel like maze didn’t match up, it’s a square on the wall, not a circle

      • Having a magnet on the palm would be better

    • Sound files and robot histories

      • Still don’t understand

      • How many are there?

      • Stopped listening before “ETME”

      • Asked for others to help, since they were stuck

      • Sound files too long?

      • Assumed there was something with the text?

        • What’s the difference?

        • Why not scream Ella, etc.

    • Felt like there was a lot of information that wasn’t letting me get to the real information, too much clutter without a real guide to what clues go to what

    • Only real satisfying moment was getting the key out of the maze

    • They didn’t find the two hidden behind the desk, or the one in the junk above the shelf, we shouldn’t have them be hidden as well

    • Microphone UV jigsaw really confusing, esp with the symbol with the four flashlights (thought they needed to shout morse code into the microphone)

    • Morse code needs work, every group confused by it

    • Too many props that aren’t functional but you think thmey might be (the cords)

FEEDBACK FROM RECORDING

  • Onboarding part - users do not need to be separated

    • Role-playing is really fun

    • Some users don’t understand their roles

    • Love the Robot story

  • Too much story

    • Hold hands and then betray? Friends or enemy? Confusing

    • In 30 minutes that’s a lot

  • The circle and the square don’t match - fixed with UV pens

  • Didn’t figure out the sound files

    • Stopped listening to the file after getting ETME

    • Assumed sound files leads to ETME

    • Sound files are too long

  • Texts seems like poetry

    • (think that was just a joke Idit was making because she knows I (August) write computer poetry)

  • What’s the difference between each player’s story?

  • A lot information not lining up with the real clues

  • Couldn’t get some of the clues

CHANGES AFTER PLAYTEST 3

  • UV on wall maze and under maze shelf

  • Wire drawing on robot poster

  • Made the SD cards and the robot histories less difficult to find

  • Wrapped the microphone box a little better

  • Need to plug in the RFID arduino right before onboarding

  • Should onboard together? Still tell them about the reporting, adds an interesting group dynamic

MARCH 13 -4th Session

4pm: A group of visitors( some from Italy)

  • Used two laptops for the two cameras. One for sound reception

  • Removed one of the SD cards to simplify audio puzzle

  • Showed the headphone person how to use mp3 player(will make changes)

  • Discuss the strategy: tell the others what role they have

  • Found the RFID case first, saw that there should be four digital password. Then start looking around to find the password(for the whole time)

  • Then found the makey makey box, thought it should be open by the magnetic glove and try for a long time.

    • Makey makey should be hidden or moved to the top shelf

  • Some other people find things from trash can and guitar case(SD cards). But didn’t listening to any of them. Forgot to use the headphone at all.

  • Found the locked mic bag, knew there should be a key.

  • Two people start to read. “Nobody want to read things, but we should””The morse code is so confusing””It’s impossible!!”

  • Looked at the books and started reading( the game master should have told them)

  • Saw the password interface in the p5 sketch screen.

  • 12 mins: Didn’t got the maze clue but heard the key and start with the maze. “Sounds like a key that we need”

    • Picked up the key by feeling the “robot” picture, but think its a vertical puzzle need more hints on that

    • Found the hole on shelf and the maze on the wall(but didn’t found the UV start and end signal)

    • Got the key then the mic after doing the maze for 4 mins

  • Asked for a hint at 19 mins. I told the headphone robot to do its job.

  • Finally started listening to one of the sound files. Thought it was the lyrics or the song’s name

    • Need to remove unnecessary files in the mp3 player

  • Asked for hint--> listen to other files

  • Got the ETME!!! But the speech detection cannot recognize accent:(

  • RFID didn’t work. Unlocked by replugging. Thought hands should be above the outside( the hand shape outside the round box is confusing, even if it says: insert)

FEEDBACK

  • 30min was too short, spent most of the time at the beginning (don’t know where to start)

    • Gave hint “try to use your skills/tools” then realize

  • Hard to find where to start. But interesting once starting

  • After entering the room, want to see like “what’s going on here”, rather than looking around randomly

  • Thought there should be a clearer hint as to what to do next

  • Chip is smart, but difficult

  • “ETME” speech detection can not recognize accent

    • Don’t know how to fix this:(

  • Morse is difficult, confusing, and they unlocked maze without audio hint

    • Typing in morse code was too confusing and easy to make mistake

  • UV mic hint is useless, they know there’s a bag should be opened and they see the microphone jack so no need for microphone hint

  • Thought the puzzle design was inventive

Changes after playtest 4

  • Incorporating makey makey mechanism into timer program. Gamemaster manually plays unlock sound when players hold hands at the end.

  • Label MP3 player

  • Make changes to uv puzzle (to be discussed)

  • Better link between audio puzzles and glove and microphone puzzle

    • Glove puzzle need more hints

March 14th Session 5

Playtest 03/14 1630-1730

Important Notes:

  • When the players try to open the RFID wood box with force, say to the microphone: “STOP!” and remind them that they should “only use their augmented power”. (because the box is kind of loose)

  • Projected Timer: The timer starts at 1:00:00, and cannot be seen on the computer while projected. => solution: start the timer anyway, press the key to manually and quickly turn down the time(a press is a second less) until it’s somewhere 0:40:XX, and then WAIT till it’s 0:40:00 to HIT ENTER TO STOP. (Rachel will fix this part)

  • Players are generally interested in the storyline and are curious about “why.” What we did is to EXPLAIN(after the game) about the difference between human and robots is “collaboration,” that’s why all the puzzles are connected by different “superpowers”; and if someone is reported or he/she betrays other to be sent outside, the human chain part will be more difficult, etc. To EXPLAIN the moral decision

  • Many are new to escape rooms, so it is important to say the script to those people more CLEARLY and SLOWLY on important terms(their roles and abilities)

Feedback(from players’ perspectives):

  • The storyline is a tricky concept, because if we are robots then we would want to mess up with things(the script tell us not to). What things are to touch, what things are not to touch could be clearer. (Also the abandoned wires in the trash can is a bit confusing)

  • The audio files on the mp3 player are not clear enough to the players. This part is considered the hardest and even annoying(Rachel is fixing this)

  • Overall idea is good and cool

  • Holding hands to escape is a fun and nice idea

  • Like the slogans on the wall. Tells the story well and clearly.

  • Clever to use the tapes to set up the room

  • Confused about the note: “don’t leave the room”

  • No reason/incentive for them to report others. Same for betraying others.

  • The wire(makey-makey end) on the wall is more easy for ITP students to recognize and to realize that it should be connected in some way. It might not be that obvious or direct for non-ITP audience.

  • REALLY IMPRESSIVE and THOROUGH GOOD JOB

Suggested changes after feedback:

  • Adding blank sheets of paper and a pencil on the table for the players to take note (changed)

  • Adjusting the camera to include the RFID view. The camera cannot include both RFID and the red wire of makey-makey at the same time, so we decided to just keep the RFID in view, while we can tell if the player is reaching out for the red wire and stretching out to hold hands. (changed)

  • Adding UV clues for the maze on the shelf. This could be two arrows: one pointing towards the UV key image under the shelf, the other pointing towards the map up on the wall

  • FULL runthrough instead of just saying the parts they didn’t get(?)


March 14th Session 6

Playtest 03/14 1900-2000

Important Notes:

  • They found the text file with the name jack and figured out the rfid puzzle without going through the rest of the puzzles.

    • The sheet with the name Jack should not be in the room

  • They figured out the need to hold hands by looking at the robot image and the morse code hint

  • They accidentally closed the cover of the box containing the makey makey wire

    • Had to manually open the case by replugging

Feedback:

  • Didn’t want to betray the others because no one else was doing it. (They didn’t seem to know what is going on possibly due to bad game mastering ;/  Maybe phrase it in a way so they feel rewarded doing so.

  • They thought the guitar had something to do with the morse code cause of a similar pattern (dots and dashes)

  • Audio was not clear

Suggested changes after feedback:

  • Give more clues to the map on the wall and the uv symbols beneath the shelf

  • Improved audio clarity by adding an extra file for hint

  • Removed confusing parts of the guitar

  • Timer changes