So, you like to play games. Did you ever think about what it takes to create one? The process is more interesting and involved than you can imagine.
Today, we’ll offer you an insider’s look into the creation of Xscape The Room – Media, PA’s newest room: Motherboard.
How Does It All Begin?
Designer Rosemary Fox starts with a theme. Influenced by books, movies, current events, and all things fun, Fox keeps a list of ideas in her portfolio.
“After a while, themes keep coming back to me, and keeping a balance within all four games we offer, a theme will just emerge as The One.”
Once the theme is chosen and a story written, Fox begins to weave those elements into a solid framework for a game. She will then strategically place puzzles into the mix.
“It’s like writing a play. Whether the players know it or not, there is a full backstory to all of our Xscape games, an intricate and detailed plot that helps to inform the puzzles.”
All puzzles start out on paper. Then Fox and her partner Carlin McCoy begin to assemble the production team.
“We work closely with Tech Guides in Media. They are our technology source in this upcoming game: Motherboard,” said McCoy. “We also employ area artists such as Martha Perkins, who just opened a gallery in Swarthmore.”
After numerous production meetings where the talented duo brainstorms and hashes out storylines, they begin assembling the props and furniture for the game. Most props are assembled at first as ‘dofers,’ a theatre term meaning you are using something that will ‘do for’ the final product. This way, they can see if it works first before spending money on making the full prop, box, or puzzle.
Then, Fox gets to play. “I lay all the ‘dofers’ out in the room, and I walk myself through it. I guess you can say I am a kinetic creator. I need to see everything before me, and then I manipulate, correct, and create right on the spot. This is my favorite phase.”
The First Walkthrough
After the “dofer” phase gets the okay, Fox invites her closest allies, McCoy and their assistant Amber to walk through the room and bounce ideas around. How can they make something more user-friendly? How can they streamline an idea? Also, most importantly, will it break, and can their team reset it easily?”
“When that phase is done, we have a group of close advisors we call in: Other escape room owners and a group of expert players. This is perhaps the hardest phase for me. At this point, you hear the hard-core critiques. But it is important to listen and make adjustments,” said Fox.
The Beta Test
The last phase before opening is the Beta Test. Here, we will invite a variety of demographics to test the game for group sizes between four and ten players. We need to be sure the game isn’t too overwhelming for four and is enough to keep ten players engaged for an hour.
We test for skill level and age, too, since we attract a large number of active seniors who LOVE our rooms, as well as younger players in Middle School who can play our games on their own. Xscape The Room – Media, PA is also a common location for escape room corporate team building near Montgomery County, PA, so the rooms need to be a good fit for young professionals.
The last beta testing group is made up of families. If you have a private room, you can bring in kids as young as 6. No one under the age of 6 is allowed into the room for safety reasons.
Fox and McCoy look for feedback about the puzzles and the story from these testers. According to Fox, “Puzzles need to belong in the world. They need to make sense. I watch players closely. I can tell when someone is engaged, getting frustrated, bored. I take copious notes, and often, we videotape the games so we can all go back and rehash the process. There is so much going on in an escape game. It’s hard to keep your eye on every moment.”
Let the Games Begin!
Now that you’ve gotten a sneak-peek into its creation, are you excited to try out our Motherboard escape game? This new game is opening on November 1, so book a room now for your family or for your escape room corporate team building event near Chester County, PA!