This weekend is our second week testing Rampancy, a live escape room I designed from the ground up. It is one of the most complicated integration of electronics ever done in an escape game. The primary system computer controls not only the lights and sound, but also the interactive elements throughout the room.
The overarching concept and theme for the room ties closely with it’s techno-roots. The story and concept is about a faulty artificial intelligence computer going crazy and locking you into a room.
Exploring the abandoned remains of a testing and enrichment facility you stumble upon a construct long forgotten. A rogue artificial intelligence named Kel, who locks you into a chamber and forces you to participate in his experiments. Can you shutdown the system and escape his grasp?
There are many challenges when faced with designing a game on this scale. The toughest of them is making the computer seamlessly communicate with the inputs and outputs throughout the room. Having a computer talk to one button is easy, doing that with dozens of inputs and outputs at the same time and letting them all work in tandem is another matter.
Many of the components for the game are custom, down to the hand soldered circuit boards. As you could imagine having custom hardware is a double edged sword, on one hand we are able to have complete creative freedom over the functions of the hardware and on the other these systems take a very long time to construct. On top of the hardware, we have a fully custom control script for the software. Written in Python it is almost 3,000 lines of custom code.
So if the work to build something as advanced as this is so great, why put forward that effort? I think for me it has to do with the experience. If we can provide the best possible experience for players I know they will continue to come back and play more. There is also a huge amount of satisfaction with building something unlike anything done before.
One additional drawback to a game like this is the replicability of it. Due to its size I don’t think it is practical to distribute it or bring the game to other locations. It’s home is in Denver and that is likely where this game will stay. I am okay with that, it has a home and is being managed by good people. That is more than most designers could ask for.\\