Choosing a Theme
Now that our newest escape room – Kittens In Space – is open for players we thought it would be a good time to go ‘behind the scenes’ and talk about how we design and build our games. One of the earliest stages in the process is to decide on a theme.
We always have ideas brewing as potential game concepts and it can be tricky to narrow down – however, we have found that there are a few ways to make sure we are making the right choice:
Is it fun?
This might seem super obvious but the first test of any new escape room idea is to make sure it would be fun for our guests. We have surveyed customers to learn about the themes that would be most enjoyed and that helps to influence our decision.
It may be surprising, but we have actually found that most guests would rather not play a horror or scary theme. We might consider this style for a special event, but so far we have decided to stick with overall “fun” (although definitely mysterious!) content.
Selfishly, we also gravitate towards game themes that we would like to play…and therefore like to create! While we have really enjoyed some ‘traditional’ escape room themes – such as a jailbreak, art heist, murder mystery, etc. – we tend to go for something that challenges the genre a little more.
Does it fit?
Any new theme needs to complement our existing games and also not duplicate an existing style. Our first game – Volcano’s Ruin – takes guests on a trek to ancient ruins. The theme feels lush, jungle-like and adventurous.
In our second game – A Brief Mystery of Time – we went for a different approach by basing the setting in an old Victorian mansion. This game feels like a curious, steampunk-inspired mystery.
Kittens In Space brings yet another style. Set aboard an alien spaceship this game feels shiny, bright and full of strange, sophisticated technology.
Each game’s theme sets it apart from the others and offers different choices & challenges for our guests.
Can we add a twist?
Once we have a theme in mind, our next approach is to decide how we can add a fun and unexpected twist.
Kittens in Space is a good example – we knew early on that this new escape room would have an alien/space theme. We then played around with a number of ways to add something unexpected. Some ideas included space pirates or vikings…but once we discovered kittens we knew we found our twist.
The idea that aliens were abducting Earth’s little feline buddies gave us an element of whimsy that we really wanted for this room. The game includes fun puzzles that are also influenced by cat behaviour, toys and even sounds!
Can we stay true?
One final test before we approve a new game is if we believe we can ‘stay true’ to the actual theme. In other words, can we build a set, props, puzzles and maintain a story that all aligns with the theme itself.
For example, aliens (as far we can know!) wouldn’t have the English alphabet aboard their spaceship. This means that any puzzles or story we created for Kittens in Space must not have written English instructions. Content must rely on colours, shapes or other symbols that make sense for that specific environment.
Similarly, alien spaceships wouldn’t have traditional ‘locks on boxes’ so we needed to be sure that all our puzzles were sophisticated ‘next gen escape room’ concepts; staying true to the technologically advanced theme.
Upcoming on the blog: Building Props – from concept art to prototype to final version!