Physical storytelling through problem-solving

My time at Escape Room Loudoun was full of finding solutions to unique problems whether it be through marketing or through prop design, but the biggest project we had worked on was designing a room with a fully interactive story with multiple endings to allow the more devoted escape room players to do more within a single room rather than have it stuck to a one time playing experience. We did this by introducing difficulty levels that would change specific key puzzles within the room and slightly shift the story to accommodate those changes. 

My responsibility through this project was the creative direction, creating a room that felt like you entered a 1950's laboratory with a fully themed character with voice lines and interactions automated by custom software.

Sci-Fi Escape Room

Design Process

When designing a room made for people to explore and touch everything the one constant is making sure you direct the player's attention and keep their attention away from interacting with objects that you don't want them to interact with by indirectly doing so by design. The way we did this was making objects that had haptic feedback that would simulate the movement or sound of pain but no harm is done to the users. The design for the room was built to look similar to the game Portal where it has an eerie atmosphere that feels empty but littered with easter eggs to intrigue the players. Slowly throughout the story, the character you interact with would reveal themselves as the person to escape from and the lights to sound design made the situation grow in intensity.

Everything in this room was designed to be tinkered with, from custom software designed to look like Windows 98 to the way we developed puzzles to make the user take leaps of faith impairing their decision-making process.

Prop Design

When it comes to props our main focus was always to keep the style grounded in the core premise. Since the room was designed to look and feel like a 1950's Sci-Fi Laboratory we had many trips to goodwills, Auctions for liquidation from actual research labs to structuring the props we made in house to match historical accuracy from NASA in the '50s. 

To the left is a design used for an audio tape reel that would spin on a center console when turned on.

Designing the room

Once the puzzle layout was set we needed to devise a layout to make sure the layout would allow for the players to have enough time to explore as well as making sure the prop placement was in the right place compared to the puzzle it correlates with. 

Displayed to the right is one of the final designs of the room. Not displayed is the piping system we built for a custom fog machine system that would build up as apart of the story where the players would slowly become the test subjects explained by the character in the room.