Now he's putting together two more rooms, and finding that video games like The Legend of Zelda and Dishonored, plus a large dollop of classic British game show The Crystal Maze, are inspiring what he creates. "I'll now look at something and think, 'Yeah that would be cool to put into the next game,'" he notes. "The third game room 'Madchester' is opening in July, and that will all be my creation. I'm very excited." A physical space can surprise in ways that a computer monitor cannot. Items and surroundings that appeared trivial before are suddenly filled with puzzles staring you in the face, while items that you thought could surely -- surely -- have no useful meaning slot perfectly into place once you discover their significance. And just in case players attempt to force a solution to a puzzle, these rooms will contain multiple red herrings for the participants to stare at and ponder for far too long. All the while the experience organizers watch from cameras dotted around the room, either giggling to themselves or feeling a rapidly heightening sense of stress, as a band of friends move further and further away from the answers. "I would say cool set-piece puzzles are the first thing to consider when designing a room," Roberts adds. "Then the escape route, followed by the story line and flow -- which is actually a really hard thing to master. It is very hard to get the right level of difficulty so people don't fly through it, but also aren't completely stuck." It's worth searching for similar experiences in your area.
"It is very hard to get the right level of difficulty so people don't fly through it, but also aren't completely stuck."
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Designing a real-life Escape the Room experience
The chances are that you've tried your hand at an Escape the Room video game challenges before. You may not have experienced one of the many real life Escape the Room games that have been popping up around the world.