Oh no! A dark wizard has swooped in and stolen all of the dragon eggs! Quickly, solve his puzzles to break the spell and save the dragon eggs, before the poor baby dragons freeze!
Dani was upset. You see, it was nearly Easter, but there was no way that Anna and Szilard's little brother could go see Grandma. At least, not without accidentally spreading the plague (which is nowhere near as much fun as escaping the zombie virus!)
It was at this time that the High Wizards began their contest of champions - to see who could design the greatest escape room game.
So Anna and Szilard stepped up!
They lovingly designed 'Dragon Eggs' as a captivating scavenger hunt guaranteed to lift poor Dani's spirits.
And their clever workmanship shows! Their intuitive but challenging puzzles had our escape goblins skittering around the Citadel for weeks searching for lost dragon eggs.
So naturally, we wanted to learn more about the enigmatic masterminds behind our favorite Easter game.
We first decided that as the game would be for Easter, essentially it should be an egg-hunt. But we still wanted to give it a cool theme, so we came up with a little story about stolen dragon eggs.
We were long debating the structure of the treasure hunt, the first idea was to make it sequential so that one solution will lead to the next clue and all solutions together would allow the players to deduce something in Sherlock style. But then we opted for something simpler, where there was less room for error in the design, this is how we have now independent puzzles that each give one letter towards the final solution.
We also had in mind that it should be easy enough for our little brother to succeed.
Coming up with the actual puzzle ideas was a lot of iteration, we knew we wanted it to be as varied as possible, but that’s tricky to do in practice.
We wanted to include things to physically manipulate (like cut, fold, colour), but also others where it was more about noticing something or searching.
We drew the ideas on paper, then we searched online for images, and used our limited computer skills to achieve a look as close as possible to that we liked.
Then we printed out the game and solved it ourselves to find out where it didn’t work (and we did find quite a few mistakes!).
We even dropped a couple of puzzles that did not seem good enough on second thought.
So we corrected and re-designed and then printed again.
It took about half a dozen rounds of testing before we both were satisfied with the result.
...and perhaps the anticipations when the game was ready and we waited for the big day to come - so if you get feedback from other people who play it, we'd really love to hear!
Other than that we enjoyed the whole process of making the game. Before the lockdown, we did not spend this much time together and now we had secret meetings coming up with the theme, drafting the story, then brainstorming puzzles. We sat together in front of the computer and it was a great bonding to do something good together. (Of course mom and dad knew, so they allowed us more computer-time 😉 )
We live in a relatively small flat, so we decided to hide well the twelve cards with the puzzles (e.g. in a book, under the carpet, etc), but we had a few little chocolate eggs nearby so they were not that hard to find.
Mom and dad were helping Dani, but we did not tell them the solutions in advance, sometimes they were just as puzzled as our little brother!
Also, we had one modification compared to the game we submitted for the contest: the video they got in the end was one that we recorded wishing them a happy Easter. (It’s super-easy to upload a recording to vimeo and make it password protected, so anyone playing our game can make it personalized this way.)
NOTE: If you enjoy scavenger-hunt games like this one, you may enjoy our time-travel adventure, Escape Quest.
It was a lot of work, but it was all fun. After a while we started seeing codes wherever we looked, and we spent entire days thinking about new puzzle ideas.
He didn’t say much, but at his age that’s normal.
It was surprising to see that some of the puzzles we intended to be hard he solved very quickly, while he struggled with others that we felt were not so hard.
We suspect that he expects us to do another treasure hunt for his birthday in July 🙂
So once this is over, we are going to book that trip and pay it with our own money!
We got the idea because of the contest, but we are already working on another game, it’s so much fun!
For us what helped to get started was to look at the LPS website for tips, and it’s probably a good idea to play a few of these escape games to get some inspiration.
Also, it helped that it was the two of us working on the project, there were a lot of ideas we dropped because one of us did not like it, and eventually it made the game better to work on it until both of us loved every element.