Transitioning a Game from Escape Room Experience to Digital

Hey, Adam here from the Code & Key Escape Rooms. The Silver Spoon Caper (SSC) began life as a physical, large-scale puzzle game intended for 2 to 100 players split into teams. The game was facilitated by Game Masters who moved between groups and helped players as a living hint system. The experience lasted around 1 hour at the end of which, teams identified the suspects they thought were involved in the heist.

At the start of the pandemic, Studio Cypher approached us about transforming one of our Escape Room or Puzzle experiences into a digital game. SSC seemed like a perfect fit.

At the Code & Key we design narrative puzzles that engage your mind in different ways, utilizing many different types of puzzles. We also  design our experiences with logistics in mind. For our physical rooms, this means knowing how much space we have available, making sure that our props and puzzles fit the theme and story, and that materials won't walk off accidentally at the end of a play session! For our mobile escape experiences, we design for a wide range of puzzling abilities, with portability and replacement in mind. 

Our SSC puzzles use pictures, envelopes, paper, thin wood, or smaller items that are easily transported and distributed between as many as 25 groups. There were a couple unique items that required physical manipulation, but these all started out flat to help with transportation and packaging. Much of the world building came through blocks of text on paper that players receive over the course of the game. The game players were the main characters and the blocks of text read more like an informative role playing story than character conversations.

When Studio Cypher approached us about building a game for digital publication, this game sprang to mind because so much of it was  formatted in a way that was readily adaptable to Studio Cypher's unique conspiracy board feel. I'm certain that this choice to adapt such a similar experience has resulted in a lot fewer headaches during the process! 

Some things did have to change when creating the digital experience! While we kept the basic premise and story outline, we quickly realized that while big blocks of text facilitate a group's imagination, they can seem sterile and cold when viewed on a computer screen.  We created a series of characters with the help of our fantastic artist and built all the story cards and puzzle clues into a series of conversations Harriet has with the citizens of the city. 

One clue began life on a piece of paper:

And we translated into the digital version as a conversation. 

The puzzles were one of the things that we had to change most as we had committed to a 2D environment for this game with Studio Cypher. I'm a firm believer that design limitations are a good thing and push you to use your creativity. So we changed our 3D puzzle to a similar concept 2D puzzle, and our puzzle that required players to physically walk around the room was changed to become a search and match puzzle. We're still receiving feedback from playtesters but the digital SSC experience seems to be similar in response and play time as the physical version. 

We’re quite happy with the result and we can’t wait to share all this with you! The last couple of months, while overshadowed by the global pandemic, have been filled with a ton of work for us as we adapted puzzles, wrote dialogue, and fixed bugs! May the puzzling commence!

- Adam

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