It’s time for some challenges. The kind of safe, manageable, entertaining challenges that are part of the Reality Escape Convention (RECON). The virtual event focuses entirely on escape rooms and the immersive gaming industry. You can try your hand at virtual escape rooms and experiences, hear carefully curated discussions from your favorite creators in the industry, and challenge yourself to play and learn. Convention co-creator Lisa Spira tells Nerdist, “Great escape rooms and immersive games are magical experiences, and we’ve been working tirelessly for over seven years now to help players find that magic, and creators to learn how to tap deeper into it. RECON is a place for both groups to come together, learn, play, and bond.”
While we’re looking forward to the entire event, a handful of RECON activities caught our eye. And we got in touch with some of the creatives behind these panels and games for their insight. So in case it helps you plan your schedule…
It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way
This opening talk comes from convention creators Lisa Spira and David Spira of Room Escape Artist. Lisa Spira says, “[Our] talk digs into the countless design decisions that go into creating an escape room and illustrating what separates the great games from the average ones. Ultimately our goal is to paint a picture for the future of this medium of entertainment. We’re laying out a thesis for the entire event.”
Fun Insurance: What Makes a Good Hint System
If you’re like me, you need hints when you try immersive games, So if you’re wondering how creators walk the delicate balance of guiding you along without making it too easy, this talk from Locurio‘s Summer Herrick and PostCurious‘ Rita Orlov is for you.
Herrick tells us, “The number one rule when it comes to escape rooms? They’ve gotta be fun. And the best way to ensure that your guests have a great time from beginning to end is to have a comprehensive hint system that keeps them moving and prevents them from getting frustrated… it’s ‘Fun Insurance,’ and it’ll keep your guests satisfied, successful, and coming back for more. We’ll discuss some of these ‘insurance policies’ and why some may work better than others, including my personal favorite strategy for maintaining immersion via your hint system.”
Orlov adds, “In the Fun Insurance panel we’ll be discussing why it’s important to have hints available, different methods of providing hints to the player, and dissecting the structure of example hint sets. We hope to give creators a better understanding of best practices for hint-crafting and implementation so that players can derive maximum enjoyment from their games.”
Limited Run Game from Club Drosselmeyer’s Green Door Labs
Of course RECON has some special opportunities just for attendees, like a limited run game from Green Door Labs. The Boston-based indie game design and production company is known for their interactive stories. And this game? You’re not ready.
Green Door Labs founder Kellian Adams Pletcher gave us the inside scoop. He says, “SPACECATS is a ridiculous Discord game about cats flying a spaceship. Captain Fig has found a vole in the airlock and therefore other than the simple, easy-to-follow instructions by your ship’s trusty C.A.T.B.O.T, your team is on their own getting the cargo on the SCS MARU3 to its final destination in the Beta Quadrant. Inspired by games like Space Alert and Spaceteam, SPACECATS is based on the idea that the best games involve a terrible premise, simultaneous play, lack of information and yelling at each other. Also sometimes the creation of cat music videos. Gratuitous meowing will be encouraged.”
Honestly, we were sold at “meowing.”
Getting Started in Building Immersive Environments
Have you ever wondered what goes into creating an immersive environment? Whether you’re merely curious or researching for your own ideas, this talk from The Cipher Room‘s Marise Watson and David Vella is for you. Watson says, “At The Cipher Room we make most things in our games ourselves—narratives, puzzles, construction, mechanics, set design, sound, lighting, etc. We are not trained set designers—my partner David is a veterinarian and I’m a journalist—but we love puzzles and making things! For our RECON talk we wanted to share how we make our handmade and bespoke games, and encourage others to take the leap too! ”
Mundane to Cool: Creative Puzzle Design
If you’re ready to get hands-on, RECON’s workshops await you. Bizzaro, Krystal, and Greg of The Test Subjects put a spin on puzzle creation in theirs. Bizzaro says, “Our workshop is all about how to make puzzles not look and feel like what they actually are. We’ll talk about using the story and theme to motivate creation, show the attendees how we think at right angles to create puzzles ourselves, and then let them loose to brainstorm on their own ideas based off randomly chosen parameters. It’ll be a learning experience full of information, interaction, and probably some bad jokes thrown in for good measure.”
RECON takes place August 22-23, 2021. It’s going to be a busy couple of days! These are only a few highlights. You can learn about the different times of passes and snag one for yourself at RECON’s website.
Nerdist is a media partner for RECON.