Escape Game – DIY – Playtesting

Stage 1 – Test Yourself

So by know you should have all the pieces together.  You’ll need to lay everything in the right places and set all the locks.  If this is already looking complicated then creating a cheat-sheet be an essential tool to remind you what goes where.  It looks really bad if the gamehost has to interrupt the game to give players a missing game item.

Now play it through yourself step by step.  You already know the answers – but go through all the stages and see if it all makes sense and that you as the player has everything you need.

Once you’ve fixed things you can more on to larger playtests.

Stage 2 – Playtest with friends / colleagues

This is the most important test.  Make this exactly the same as you would with public players.  Firstly, you’ll want to enthusiastically deliver the intro.  Then let them play.  Do your best to stay hidden, observe and take notes.  Where did the players get stuck?  Where did you need to step in?  Have a talk with them after to find out what things worked and what things didn’t.  A tip to being a good game host is to avoid stepping in unless you have to.  Even if you’re tempted and want to tell them something it is much more satisfying to solve a puzzle without outside assistance.

The likelihood is that you made your game too hard and you didn’t provide enough guidance / sign-posting.  Fix the problems that come up is probably a case of re-writing some parts to make it less ambiguous or adding a few additional hints that can be found.

Once you’ve made tweaks I would suggest repeating the tests with a new group.  Probably if you’ve had 3 different groups playtest your game then you are ready to move on to public playtesting.

Stage 3 – Public Playtest

Escape Games aren’t like video games where if things are going really bad the software crashes and everyone starts again from scratch.  The worst case is that you as the game host will have to make an appearance and offer some additional support / clues.

The main idea is to start small and allow yourself time between playtests in case you need to tweak things further.

If you’ve got all the way down here then you deserve an enormous pat on the back.  This is a very involved tutorial and I’m sure you’ve spent a few hours reading through this and possibly a few days building something.  I’m sure your game is close to perfection and your players are having an incredible unique experience in your museum.  Please do get in touch and share what you’ve done – I’d love to hear more from those who are making games for their spaces (with or without the help of this tutorial).

Next steps

So what next.  Well probably you deserve a sit down and a large glass of your favourite alcoholic beverage!  Once you’ve recovered from the hangover then feel free to move on to the next steps that will guide you through adding a digital component to your escape game.  How might the amazing ‘DIY Escape Game’ Android App help us?