Late August news round-up

News round-up
Tuesday night seems to be becoming “list of short news stories” night. This isn’t deliberate, but here goes:

  • Episode five of Race to Escape was broadcast on Saturday night and has made its way to illicit video-sharing sites already. In truth, I haven’t watched it yet, but if it’s anywhere near as good as last week’s then it will be a glorious thing indeed. As ever, illicit video-sharing sites don’t make it easy – there are doubtless plenty of adverts (noisy pop-unders and the like, maybe worse) – but here’s this week’s link to a list of sites, of which will be the first port of call.
  • It’s Fringe festival time in Edinburgh, and three of the local sites have an unofficial competition to see who can get the most famous player come through their doors by the end of the month. Comedians and Dr. Who assistants are being thrown as punches, as if by a heavyweight. How do you judge how famous a person is? Search engine hits, perhaps, but it would take some carefully-selected search terms to ensure you’re finding a famous person and not any of their namesakes. All the participants are winners in this site’s eyes, perched from atop a fence. (This site’s official footballer has been playing rooms in Manchester again, too.)
  • Crowdfunding heroes Enigma Escape of London have updated their site with a nearly-eight-minute video of online video stars trying their game for the first time. It’s probably the best video of its type that this site has seen; it’s a good advert not just for its site, but for the genre as a whole, with the comment “We modified the game so that no spoilers are shown in the video” a telling one. Go and take a look!
  • Escape Plan Live of Chatham, Kent offer not only daytime games but also nighttime “After Dark” games by torchlight as well. One of their first had an additional special effect that even the team behind the game didn’t intend.
  • Clue HQ of Warrington are famous for the difficulty of their games – or, perhaps more accurately, the difficulty of their most challenging games. They also go out of their way to celebrate their most successful teams; they’ve celebrated the first team to go 4/4 at their games (2/2 at Warrington and 2/2 at Blackpool) and now the first team to go 4/4 at Warrington. Full disclosure: one of the team has written for this site! They’ve also posted this graphic, possibly hinting at filling the question-marks they’ve left on their site in discussion of a potential fifth game.
  • Two weeks until Puzzled Pint in London and elsewhere… and two weeks until a possible London Underground strike, making attending trickier. If you go to the London East venue, please would you fill out this form about how any strike might affect your attendance? Thank you!
  • Speaking of Puzzled Pint, one of its co-founders (and Snoutcast veteran) Curtis Chen reccently Tweeted the following: Look, at this point I am more likely to give you money to NOT start up another escape room business. Not a statement about the state of the Portland market, but in the context of its follow-up message, perhaps a call to arms: I mean srsly there are other puzzley experiences you can build for general audiences. Be creative! You can do it! I believe in you!

The news spirals out of control

news-spiralMany news stories that have been left untamed for far too long because of DASHmania:

  • This site has never seen quite so many different exit games, up and down the country, excited about the same thing as they have been about the forthcoming The Crystal Maze Live. Look for the crowdfunding campaign to start this weekend, with all the usual caveats about crowdfunding campaigns. This site became even more encouraged when a friend pointed out that @deanjrodgers, key within the critically acclaimed Time Run, will be producing the project.
  • Rather less far away, and also the result of a successful crowdfunding campaign, Enigma Escape of London has announced an opening date of 18th July and a handsome 25% discount if you book by midnight on 17th August. Well worth considering!
  • Some other sites in London are all flourishing: Agent November announced its largest corporate booking yet, with groups enjoying all three of its games in a single day, Mystery Cube has seen its hundredth group play and Mystery Squad has launched a second case, The Ghost of Lord Holland; this isn’t aimed at the usual sizes of groups but is, instead, aimed at groups of 20 to 40 who all want to play together.
  • In Edinburgh, Dr. Knox’s Enigma has three local competitors and all three have been extremely complimentary on Twitter about it; additionally, the game has earned coverage from STV.
  • Also in Edinburgh, an exciting-sounding special offer promotion has been announced between Escape and the local branch of the Hard Rock Cafe; £32/person (except Saturdays) gets you both entrance to one of Escape’s three games and a meal from the Hard Rock Cafe’s Gold Menu. Sounds like two parts of a very good night!

Early April news

Rolled-up newspaper

A quick round-up of a few news stories:

The BBC quote Netmums as suggesting that On average, parents spend £135 on their child’s party, with one-in-six parents admitting to splashing out over £300. A few sites emphasise their suitability for parties, at least for older children; The Room of Glasgow have a room designed to be played by 10-16-year-olds (and 10-16 of them!) and The Gr8 Escape of Belfast have a number of party packages available. Definitely a route well worth considering.

This site was excited to see Can You Escape? of Edinburgh make a Pitch to Rich as part of Virgin Media Business’ so-entitled competition. The site launches its second, Operation Odyssey, room on Thursday, and even other local sites’ owners are looking forward to getting to play it. Can You Escape?‘s pitch seems to have got off to a popular start; this site wishes it well – and any other sites pitching for the funding, of course.

The Escape Game Addicts team played six exit games in a single day on Tuesday, escaping all of them, and made a must-read post about their epic day. To the best of this site’s knowledge, that’s an all-comers record for the UK – unless you know otherwise – though Daniel Hill of Escape played eight in a day in Budapest once. (Doubt that would have taken 110 miles of driving, mind you…)

Many congratulations to Enigma Escape of London, whose Kickstarter campaign finished up 112% funded, the first UK campaign to reach its goal. Follow its founders’ Twitter accounts at @sam_the_enigma and @hon_the_enigma to learn the behind-the-scenes story as the site gets built and under way.

Finally, this weekend sees the fourth round of the Puzzle Grand Prix series organised by the World Puzzle Federation – and this round has puzzles from Dutch authors. Take a look at the instruction booklet and if it’s for you, you have until Monday night to carve out a 90-minute window in which to answer puzzles to score yourself as many points as you can.

Late March news

"Top News" newspaperSome news stories today, some expanding sites tomorrow.

The most recent episode of the On Board Games podcast has Prof. Scott Nicholson discussing, among other things, the world of exit games and his recent white paper arising from his survey. It’s extremely clear that he’s found out so much that doesn’t fit into the confines of at least his first white paper and plenty more of it comes up in casual conversation. Well worth listening to.

The Kickstarter campaign for Enigma Escape (not to be confused with Enigma Escape Rooms of Colorado or Enigma Escapes, plural, of Winnpeg) is still in progress; as a Staff Pick, it has attracted more attention and is almost 40% funded with two weeks to go. The campaign has recently announced that one of the site’s principals will be livestreaming a webinar at 8:30pm tonight on “Raising Your Limited Life Standards“, with specific reference to the establishment of Enigma Escape.

Clue Finders of Liverpool recently earnt a mention as item number 44 of 50 fantastic family ideas for Easter, an article within the Event supplement of the Mail on Sunday. Exit games aren’t just for Easter, or for families with teenagers, but certainly it’s one of the many different good fits that exist. This site was delighted to read that the mention has attracted a lot of attention!

Can You Escape of Edinburgh recently earnt a place as one of the five finalists for the Scotland’s Favourite Family Day Out category of the Scottish Entertainment & Hospitality Awards for 2015! It’s up against well-established competition, but it was tough to get to the final five. Fingers crossed that this, too, attracts more attention as well.

Tomorrow’s post will concern a number of sites growing from one game to two, but here’s news of a site which has refreshed its single game: ESCAP3D of Belfast, one of the very earliest sites of them all, has a new room, Paulina’s Revenge. The site suggests the game now caters for parties of three two eight, and suggests you might usefully brush up on your basic chemistry knowledge. Sounds like a plan if you don’t want your trip to their room to end with a BOOM!

On the move

moving-houseThis site isn’t going anywhere, but there are a few exit games moving and shaking at the moment:

  • The justifiably renowned clueQuest have completed their move to a new location, half a mile or so up the road from King’s Cross station. (According to the lower half of this blog entry, they reopened on March 11th.) Their new location is in what seems to be a safe and pleasant neighbourhood in south Islington. This site popped by a couple of days ago and work was well and truly in progress, particularly on the outside – but looking through the open front door down the smart-looking corridor suggests that the building has as much depth, and as many hidden depths as you would hope.
  • Tick Tock Unlock have been massively busy with their new Liverpool location, but their first site in Leeds has been very difficult to book with its single room and would likely have sold many more spaces if it possibly could have done. Accordingly, this Tweet suggesting we are looking forward to moving to our new venue next week sounds like a great step forwards. This site hopes that every site relocation is a positive one!
  • Over in the north-west, Clue HQ have launched their Blackpool location, with a brand new game entitled Detonation. (This site understands it’s about the Greek financial crisis… now there’s a beta-minus joke.) In truth, the new room sees teams on the trail of a criminal notorious for blowing up anyone who attempts to track him down. The game is intended to have a slightly lower difficulty level than their famously fiendish tests in Warrington, but early reviews point to another winner.

Some other matters arising:

1) The ninth weekly episode of online play-along-at-home-on-an-app game Quiz The Nation takes place at 8pm on Sunday night; it’ll be the last one for now, and the last chance to play for free in order to earn money prizes and further playing tokens for when it returns in a month and a half. The tech has improved (though do make sure the app has access to your device’s microphone) and the operators have earnt a good reputation for paying out the advertised prizes quickly. Not in this direction, yet, though that’s not exactly their fault.

2) As previously discussed, Engima Escape are crowdfunding through a Kickstarter appeal. They’re making more progress than other UK exit game Kickstarters of previous years, and at least one unsuccessful crowdfunding project has nevertheless turned into a very successful live site. Nevertheless, their appeal could surely do with some more love if you’re in a position to give, whether you’re in a position to play the game or not.

3) Mark at QMSM should be either very proud or very ashamed of his most recent post, and this site is only 96% sure it’s the former.

All the news: Enigma Escape Kickstarter, Breakout Manchester charity day, new rooms and more

breaking-newsA quick round-up of news stories from the UK’s exit games:

  • Enigma Escape of London have a Kickstarter campaign in progress which offers a fascinating look behind the scenes of the budget for a high-end exit game in London. They’re planning to sink their life savings in to making their dream happen, but an extra £5,000 is necessary – ideally from the crowdfunding campaign, but they have other (slower!) plans in mind if it doesn’t happen. The site looks distinctive for, among other reasons, the potential for multiple conclusions to the game depending on the degree of success you had playing it. Extremely intriguing, and if you know you’re going to play the game then the best possible prices to play it are available by booking in advance through the campaign. Kickstarter campaigns for exit games have not had the best track record in the UK so far but this one looks so detailed that it’s clear how much thought has gone into it. Tell your friends! (Tip of the hat to Ken for the link.)
  • Breakout Manchester are holding a charity day today where all the proceeds – not just profits, but every single penny – are being split among four local charities. Heck of a gesture, and it’s such a popular site that it’ll raise a chunky sum.
  • Escape Quest of Macclesfield have opened booking for their second room, Amazon Escape, from April 1st. If it gets as good a reaction as this review of their first room, it sounds spectacular. Plans for Escape Quest‘s third room, a timed mini-game challenge, also seem exciting; its success or failure would seem to depend on the (quite possibly very considerable!) quality, quantity of variety of content on offer. The prospect of a room with replay value is also noteworthy.
  • Cyantist of Bournemouth have also opened booking for their second room, Clockwork Orange; you’ll only have to wait as long as Monday to play this. This hints of dystopia and the Nadsat argot, so get your droogs together. There’s currently a 25% discount for those who book and places are going quickly!

Looking a long way ahead to more exit games

Enigma Escape bannerNormally this site can announce concrete details of an exit game reasonably shortly before, or reasonably soon after, it opens. This time, this site doesn’t have so much to go on, or knows that this is a longer-range preview. Nevertheless, these titbits are far too interesting not to share.

As previously hinted at, this site recently learned of another exit game planned for London, but whose operators have made it clear that they’re not in a rush to hit a deadline and will work long and hard rather than push out something before it’s ready. Nevertheless, with early social media campaigns under way and some gorgeous graphic design, here’s the story behind the team behind Enigma Escape.

We are two young cousins with a passion for video games, and in particular room escape games.
After playing some live room escape games in Hong Kong, Budapest and London, we felt that we could do a better job in creating the ultimate live room escape experiences.
It didn’t take too long to decide that we would quit our jobs and set up Enigma Escape.
Our mission statement is to be the best in room escape entertainment, by introducing well designed and innovative escape rooms, backed up with our outstanding attentive customer service values.
The perfect room escape experience is a blend of an intriguing storyline, innovative theme, challenging team-building oriented puzzles, and attentive customer service.
We have analysed many room escape businesses and far too many lack in at least one of these areas.
Our first location will be in London. We are in negotiations in securing a lease on a premises and hope to open by the end of the year.

This site applauds their lofty ambition and looks forward to the long haul of following their progress.

Three months ago, this site touched upon the crowdfunding campaign for QuestRoom, also planning to launch in London. While the crowdfunding was not a complete success, the campaign announced “Our goal is to reach £15,000 which would cover the start up the game and the first couple of months’ essential costs. The plan is flexible; we’ll find a bank loan for the missing amount if we need to.” The continued development of their web site suggests that they are making good on that part of the plan and this site also looks forward to seeing their plans come to fruition. More news as it becomes available.

The next story is from further afield. Very little to go on at the moment, but there’s a very early web site up for Logiclock, which intends to establish itself in Nottingham. Sounds wise; the East Midlands may well have a gap in the market, especially with the continued hiatus of Cipher Entertainment of Leicester. One noteworthy piece of cunning from Logiclock is that there also seems to be a web site pointing to their work, arguably an allusion to, the web site of the US subsidiary of SCRAP Entertainment, who started things off.

In late-breaking news, the proprietor of the very successful Escape of Edinburgh has announced on Facebook that they plan to establish a second venue in Glasgow, with a target opening date of August 15th. This site has been looking for someone to open within Glasgow for a while; it’s surely fertile territory and the proprietor’s track record is well-established, so the prospects are about as strong as they come.

These have all been added to the “Announced but not yet open” list; when there are definite addresses and web presences, this site will very much enjoy adding more dots to the map!