The escape room experience has much more layers than just a locked door, a timer and puzzles. Essential part of escape games are the hints given to players when they get stuck to a particular puzzle. There are many different types of hints and ways to deliver them to the teams. While many players, especially experienced ones, might prefer to play the game based on clues only and refuse being advised, hints are important as they maintain the fun element within the experience since long pauses can get awkward for most escape room visitors.
The most common hint systems are screens displaying text hints, written manually by the Gamemaster, also written notes in a safe box or scattered around the room, walkie talkies used between the players and the Gamemaster, live audio hints given by the Gamemaster through a mic, actors giving hints in person (when there is a live performance in an escape room), automatic hint systems producing self-regulated clues, even applications using QR technology to lead to web links containing hints.
While each form of hint delivery has its pros and cons, we will try to explore the automatic all-in-one software solution and its features, along with how beneficial or not it can be for escape room businesses.
How automation works
An escape room auto hint software usually works as this: All the game constructions and props are wired together, and they lead to a main circuit board that reads the actions happening and generates counteractions when necessary. Usually, the hint system is either auto generated text on a screen, or audio files playing through the room speakers. Hence, the software understands where exactly the players currently are on the game sequence and can display the exact hint for the puzzle the players are at when asking for help.
While there are plenty of tech aspects to be considered here like the compartments and software reliability, it is no secret that the automated hint software is, more or less, the future of escape room customer service. But why is that?
What are the benefits of automation?
At first, an escape room auto hint software can drastically reduce the staff expenses of an escape room business. Most escape room owners have created their businesses with the equation that one Gamemaster equals to one single escape room. Over the years, many owners tried to ‘train’ their staff to operate more than one escape room simultaneously, but it often led to bad customer service since a single person couldn’t handle the demands and timing of different games. The escape room hint software takes over the process of giving out the right hints at the right time, reshaping the Gamemaster work from interacting with the teams through hint delivery, to a more observing and intervening-only-in-emergency role. This consequently leads to less staff as usually one person can perform this operating role with three or four different escape rooms at the time. Imagine an escape room business with 5 different rooms, that used to work with a 4-5 Gamemaster staff. With the auto hint software, this number can be reduced to 1-2 persons, which is an instant more than 50% of the staff expenses cut off. The unexpected Covid-19 challenge for all entertainment owners makes the automatic hint delivery even more decisive to reaching better profits once the industry goes back to some normality. Plus, it is a meaningful person reduce inside the venue, assisting businesses to maintain an even more sanitized and Covid-secure space.
Furthermore, automated hint solutions, especially the audio ones, are easier to fit to an overall escape room theme and scenario. While display screens are handy and the text messages are well understood by everyone, most of the times they cannot fit in escape room themes. Imagine being in an ancient Egyptian tomb, a medieval castle, or a school of wizardry and facing a modern led screen out of sudden. Audio hints have the capacity to stay in context. In Intelligent Entertainment, our automated hint system includes the use of audio hints, narrated by professional voice over actresses and actors. The audio is given through a specific role that fits exactly to the scenario and the theme requirements, amplifying both and creating a spectacular experience for visitors.
In addition, an auto hint system software will eliminate a threat all escape room owners face from time to time, which is no other than bad reviews due to a sense of unfair treatment by the Gamemasters. It is very common situation for people in the escape room industry to wake up one morning and get a notification on platforms like Facebook, TripAdvisor, Google Reviews or other dedicated escape room forums, stating something like “awful experience, our Gamemaster mistreated us/gave us irrelevant hints, we never escaped”. It is a bad image for the company while it is also very hard to improve this since it is an objective opinion that the staff members will confront, often having the right on their side. This threat can be easily eliminated with the use of an automatic hint process that will always be available and produce exactly what the players need to hear in order to move on with their game experience.
Our escape room automation system is a complex combination of many different technologies like Raspberry Pi, Arduino and simple electronics, all feeding the software with information and time metrics. The software takes over playing themed audio hints and some further sub-hints if necessary, every time the players hit the help button. In addition, the software, based on the players progress, can trigger a series of other special effects, giving your visitors a unique entertainment experience. In the unusual Covid-19 landscape, operational cuts are a great challenge, and we are happy to deliver escape room owners with a solution that will save money, time and offer customers a unique escape room experience.