The Crystal Maze has funded! Meet you there?

The Crystal Maze liveJust over a week ago, this site reported on the start of the crowdfunding campaign for a proposed The Crystal Maze Live experience. In about a week, it reached its £500,000 funding target, and has released some stretch goals. Exciting times!

This site also proposed an industry-wide meeting there. There’s been quite a bit of interest, but there’s plenty of room for more, and the project is at the stage where it needs to go from “yes, I’m interested” to “yes, I’m willing to take the risk and plunk down money for it” – bearing in mind that, as with all crowdfunding projects, the project might not happen, or it might happen late, or the meeting might happen at a point where you can’t attend, or so on, and refunds may not be available.

So far, there has been interest expressed by 22 representatives from exit games and 6 exit game players. Sites that have expressed an interest in attending include: Escape (Edinburgh, etc.), Clue Finders, Escape Hour, Breakout (Manchester, etc.), Escape Quest, Agent November, Escape Live, Locked In Games, Can You Escape, Tick Tock Unlock and The Escape Room. These names are still at the “expressed an interest” stage rather than the “definitely will be there” stage, so there’s no guarantee that they will turn up.

Given that some attendees will have a very long way to travel for the event, I don’t think it’s worth holding it unless there are 32 confirmed attendees – plus having 32 attendees will mean that we could book out the whole of the maze for a couple of hours, and the cost of booking 32 spaces is rather lower, per player, than the cost of booking fewer spaces.

There’s a difference between people who have expressed an interest and people who have confirmed their booking. If this can get up to – say – forty or so people expressing an interest, I’ll confirm that the event is happening and then actually guarantee spaces for the first 32 people to pay for their spots. If it’s a struggle to get past 28 “possible”s, then there isn’t the interest. Please tell your friends and tell other site owners!

Some questions have been asked:

Why meet at The Crystal Maze rather than at an existing exit game?

1) So many site operators have posted excitedly that they want to play it, whether the meeting happens or not.
2) It’s not an exit game as such, making it neutral territory in a sense, but it’s something likely to be of interest to exit game companies and players.
3) At least one of the people behind The Crystal Maze also is involved with the Time Run exit game, so the hosts are likely to be interested as well.

When would it happen?

Hard to say. The site hopes to open in October. Already the Indiegogo campaign has sold tickets for approximately 1,600 teams, which will fill the maze for something like a hundred days. It is unclear when people will start picking their dates. It would seem likely that more people would want to play in the evening than during the day, and it would seem likely that more people would want to play at weekends than on weekdays.

It has been suggested that Monday would be a good day to aim for, as it’s traditionally relatively quiet for exit games – and it might be wise to aim for Monday afternoon, so that people might continue to meet afterwards (and possibly visit exit games or other London attractions, who knows?) I would hope that it would be possible to get a Monday afternoon spot at some point this year.

I would welcome people’s input and suggestions in this regard.

Where would it happen?

The location has not yet been published, other than a suggestion of “central London”.

How much would it cost?

If we can get 32 people playing, it would be £32.50 per player, plus your travel expenses.

What happens next?

Please confirm if you would definitely be ready to send money through, and – if so – for how many places. There could be no guarantee that sending money through will result in anything; sometimes crowdfunding campaigns take the money and run, though there’s no evidence of that in this case. There could also be no refunds if the only date that we can get is a date that you couldn’t make, though you could privately resell your spot to someone else.

News round-up

News round-up1) Exciting news from Can You Escape? of Edinburgh; they’ll be launching their first outdoor game in time for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. “…we need agents to defeat the evil Nick Knock, after a disastrous appearance at the Fringe last year that saw him heckled off stage, he is back to seek his revenge and ensure no one else gets the limelight. How you may ask? Well Mr Knock has planted an Electro Magnetic Pulse device somewhere in Edinburgh which will cut the power to the city and prevent all future performances. #WTFringe?” The location originally planned to open in time for last year’s Edinburgh Fringe; hopefully the Fringe will boost all four thriving locations in the city.

2) Also delighted to see Time Run of London Tweet that Jonathan Ross, no less, played their game recently. The lad Ross is known as a board gamer and a video gamer (remember his references to Sonic the Hedgehog on They Think It’s All Over years ago? …Just this site?) so it’s logical that he’d be interested in playing live action games as well. Looking forward, hopefully, to a photo being posted. Best celeb spot yet… unless you know otherwise?

3) This site started to discuss a potential industry meetup at the forthcoming The Crystal Maze Live attraction in a recent post, and perhaps there’s the interest. So far, nine sites and six individual players have expressed interest. This is probably only worth doing if we can get to 32 definite takers, not just people who have expressed an interest, so there is more room. All welcome. If you’re interested in starting your own room and want to pick lots of brains at once then this would be a particularly good opportunity.

4) Bother’s Bar are tracking the crowdfunding for The Crystal Maze Live and recently had an amusing twist on a poll about whether it would meet its £500,000 funding target or not. Poll responses were 79% yes and 21% no. It’s already reached about 75% of the target, courtesy of very strong days two, three and four, and – perhaps due to the sums involved? – has been a slightly slower burner of a crowdfunding campaign than most. £500,000 is a target, not a limit; how far can they go? Will there be stretch goals?

5) In more general puzzle news, some links that this site enjoyed:

  • this BBC report upon a marriage proposal hidden within The Times cryptic crossword;
  • the latest monthly Puzzlebomb (.pdf) features a mashup of the two most recent mainstream maths puzzle sensations – Cheryl’s birthday and Hannah’s sweets – and offers quite a challenge; and
  • a review of DASH 7 as it was played in Denver, from a team with a fantastic name that this site called out at the time.

6) Great to see another blogger still from the greater Toronto area, now making six; when an area gets up to forty-plus-to-sixtyish different sites, perhaps six blogs is about right. When there are so many reviewers out there, perhaps the logical next step would be a review aggregator – a sort of metacritic for exit games? TripAdvisor performs this to some extent, but a review aggregator which compares opinions of not just many players but of many players all of whom have broad experiences in the field would be a powerful tool – and one, perhaps, that need not be restricted to one area.

Get-together at The Crystal Maze?

The Crystal Maze liveThe crowdfunding campaign for the proposed The Crystal Maze Live experience started at midnight. It uses the “flexible funding” model, so donations are collected whether the goal is reached or not. As ever, crowdfunding is inherently risky and there’s no guarantee that the project will reach fruition, let alone be on time. You will have to judge the credibility of the people behind it for yourself; you can imply this site’s opinion by the considerable quantity of jumping up and down going on here. (The Buzzfeed article yesterday is making all the right noises, too.)

The project has a nominal £500,000 goal; the first 20 minutes of the campaign saw half of the 750 “early bird” reduced-price tickets sold, and the rest went within about another twenty. There are a number of enticing options available in the campaign, generally rather more attractive than the proposed full price of £50 per player, plus booking fee. Even once the early bird tickets sold out, the campaign has been continuing to make very strong progress. Crowdfunding campaigns generally seem to need to make a large chunk of their running on the first day and this one has got off to the sort of start that you might hope for it.

The game will be played by teams that start with size eight, not six; four teams will compete at once, one per zone, then the teams will rotate from zone to zone afterwards. As the whole introduction-video-four-zones-and-the-dome experience is expected to take around an hour and 45 minutes, you might care to speculate for yourself how many games each player might be likely to get to play for the money – though watching others play and shouting advice is very much part of the experience.

There are a range of price points available. £25 gets you the chance to be a tester – which sounds great, and potentially gets you a lot of game for your money, but with 500 such tickets on sale, it might be less intimate than you hope. Regular tickets sold in the campaign are £45, or £85 for two. Better values are available if you can get together en masse: £300 for a team of eight (£37.50/player) or £1,000 for a full booking with four teams of eight (£32.50/player).

That’s a very interesting option. Would there be the interest in trying to get a big party of exit game proprietors and players together, with the excuse of a trip around The Crystal Maze at its focus? This is just a call for interest at this point (trying to work out a date might be tricky) rather than a binding commitment – but if enough people go “yes, this is something I want to do, and the right company in which to do it” then perhaps it should be made to happen.

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!

Starting the fans

A pentakis dodecahedronThat’s not just any old picture of a pentakis dodecahedron inside two concentric circles; it’s a picture with a meaning. It’s a picture that arises from a rumour that, as they say, “escalated quickly”, over about the course of a 250-mile train journey and a dinner. Most of the information comes from work performed by Bother’s Bar‘s proprietor and his friends on Twitter, though grateful thanks to Gareth for also posting a link.

People have found a very interesting-looking web site at www.the-crystal-maze.com suggesting a “live immersive experience”; the @CrystalMazeHQ Twitter account, which started following this site recently, made its first Tweet today and has already attracted considerable interest.

Not much more is known about it yet. An “invitation to invest” document has been found online, with the name Little Lion Entertainment at the top. It’s not clear whether the people involved would prefer the link to this document to be made public, or whether the figures in it are at all current. It does suggest that the people involved have very considerable pedigree, notably on Heist in London last year and Secret Cinema, and also that the people from the show that you would hope to be involved may well be getting involved. There has been no indication of timescale; a very early indication of price might be more like that of Secret Cinema, Punchdrunk or a full-price West End seat (though not a premium seat!) rather than that of an exit game – even the newer, higher-end generation that are starting to come out.

Be very sure that this site will be paying close attention. If you can’t wait to get your hands on a crystal, you can already get your own 3D printed 60-sided die, about an inch and a half high; depending on the material, the cost varies from £15.35 to £145.71.