End of July news round-up

Newspaper with spectacles and pencilDouble news round-up? Aargh, so many longer pieces to write, so little time to write them. Here’s an assortment of quick stories.

1) Time Run of London have extended their run into 2016 – specifically, until the end of January. Last time this site looked at their bookings after an extension, it looked like they were going to put the price up; now it doesn’t. Hurrah! Interestingly, it looks like you can book tickets for Christmas Day – if this is deliberate, that could well make it a Christmas Day to remember (though getting there might be tricky as public transport shuts down). Take a look at the extremely positive review from The Logic Escapes Me, who did remarkably well recently.

2) The Logic Escapes Me largely keeps itself to London and does so very successfully, but feeds a few interesting stories here as well. St. Helens, in eastern Merseyside (a place whose name can only be pronounced in the dulcet tones of rugbeh leeeg’s Eddie Waring) has a library system that is running a two-week pop-up escape room this August. (Love the retro Teletext graphics.) Much of the content has been generated at a school already and there are drop-in sessions for the local youth to add further ideas. The finished game will admit either four or five teams daily, each of up to four players; free tickets are available between Saturday 15th August and Saturday 29th August. A really exciting initiative; other library systems, take note!

3) However, something else exciting is coming to Merseyside even before then; Breakout Liverpool are launching their fifth room on Saturday 8th August. The game is entitled The Facility, a title picked in a public poll. In it, “You arrive at an unknown location for a once in a lifetime opportunity; a conference held by the critically acclaimed, Dr. Andrews. His work is widely known throughout the research circles, but he has remained hidden in the shadows for years. What you don’t know, is that Dr. Andrews has gone mad, creating a string of tests that have gone disastrously wrong. He has brought you here for his final experiment. You have one hour to escape his maze of tricks and games, before a deadly virus kills you all.

4) Play Exit Games have posted a competition in which you can win tickets to play Escape Plan in London. Very cool!

5) A quick couple of discounts: The Room of Glasgow have a Wowcher deal. You’ve got two days to buy a £39 voucher (down from £80) and until August 12th to use it to book a space on Sunday, August 16th, 23rd or 30th. Pretty specific, and terms and conditions apply, but if you can make it work then you can get a team of up to 10 players who have the chance to solve the mystery of Sarah Lynn. Back down in Liverpool, Exit Strategy posted a special deal to Facebook; for a limited time, buy a ticket for three players and you can play with up to five!

Early July exit game news

Newspaper graphicExit game news from three parts of the UK today.

1) In London, Time Run have extended their, er, run from 2nd August until at least 30th September – excluding Mondays, as ever. That said, from 3rd August onwards, the off-peak (weekdays before 5pm) price rises from £24 plus VAT per player to £29 plus VAT per player, and the peak price rises from £29 plus VAT per player to £35 plus VAT per player.

Unrelatedly, Room Escape AdventuresTrapped in a Room with a Zombie has moved within town to Whitechapel; ScareTOUR report that the game’s operation has been taken over by Apocalypse Events, who already run plenty of other zombie-themed experiences in the capital. Charmingly, on Valentine’s Day, they had Zombie couples makovers in the same venue as the old TiaRwaZ site…

2) Further north, Logiclock of Nottingham have announced that their second room will be Made in STEIN: Science Adventure. The STEIN company, standing for Science, Technology, Entertainment, Innovations and Novelty, previously had an employee called Professor E. “You’ll enter Professor E.’s room. Professor E. had to go very quickly and without attracting attention. He had to leave so fast he couldn’t find somebody who could continue his work. There are lots of candidates but he needs the best of the best. The Professor asked Mrs. Taylor, his assistant for help. In order to prove your skills you have one thing to do: escape from Professor E.’s room“.

3) Further north still, Breakout Games Inverness of the Highlands announced that they hosted their first proposal! This isn’t an industry first or even a UK industry first – Breakout Manchester have hosted at least one and this site would bet that it isn’t an industry second either – but this is as happy as news gets, and hiding the engagement ring inside the last puzzle is the classiest possible way to do it.

A persistent urban myth is that some stores’ managers have the discretion to celebrate a customer’s waters breaking in their shop with free vouchers and the like. When will we see the first exit game host an unexpected birth on the premises… let alone a labour lasting less than an hour?

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.

Late April news

"Daily News" newspaperSo April has 30 days, making the first ten “early”, the second ten “mid-” and the last ten “late”. Seem reasonable enough? Here are some more news stories that have cropped up over recent days.

Many congratulations to Can You Escape? of Edinburgh for winning the Scotland’s Favourite Family Day Out award at the fourth annual Scottish Entertainment & Hospitality Awards on Sunday. (The site’s founder writes about the day.) The masses may have voted them into the final shortlist of five, but it was a visit from the judging panel that propelled them into first place overall! The site has recently launched its second game, Operation Odyssey; looking forward to reading reviews.

Exciting developments at Breakout Liverpool, who have announced their new fourth room: Wanted. The site explains: Wanted is a wild west themed room. Your quest in the room is to escape but you have two choices and ways to escape. Which side will you take, will you save the day as a cowboy or an Indian? Depending on your choice you will face different tasks and puzzles to complete. Which path will you take? Their sister site, Breakout Manchester, already have experience of running a pair of Classified games against each other head-to-head; it’s not clear whether this will have similarities or not. It’s available to book from Friday 15th May.

ESCAP3D of Belfast have a LivingSocial deal available, permitting teams of three to eight players. The vouchers can be used until September 10, 2015, and are available to new ESCAP3D customers only. Terms and conditions, including usual LivingSocial terms and conditions, apply.

Clue HQ Blackpool have also announced an opening date of May 25th for their upcoming second game, Quarantined, with the first 20 groups to book using the special code getting to play for just £50 each, regardless of group size. “With the growing threat of a radiation leak due to the increase in nuclear power, the government seek a solution to radiation poisoning within humans. Deep within a high security facility, a group of scientists work to develop a vaccine to ensure immunity, but to run tests they need subjects. You regain consciousness to find yourself quarantined within the facility. You don’t know how you got here. You don’t know who got you here. Then the screams start. Just when you think your situation cannot get any worse – it does.” Teams of three to six can play; during this game, each team member will be handcuffed, blindfolded, in pitch black darkness and locked in one of three small rooms – so, quite possibly, alone. Not a game for the claustrophobic or those aged under 15.

Lastly, Time Run of London launches its three-and-a-bit-month run on Thursday 23rd April, and already most of the tickets for the first week are gone – and if you want to play in the evening, you’ll need to look rather further down the line. It’s disturbingly easy to develop a slightly untoward crush on the Luna Fox character and even more so on the actress depicting her in the video.

Coming soon to London: Time Run

Time Run logoThanks to Ken and The Nudge for this one; another exit game is coming to London soon. Tickets are available now, and booking is open for 23rd April to 2nd August, except Mondays.

As suggested above, the game is called Time Run and it concerns the (mis?)adventures of Luna Fox, time travel pioneer, and the upbeat robotic assistant she built, Babbage. The location will have two identical versions of the first game, The Lance of Longinus, described as “for groups of 3-5 people. You and your team will be sent on an action-packed, 60-minute quest across history, in pursuit of a mysterious artefact (…) The object you seek is powerful – a long-forgotten relic, thought to be lost in the midsts of time. If it were to fall into the wrong hands, it could be catastrophic: your intervention is of vital importance“. There are some similarities with the story used in at least one other exit game. Gorgeous, evocative characters, though.

The location is in Hackney in north-east London, in a part of the city where the Underground dare not go. It’s close to a railway station called London Fields, which made this site think for a minute “London Fields? Never heard of it… ah, wait, this must somehow be a Google map of an alternate universe London from another time; huh, that’s pretty cool”. However, no, it’s real – it’s two stops from Bethnal Green, in the general direction of Seven Sisters. The web site is high-end, and the characters are tremendous. The price is also high-end to match: £29/player plus VAT, though just £24/player plus VAT on weekdays before 5pm.

It’s worth looking at the history of the people behind the project. A name linked with the project is Josh Ford, who ran the boutique festival Winterwell for eight years. More recently, he ran a pop-up crazy golf course, Swingers, in a warehouse in Shoreditch, that received high praise from those who know for the course, as well as for the A-list of street food vendors that were attracted. There’s a common thread here whereby Ford is not afraid to close things down once they’ve run their course, so maybe better not to flutter with the announced end of the 15-week run; however, the site’s FAQ does hint that more missions are being developed, and the game’s story would surely permit Luna to go on many more adventures over time.

Perhaps the part of the body of prior work that is most intriguing is that Ford and company ran Who Stole The Tarts? in a previous year: a one-off investigative journey where guests will be invited to solve the mystery to unlock the entrance to a fabulous hidden world. Following riddles and finding secret rooms, all those involved will have the chance to find the true culprit, advise the jury, make the sentence and order the punishment. Now that’s definitely the sort of prior experience to have if you want to get the world very excited about what you might be able to do in the context of an exit game.