It was broken
At some point, an escape room player may need a hand mid-game. In many cases, escape room hints may be a nudge in the right direction, or it could be direct help on a specific puzzle. Whatever help the players are requesting, hosts need to be able to provide those hints to the players.
In 2015 (and even today here in Orlando), 90% of the escape rooms still use a broken method to deliver escape room hints. They’ll require players to wave their hands at the cameras or even yell – both are subpar experiences because:
- From a player’s perspective, the interaction can feel sloppy, chaotic, and antiquated.
- From a host’s perspective, it can be easy to miss a player who wants help especially when there is a large team.
Then there’s the limited number of hints.
Each escape room venue in Orlando seems to do some flavor of the “3 hints and done”. Players either get three hints and can no longer request more, or they suffer a time penalty for any hints beyond the third one. This concept seems to be a byproduct copied from escape room to escape room because the escape room hint system can be an afterthought for many venues. The idea seems to be that, since it’s worked for everyone else, there’s no need to change it. However, we didn’t think it was really working that well for the players.
Now it’s fixed
We set out to solve the deficiencies identified from the earlier hint systems and, when we opened in 2017, we opened with a fresh hint system that provided innovative solutions.
No longer would players need to yell or wave their arms to request help. We’ve now placed a hint button in each game. It’s functional, it’s exact, it’s elegant. Within seconds, a host is ready to assist by answering a question or giving a nudge in the right direction. Letting players ask for help easily and communicate directly with their hosts makes for a superior game experience.
No longer would players be penalized by asking for too many hints. Instead, we’ve eliminated the escape room hint limit. This is a big win, especially for the casual player that may feel pressured by the time penalties. Those that want to experience the game without worrying about their times can ask for as much help as they need.
An alternate solution
In an effort to be an all-in-one escape room venue for everybody, we looked at how the escape room hint system could be less of a “we are stuck” remedy and more of a first-order component within the games.
The result was the introduction of a cooldown timer on the hint system. In short, it meant the escape room hints system became less of a “we are stuck” mechanism and more of a meta-game strategic element. If players want another hint, they would need to wait for the cooldown to finish before they could request one.
We’ve watched thousands of games in our Orlando location and have seen plenty of families and friends breath a sigh of relief when they find out that our escape room hints are unlimited. But we’ve also seen some competitive teams really appreciate the cooldown option too.
Ultimately, it’s your choice. Whichever option you choose, our hosts will make your experience memorable.