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Editor’s Note: Although Encore has been replaced with Fright Before Your Eyes, we thought you might enjoy reading about how the Grand Compass originally came to be, which is the setting for both escape rooms.

Preface

Encore, the first 60-minute offering from The Escape Effect.  It wasn’t what we thought it would be and we remade 80% of it.  Here’s the story how all this craziness ensued.

An inspirational board for the Encore posters created by our Set Designer.
An inspirational board for the Encore posters created by our Set Designer.

Why a theater?

Did you know that before a location was secured, we were going to open a smaller store with a lesser number of games? We were talking about a greek game, a mystery game, and maybe a game that extended a part of our company’s motif – an art deco theater with a modern twist.

Besides a brand extension, nobody in Orlando had set an escape room in a theater.  It was yet another notch in keeping The Escape Effect unique. 

Now, for those of you who have played through Encore, you’ll plainly see that there’s no resemblance between the common areas and the game.  The common areas are more modern and the game is set to be demolished, but they both represent a theater.

So how did we arrive at the final look for this game?  That’s easy – our set designer.  She did a fantastic job “britifying” Sherlock.  She carried that energy from Sherlock and started Encore with inspirational boards.  It was her first escape room set design from the start.

And I need to give credit to a couple reviewers who spent some time with me, which ultimately had an influence on the purpose of the final game space.

A construction sketch for the Encore AV panel drawn up by our Carpenter.
A construction sketch for the Encore AV panel drawn up by our Carpenter.

Egads! 80% gone!

I think I’m saying it in each of these “Behind the Scenes” articles – Gameplay is a cornerstone of an experience at The Escape Effect.  So much so that we are willing to scrap what does not feel right.  And that’s just what happened here.

Upon seeing how positively players were reacting to At Odds With The Gods and Sherlock Studies and getting a decent level of hands-on experience watching and inquiring with players about their preferences, the early puzzles built for Encore started to feel a level below.

It especially made sense to rebuild because when Sherlock Studies was done, the team had evolved.  As such, we reworked a few puzzles and replaced a whole bunch more.

The largest gameplay addition was the A/V Panel.  We’ve all seen escape rooms where the lights are out and the players need to find a switch.  The A/V Panel was built as a level up from that.  Why not make teams value light throughout the game?  Has anyone ever done that?  No.  At least not here in Orlando.

Player reception

Casual guests enjoy Encore because the game is highly immersive.  Competitive escape room players enjoy Encore because it’s different from anything else.  It’s less about the puzzles being a raw challenge and more about perceiving what should be solved.

Working with your team to determine which lights matter at any given time also adds a welcome twist. And, players have indicated the bar has now been raised on escape rooms.

And one final thought – upon watching several teams play At Odds With The Gods and Encore, it has become more evident that players who do well in one game do not fare as well in the other and vice-versa.  It’s probably because one game delivers more difficult challenges on a silver platter and the other simplifies challenges, but makes them more difficult to detect.

Hand-Curated

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