How to Make a Simple Custom Online Escape Room Game

2021.03.29.

It's no surprise that the popularity of escape room games in the real brick and mortar world should lead to an even greater interest in the genre. But the new style of internet-ready remote games is actually a hat-tip to the early years of escape room games when they originated in Japan. Today's digital escape rooms combine great gameplay with problem-solving in one easy-to-digest piece of entertainment, spanning one hour. They are both engaging and exciting, and offer a great experience for the players involved.

As a purely digital product, it still combines some elements from the original real-time games, though obviously remains true to the game's ideas. These elements are: 

Create a digital room using Google site or Microsoft Sway
Place lots of clues around the room
Digital locks usually made using Google Forms
Create an engaging theme for the game
Set different levels of difficulty from easy through to hard

Creating Your Digital Room

At first glance, creating a digital escape room does look like a daunting task. ut if we break down the process into chewable portions, then it'll become much simpler. There are five essential steps, though once you fully understand the thought processes behind each step, then you'll be able to add more or change the attributes of one r more to suit your own specific needs. 

1. Write Your Prompt/Narrative

Just like that catchy pop song you can't get out of your head, the story will need a "hook", something that captures the player's attention from the get-go. In the traditional escape room context, this would be delivered at the beginning of the game to set the scene. With a digital escape room, you'll still need to do this, but you'll have the opportunity to constantly remind the players of the storyline and tropes within, as the game proceeds. The story or narrative that you create doesn't have to be fully-fledged out at the beginning. But it needs to have a definite ending. as it's an escape room you're creating, then the goal will normally be avoiding a certain consequence if the game isn't completed within the time allotted.  

We suggest that you do some research before putting pen to paper. If the narrative features a certain time period, then please ensure that the contents actually appertain to the period in question. Nothing is going to break the immersion faster than a story set in ancient Egyptian times, needing a mobile phone to complete a section of the escape room. Think clearly about what the story is telling the players. You want to create an emotional response from them. Without this, then they will not be invested in the game's outcomes and may actually zone-out and find the game boring. 

2. Creating Your Clues

First off, you'll need to decide just how many clues you'll incorporate into the gameplay. Once you have that down, then you'll need to decide what type of clues they're going to be. These can be number puzzles or word clues. It's best if you have a group of friends come over and help you brain-storm. Not only are you designing the clues, but you'll also need to decide how they are going to be presented. As the whole platform is digital, then you can have the clues sent directly to the phones of the players, as well as appearing on their screen as they are playing. The options are almost endless in this regard. But, never-the-less, each clue will need considerable planning. 

3. Creating Your Image(s)

A great idea is to use Google Drawing to create an interactive image. once the whole caboodle is complete then it will e posted up onto Google Site anyways, so it's best to keep all the separate elements Google-based. If you open up Google Drawing, you can start planning your escape room straight away. Once the image is completed, then you'll be needing to link your clues to the various objects dotted around the room. of course, you can make anything in the drawing into a clickable link, thus making the linking of clues to objects an easy task. ven if you have multiple pages for all your rooms, the process is the same.

4. Creating Your Locks

For this, we like to use Google Forms. Simply create a new Google Form and use the response validation they have built into the app. With this, the players have to type in the correct response to that particular clue. Also, remember to fill in the required question for the clue. For locks requiring number responses, you can use Google's validation by typing in the correct answer as well as a custom response for when they are incorrect with the answer. For locks that function around words or letters, simply select the "text contains" response. Keep in mind that Google Forms are case-sensitive, so remember to include that in your questions.   

Once you have all the clues entered, then include a special message for when a player is able to make their escape. You'll need to create a new section within Google Forms to do this. Like-wise, you have to jump through the same hoops in order to create digital locks. 

5. Creating Your Google Site

Now you have all your ducks together, it's the exciting part of getting all your ducks in order. This is the part where you get to see if all that effort actually produced a usable room. here's the step-by-step:

Head over to Google Sites and sign-in
Hit the "New Google Site creation" button
Go to Google Site example theme layouts
This is your starting page. Give it a title. On the right-hand side, you can change the fonts, color, and theme. Just have a good play around with this tool so that you are comfortable using it. This way you'll discover all of its possibilities with regards to your project.
Now you can insert your drawings fromGoogle Drive.
By clicking on the corners you can re-size the image ad also do the same for the Google Forms.

Once you're feeling happy about your creation, then simply hit the "Publish" button. Go through the whole game bit by bit. Be super critical when ensuring that everything functions as you planned it to. If you click the link displayed on the top right-hand corner, you'll get the code and then you can share your escape room game. And that's it.

You have now created your first custom digital escape room game!

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