Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: Ariel and Juliana, congratulations on the launch of your Kickstarter campaign for Escape Room in a Box! For our readers who may be unfamiliar with the Escape Room experience, how would you describe its concept and how have you adapted it for at-home play?
Ariel Rubin and Juliana Patel: Thank you! The basic concept of an Escape Room is a group of people gets locked in a room and has to solve puzzles in order to get out of the room within an hour or YOU DIE! (Not really, but it adds drama.) The attraction is the cool themes and playing this immersive, challenging game in cooperation with your friends. Our game obviously isn’t a room, but we’ve replicated the experience! When you open our box, you release a poisonous vapor that will turn you into werewolf if you don’t find the antidote in time! (Not really, but it adds drama .) Like real Escape Rooms, our game is all about cooperation and has both pen-and-paper and physical puzzles, as well as a clue-finding element. We’ve tried hard to implement tiny versions of all the things you typically find in Escape Rooms. The two biggest differences are that you stay fairly stationary in our game, whereas in a real Escape Room you are often running around and losing sight of team members in other rooms. And most Escape Rooms have a way to ask for hints if you get stuck. Figuring out how to get people unstuck when they’re playing at home was one of our biggest challenges, but we think we found a pretty cool solution.
BD: I can only imagine that making an escape room with all of its puzzles and riddles is a time-intensive and arduous process! How would you describe your creative process in compiling the various feats of ingenuity?
AR & JP: The creative process for this was kind of insane. We are both stay-at-home moms, so our work sessions were punctuated by pushing swings and keeping our toddlers from biting each other. We started by coming up with a list of all our favorite puzzles from the many, many Escape Rooms we’ve done. We only used a fraction of them in the game, actually, so we’re really hoping this funds and we get to make another one! After we decided on what puzzles we wanted to do, we split them up for creation and mapped out how they’d all interact. We wanted to make sure that, by the end of the game, you would need to use all the answers you had previously found in order to unlock the final jar. And then, we changed all of it about a billion times. The first changes all had to do with feasibility, but we changed a bunch once we got into play testing too and saw what types of puzzles people gravitated to. (Juliana still mourns the loss of her logic puzzle.)
BD: Do you feel that there is a specific target audience for this game, and is it appropriate for all ages?
AR & JP: Our main target audience is puzzlers and people who love Escape Rooms, although we tried hard to make sure there are fun puzzles for all different types of people. You don’t have to have any outside knowledge to play the game (This is not Trivial Pursuit.), and we really love that our game is about cooperation not competition. So, it’s great for game nights, parties, families, or as a team-building exercise for companies. We’ve play tested with close groups of friends and people who don’t know each other very well, and they all said it was a great exercise for bringing them closer together. There is nothing explicit in the game that it would make it inappropriate for children, and there are parts that would be perfect to delegate to a child; however, most of the puzzles are challenging even for adults. Our youngest play tester was seven, and she said she would “pay a million billion dollars for the game because it was so fun.”
BD: Does Escape Room in a Box have a staff of creators, and what can you tell us about these individuals and their contributions to the project?
AR: Juliana Patel hates talking about herself, so I’ll do it for her. I met Juliana when we were both pregnant and she kindly started included me in her bi-weekly game nights. She then brought me into her inner circle of Escape Room addicts, and my mind was totally blown. Juliana has taught me what a friend is supposed to be like. She’s also really smart and pretty and incredibly competitive and 100% of the time she is the werewolf. I’ll let Juliana write something to make it fair. (Since Juliana is so competitive, she’s determined to make it even nicer than what I wrote.)
JP: Ariel is an incredibly talented writer and one of the most hard-working individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure of collaborating with. I’m constantly amazed by everything she gets done and how well she does it. It’s been such a joy to find another girl who is as into games as I am. She makes me laugh, is super clever, and is just an all-around super human. Also, she always kicks my ass in Catan and is far more concise then I will ever be.
Gage Ullman is our artist extraordinaire. He designed our box, logo, and all the game materials. When he isn’t being the superhero of our Kickstarter, he works as a graphic designer in Los Angeles. Ariel met Gage in high school when she was skipping class and decided to hide out in a nearby theater. They’ve been friends ever since. We are pretty sure Gage is the bestest artist on the planet.
BD: As mentioned, you recently initiated a crowdfunding campaign through Kickstarter to raise money for the production costs of the game. What encouraged you to use this specific fundraising method, and why do you feel that it has been such a successful tool for independent creators like yourselves?
AR & JP: Kickstarter is such an amazing platform for artists of all kinds, because it allows them to make the product that they envision without having to answer to a traditional publisher who may be more concerned about the bottom line than the quality of the product. Because of the physical nature of our game, the materials are actually quite expensive (locks, tins, etc.). I think the profit margin is so small that a traditional company would never go for it. They might want to make it all pen-and-paper puzzles, which would certainly increase the profit, but would make it inferior to the game we have created. Kickstarter allows us to get the game out into the world in a way that we are proud to present it.
BD: For our readers who may be interested in donating to the Escape Room in a Box Kickstarter campaign, are there any specific backer rewards that may interest our readers?
AR & JP: The $45 Escape Room Ready reward tier is the one that gets you the game and a night of unforgettable fun, plus a PDF of our party planner with themed snacks and drinks. It also includes a FREE refill pack, so that you can host the game again for different friends using a Game Master script that puts you in control of various elements like the timing and the hints. After the Kickstarter, the refill will be sold separately. But even just $1 would be so appreciated!
BD: Do you have plans for expanding Escape Room in a Box to include other variations or experiences?
AR & JP: Yes! If The Werewolf Experiment is successful, we hope to do a whole series of Escape Room boxes with different themes and different puzzles. Between our awesome play testers, our own Escape Room experiences, and constant research, we keep hearing about cool, new types of puzzles that we hope to incorporate into future games. We also hope to reward our backers who will have made it all possible by providing a significant discount for future games if they send back the hardware from The Werewolf Experiment.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find out more about Escape Room in a Box?
AR & JP: Go to our Kickstarter!
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Be sure to visit Escape Room in a Box's Kickstarter page, and don't forget to check out the backer rewards! The Kickstarter campaign will close on Friday, March 4th, so be sure to donate soon!