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'Escape the room' game - behind the scenes

I was very happy in the middle of May to hear Articulate announced 2015 Guru Contest! I was addicted to 'Escape the room' game type at that time and spent hours playing it on my phone. So it was obvious for me, the project I wanted to create and submit for the contest, was this kind of game.

WARNING: if you haven’t played the game yet – try it first before you continue to read, as all the clues will be revealed and you’ll lose much fun.

The initial concept was hand drawn on some papers lying around the floor. I had a full view on the idea and could get back to specific interaction and improve/add any details. If you haven’t tried this non-digital approach - you should! It was really fun.

After I had sketched all the elements and had “the logic” sorted, I started to draw in PowerPoint. I went for flat design and kept it as simple as possible. Then Storyline 2 and plenty of triggers were in use.

The room is divided to 3 views – a main wall with a lift, a 'table' wall and a 'window' wall. You can move around using the white arrows at the bottom.

I had to hide all the necessary tips helping you to escape the room and added some fake clues as well. Didn’t want it to be too easy.


  • on the main wall there are two unhelpful (but still enjoyable) clickable places: light switch and flower’s leaves (try them out)

  • on the table wall: red book (with my favourite quotation), cup on the table and a gray box

  • on the window wall: clock only.

Now, when you know what wasn’t much helpful for escaping, the clickable rest was meaningful to help you to leave the room. Many of my testers (thanks for your help guys) completed the puzzle first. After sorting this one out, box opens and a screwdriver appears, which needs to be collected.

If you get to the table wall and click the newspaper, pay attention to the radio ad in the lower right corner. The frequency and the name of the radio station is a smart tip to remember. When you move to the window wall, there’s a radio on the cupboard. Move the note to set the right frequency (did I mention I love sliders in Storyline 2?) and click the left knob until the name of the correct radio station displays. Have you heard the positive music playing? Good! It means you found a torch.

Now, having two tools, you can head straight to the vent on the table wall. Unscrew the bolts with a screwdriver selected, turn on the torch and click inside the black hole. A card appears which is your final item to be found.

Get back to the window wall and insert the card to the blue panel. Blinds go down with a four-digit number. That’s the code you need to enter by the lift. And here’s the last trick, because the buttons are not in the same order as the numbers on the display.

Once you manage to enter the digits… the lift’s door opens with a modern elevator door bell. And that’s it! You escaped – congratulations :)

These few lines above describe the ideal user experience, but I’m sure some of you struggled with what to do next, where to click and how to combine facts, some of you probably watched the video tutorial explaining how to escape. That’s fine, we’re not living in a perfect world.

Some reflections and facts about creating this game:

  • These 3 true/false type variables: card, screwdriver and torch saved me a lots of time, when I wanted to test only a part of the game

  • After adding the audio effects, the game became more engaging. It was exciting to search for the right sounds. Freesfx was as always reliable.

  • The superhero character (used for puzzle and on the poster) is a stock image by Christophe Boisson (which I was happy to buy as it fitted great to the style of my project).

  • It took me about 40 hours to draw, build and test the game. I worked on the project in the evenings and during few weekends.

  • My quickest tester was able to escape the room within 4 minutes!

Articulate will announce the Gold/Silver Guru winner and honourable mentions by the end of July. I’m looking forward to seeing all the amazing examples sent for the contest. Some of the developers already showed their amazing submissions. Check them out.

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