Escape-style Hackathon

Escape-style Hackathon

Another small web-app that I developed was for an escape-room style hackathon. I was originally inspired by escape rooms and had the idea to turn a clasroom into a fully fledged escape experience. Then I realized the amount of time it would take and thought “hmmm… maybe you can do an online escape room?” and I recalled the not Pr0n game (I’m a 90ies kid). I wanted to do a VIA-style (VIA is my University College employer) puzzle-type website based on the sort of puzzles found on not Pr0n. Then I got realistic again and thought about the amount of resources that would require as well (the myBot9000 game took me at least a couple of days to think/plan out and program). Instead a ended up with 10 laminated “puzzle cards” representing each a letter. When the letters are combined in the right order, they spell out “Hello World” which is a nod to the basic example used to show syntax to beginners in almost any programming language. The website above “obfuscates” the input using a hash-function, so you can’t just look of the source code to know the right value for the input.

The types of puzzles I used were a mash of things I lifted off the internet as well as some self-made ones like the one below:

I didn’t use this one for the original game, but at a later point. The “rule” that you need to discover from the images is related to a mathematical property of sets (I make stuff for software engineers, so that’s the name of the game). If you find the solution, only one image cannot belong.

If you want to get started making your own game for people to solve, I suggest coming up with a short sentence like “hello world” – but one that has a basic sentiment to the group you are designing for. You then have to “encode letters” into puzzles. I recommend designing for different types of intelligences (like Gardners multiple intelligences) – of course with an emphasis on the intelligence that resonates mostly with your target audience. I had an emphasis on logic and would use the following types of “encryption”/puzzle designs:

  • Baconian cipher
  • Morse
  • Braille
  • Circle of fifths (for music intelligences)
  • Visual/spatial puzzles (like this Moebius Highway)
  • GPS coordinates