Ghost Puzzles: Broken & Disabled Escape Room Puzzles [Design]

Let’s make this really simple:

If a puzzle breaks or you disable it, kindly remove every trace of it from your escape room.

A mastodon fossil on display in a museum.

Remove The Props

If it looked like a puzzle prop when it was a puzzle, it will still look like a puzzle prop after it has been disabled.

It doesn’t matter that it looks cool. Turn it back into a puzzle or remove it. Otherwise it turns into a Ghost Puzzle*, an aggressive red herring that reminds us players that we never had an opportunity to play with that cool thing in the room.

It’s always lame when the most interesting prop in the escape room is a red herring.

Paint Over Clues

If there are markings on the walls from removed puzzles or previous iterations of your game, please paint over them.

Don’t make me turn into an escape room archeologist, determining which pieces are part of the current game and which components are remnants from some long-forgotten or destroyed interaction.

*Thank you to Haley at Immersology for coining to term Ghost Puzzle earlier this week for our Erban Dictionary.

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