In Season 2, episode 7, we chat with Rita Orlov, the designer of industry-favorite indie narrative puzzle games. Rita made a huge splash in the puzzle community with the launch of The Tale of Ord — an epic tabletop game with narrative depth and puzzle density. She followed that with The Emerald Flame and then The Light in the Mist, a tarot card puzzletale.
Rita not only designs her games, she also self-produces, funding all of them via Kickstarter. She talks to us about some of the difficulties of being an indie game creator and her inspiration behind The Light in the Mist. Rita was also one of the featured speakers at RECON ‘21, talking about her granular hint systems for tabletop games.
My biggest takeaway from chatting with Rita was the depth of her vision. There is a grandeur to her games which leaves you fully immersed in a realistic narrative. Rita is a masterful artist, skillfully weaving all the different threads of the puzzles, themes, and the storyline together into a gorgeous and lush tapestry, a “puzzletale” if you will. We hope this episode inspires you.
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Topics Discussed in this Episode
- David talks about how Rita was the gamemaster at his very first escape room in 2014 at Escape the Room in New York. [1:21]
- Rita tells us about how that game took place in an actual office, and how they transformed it into an escape room on weekends. [2:45]
- Rita talks about shipping and manufacturing delays with The Emerald Flame, including staff shortages and supply chain issues. [4:18]
- Peih-Gee talks about how quarantine affected shipping at her jewelry company. [5:49]
- We talk about The Emerald Flame, Rita’s narrative puzzle game that raised almost $300,000 on Kickstarter. [7:19]
- Rita talks about some of the difficulties with manufacturing overseas and being an indie game designer. [8:03]
- Rita talks about her collaborator, Jack Fallows of Cryptogram Puzzle Post. Together, they created The Light in the Mist, her new game. [12:13]
- Rita says the collaboration came about because Jack wanted to create a tarot deck, but didn’t know how to differentiate it from other decks, and Rita said the answer was to make it a puzzle game. [13:28]
- David and Peih-Gee talk about how well integrated the puzzles are with the deck and the narrative. [13:55]
- David mentions that he thinks The Light in the Mist is “unopinionated,” meaning it doesn’t try to dictate the type of experience players should have. [15:16]
- Rita talks about how she was inspired by the constraints of working with the limited resources of a tarot deck, as opposed to the blank canvas of her other games. [16:52]
- Rita talks about how her design style has changed since she first created The Tale of Ord. [22:28]
- Rita tells us that her desire to tell a substantial story is why she tends to create games with six-plus hours of gameplay. [23:46]
- Rita talks about the resale value of The Tale of Ord. [26:52]
- Rita gave a talk at RECON ‘21 last month about hinting systems for puzzle games. [28:37]
- Rita talks about her approach to hinting and says that because so many of her puzzles are multi-step, she also likes to provide hints that are minute and incremental. [29:31]
- David asks Rita about her “precision puzzles,” puzzles that require very precise placement of things. [34:42]
- Rita talks about The Dome in the Netherlands. [37:23]
- Rita started playing chess at the age of 3. She and David chat about competitive table gaming including chess and Magic the Gathering. [38:44]
- Peih-Gee tells a story about how her dad tricked her in poker. [41:00]
- Rita talks about her love of sport climbing and bouldering, and how it has influenced her puzzle design. [43:05]
- Peih-Gee and Rita talk a bit about how climbing as a sport has some commonalities with the escape room scene, such as cooperative play and having to figure out a solution to a puzzle. [45:29]
- Rita teases us about her upcoming projects, including a limited-run holiday game, and the new game she’s working on which may include building physical components. [48:09]
- Rita mentions that if you sign up for her mailing list, she will send you free puzzles.
Resources Mentioned in this Episode
- Rita’s website GetPostCurious.com
- Peih-Gee’s Jewelry company Lo Rador
- The Emerald Flame Kickstarter
- Jack Fallows’ Crytogram Puzzle Post
- The Light in the Mist Kickstarter
- REA review of Tale of Ord
- REA review of The Emerald Flame
- REA review of The Light in the Mist
- Rita Orlov & Summer Harris’s talk from RECON ‘21: Fun Insurance: What Makes a Good Hint System
- Hivemind review of Novel Escape’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
- REA review of Escape Room Nederland’s The Dome
- Escape Room Netherland’s website
Rita Orlov is a designer, maker, puzzlesmith, and the creator of PostCurious. With a background in escape rooms, art, and object design, Rita lives for the “aha” moments and the journey of discovery that can be created through gamified storytelling. She strives to create unique experiences that will challenge, surprise, and engage the player. You can find her thoughts on puzzles, crafting, and game design on the PostCurious blog.
- IG @postcurious
- FB @postcurious
- Twitter @getpostcurious
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Escape This Podcast is a show that’s a mix between table top roleplaying and escape room puzzles.
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