In Season 3, Episode 8, we chat with Chris Waters, The Architect of Constructed Adventures. Chris creates extraordinary customized treasure hunt adventures for special occasions. His experiences are primarily for private clients and have included everything from being picked up in helicopters to getting mysterious envelopes delivered by otters.
Chris is the Willy Wonka of treasure hunts, doling out mysteries and golden prizes. However, instead of secrecy, he is incredibly transparent about what he does, his methods, and what he charges. He was full of tips and tricks for anyone who wants to create adventures for their own friends and family. Chris is passionate, energetic, and charming, and it’s easy to see why The Architect has been so successful in constructing adventures.
Thank You to Our Sponsors
We are immensely grateful to our sponsors this season, Morty App and Virtual Escape Games. We truly appreciate your support of our mission to promote and improve the immersive gaming community.
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Discount Code for REPOD listeners:
- REA20 for 20% off a non-hosted game for 1-6 players
- TB20 for 20% off a team-building adventure for any size team!
Topics Discussed in this Episode
- Chris tells us how he came up with the moniker “The Architect.” [0:49]
- Chris and David talk about what a bespoke puzzle adventure is, comparing it to a scavenger hunt and a treasure hunt. [1:29]
- The group talks about the difficulty in defining genres. [3:14]
- Chris walks us through the types of experiences that he creates as The Architect. [4:17]
- Chris mentions that he only creates experiences around special occasions with big reveals at the end, and that they are very customized according to an in-depth survey, and in collaboration with the client. [4:41]
- Chris tells us about a Skyrim-themed adventure he created recently. [5:27]
- Chris talks about the role and function of puzzles in his adventures. [6:42]
- Chris says he needs to be specific about the locations he sends his clients to because he can’t risk them going to the wrong place. [7:37]
- Peih-Gee mentions a story that Neil Patrick Harris told in a Patreon exclusive bonus episode last season, about a custom experience that was perhaps too ambiguous in its choices offered. [8:14]
- Chris talks about some very high-end moments he’s created for clients, involving helicopters and otters. [10:20]
- Chris tells us about how he enlists people to help him with delivering clues and envelopes during his adventures, and that he never uses the same person twice in the same adventure. [12:26]
- Chris mentions Tommy Honton, who reached out to him and whom he considers a mentor. [14:45]
- Chris talks about how he got started making bespoke puzzle adventures as part of the Reddit Secret Santa Gift Exchange, and how this went viral. [15:16]
- Chris tells us that after winning big at poker, he decided to create an extravagant treasure hunt for an internet stranger as part of this gift exchange. [16:52]
- After his first experience, Chris’ friend who helped him with it created a website for him and told him that people would pay money for adventures like the one he had just created. Soon after, the internet stranger posted a recap of his adventure, and Chris went viral on Reddit and with local news stories. [19:27]
- Chris tells us how much it cost to run his first adventure, and what it took for him to quit his job to pursue this full time. [23:29]
- Chris talks about what he charges and how much his adventures cost. [25:24]
- Chris shares a few tips and tricks, including making the puzzles easier, and creating excitement around the mystery of not knowing what’s going to happen next. [28:39]
- Chris tells us that adventures don’t have to be challenging to be fun and to focus on elegant simplicity. [30:40]
- Chris tells us a story about why you should never use real candles. (The addendum to this tip is “reduce risk.”) [31:01]
- Peih-Gee tells a story about why you shouldn’t use candles at the beach if you’re trying to have a romantic date. [32:56]
- Chris talks about why he’s so open about his trade secrets, and how he wants to encourage others to create exciting adventures as well. [33:43]
- Chris talks about balancing the flow of an adventure to create excitement, moments of rest, moments of challenge, and moments of reward. [36:56]
- Chris talks about how he “lo-jacks” his players to keep track of them. [39:12]
- Chris talks about how he gives hints to his players in the middle of an adventure. [41:08]
- Chris tells us about how he keeps players on track by giving very specific directions about where they’re supposed to be. [42:28]
- Chris and David talk about creating little magical moments by just listening closely to the players and offering a special touch. [43:33]
- Chris talks about playtesting, using “gambits,” and the difficulties of getting his puzzle designers to scale back the difficulty. [45:02]
- Chris talks about playtesting individual parts of the experience versus a full run-through. [49:19]
- Chris gives his best advice for planning the perfect marriage proposal. [50:38]
- Chris talks about why he would turn down a marriage proposal client. [53:06]
- Chris tells us about the time one of his adventures almost went off the rails. [55:29]
- Chris tells us a bonus story about the time he got into a bit of trouble when working abroad. [1:04:25]
Resources Mentioned in this Episode
- Neil Patrick Harris episode of REPOD
- Reddit Secret Santa Gift Exchange
- Constructed Adventures YouTube channel
- The Escape of the Ring from the Puzzle Box [Engagement Announcement] (Lisa’s blog post about the time David constructed an adventure for her.)
About Chris Waters
Chris Waters (i.e. “The Architect”) has traveled the world building immersive treasure/ scavenger hunts for special occasions. Chris actually travels so much for his business that he doesn’t have a home. The goal of Constructed Adventures is to create a day where the entire world seems like it’s revolving around the player.
Besides the Adventure building, Chris goes to great lengths to encourage others to create Adventures for their loved ones. He fosters a great community on the Constructed Adventures Subreddit and Discord Channel. The community tackles super tricky puzzle hunts and helps to foster amateur puzzle building and event/ game design.
Discord Server: https://discord.gg/RyjT7JftGx
Other recommended podcasts
Escape This Podcast is a show that’s a mix between tabletop roleplaying and escape room puzzles.
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