“That is some crazy market research.” In season 6, episode 7 of REPOD, we chat with the brilliant Marie Huber and Nico César, owners of Red Fox Escapes in Cambridge, MA. Red Fox Escapes is known for constructing elegant and complex puzzles with gorgeous, detailed sets. As David notes in the episode, “There are a few hallmarks of Red Fox games… your approach to puzzles… and the abundance of detail in your games.”
As a former business analyst, Marie has a metrics-based approach to both how she runs the business and her design process. She even ran a workshop at RECON Boston called “Upping Your Game: Beyond the Basics of Game Design.” Nico comes from a software background. He talks about how his approach to tech in escape rooms is different from the norm, which tends to be hardware focused.
Marie and Nico have spent a lot of time analyzing what makes for great gameplay and a memorable escape room experience. I especially enjoyed hearing all their stories about how to add a special touch to props in an escape room and their hacks for figuring out the headcounts at local escape rooms. This is a masterclass in how to approach escape room design with intentionality and thoughtfulness.
Thank You to Our Sponsors
We are immensely grateful to our sponsors this season: Morty App, Buzzshot, and COGS. We truly appreciate your support of our mission to promote and improve the immersive gaming community.
Morty is a free app for discovering, planning, tracking, and reviewing your escape rooms and other immersive social outings.
- Morty now features haunt attractions!
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Buzzshot is Escape Room Software, Powering Business Growth, Player Marketing, and improving the Customer Experience. They offer an assortment of pre and post game features including robust waiver management, branded team photos, and streamlined review management for Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google Reviews, and Morty. Buzzshot now has integration with the other REPOD sponsors: Morty and COGS.
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COGS by Clockwork Dog is an easy to use software/ hardware platform for running interactive events, including escape rooms, and other immersive experiences. They have plug & play hardware that seamlessly integrates with their software so you can create a show with lighting and sound cues without having to write a single line of code. Map all kinds of inputs to outputs by building up simple logic steps which determine what you want to happen and when.
Special Offer for REPOD Listeners:
REPOD listeners can get the COGS Starter Set for only $130 + free shipping to the USA. This bundle is usually valued at $257. You can learn more and purchase your Starter Set at cogs.show. Use code REPOD at checkout.
Topics Discussed in this Episode
- [2:31] Nico and Marie talk about their heist game and why it’s still one of their most profitable games.
- [4:00] We discuss the origins of the name Red Fox Escapes.
- [5:27] Nico and Marie tell us how they met and decided to open an escape room together.
- [7:30] Marie tells us about her hack for figuring out how many customers the local escape room companies have.
- [11:15] Marie breaks down the different types of customers that come to Red Fox Escapes.
- [12:52] Nico and Marie talk about designing games that work for both families who’ve never played before and escape room enthusiasts. They like to design a wow moment and construct the rest of the story around that.
- [14:40] We talk about the abundance of details in Red Fox Escapes’ sets. Marie tells the story of how she created the Marilyn Monroe artwork that is in their game, The Heist, and tells us about the other works of art in their games.
- [21:15] Marie tells the story of modifying a directional lock to fit the aesthetics of U-Boat and some of the issues it caused.
- [23:52] Marie shares a hack for escape room owners to extend the life of their locks.
- [25:11] Nico tells us the backstory of how they acquired The Body Shop, and how they modified it with a unique storyline.
- [32:26] Nico talks about different styles of tech and how he had to retrofit the game to suit his preferred method of game control.
- [34:16] Marie talks about the physical mechanics in The Body Shop and the delight it brings to players.
- [39:18] Marie talks about the benefits of creating escape rooms with truly memorable storylines that unfold throughout the game. She also talks about the different “seasons” of players throughout the year and how to adapt gameplay for different audiences.
- [41:20] Nico and Marie talk about how they were surprised that so many players have a difficult time with a scary-themed escape room.
- [43:40] Nico talks about building all the tech at Red Fox Escapes wirelessly and how it’s very different from the tech used in most escape rooms.
- [48:51] Marie talks about the challenges of their location being in a unique historical building.
- [53:03] Marie explains that their next game was slated to be a competitive game… until an escape room trip made them realize why it would be a better idea to change it to a points-based system instead. They also talk about the concept of their next game.
- [56:45] Marie invites interested listeners to email them if they have any questions at email@example.com
- [1:02:12] Marie tells a bonus story about playing an escape room in The Netherlands and encountering a surprising video.
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Resources Mentioned in this Episode
- Red Fox Escapes website
- REA reviews:
- Spoiler’s Club episode of The Body Shop
About Marie Huber and Nico César
Nico and Marie, co-founders of Red Fox Escapes, have professional backgrounds in science and technology. They love puzzles and adventures and believe in the power of games to stimulate creative thinking and create strong bonds.
On their second date, Nico brought unusual lock mechanisms over to Marie’s apartment and they sat for 5 hours drinking Argentinian Malbec and picking locks!
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