Farewell Flash Escape Rooms

Today Adobe Flash is officially dead, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to celebrate what Flash meant in the history of escape games.

As a community, we often recognize the television shows like Legends of the Hidden Temple and The Crystal Maze as well as the early 1990s video games such as Myst, The 7th Guest, or the catalogue of material put out by companies like LucasArts and Sierra Entertainment, that paved the way for escape rooms. However, there was a massive chapter in between all of those and what we came to recognize as real-life escape games.

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A Little History

In the pre-iPhone days, Adobe Flash was the go-to toolkit for amateur game designers. It was easy to learn, well supported, and you could make everything from animations to actual games.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Flash was the beating heart of the indie game scene (not that I can recall anyone calling it that). Flash became this weird behemoth of a platform that was serving enterprise needs and independent creators. It was resource intensive, but it was what we had.

One game genre that was relatively easy to get started in was the point-and-click adventure genre. Images and animations were generally static, and the interactions were straightforward. Creators told all sorts of stories, but over time one sub-genre that emerged was known as “escape the room,” a term that originated with Mystery Of Time And Space (MOTAS).

Before escape rooms were escape rooms, they were Flash video games.

A Fond Farewell

Flash had a ton of problems ranging from its dependence on Adobe, to performance issues, accessibility, and most importantly, security… but it was easy. While I had been guiding my design clients away from it since the pre-iPhone days, I still don’t believe that anything has emerged to fully take its place.

Flash has been on life support for a long time. Steve Jobs effectively killed it when he disallowed it on the iPhone, but by that point it was on borrowed time. Honestly, it borrowed a lot more time than I ever expected it would.

Flash had a good run. I wish that Adobe would have open-sourced it back in 2011. Maybe it would have had a fighting chance if a community that understood it could have improved upon it.

Tragically, with Flash dying out, we lose a lot of escape the room games. Most of them might not have been special, but some truly were, and they are all part of the history escape rooms. A history that will be largely forgotten.

If you have a favorite, please share it in the comments, or better yet, a video of a playthrough if you can find it.

We’ll be Live on the Room Escape Divas Tomorrow Evening!

Update January 3, 2021: This recording was for Room Escape Divas Episode 129 – Room Escape Artist: Year End Reflections, and you can now listen to it here.

Tomorrow is our annual December appearance on the Room Escape Divas podcast.

This year, we’re chatting the 2020 way: live on Zoom.

If you’d like to join our conversation with the REDivas, you’re invited!

Room Escape Divas Logo, a cartoon representation of the four hosts.

Details

  • Date: Wednesday, December 30, 2020
  • Time: 7pm Eastern
  • Location: Zoom

Here is the Zoom meeting information:

Meeting ID: 873 0046 5887
Passcode: redivas

You can choose to be on camera… or not. Whatever you want!

This conversation is a December tradition! It’s kind of crazy that we’ve all been at this so long it’s a thing of tradition.

We hope you’ll join us for a (likely) meandering and (definitely!) entertaining time.

REA’s Sarah Willson on Escape This Podcast

REA writer Sarah Willson is so good at writing in “REA voice” that most people don’t realize when a piece is authored by her. Sometimes I feel like she writes in our voice better than we do.

A few weeks back, Sarah pointed her writing talents in a completely different direction when she appeared on Escape This Podcast.

The Escape This Podcast labyrinth microphone logo

This season Dani & Bill of Escape This Podcast have flipped the script: instead of Dani writing the episodes and the guests playing her games with Bill, the guests have written so that Dani and Bill can play together.

Sarah’s keen reviewer’s eye was on display Season 7 – Episode 9: This Escape Room Sucks! where she turned the idea of a dreadful vampire-themed escape room into a seriously clever game.

Only 1 Week Left! Your Rankings Will Help TERPECA Find The Top Escape Rooms

There is only one week left to vote for your favorite escape rooms as part of the 2020 Top Escape Rooms Project Enthusiasts’ Choice Award, TERPECA. This a community-driven endeavor to help surface the industry’s best escape rooms.

Top Room Escape Project Enthusiasts' Choice Awards 2020 logo.

Note for 2020

Even if you haven’t played many real-life escape games this year, if you’re eligible to vote, you can and should add your voice.

A participant is required to have played at least 50 rooms to be eligible to rank rooms.

Due to the emergence of online escape rooms in 2020, you can include online games in your count of 50.

Also, online escape rooms have their own category this year; you’ll rank them separately.

Vote Now!

Visit the TERPECA voter portal to sign up.

Rankings (votes) are due November 30 at 11:59 PM Pacific.

Ranking is hard. Oh boy, do we understand. We are each ranking more than 80 rooms, played over the course of almost 5 years. You can do it!

The more people who rank, the more meaningful the rankings will be.

Background

If you’re unfamiliar with TERPECA, I invite you to read more about it here, in our piece calling for voters last year.

You can also read TERPECA FAQs on their website.

I will remind you that David and I share a vote on the TERPECA board. It is not our project, but we do our best to help guide it along with a few other well-intentioned folks.

Strange Bird Immersive’s RECON Video & New York Times Feature

“This show couldn’t happen in person. This is a new artistic frontier,” artistic director Haley E.R. Cooper told Alexis Soloski of The New York Times about Strange Bird Immersive’s newest immersive piece, The Strange Secret of Mr. Adrian Rook.

In Escape Rooms in an At-Home Era? Here’s the Key, Haley and other escape room industry veterans explain how they changed the nature of their products in 2020. They had to get creative to build worlds for the players and deliver immersive experiences.

Haley and Cameron Cooper’s RECON ’20 talk about creating immersive experiences was incredibly popular. Whether you’re creating experiences in person or online, there’s a lot of value in this session.

Featured Talk Information

Make It Immersive: Turning Walls into Worlds

Details: Originally presented on Sunday, August 23 at 11:00 (New York)

Speakers: Haley E. R. Cooper & J. Cameron Cooper

Company: Strange Bird Immersive

Abstract: Haley and Cameron explain how they craft immersive experiences with an eye for details instead of a massive budget. They give you a tour of their immersive toolbox, a collection of approaches and techniques that all creators can draw upon, at any level. They’ll take you through many of the details that are easily overlooked in room design and teach you how to pay attention to these in order to breathe life into an experience.

Haley Cooper on the left and Cameron Cooper on the right, both in costume as actors in Strange Bird Immersive's The Man from Beyond

About RECON ’20

RECON ’20 was Room Escape Artist’s digital escape room convention featuring 15 pre-recorded talks, live Q&As, and over 30 exhibitors. We had over 900 attendees from 62 countries watching and participating live.

We’re releasing each of the 15 talks for free on our YouTube channel this fall. More than half the featured talk videos are already available there!

Please subscribe to the RECON Newsletter to receive updates on RECON ’21 – we are just getting started.