The story of “1408” escape room creation (Nice, France)

Hello, dear reader, I won’t bother you with a long introduction, let’s go straight to the point.

A customer from France, Nice, applied to me.

He had already chosen the topic: “Room 1408” based on the film of the same name and the story by Stephen King. If you haven’t watched the movie I strongly recommend it.

The customer already had a script (written on the order), which he sent me for study together with the layout of the premises.

I won’t scold the writers who created it. Long story short, I refused to continue working on this scenario. Because it contained puzzles rather difficult to perform that were illogical and boring, in addition the script writer divided the room into 4 rooms.

And as everyone knows, the more walls — the more expensive the construction is.

I suggested writing my version of the script and if the customer would have liked it, we would continue to work.

On how to avoid fatal errors in creating a script for an escape room, read on super-escape-room.com. Also you can download my tips on creating escape games from Amazon:
The perfect escape room. Practical guidance.

Fortunately, the customer didn’t stick to the old one and approved the new script, evaluating the logic of the puzzles, and a simple layout of the room.

New layout of the escape room (final)

Then I sent a plan for building the walls and wiring the walls.

We have fought long about the choice of the room style, but the result was worth it, blood red wallpapers — create a sense of danger and tension. Exactly what we needed!

While building the walls, we chose furniture. Most of it was second hand, bought for pennies. The other half on from flea markets, it’s a little bit more expensive, but still cheap.

In total all the furniture cost about 2000–3000 euros

At the stage of preparation there were some flaws, several times the location of riddles was changed and this led to the fact that we forgot the necessary wires, but in the end everything was fixed.

Besides, I made a mistake with the visa (the Schengen limit) and this led to my inability to enter the country for a month. Since it was my fault, I just counted the days incorrectly, I fairly made a discount of $ 2000, so that the client covered the monthly payment of the rent.

Selection of furniture on photo

When all the preparation work was completed I flew to Nice. By the time of arrival, the room already looked good.

Wallpaper looked much more spectacular in reality. And the creaky parquet only improved the atmosphere of the old hotel room.

The room at the time of my arrival in France

Immediately upon arrival, we started buying electronics and sensors to create puzzles.

After visiting several electronics stores, I realized that the prices were too high and after that we bought most of the electronic components on the Internet.

I recommend farnell.com, they have branches in almost every country. Arrives quickly, prices are at an average level.

The work went quite quickly, almost all the furniture was in stock and if there were no components for one puzzle, we could pass to something else, not wasting time in vain.

Disassembled TV for the puzzle with a camera

Despite the fast rhythm of construction, I didn’t compromise about quality. In the photo below is the cabinet through which the players pass between the locations.

The bottom of the cabinet was reinforced with so many lumber that now it will survive the fall from the Eiffel Tower (it’s in France as well).

About the principles of work and ways to create a quality escape room you can read at super-escape-room.com.
Reinforcement of the cabinet with a secret door

In search for a perfect table or sideboard I had to go several times to the flea market. We also regularly visited flea markets to buy items for decor: paintings, books, dishes, etc.

Flea market with furniture

Simultaneously with my work on the quest, customers were working on the reception, corridor, toilet.

On the super-escape-room.com site you can download the checklist for the opening of the escape room.
Installation of air conditioner
Photo of a mini bar with RFID sensors for bottles

I make up and build all the riddles, taking into account three requirements:

  1. It’s fun and players like it.
  2. It will work well and do not require repair for several years.
  3. Details cost reasonable money.
Photo in the construction materials store

You can’t buy everything at once. There is always something missing. Now bolt 5x60, then screw 3.5x16. And without that little detail you can’t do a lot of work. Therefore, we went to the construction materials shops several times a week.

Often it was possible to find what we needed in a garbage dump. It is not very pleasant, but it’s free and effective though.

Junk yard where there are a lot of useful materials

In the photo below are the stages of mounting one puzzle. This is a socket that is activated when players find and insert special fuses at the top of the panel.

There are two locations: the first one is the hotel room, the second — a black room.

To get there, players pass through a hole in the wall through the cabinet.

Black room at the beginning of the riddles installation

The first and second rooms are very different. This is to ensure that players have a strong contrast when passing.

The cache and gutter where the key falls

Players move from a light, but eerie room into a black room with hell screams, where everything is covered with fog.

Sharp contrast makes players nervous, heart beats faster, and palms sweat.
Photo of the room in smoke (smoke level is 15% of the game one)

The photo shows that there is a small fog. There’s a smoke machine in the room and it’s fogging. When the players come in, everything is in smoke.

I can’t show how cool it looks in the game mode, because nothing can be seen in the smoke, the camera can’t cope with it. The fog is so dense that players can’t see the walls.

The room is very small, but due to the fact that players can’t see the walls, they don’t realize its size. And they are afraid to go — what if someone will seize them.

On the test game there was a case: two players, a guy and a girl. They entered the room. The girl sat down on the floor with her back to the wall and refused to go any further, as she was afraid to get lost in the smoke, thought that the room was huge. And sat there until the guy went around the room and convinced her that there were no monsters in the smoke.
Photo in the process of decorating

For decoration I use acrylic paint which dries quickly. In those places where players actively touch the decorations, I cover the surface with lacquer to keep it from wearing.

Comparison of photos before and after decoration.

All the time while I’m working on the escape room, technical tests are performed one way or another. I launch riddles. I open and close the hiding places. I check the mechanisms.

Thus, in the process of work I eliminate most of the flaws and on test games everything works perfectly, well, almost perfectly…

Testing the smoke machine (this is not a fire, it’s just the lighting)
Photo after the black room decorating

All riddles are designed to fit the decor of the room as much as possible, strengthening and supplementing it.

Altar

In the photo above the altars + a picture on the wall make up one big final puzzle, after solving it players can leave the room.

Finished first room

As you can see, simple things that you can buy on a usual flea market or find in a dump, can be used to make a visually authentic escape room.

Read other stories about escape rooms construction on super-escape-room.com

Of course, you can’t make an authentic room about a plane using only garbage, but some topics can be performed very cool.

Photo — game tips

All items in the room create the right entourage. We made the tips as police reports of accidents that happened in this hotel.

Reading the bloody stories “How the father cut out his son’s organs,” the players not only freeze from horror, but also realize that in the floor under the carpet there is a hiding place (in this cache the police found a knife the child was stabbed with). They find evidence that all this happened in this place in reality.
cache in the floor

Or for example:

A young couple checked in the room. And in 2 hours they called the administrator with complaints about noise from the ventilation that appeared when they put the barometer in the shape of a horse on the nightstand.
The next day, the maid entered the room to clean and found husband dead on the sofa. The abdomen was cut and then sewn. The pathologist discovered that a woman’s remains had been sewn into it.

Players see in the photo from the file a corpse of the man with a sewn belly, photo of a horse barometer on the nightstand. And then they take it in reality and put in the same place on the nightstand as in the photo from the file.

Noise starts coming from the ventilation…

Clients professionally approached marketing and positioning. They created a high-quality presentation handout and a cool reception.

Site of the escape room and group of facebook.

At first I didn’t believe that investing money in a brick wall and a glowing logo would have any response in people. But it turned out that French are different in mentality.

After the guys hung the sign, people started to go in and ask what they were going to start up there.

In general, marketing could be launched at the stage of selection of premises. Then during the construction it would be possible to get a profit to cover the rent during construction. Check list with steps how to open the ‘right” escape room you can find on super-escape-room.com.

And when customers hanged a box with flyers next to the front door, passers-by stuffed their pockets with flyers, as if it was a new currency. Everyone was interested: from small children who asked their parents to tell what was there, up to 80 old people who carefully studied the booklets.

In this regard, Nice is a surprisingly nice city for promotion, I have never seen before people reading so attentively adverts on the window written with a marker on a piece of paper.

Booklet and sign in the waiting room

Below is the screen of Tripadvisor, the reviews are quite good, of course now there are very few of them. It was held no more than 30 games since the opening, all the time was spent on construction.

I asked to ask players a strange question after passing the escape room:

  • Is this the best escape room you’ve played in?

Those who played in 1–2 escape rooms, said that:

“Yes, this is the most interesting and cool escape room they’ve ever played in.”

Those who played in more rooms, more than 20, also agreed that:

“This is the best escape room in Nice and the region, but Paris still wins in the level of decorations. Although in the quality of puzzles, you are the best. “

By the way, I consider it to be a victory, to be equal to escape rooms in Paris. The thing is that players mean one particular company. The guys from Paris didn’t do the decor from the start, but used ready objects: they have two escape rooms.

They made a room about the subway, taking a real metro carriage.

After that they made a room in the plane, taking the ready cabin from the plane.

The only drawback is that they spent much more than us. (I don’t know the exact sums, but there was some information about 250 thousand euros for a room) We spent 25 thousand euros.

The escape room page on tripadvisor

If you are planning to open a cool escape room and are looking for a reliable performer, welcome to my website:

Here you will find a lot of useful information on the scape rooms construction: guides, check lists, business plans. Visit super-escape-room.com, it will be interesting!

Thank you for your attention, have a great day!