By TEL Imaginarium Team
After riding the wave of online escape rooms for the past two years, our popular XR mystery game was brought back on location. This time, it was bigger (and we hope better!) as it involved the whole of Tech Central, (shameless plug here) a tech-enriched playground with immersive and interactive facilities to stimulate education and research. Have you been there yet?
This year’s edition of the game was titled Train to Bishan – An XR Escape Room. Let us now put on our train conductor caps for the next part of this story.
The synopsis proved to be quite the draw as all of the available game slots from 10 – 31 October 2022 were snapped up within the day of the announcement.
You and your friends are rushing to catch the last train at Bishan to get back home after a house party. Everyone makes it on board just as the last beep sounds and the train doors close. The air-conditioning in the carriage feels especially cold tonight. Everything seems fine as you board the train. However, soon you realise the carriage was completely empty. The lights briefly flicker.
The announcement goes, “Next station, Bishan”…
Despite the eerie plot, we have emphasised that Bishan station is safe so please do not quote us about it being haunted! 🥺
We wanted more groups to solve the mystery of the never-ending train to Bishan so we released 9 more slots to “passengers” on the wait list. Even these were snapped up within the day. 😅
During the game, players got to experience a variety of tech-enabled facilities and tools — AR, VR equipment, 360° visualisation cylinder — as they immersed themselves in the spine-chilling story. Their mission was to unlock clues to make their escape before they run out of time.
Out of the 32 groups who turned up, only 7 made it out of Bishan with the rest still stuck in the never-ending train. Perhaps we’ll need more sessions to get them out of Bishan? 😌
Amongst the feedback we received, 83% rated the overall experience 5 stars (out of 5! 😍), and the rest 4 stars and above. We are very heartened to see the response and will strive hard to provide more train journeys (or other games) in the future.
Thank you to all the players who took part and congratulations to the winners who finished fastest.
Here’s a look at some of the moments captured on photos.
Behind the Scenes (BTS)
People have asked us how we created the whole experience. Today, we’ll reveal the secrets.
Step 1: Write a Story
It can be based on your wild imagination or it can be based off a story you’ve heard. Our plot was based loosely on the Japanese urban legend of Kisaragi Station. We brainstormed on the number of stages that would be required and how each stage should link to the next. It was also important to have a running theme or an ultimate goal that each group would have to achieve. In this case, the ultimate goal was to get out of the train station within a certain time.
Step 2: Decide on the Number of Puzzles/Stages
Puzzles involved the use of different technologies such as digital maps, AR and VR applications (think train in VR!) and the new 360imx for immersive shared 360° experiences. Each station was designed with a few puzzles that would use a certain type of technology. For us, we assigned each of our team member with a type of technology (eg team member 1 took care of AR, team member 2 took care of 360imx) and we let them go crazy experimenting and ideating the puzzle (think of that first carriage…it was a brilliant use of AR and digital maps! 💡). Puzzles shouldn’t take too long to solve, possibly 5-10 minutes per puzzle.
Step 3: Create the Puzzle to Showcase the Technology
Since the team was made up of immersive tech developers, this was a matter of putting our formulated puzzles to the test with the assigned technology.
Step 4: Playtest!
We usually do our playtest with our colleagues and the end results that you experienced are always vastly different from the first iteration. The changes can involve the difficulty of puzzles, the clarity of instructions or even the creation of the atmosphere. We have playtesters who even volunteered to write the story for our next game!
Step 5: All Ready to Roll!
Everything is set to go and all we need is players. We released our publicity posters which have never failed to attract attention.
If you are interested in running such an event or need help with any of the steps, feel free to contact us to discuss possibilities as we believe that immersive tech is for everyone!