Four years ago a game designer sent a 70-pound resume to Wizards of the Coast. It wasn’t enough to get him a job, but WotC CEO did put in a good word for him at other games companies.
That game designer was Steven Varela, and just before Christmas he pulled the covers off the project he’s been working on since then.
I imagine the relationship between Project Cabin and escape rooms will be interesting. I sense Project Cabin wants to be more than just an escape room, but if the adventure is mostly in a room or even a couple of them, then that’s very much what it might look like.
In Project Cabin you and a group of friends will have to talk to actors playing NPCs, solve puzzles with your own intellect rather than INT dice roles and cope with an unfolding adventure upfront and personal.
Of course, Project Cabin is keen to stress they’ve invested in some impressive-sounding technology. Technology isn’t a barrier for entry when it comes to setting up an escape room. Still, if Varela has cracked the code on making the experience even better, more scalable and cheaper to run, then they’ll be well placed to gobble up a tasty chunk of the market share.
The game engine they talk about is L.A.R.E.N. That’s the Live-Action Response Entertainment Network that runs a programmable logic controller designed with live-action roleplaying/escape rooms in mind.
There’s more than L.A.R.E.N. in the technology tool kit, though. The Project Cabin website talks about Deepest Immersion Prop and Inventory System (Deepest Immersion being the parent company) which tracks items using RFID and integrates with L.A.R.E.N. Then there’s both the Deepest Immersion Lighting Controller and the Audio Controllers.
The proof will be in the pudding. Project Cabin needs more funds. Varela is planning a crowdfunder to get them. That’s when geography will kick in. I can back a PDF RPG from here in Scotland, knowing I’ll get a copy. I imagine only local(ish) geeks(ish) will be most interested in getting Project Cabin up and running in their neighbourhood.
Let’s see what Varela and team can do.
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