When Cross Roads Escape Games in Anaheim, California introduced its “Psych Ward” game last year Diablo Sound utilized Alcorn McBride’s V16Pro to run the latest escape room game. Diablo Sound developed and executed all the show control, network, video, sound and lighting system designs for the new attraction choosing the V16Pro frame accurate controller with WinScript Live programming software and ShowTouch UI.
“The game industry typically uses custom-built, stand-alone control systems, so this was the first time we used Alcorn McBride’s V16Pro as the back end to control game logic,” explains Diablo Sound Lead Programmer, Fernando Vasquez. “We’ve used Alcorn McBride equipment in complex themed environments and knew it would not fail where as home-buildt solutions were often buggy and offered no support.”
“The Psych Ward” is described as an interactive game of deduction, trust and betrayal with escape room, board game and immersive theater elements. It takes place in a 20 x 20-foot room with five to eight players comprising two teams. The game is set in a decrepit psychiatric hospital in the early 1970s. “Dr. Griffin” has created a social experience with a select group of patients some of whom he believes are sane while others are completely insane. He challenges his human “lab rats” to figure out who to trust and who to deceive.
Traditional escape room games have game masters, visible or invisible, watching the game play and offering hints. In “Psych Ward” the game master appears as a hospital orderly who enters the room at will to provide advice to the players.
“Escape room games usually feature mostly ‘dumb’ puzzles with padlocks, keys and passwords,” says Vasquez. “But here we had all ‘smart’ puzzles with video and button presses, sequences, timed events and touch-sensors. This game is one-of-a-kind in the escape room industry for such extensive use of high-tech puzzles.”
The V16Pro orchestrated precise and critical communications between the audio and lighting systems, eight interactive video displays, eight Raspberry PI computers, four barcode scanners, two Intel NUC computers and numerous Arduino micro-controllers. All aspects of the escape room were automated, reporting real-time status updates to a touchscreen interface operated by the game master.
“We used ShowTouch for operator control of key aspects of the game, which was something the mom and pop systems weren’t able to do,” Vasquez notes. “The ShowTouch iPad system displays the game timer and the scores of both teams. The ShowTouch layouts were exactly what we needed – it was amazing.”
Vasquez used WinScript to program the show control and handle events and triggers like scoring, timing and button press sequences. “WinScript was easy to learn and get a good show out of it,” he says. “There were never any issues with WinScript.”
In the 18 months that “The Psych Ward” has been thrilling and chilling players “the V16Pro has had no down time,” Vasquez reports. “It just runs flawlessly – that’s one of the reasons we chose it.
“We look forward to seeing new products from Alcorn McBride and using Alcorn gear on our future projects,” he adds.