I was commissioned by Escape Plan Ltd for 2 pieces of work: to design an immersive soundscape to accompany the game as well as a sound system for the venue to play the soundscape itself.
Escape Plan Ltd launched The Adventure Begins when London's escape game market was in it's infancy. The sector has since seen an incredible boom in popularity, with the number of escape games on offer now in the hundreds. For more info on Escape Plan Ltd, click here.
My brief was to deliver a sound solution to help immerse players in the environment of a 1940's POW camp. The Adventure Begins tasks players with solving puzzles and deciphering clues which will help them escape the camp. In terms of audio content, there was a wide pallet to choose from. Footsteps, scrapes, rustles, prisoner's and guard's voices, aeroplane fly-overs, weather, indoor and outdoor areas; we wanted to achieve a detailed sound environment that really immersed players sonically in the time period and location.
The game itself was split across two different rooms, with one room being designated as prisoner's barracks and the other being an officer's quarters. The decision was made that the sound in the first room should be that of the camp exterior in order to give gamer's the impression of being stuck in a big, sprawling camp. The second room would have the atmosphere of an officer's quarters in the camp grounds.
One creative twist I implemented was to layer the external camp ambience below the officer's quarters soundscape to remind players that they have yet to escape the camp, they are merely in another area of the camp. This gave a great sense of synergy as I could include sounds that would be heard in both rooms simultaneously whilst also keeping the sound fresh as players entered Room Two. I paid special attention to the EQ and reverb characteristics of the Room One "sub-layer" in Room 2 to ensure it sounded as if these sounds were indeed happening outside of wooden cabin walls. You can hear an example of the Room 2 soundscape below.
To create both of these environments I had to gather a massive amount of raw sound material which I collected through foley recording and sample libraries. The number of distinct sounds used in the soundscapes is huge. You can see a screen grab here of a section of my editing timeline and the sheer number of different sounds that I used in the different layers.
I had to be quite creative with how the soundscape would be played back as it had to synchronise to a 60 minute timer clock but also provide the operator with the ability to jump to random timeline points depending on a team's progress. I achieved this by using Ableton Live as the playback software. Ableton allowed me to send each room's soundtscape to different hardware outputs whilst still synchronising both to a master clock.
I arranged the speakers in each room in a stereo configuration, with 2 speakers per channel. Each room had a speaker in each of it's 4 corners, and the stereo pairs were arranged so that I could use pannning and slight delays to make certain sounds, such as plane fly-overs, sound as if they were moving across the length of both rooms. This is where I was able to insert big sound events that panned both rooms. All I had to do was slightly delay the Room 1 layer underneath the Room 2 soundscape and the speaker arrangement took care of the rest. Planes and thunder cracks covering both rooms simultaneously! See below for a diagram of how I configured the speakers for The Adventure Begins.
Below you can listen to the game climax from Room 2. The final 10 minutes of the game features a slow build up where sound elements heard previously layer on top of each other and are slowly morhped and modulated. As well as this, the outdoor camp soundscape from Room 1 builds to a climax in the background. The game finishes with the chimes of the grandfather clock. To hear it in all it's glory you'll have to pay a visit to Escape Plan and take on the game for yourself.