From Physical Escape Rooms into the Digital –
S4MPO for WayOut
From Physical Escape Rooms into the Digital – S4MPO for WayOut
WayOut approached us in spring 2020, a tough time for many businesses. WayOut operates escape rooms in multiple locations all over Finland. With the challenges of limited physical contact endured in 2020, WayOut wanted to develop a digital escape room. The adventure they had developed is called S4MPO.
Leaning into the Digital
WayOut had a concept, soundtracks and art waiting to get transformed into an experience that could be played from the comfort of your home. All that was missing was the execution of shaping WayOut’s vision into a reality. Even though S4MPO was born without LudoCraft we were chosen to make it grow strong in the digital space.
Universal Language of Game Design
WayOut are game designers, as are we. During our co-operative development we helped refine the concept of S4MPO by opening up possibilities the digital side enables in terms of game design. This lead to a truly collaborative project where we went over the game design, offering different perspectives. We not only followed the original game design but together we were able to push S4MPO further to an even more astonishing game experience.
Explore, Solve, Escape
If you have ever visited a live escape room, you probably remember how excited you were while solving the puzzles together with your friends. With the online escape room S4MPO you can have your own escape room at home! You can play alone but you will be more engaged if you invite your family members or friends from all over the world to join your team.
On the Same Wavelength
When WayOut, an escape room company, was faced with the situation of having to pivot their core business from only brick-and-mortar operations to include digital operations, they acted fast. They needed to harness their knowhow of designing escape rooms and bring that insight into a format that people could enjoy in the comfort of their own homes.
This is where WayOut got into contact with LudoCraft. We got to bring in our expertise as game designers and developers for the digital space. Combining our collective knowhow on game design resulted to an escape room experience like no other.
S4MPO was a particularly exciting project, as we worked with fellow game designers. The only difference is that we operate in different media formats. Nonetheless, we both love games on a wide scale. The concept and design for S4MPO was already close to finished when we got into play. WayOut had already art assets made and soundtrack in place.
At first glance it might seem that there was not really much to be done, just code everything in place. However, what made our collaboration fruitful was WayOut’s approach to their original game design for S4MPO. The team at WayOut were very open to our idea injections that help the game work better in the digital space. As WayOut’s core was in physical escape rooms, we were happy to open up the different possibilities that can be gained from working in the digital realm.
Our main challenge was to solve how to turn escape room activities that naturally require close physical presence of the players to an equally engaging and rewarding digital experience. Together with WayOut we needed to bring the mood and atmosphere of physical escape rooms into the digital. Defining and finding such an intangible thing requires a few iterative rounds but by combining our fields of expertise we were able to find the right mix.
Despite using some time to discover the optimal player experience, the development process of S4MPO was quite fast. Because S4MPO was developed during such an extraordinary time, WayOut needed to have their product out in the market as soon as possible.
S4MPO is an escape room experience that can be played online. The number of players can vary from just one up to five. In the spirit of creating a collaborative online game, the teams at WayOut and LudoCraft never met physically either. We feel that our collaboration is a solid testament in showing how digital solutions can foster new types of connections. Despite never having met face-to-face, the teams worked well together: providing mutual help, being open to ideas and communicating clearly.
S4MPO in Short
Like any escape room experience, S4MPO also has puzzles at its core. In the game, you get to use logical thinking, teamwork and creativity to solve the puzzles in the quest to save the world. You can play on your own or invite friends to help you.
If you didn’t already know, the name of the game, S4MPO, is a reference to Kalevala, the Finnish national epic. Also, some of the character names in the game come from Kalevala. S4MPO brings old and new media perfectly together.
You can play S4MPO anywhere in the world. The only thing you need is an internet connection and a desktop device. You don’t need to even download anything, as S4MPO works on your browser.
LudoCraft Way of Working
“Our collaboration with LudoCraft was effortless and we worked well together. Above all, it was extremely easy to communicate with the professionals at LudoCraft, since the people working on the project were always up to speed and they had genuine interest towards the game. LudoCraft also brought forth their game expertise in an exemplary manner. Everything got done as agreed and we got plenty of suggestions on possible ways to execute different features. We want to give special credit to LudoCraft on their can-do attitude in taking our hopes into consideration without having to cut out anything.“
– Jenna Ruisaho, Marketing Manager, WayOut
More Than the Sum of Our Parts
S4MPO is a really important project for us. At LudoCraft we’ve always viewed games from a really wide angle. Often times it seems that games are referred to as something that only exist in the digital space even though games and play are at the core of us as human beings. When we look at human history – beside stories – we’ve almost always have had games and play in some form or another. In fact, our CEO has been quoted saying “Life is a game” on more than one occasion.
Therefore, working with WayOut whose expertise is producing physical game experience was a really exiting challenge. We got to work with game designers. However, their perspective of creating game experiences was different than ours, since we have been working in the digital space for the majority of our careers. Even though we view games beyond digital spaces, it was exciting to create a game that originated from the physical domain.
By working together we were able to open up the slightly different game design principles and understand our parallel game worlds a bit better. Moreover, by combining our expertise we got to do a game product that is more than the sum of our parts.
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