Coin Crew Games Interview: Co-Founders Wyatt and Mike Dive Deeper into Creating Escape Academy


Coin Crew Games Interview: Co-Founders Wyatt and Mike Dive Deeper into Creating Escape Academy

At Summer Game Fest: Play Days, we got a chance to try out Coin Crew Game’s upcoming title Escape Academy. The premise is intriguing, you’re a student at an academy that specializes in escaping rooms that are essentially death traps. We learned this first hand when we couldn’t understand the play and ended up drowning. After our session, we sat down with Coin Crew Game co-founders Mike Salyh and Wyatt Bushnell, who gave us an inside perspective on creating escape academy, and were more than happy to see us writhing in despair after failing to get out of their escape rooms.

mxdwn: Can you please explain how you found the college aspects and how this coincides with the escape room aspects?

Mike: So when we started making this game and we knew we wanted to create an escape room adventure, one of the most important things was that we wanted to offer a wide variety of different environments. The more environments you can visit, the more different puzzles we can design. We started thinking ‘what is a framework that we can put the player in through different journeys and different challenges?’ So we came up with this school setting because it also helps explain why you’re solving puzzles in the first place, someone has to design the puzzles and that’s why we came up with this goofy cast of teachers and other students who are in the lore and who are the ones designing these puzzles.

mxdwn: It’s an incredible concept. When we were playing it, we got a few flashbacks to older titles that also used the point-and-click style with a narrative/text-based adventure format. Did any of them have any influence during the development process?

Wyatt: I think escape academy at its core is a very dressy point-and-click adventure game. We are influenced by Myst and all those point-and-click adventure games, but also typical puzzle titles that really scratched that creative itch for us. So we tried to shoot from a lot of different places.

Mike: On the escape room side, I think one of our really big inspirations was 999 (Nine Hours, Nine People, Nine Gates). This game was my personal introduction to escape rooms and I’m such a fan of it. Bedroom on mobile and Phoenix Wright in a way because he incorporates humor into those situations otherwise what could be serious. So I think we’ve brought together a lot of different influences, but there’s definitely a lot to build on.

Wyatt: Yes, it’s deadly, but we tried to keep the kind of humor present throughout the game. escape academy is about fun.

Mike: It’s stressful fun!

mxdwn: The fun is there, but there is also a major challenge aspect. What weighed more when developing this, the fun or the challenge? Or was he trying to be about equal?

Mike: I think it’s about trying to find the right balance of difficulty, because we want puzzles that make people feel like “when you solve it, you get that moment like I’m a genius” . But you must also have the desperation of “oh no, how am I going to solve this problem?” When you can connect the two, you get that real adrenaline rush. We want people to lose sometimes and eventually win.

Wyatt: Make sure each puzzle is well explained so that each player has everything in front of them to be able to solve the puzzle. Making sure everything is fair was a big thing. You don’t have to lose your mind to solve a puzzle.

Mike: You don’t need to know, say the rules of chess or know something outside the game like a trivia to solve the puzzle. We try to ensure that all rooms are self contained.

mxdwn: The teachers and other faculty in the game are very vibrant and colorful. You talked about this a little earlier, but could you elaborate a bit more on the creation of these characters?

Wyatt: I always hate games like “why am I here, what’s the real reasoning behind me being here?” So we wanted to make sure that we weren’t solving puzzles for puzzles’ sake, you were solving puzzles so you could become an escapee. Attracting teachers in there who all have these distinct personalities and who have their own teaching curriculum and that kind of thing was something we wanted to make sure we did. Creating this narrative, we believe, gave players reason to keep playing rather than having a series of disconnected rooms and having a cohesive thread in learning how to become an escapee.

mxdwn: That’s an awesome thing to be sure, especially how it all connects in-game. Could you please let us know when the game will launch and for which platforms?

Mike: escape academy releases July 14. It will be available from day one on Xbox Game Pass. Available on Xbox (Xbox One and Xbox Series X/Series S), PlayStation (PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5) and PC (Steam).


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