This week’s game release is going to be a little different. I was sorting through my hard drive and I found an old project of mine, Escape from Midnight Mansion. I’d like to share it with you. I graduated from San Francisco State University’s industrial design department (with a focus in digital media), and for my senior project, I decided to make a board game to help encourage cooperation in children. They’ve got a host of competitive board games, so why not throw some variety at them and maybe make a positive change in their lives?
The basic concept is that you’re a group of kids locked in Midnight Mansion, and you need to get out before midnight. There’s a stack of face-down tiles with numbers and effects on them, and you lay them out, randomly generating the mansion as you explore it. At the end of each turn, you roll a 20-sided die, and ghosts appear on the rooms with numbers that match the roll. The ghosts impede your progress, but if defeated, they vanish and provide bedsheet tokens. Collect enough bedsheets and you can create a rope and Escape From Midnight Mansion.
At the start of the game, you won’t have too many rooms, so you’re less likely to run into ghosts. This is good because it leaves you with more options, but it also means you aren’t getting the resources you need. As time goes on, you’ll get more rooms and the ghosts will appear more frequently. Greater challenge, greater reward. It’s simple, but effect.
Here’s the game in its final form, printed in largely black and white in a nod to the horror films of the silent era, with red used to highlight important facets of the rules, such as valid paths and hours where the challenge ramps up. A quick turn summary has also been added to the components. The tiles were glued to foam core and cut apart.
I managed to find a perfectly-sized shoebox to store all of the components. I’m amazed at how lucky I was that it all worked out. I just had to repaint it to match the theme, and it was good to go.
Here are the game’s rules and other bits for print and play, along with some pictures. The folder contains the full report I made for the class, weighing in at a total of 123 pages. The rules and print-and-play assets begin on page 100.
Someday, I’d like to revisit Escape from Midnight Mansion. It’s probably one of my proudest achievements, but it’s been about five years since I made it. I think I could improve on it, and I think looking back, there are lessons I’m still learning thinking back on the experience.