Green My Place:
SAVE ENERGY Serious Game
Mini Game Concepts
Game 7: Switch Search
This game is based upon the “escape the room”
sub-genre of adventure games, which has
enjoyed a strong niche presence in recent years.
• Educational Goal: Demonstrate common
energy waste scenarios
• Play Style: Environmental Search
This game is based around the “escape the room” style of adventure game, in so much that a similar
representation and exploratory mechanic is utilised. However, it differs significantly in reducing the
emphasis on puzzle solving (and especially, on abstract non-logical puzzle steps) and increasing the
emphasis on search and discovery, thus potentially bringing the game to a far larger audience than a
traditional “escape the room” game.
Four sample screenshots are shown below: Crimson Room (top left), 200 Clicks (top right), Viridian Room
(bottom left) and The Doors (bottom right).
Figure 1. Examples of
existing ‘Escape the
Room’ genre games
The essence of this
form is an
consisting of a
number of different
which the player can move between (Crimson Room and Viridian Room can be taken as paradigmatic of the
form, although the puzzle chains in both become highly abstract and arcane).
For the purpose of this summary, the following definitions are used:
• Hotspot: any point on the screen where a click will produce an interaction.
• Interaction: a click on a hotspot in the game world, either (1) an object, which is moved or changes
state (2) an item which is collected (3) a move to a new view.
• Item: an inventory item, i.e. something the player can pick up. To pick up an item, the player simply
locates the item and then clicks on it. It then enters the player’s inventory.
• Object: a thing in the game world that cannot enter the inventory. Objects may have states e.g.
open or closed for a drawer or a fridge, down or lifted (so the player can see underneath) for a pair
of shoes etc.
• Switch Object: a thing in the game world that can be turned off in order to SAVE ENERGY; the goal
of this game is to find all the switch objects, and turn them off.
• Cover Object: a thing in the game world that conceals another item e.g. if a key-card is hidden
beneath a flower pot the flower pot is a cover object.
• Lock Object: a thing in the game world that interacts with a particular “key” item to cause
something to happen. The obvious example is the literal use of a key item in a lock object, but
another example would be using a sheet of paper on a shredder to produce shredded paper, then
and then using the shredded paper to line a gerbil cage. The paper and shredded paper are “key
items” while the shredder and gerbil cage are “lock items”. (This follows the concept of a “lock and
key” puzzle, which is the most basic puzzle form in adventure games).
• Puzzle Chain: a sequence of “lock and key” puzzles, consisting of interactions between key items
and lock objects that produce new items, that items, which drive a new “lock and key” puzzle.
• View: a particular projection of the game world. The player moves to new views by clicking on
features in a view that “link” to the new view. Ideally, a fully 3D animation repositions the camera
to the new view , however the principles of this style of game will work using a strictly 2D
projection if this presents more realistic development goals, and in the case of a 2D projection a
simple cross-cut (fade through black, for instance) will suffice for transitions .
• Inventory: the items the player has collected. It is suggest to position this to the right of the screen
and to allocate fixed slots for each item so no scrolling or other mechanism need be used (as in
• Selected Item: an item in the player’s inventory that has been clicked upon and is thus highlighted.
This indicates that the player is attempting to use this item in their current interactions.
The interface is entirely point and click, consisting of the following actions:
• Click on an object to toggle it between states.
• Click on an item to pick it up.
• Click on a view hotspot to change view.
• Click on a lock object hotspot with the correct key item selected to advance a puzzle chain.
In the conventional escape-the-room form, the player is faced with increasingly abstract and confusing
“lock and key” puzzles which they must find the correct thing to do. For this game, the focus of play is
switched from solving the spine puzzle chain to finding all the energy wastes within the room. Some of
these energy wastes are concealed by a puzzle chain, and some are in the open. The player simply explores
the room until all wastes are found.
A counter should be displayed at the top of the inventory telling the player how many energy wastes have
been found e.g. 3/20 to show they have found 3 of the 20 energy wastes to be found in the room.
The following are suggested energy wastes to be found by the player, but the team should feel free to
devise their own list, based around the guideline materials for the SAVE ENERGY project:
• Phone Charger: an open switch object; this is switched on, but there is no phone attached
(“vampire power”). The player simply turns it off at the socket switch.
• Stereo on standby: an open switch object. The stereo is off, but clearly on standby because the
blue light is on. Finding and clicking on the hotspot for the power switch completes this switch
• TV on standby: The TV is off, but clearly on standby because the light is on. However, there is no
power switch on the TV itself. The player must find the remote, which is (perhaps) in the crack in
the sofa (a hotspot in a sofa item) and can be just barely seen when a cushion cover object is lifted,
then click on the power button on the remote.
• Multiplug Adaptor: both the TV and the stereo are plugged into an adaptor which is locked inside
the TV cabinet. The player need simply open the cabinet doors and turn off the power button on
the multi-plug adaptor, however the cabinet is locked. The key can be found in a “junk drawer” of a
cabinet that serves as a cover object.
About twenty switch objects should suffice for an engaging play experience.
It is suggested to divide the switch objects into roughly the following proportions:
• A quarter of the switch objects should be open, and simply require the player to find them.
• Another quarter of the switch objects should be obscured by cover objects that the player must
move to find them.
• Another quarter of the switch objects should require simple “lock and key” puzzles.
• One eighth of the switch objects should require multiple step puzzle chains.
• One eighth or fewer (1-3 maximum) of the switch objects can be given very complicated or obscure
puzzle chains, but these should never deviate significantly from real world logic; the point of the
puzzle chains is to engage the player’s attention, not to frustrate them.
This basic concept can be applied to any number of different rooms, e.g. an office, a lounge, a school
cafeteria, a classroom, a library, a gym hall, a janitor’s room.
These rooms would meet the SAVE ENERGY requirements for games that take place in public buildings. The
initial approach of the developers might best focus on rooms which have already been modelled in 3D –
this would allow rapid prototyping of the game mechanics. Rapid prototyping means achieving a playable
form of game as quickly as possible, with any form of technology (even paper and pencil is used), and is
strongly advised by game industry professionals.
One of the currently available 3D models of SAVE ENERGY pilot buildings are the Helsinki schools. These 3D
models provide the perfect start to the development process.
Figure 2. Existing 3D model of Helsinki classroom built in DIALux