As with all these things, we had problems. The event, from the player’s reactions, was a roaring success, but we had a bunch of issues behind the scenes which mean that we came out of it knowing that we could have done better. Some we fixed on the fly… some were unfixable.
This was the first event in which we’d relied very heavily on tech, so we made sure it was tested a lot before we went to site. Of course, once on site, it all started failing. The wireless audio systems we were using really struggled – in fact, we struggled with wireless generally. I think it was the old power systems in the house giving us a background ‘hum’ which disrupted things. We managed to come up with some setups that worked, but a number of the things that we wanted to do didn’t work – the pillow with a Bluetooth speaker in it, for example. And we had to have people pressing buttons on speakers from time to time where we’d much have preferred to be able to keep out of sight of the players.
I’d taken my top-of-the-range computer along to drive the Oculus Rift, and so we could edit photographs (for the darkroom) and the like. Unfortunately it started bluescreening as soon as I turned it on. I managed to fix it temporarily by removing some memory chips and it limped through the weekend before finally dying when we got back home, the CPU frazzled.
The voice part of the 50s phone system didn’t work at all when we got on site, and contacting Steve (who built it) was tricky due to us having terrible phone reception. Eventually I managed to fix it by reseating some of the wires.
All of this happened on the Friday. Needless to say, the Friday was a bit frustrating!
The Missing Hole
When we turned up, a hole in the wall we’d planned to use was missing! See here for more info on that particular panic.
Saturday Night Panic
There’s a thing that often happens at a live event – you have to rewrite it in the middle because the players have done something unexpected. It’s not unusual. We went through our own panic in the early hours of Sunday morning because the players had discovered something much faster than we expected, so we needed things to fill the Sunday. We had one of our usual bounce-lots-of-ideas-around sessions (where people come up with ridiculous things, if only for the sake of provoking other, more sensible things – and sleep deprivation doesn’t help!). Harry Harrold was his usual self and kept us focused on what actually needed to be done. As a result, we threw in two unexpected policemen (the players had phoned the police station when the first death happened) who had struggled through the floods to get to the house and investigate. Watching the players squirm and attempt to not mention ghosts as the policemen investigated them was a great deal of fun.
Losing A Player
Unfortunately we got the players so scared before any ghosts appeared that one of them bailed out and went home. He’d come to the conclusion that he just wouldn’t enjoy it, as he was having panic attacks. This was a great shame, but given we were all rather surprised that he’d booked in the first place it probably worked out for the best.
We issued all the players with National Identity cards as part of their briefing packs. The motivation for this was to simply and easily get across nationality, date of birth, address and suchlike to the players. We had one spy – he had three different ID cards – and one person masquerading as someone else; he had a fake ID card.
What we hadn’t expected was that some of the more investigatey players, upon discovering that there was one fake ID and that there was a murderer on the loose, demanded to see every ID card to make sure they were all real. This would have been fine, but we’d completely forgotten to issue the staff with cards as we hadn’t expected them to be used like this! We fobbed the players off with the excuse that the housekeeper had locked them up for safekeeping, and then hurriedly took pictures of all our staff and printed out new ID cards on the computer; the housekeeper was then able to hand them all over. If we hadn’t had our printers and computer on site I’m not sure how we’d have handled it.
After we’d cleared up the site and left, a parcel arrived with a pair of chef’s trousers for Harry Harrold. A rush delivery that just didn’t arrive in time. Oh well!