Hey There! I have a business called Constructed Adventures! I travel around the US (and occasionally other countries) building wildly elaborate custom treasure/scavenger hunts for people. Every year, I sign up for the Secret Santa holiday exchange and send my giftee on an adventure.

Here are the previous adventures

2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 |2019

Proof that it's me.

Last year, I made it a point to teach others how to build Adventures for their loved ones! I do a lot of consultation and I’m currently writing a book!

Right now, I would love the opportunity to spill my secrets and steer you in the right direction so you can create a fun, puzzle filled day for a loved one. So I’m trying something out (That I might regret later but oh well)

Go ahead and give me your parameters. Say you’ve always wanted to create a twisting turning day for someone, hit me with some information and I’ll try to help you build an outline and throw in a few gambits to help give you somewhere to start. Give me the basic location (city), the occasion, and maybe a level of difficulty and I’ll try to find a few spots and give you a few gambits so you feel comfortable building the adventure yourself! EDIT: I'm starting to get a lot of these. I want to be able to give good answers to everyone so You might have to be patient! i'll probably put a little placeholder to let you know I read it and then Fill them out as I can! I'll get through every one of these I promise.

That being said, you can ask me anything about Business, travel, or how it feels to get deported from Canada (it's not as exciting as you'd think).

The only thing I’m really plugging (other than shamelessly begging for publicity) is for you to join me over at r/constructedadventures. It’s a promotion free subreddit created to try to help people build adventures for their loved ones. Myself and a few of my proteges are active there! Come ask questions or contribute ideas!

Finally, I brought back the Bingo Card I made for Last year

EDIT: heh.

While I'm here, I want to share a bunch of templates and resources that I use. Cheers!

Scheduling doc

Cesar Cipher Encoder (shifts the alphabet over X number of spots)

Dcode Website. This has a bunch of ways to encode and decode messages!

Here is a list of things i purchase frequently.

Snazzymaps.com - This website will clean off google maps screenshots to make things look prettier!

My Google Maps - You can populate your potential locations here to make sure you're creating the best route!

(I'll keep adding in-between answering questions)

EDIT: I'm going to keep chipping away at all the questions!

Comments: 668 • Responses: 99  • Date: 

Thenternet442 karma

Since no one has taken you up on the offer I’ll bite!

My 10 year anniversary with my wife is coming up in a couple months. We live in the St. Louis area. We have 3 kids and don’t get a ton of time to ourselves.

How would you or how have you “setup” the hunts or activities? How do you pull it all together at the end?

Any tips as I plan ahead?

squeakysqueakysqueak420 karma

YESSSSS! Hoping to get some of these!

I'm putting a placeholder here to let you know I'm working on it (it'll take a bit of time). I'll respond again when I've updated it!

EDIT: first follow up question, can you give me(or PM me) the approximate age of your kids? The difference between attention span and brain development between a 5 year old or a teenager is huge.

EDIT 2: Here is a "basic outline" that I'm copying and pasting around this AMA. I'll keep building and elaborating. Hopefully this can get you started:

You need to start with the purpose, and then the "perceived purpose". The purpose is simple, maybe a proposal or a birthday. That being said, you can’t tell your players what the purpose is ("Happy birthday honey! There's a surprise party waiting for you and you need to find it!)

This brings us to the perceived purpose. It could be something as simple as “I built this day for you, follow the clues!“ Or to be more elaborate. “Here’s a box. you need to find the key.“

After that you start with the anchor points. The most important anchor point is the end. Figure out where and when, and then figure out the beginning.

Once you have the beginning and end down, you can scout for fun locations in between. Simple rule I like to follow is “no location should ever be longer than 15 minutes Travel time from the previous location”.

This should help narrow down the radius of where you want this Adventure. After that it’s just a matter of finding fun and interesting locations. In the beginning just write down everything and slowly narrow it down.

Some of my favorite basic locations that usually work for any area:

Park, Zoo, museum, bookstore, coffeeshop, library, antique shop, Statue, Bronze plaque, High point (An overlook or a hill where you can use a monocular)

Once you’ve built the basic outline, then it’s time to start figuring out the puzzles and games. I like to start very simple, and let my players get used to what’s happening.

After that I’ll slowly ramp at the difficulty until about 75% of the way through, then I’ll taper off and make it easy.

Start with simple “go here and find this” clues and then you can start encoding messages. If you check the very top of the page I put in some of my favorite websites to help you encode messages

I hope that helps!

EDIT 3:

ok, I'm going to dive into a little further about the next steps I'd take.

Next I go to https://explorestlouis.com/things-to-do/see-do/? and also hop on Trip Advisor.

I'll start grabbing every fun and interesting locations and add it to my schedule doc. Then I'll populate them on a custom google map.

It's tough to move forward without knowing more about the participants but some easy guidelines is to have the adventure go no longer than 6 hours MAX and to always make things much simpler and clearer than you might think.

I'll try to circle back here with more info as i think of things!

EDIT: 4 (CAN'T STOP WON'T STOP)

once you have the basic outline, it's time to figure out the ways that you'll propel your participant through the adventure. The ways that you can do this can be put in one of three buckets

| Dead Drops | Handoffs | Decodes |

Dead Drops - This is any kind of play where you literally hide something for your player to find. it could be something as simple as a locked chest sitting in their home to an envelope sitting in the hand of a statue in a public square. Dead drops are the most risky. I recommend hiding them well and giving your player detailed instructions and/or having someone keep eyes on the drop until it's picked up!

Handoffs - This play is where you have a human literally handing off what's needed. These aren't nearly as risky but require more help. Easy handoffs could include incorporating businesses or restaurants or getting the help of friends and family to be at certain locations to approach your player!

Decodes - This play is where you encode a clue/instructions and then send your player to a place where they could decode the message. My favorite is a book/Ottendorf cipher (National Treasure, back of the Declaration of independence). There's something really fun about using a public plaque or sign to decode a hidden message just for you!

I recommend mixing things up. Decodes can be safe but if you hit your participant with nothing but puzzles, their brain might explode. Dead drops are exciting but leaving envelope after envelope in public places will cause you lots of undue stress. Get that balance!

miaumee91 karma

Ever considering joining the CIA for more adventures? ;)

squeakysqueakysqueak87 karma

How much is the CIA paying?!

self employment can be stressful!

Hipponomnom27 karma

So I have a question in this. You speak of locations and objects at locations. Do you coordinate with businesses or just try to hide something really well? Have people ever messed with your stuff and ruined an experience?

squeakysqueakysqueak62 karma

Great follow up.

To start off this answer, the foundation for success is to mitigate unnecessary risk. This means there are a few basic rules:

  1. Everyone gets paid. Usually paid higher than normal (I try to pay minimum of $20-$25 per hour for my helpers). I get a lot of people offering to help for free. I appreciate the sentiment, but the only thing better than being on the inside of an adventure is being on the inside and making pretty good money! Paying people ensures that if I'm counting on someone to show up and guard an envelope sitting in the hand of a statue, they'll be there.
  2. There's always eyes on the dead drops. (if you didn't get it by context, a dead drop is anything left out to be found. Think Treasure chest sitting by a tree at the end of a trail).
  3. Everyone communicates. The teams working behind the scenes are leapfrogging each other and communicating when the participant leaves one area. Google has a handy feature where it tells the historical traffic patterns so I can take a good guess at when they should arrive. This is communicated to the next team who will drop the envelop and sit closely by until the get a ping from the GPS tracker on the participant or they get eyes on them. Then they back away slightly and blend in!
  4. always have a contingency. I try to factor in the worst possible scenarios. What if there's a huge event at the spot? To be prepared, I always have two things prepped: 1). Extra envelopes with the names pre written. 2.) one extra helper that can be in the wings to grab something or intercept the participant.

All that to say, Yes! There have been some close calls but nothing has ever completely broken!

ShuttlecockShshKebob44 karma

I'm super late to this but was reading this answer in particular bc I'm close enough to St Louis to make a weekend of this. Your #2 & 3 rules gave me the idea to have the people be what's found at each stop and they then join you on the adventure ending at a venue to hang out in, possibly with even more people waiting surprise party style. I'd have to organize a small bus or limo or something to accommodate the people picked up along the way but my husband would never expect this in a million years. I know it's not quite the same thing but this sounds like a blast, thank you for helping with the idea!!

squeakysqueakysqueak11 karma

Using friends and family at stops is wonderful, just make sure you start coordinating early and be very firm! Often times you get a lot of people with lots of opinions on how things should go!

BE STRONG

m_dot_holmes_dot196 karma

Can you talk about the business? How does this idea pay you;

What does it cost, who are the customers? How much work is there?

But I'm also curious - has it ever gone horribly wrong? (Crazy client attacks an actor, or guy at thinks he's on a planned adventure when you haven't even started?)

squeakysqueakysqueak522 karma

Always happy to talk business.

I personally charge a flat rate for my services. Then there is a budget on top (I do this so I can be hyper honest and transparent about money)

My flat rate varies slightly depending on how far out I'm booked and whethere or not It's a single serving adventure (Like a marriage proposal) or a large game (like a corporate team building.

My rate is currently $2,500. most total budgets are on the low end of 5k-10k, but i've worked with budgets upwards of 60-70k before. I usually do 2-3 per month so I'm doing ok financially.

my customers are mostly normal people who have a huge day (proposal, anniversary, decade birthday) and want something over the top. about 30% of the adventures are corporate or large group games.

And things absolutely go wrong! Last year I got stopped at the canadian border and had to fly home the next day! (FYI, canada has wildly strict work visa laws). Needless to say the client wasn't pleased. I ended up waiving my rate and building the adventure remotely. Personally hiring someone to run it. The whole experience was stressful.

EDIT - I have more stories. Usually the crazy things happen when there is alcohol involved. This goes triple for the large group games (which are mostly about containment).

I had event where teams needed to pickpocket a key from an actor's bag. I had a detailed description of the "bagwoman" as well as a GPS tracker on her so teams could locate and grab a key.

One team was absolutely convinced that this random woman was the bagwoman and stole her car keys...Twice....

Luckily she was tolerant. i didnt learn about that one until the following day.

slightpriapism215 karma

Yeah I don't think I would be so tolerant of some random idiots stealing my keys haha.

squeakysqueakysqueak215 karma

Right?!?! I felt really bad.

I'd notified the police the week prior to let them know 100-200 people would be running around Ocean Beach, California so I'm sure that helped.

The issue is that people's brains work in sooooooo many different ways. It's impossible to factor in where their thoughts could go! especially when drinking

iop_iop2152 karma

Should prolly make the person wear a weird suit or something. Can't even imagine

squeakysqueakysqueak138 karma

Its tricky, because part of the challenge is locating the person (The whole thing was heist themed so it wouldn't make sense if they were in something super vibrant)

That being said We had a literal picture of her on the dossier! between that, the name she responds to, and the GPS tracker in her bag, I did everything I thought i needed to ensure participants wouldn't steal a stranger's car keys.

Apparently I was wrong

DaddyKro75 karma

Just want to stop and say I'm absolutely loving the gifs you're including in your responses.

NicolasZN39 karma

(FYI, canada has wildly strict work visa laws)

As a Canadian who knows people who do essentially this kind of consulting work for a living: so does the US. (One friend was paid, did almost all the work in Canada, needed to go to the states to meet with people, and was turned away at the border.)

In these sorts of cases, it's the border officer's judgment call and there are lots of stories in both directions. I'm not sure "wildly strict" is a fair assessment in either case.

squeakysqueakysqueak31 karma

Sorry, you're probably right. I was told that Canada is strict so i took that verbatum.

Truth be told, I'd done an adventure in canada 3 months prior and they let me in no problem!

The agent was super nice and told me I was one the razor's edge of acceptability. Bottom line is that I was traveling to canada, potentially taking a job from a canadain, and taking the money back to the US. Because of that, I should have done the paperwork to prove that it was a job that only I could do!

m_dot_holmes_dot84 karma

My experience (cross border work, entertainment biz) is to be paid in advance, then you can 100% say, "I am not working while in (foreign country). I will not be paid for this trip. (Not saying because you've already been paid) and I'm going to give a demonstration of my work to potential clients in hopes of future business." < that's the wording given by my publisher's lawyers.

squeakysqueakysqueak28 karma

Wish I had your knowledge back in fall 2019!

either way, it makes for a great story!

genbetweener17 karma

FYI, a Canadian caught trying to do something similar in the US would get, at the very least, a mark on their record that means they get hassled every time they go into the US until some guard removes the mark on a whim, could get a multi-year outright ban at the end of which the aforementioned mark continues, or could even get a permanent ban. When banned you can't even transfer on flights through the US. I think there is an appeal process for bans, but not the mark.

squeakysqueakysqueak8 karma

YUP!

I'm prepared to get flagged every time i go in to canada from now on.

Luckily i was super nice and respectful. I also fully acknowledged that it was a complete screw up on my part. They responded well to that

Will0w53629 karma

Can you explain more about your canadian border issue? I'm Canadian and just very curious.

squeakysqueakysqueak63 karma

You bet! I'm going to copy and past a bit of my answer above and elaborate:

Truth be told, I'd done an adventure in canada 3 months prior and they let me in no problem! (it was in saskatoon which i hear is a bit more lad back than Toronto)

The agent was super nice and told me I was one the razor's edge of acceptability. If i was a DJ coming to spin for a night or someone coming to work at a big corporate conference event, then I would have been ok.

Bottom line is that I was traveling to canada, potentially taking a job from a canadain, and taking Canadian money back to the US. Because of that, I should have done the paperwork to prove that it was a job that only I could do! I totally understand it too. It was a big mistake on my part and I definitely paid for it.

All i got for it was -$3,500(USD) and this sweet document saying I'm allowed to leave canada! (once you factor in the money i gave back and also the money lost on my flights and air bnbs)

nyaaaa22 karma

So, just add a dj gig to your whatever.

penny_eater20 karma

Or, i know this is shitty advice, but lie and say youre only in canada for the hell of it.

squeakysqueakysqueak25 karma

DEFINTELY should have done that. Oh well. What can i say? I'm honest.

Ladyflow85 karma

Have you ever considered creating some of these immersive adventures for music/art festivals?

I think this would be a fantastic way to engage attendees in both your work and the works of the festival production. Often times I find myself ‘missing out’ on key exhibits/areas, leaving a festival feeling unfulfilled.

Any thoughts?

squeakysqueakysqueak124 karma

oh HELL YES!

two years ago, one of the movie companies inquired about doing an overarching installation at San Diego Comic con. After a few talks they ended up going in a different direction (They wanted a full website and a lot of technical things). I'm a one man show and I love keeping my adventures analog).

There is definitely a lot of work and money that needs to go into something that could potentially be played by thousands of people, but I would love the opportunity.

Imagine having a whole bunch of plainclothes actors walking certain routes through the festival and you have to locate them and give them a password or something. Maybe after you go down the tread long enough, You'll have enough clues/information to find and gain access to a VIP tent or something!

Man that would be cool!

okaywithgray55 karma

This is already pretty locked in schedule-wise, but I really think Chris Gethard would be receptive to what you're doing, but yeah maybe for a later date than this convention. https://www.beautifulcononymous.com/schedule
Try reaching out to him on Instagram (where someone also pitched an idea and he responded well to it) or maybe the Midroll email in the sponsors section.

squeakysqueakysqueak44 karma

Dude, Thank you!

Once i make it through this AMA, I'll check that out. I'm always looking for fun, interesting new projects and this could be a BLAST.

e46ci5 karma

you think things are crazy when alcohol is involved? now imagine a bunch of festival goers hopped up on molly and other random drugs - hahaha - i have a feeling that would be an absolute disaster!

squeakysqueakysqueak7 karma

I would have to build it very very very safe!

onacloverifalive3 karma

Dragon con beckons you sir.

squeakysqueakysqueak4 karma

My body is ready.

KLRVT65 karma

I’ve been following your progress for a few years and it’s really inspirational! Truly, well done turning a passion into a vocation. I’m usually a terrible gift giver (my family has informed me—it’s not that I’m cheap, I’ll spend what’s necessary, I’m just bad at generating ideas). I’d love to set up a adventure for my brother’s birthday that our whole clan could join. Your advice would be phenomenal!!

We live in Vermont, Burlington area. His birthday is in June (turning 35). We love solving puzzles, so I think intermediate-to-advanced difficulty would be ok. We’re all able-bodied, active folks, my bro love games of all sorts. Bonus point if our dogs join a portion!

Any clever ideas for this scenario?

squeakysqueakysqueak62 karma

No way! I'll actually be in that area Mid July!

If you wouldn't mind, I'm going to put a placeholder here and get back to you with the things i've already researched (questions are coming in super fast!)

Give me a bit and I'll add in potential locations and gambits!

AllAboutMeMedia58 karma

I want to built a permanent puzzle in my rental home in Maine with the hopes that guests would stumble upon clues to find a prize, like a gift certificate to a local restaurant or something. It looks like you mainly do one day puzzles, but do you make anything like a permanent, replayable puzzle?

squeakysqueakysqueak62 karma

That is a BRILLIANT idea and I would be overjoyed to help you brainstorm a way to put something together. You are correct, my adventures are very hands on and procedural, but you absolutely could create something in your rental home.

Shoot me a PM and when the dust settles, I would be happy to help you build an outline and share all the puzzles and gambits i use free of any cost. I think this idea is very cool and I would love to see it in action

wackychimp7 karma

Not OP but a kindred spirit. I would love to help with ideas and clues.

Is this for like an AirBNB or VRBO type thing?

AllAboutMeMedia12 karma

Yes, exactly that. It is a family home, but also opened up on rental sites. I have been thinking about this for a few weeks now. It could be fun for kids and adults. There could also be several puzzles or multiple paths like a choose your own adventure type. My concept is still in the works so it was slightly serendipitous that I came across this post. I would be happy to start a brainstorm thread with you and op.

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

Yes please! u/wackychimp is some great info!

I can also put you in touch with u/Bonfire0fTheManatees. I hire her to build an occasional puzzle. She's brilliant!

All in all, this idea is great and it's clear that everyone on Reddit wants you to succeed.

MercutioElessar47 karma

Hi there and thanks for the opportunity to learn from you. Don't have a request for an adventure but rather a question regarding planning and organizing.

On large scale or very specific scavenger hunts, that include entering buildings and areas originally not meant for public or people that don't belong: How do you handle this? Do you have any experience to share, hints, tips, tricks up your sleeve?

Thanks again for the opportunity and thank you in advance for your help.

squeakysqueakysqueak55 karma

SUCH a great question.

So for me personally, I'll always reserve space or ask for permission (especially for a large group game).

For you, It's all about weighing risk vs reward (and how much you trust your participants)

If you're doing a single serving adventure for one person or a small group, you're probably ok using a public space because even if someone notices, your participant will probably have moved on.

With a large group game its MUCH more risky. Just the constant coming and going of people might tip the wrong person off and then if it gets clamped down, the whole game could break.

EDIT: I can add more to this. One of the biggest factors you need to take into account, is reducing risk. Doing things in public places is always risky, but there’s ways to minimize.

One of my favorite public place gambits is to create a “missing dog poster.” participants find the poster and then call the number listed at the bottom. You can easily set up a Google voice number that goes straight to voicemail with the next instructions.

Regarding actually using a public place, it would be smart to have one of your team members stationed nearby to keep guard and communicate with you. If something goes belly up, you can always have said team member intercept groups when they arrive, let them know there was a small hiccup, and give them the next instructions

UndeadCaesar12 karma

As someone whose girlfriend regularly starts crying over missing dog posters, maybe you could work in some harmless estate sale or guitar lesson posters too ;)

squeakysqueakysqueak4 karma

Don’t worry, the posters get taken down very quickly after they’re no longer needed, that being said, I’ll shake things up next time!

adamantcondition37 karma

What is your proudest work that you thought was particularly ingenious? Have you ever gone overboard where your design turned out to be too challenging for the intended audience?

squeakysqueakysqueak136 karma

One of my favorite gambits of all time was in New Jersey (Adventure no 67: The Icing of a lifetime)

In New Jersey, there is is old abandoned observatory in a hiking area. Behind it is a working viewfinder. Early on in the day, my adventurers found a canvass bag that had all sorts of supplies (whisky, a journal with lots of writings, compass, and a single quarter amongst other things).

They were sent up to the viewfinder and told to put the quarter in, turn it in a certain direction, and find the agent in the distance.

I'd planted another helper in the bushes nearby who was on the phone with said agent in the distance. The moment my players said "Wait, i think thats him". she let him know. He stood up, pointed in their exact direction (half a mile away) and waved.

They freaked out.

It was such a simple gambit but just the thought of "how did he know we were looking at him when he was so far away" is such a cool experience!

EDIT: Here are a few pictures to give you an idea

adamantcondition27 karma

Well that's neat. If you have a moment my next question would be how so you become familiar enough with an area to design an interactive course around it with cool landmarks such as that?

squeakysqueakysqueak46 karma

For you, I have all the moments in the world (Plus I'll be here all day and I'm always on reddit)

I always start with a survey With this, there's usually at least 2 phone calls to talk about potential locations the client might have in mind. If it's something like a marriage proposal, usually they have lots of places of emotional significance.

Past that, we set with the Anchor points. These are the "Must stop" places that need to be incorporated (either because they make sense emotionally or they're just really fantastic locations)

The first two anchor points are the beginning and ending. Now you have parameters set that you can search inside of. Using a mix on online entities (google, trip advisor, etc) I start to make a big big list of potential parks, monuments, bars/restaurants, museums, bookstores, and other locations. I then start to vet them and eliminate the ones that obviously won't work. Then I fly out 1-2 weeks in advance and see everything for myself.

A one big rule I like to follow is that nothing should be more than 15 minutes travel distance from anything else!

I hope this helped!

adamantcondition15 karma

And a charmer too! Kinda surprised that the rates aren't higher with everything involved. Keep running your dream!

squeakysqueakysqueak38 karma

I really appreciate it!

To be honest I like to keep my rates as low as i can to keep doing this. I've worked with the Uber wealthy and most of the time they're really difficult.

I would MUCH rather work with normal people who love fun events and are excited

RealChris_is_crazy5 karma

This is amazing! I want to thank you for all of the amazing information that you have posted on this thread, I'm going to make a scavenger quest for my nerdy partner!

squeakysqueakysqueak4 karma

OMG YESSSS! This makes my heart sing.

  1. Please dont hesitate to reach out personally to me or ask on r/Constructedadventures for help
  2. Once you run the adventure, post a write up! I want to hear about it!

HomerTheRoamer9 karma

That's amazing, your whole thing is awesome! Who are your helpers? Do you hire actors? I'm imagining a craigslist ad "looking for secret agents for light-hearted espionage and skullduggery. Please reply with fancy pseudonym "

squeakysqueakysqueak20 karma

Yes! I reach out to a lot of local acting and improv groups.

I also Have a big list if you want to add your info. I'll reach out if I'm ever doing an adventure in your area!

Here it is!

Scarytrek28 karma

In 2007 I organized an elaborate day long scavenger hunt for around 15 friends, broken into teams. It spanned multiple cities and towns, involved riddles, clues and photo capture of items. It turned out well beyond my expectations and my friends still talk about it all these years later. Often they ask when I'll do it again. With that success I often thought about how to make it a business but I never actualized it. I'm glad to see somebody did. Congrats on your hard work. Would you like to hear more about the event I hosted?

squeakysqueakysqueak22 karma

HELL YES!

Firstly, if you do want to try to start a business, shoot me an email at

[email protected] constructedadventures .com

I have a bunch of proteges who I help navigate the business side and also tighten up adventure practices.

There is plenty of room for more fun event planners and you would probably do great work!

also, I would LOVE if you did a writeup and lessons learned over in r/Constructedadventures

I'm hoping to use that subreddit to inspire more people to do what you did!

Graedient6 karma

You should maybe think about setting up a franchise, countries and cities throughout the world under the Contructed Adventures brand, with financial kick back obviously.

squeakysqueakysqueak8 karma

I think I would much rather just support others who want to start something. Not to say it's not a great idea and potentially a fantastic money maker, but I've got a great thing going with this and I don't want to push outside my lane!

RodneyBrooker24 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA! I’d like to see some National Park themed scavenger hunts. I’m organizing a bachelorette party in Zion for April. 7 girls total, varying levels of physical fitness. We have about a half a day for it. Any ideas how to make it fantastic?

squeakysqueakysqueak33 karma

OOOO yes! How many girls and (be honest) what would the interest level be from the participants?

Ranging from "ew, i stepped in nature" all the way to "CALL ME ABIGAIL CHASE BECAUSE I'M FINDING TREASURE"

RodneyBrooker26 karma

7 in total, the bride herself would be super into it (loves escape rooms/puzzles and super into hiking). Among the other girls it’s pretty mixed. A few more outdoorsy girls, but a couple who are less into nature and would prefer sipping wine on a patio to running around a national park. All around 35 years old. I guess that’s one good question: how do you design something like this when your group is mixed in their interests/capabilities?

squeakysqueakysqueak38 karma

The big thing is to give different people roles.

in the big big group games, here are my roles:

The navigator - This person is fine trekking ahead, potentially comfortable with directions, and/or knows the area.

The codebreaker - This person loves solving puzzles

The communicator - This person is word savvy, can interact with actors and/or keep in touch with the game master regarding problems

The Chronographer - This is the person behind the camera documenting everything

The workhorse - This person just wants to drink and do fun things. They're very handy if you add a digital scavenger hunt aspect to it.

I think in your case, you need to figure out what the ending is. (maybe it's "find the patio where you get to drink wine) and then create a 2 hour mini adventure.

You have a few hurdles to figure out. namely "how will you run this if you also plan on being with them". Another hurdle is making sure you're respectful to the park. Might be tough to leave a chest or an envelope. Have you looked into the park to see if they run any kind of game?

subsequentj23 karma

Where have been all my life?

But seriously, what is one adventure, or task within an adventure you've always wanted to do? Assume you have all the means required to accomplish this.

I'm asking as I love setting up scavenger hunts and have done two in the past. Here is a somewhat brief outline of them both.

The first had him travel to 5 different locations (tasks in parenthesis):

  • Berczy Park (crossword puzzle with words related to the next destination)
  • The Royal Ontario Museum (museum trivia)
  • Swiss Chalet (playing card match game and dress up)
  • The World's Biggest Bookstore (find books, pages, paragraphs, lines and words to fill in a msg with the next location)
  • The Disney Store (find 4 tagged Nemo's in a large pool of stuffed animals)
  • Tim Horton's (final stop)

The second was more elaborate and involved help from friends who worked at various businesses:

  • His office (Harry Potter Trivia)
  • My office (playing card matching game and dress up version 2),
  • Bymark (restaurant where he had to match list of espresso ingredient with name of espresso, then build one from scratch)
  • The Rec Room (think Dave n Busters, challenge a friend to three games of Mario Kart)
  • Steam Whistle Brewery (don the Steam Whistle mascot outfit, pour two pints with no more than 1 inch of head and dance the little tea pot dance)
  • Ireland Park (take a selfie and post on Facebook)
  • Billy Bishop Airport (take all previous clues, in sequence and using light decode a confirmation number to be entered. If correct a boarding pass was printed)
  • NYC Museum of Natural History (take park in the Museum Hack Tour) leading to drinks and dinner with 8 other friends from Toronto who flew for the occasion.

So, I have some experience. I would love to chat with you and maybe even collaborate on some adventures here in Toronto, Canada.

For me it is about puzzle building but above that I love seeing the joy people get when discovering new locations and trying new and unexpected things.

squeakysqueakysqueak20 karma

oh man I sure could have used you last year when I needed someone to run a game in toronto!

Your adventures sound amazing! have you ever considered doing it as a business? I'm sure there's no shortage of people in Toronto that would want to hire you.

Fun little gambit in line with crossword puzzles. I love creating a word search that (when completed) reveals a message with all the remaining letters. it can be a little time consuming but makes for an easy and fun little challenge.

Regarding location, I would LOVE to do more in europe. Just all the old incredible buildings and history. it's like an adventure playground over there!

catiefsm20 karma

Yes hello how often do you use those fantastic swear coasters someone made you?

(I'm here to sing the praises of the actual experience lol)

squeakysqueakysqueak24 karma

HEY THERE!

You participated in the last secret santa adenture!

Thank you so much for those coasters! I currently have a water class sitting atop one and coffee on the other!

You are the BEST

Creatingpeace20 karma

I discovered you last year through reddit Xmas gift exchange, I looked for yours this year but must have missed it. I follow you on insta and LOVE what you do. How many of these do you do per year? Is this your fulltime employment, if not how many hours per month go into it?

squeakysqueakysqueak25 karma

Hey there!

Thank you for such kind words. If you look up in my write up at the top of the page, I put this year's adventure in there.

I usually do an adventure every two weeks (With some occasional breaks planned. Yes! This is my full time employment and I'm lucky to have positioned my life to make it succeed.

The last two years I actually didnt have a home. I traveled so much that it didnt make sense to pay san diego rent (I was living there at the time) so I put everything in storage and just bounced from adventure to adventure)

Regarding hours, It's similar to college. Right now, I just got back home from an adventure in Arizona. I have 3ish weeks before I fly to Denver, then after that NYC, then after that Pittsburgh. When I'm home, I get a little down time and can be a little more leisurely, however, it's all business stuff (note, taxes are rough).

Once I fly out, then I'm on deadline and I'm out scouting all day, inking/waxing envelopes in the evenings, and then responding to future clients/writing emails while i eat.

Creatingpeace17 karma

Thanks for the response! It is such a blend of creativity, professionalism, caring, excitement. I am so happy you make a living at it. Not many people can truly make a go of something so cool. I look forward to watching all the adventures coming, currently checking out the viking adventure from Xmas.

squeakysqueakysqueak22 karma

Thanks friend!

I'll also take the time to say that I'm always looking for proteges who I can help start a business of their own like this. I have a few already and treasure the opportunity to help others as I got a TON of help getting to where I am.

If you know any creatives who just need a little business steering, send them my way!

_0030719 karma

Uh. I'm interested. Heavily. I do this already, and never really thought it was profitable outside of big corporate stuff. Kept it personal or family friends.

I also have a lot of ideas using contacts at an ARG company to include technology and such.

Side note, coolest ama I have seen in a while

squeakysqueakysqueak11 karma

oooooo YES ARG is such a cool growing industry. I don't use it because I love to keep my adventures analog (nothing wrong with tech, its just my brand)

If you're interested in starting something using AR, PLEASE do. I want to participate in whatever you create!

Tawnik4 karma

I just got back home from an adventure in Arizona

seeing as i live in Arizona i would be curious to hear about what you planned out here! I did something very similar to what you do for a girlfriend back in college like 12ish years ago... who knew i could have made it into a career lol that is awesome.

squeakysqueakysqueak10 karma

This one was ROUGH!

It was in Glendale (basically the Houston of Phoenix, AZ) SO there wasn't too much to work with.

It was for a company so I had to keep it pretty buttoned up. I put them all in a part bus and sent them to two stops: One in historic old town glendale and the other in westgate.

At each stop they had to track down and locate plainclothes actors walking around. Then they'd give them a password to get an envelope. Once all envelopes were collected, they put the contents together and solved a puzzle to open the chest (in the bus). It ended with all the employees getting a bunch of free stuff and then going to lunch!

Very cool company

uselubewithcondoms2 karma

What have you learned about doing taxes that might be helpful for others? Aka what tips do you have since having done it?

squeakysqueakysqueak9 karma

oh god taxes are the WORST.

rule 1: take a picture of every receipt and toss it in a google drive.

rule 2: have someone teach you quickbooks. it took me a while, but I've gotten decent mediocre decent at it.

rule 3. Be ok with hiring a professional. I have a CPA. When I hired her I told her that the most important thing is that I don't go to jail. I would not do very well in jail. I have quarterly check ins with my CPA and pay my taxes quarterly (this is usually the norm for new businesses so they dont get caught under a tidal wave come april.

I hope that helps!

Yaklen16 karma

Ok I'd love to have you give me some pointers! My first anniversary is in roughly 6 months and I had already started trying to think of ideas for something unique that says the honeymoon isn't over. I'm going to include key locations that are all in one way or another a part of our engagement/wedding story. We love board games so I'm confident she can handle a medium difficulty with no stress. I've read your previous AMAs and always thought this was an amazing idea, so thank you for taking time out to help some of us with this!

Where: Tulsa, OK

When: August

Key Locations

Center of the Universe

Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame

Kilkenny Irish Pub

Guthrie Green

Best Western Hotel - downtown

Doubletree Hotel - downtown

All of these locations are downtown, so she would need to drive a little but lots of it could be walking distance. Ideally the adventure would end sometime after 3pm at the doubletree so we could stay where we spent our first night as a married couple. Any advice is appreciated!

Auto mod is also making me ask a question. Would you prefer to fight 100 duck sized horses, or 1 horse sized duck?

squeakysqueakysqueak12 karma

100 Duck sized horses for sure. I feel like thats more a test of endurance.

now let's talk ADVENTURE

Firstly, here is a link to the scheduling doc I use. I already input the stops and added the addresses.

Take a look at that. I'll add more in an EDIT.

EDIT:

So the first question you could ask is "what would make my wife feel special?" It sounds like you're trying to recapture that "early dating excitement" so it's a great place to start.

If you met and dated in Tulsa, Start adding every single location with emotional significance. Once you have the locations and addresses, you can populate them to a My google maps

Once you have all that down, start thinking about filling in the "in-between" spots. You need to make sure you've factored in hunger and thirst as well as having respites to chill for a bit.

Give me a sec, I checking out the spots you posted. back soon

sunflowerchakra16 karma

How much do you plan a backup plan in case things go wrong, ex. shitty weather for a proposal adventure? A vague idea of what will happen or do you intricately make a plan B?

squeakysqueakysqueak53 karma

There are contingencies for EVERYTHING.

The biggest factor I'm worried about is time. If the adventure begins at noon and a marriage proposal happens at sunset, I need to make sure my player is pacing correctly. I'll build my adventure assuming they're going to go quickly, and then add in stops that i can remove if i need to speed them up.

Example:

A player has to go to the dock and find Valkerye (It was a norse themed hunt) Valkerye has two envelopes. The first envelope sends the player to a park where they'll use an ottendorf/book cipher to decode a message sending them to a nearby brewery.

The second envelope simply sends them to the brewery.

I'll keep in touch with Valkerye and let her know whether to give envelope 1 or 2!

Weather is also frustrating. I try to be aware of the historical weather and then F5 weather.com starting two weeks out. If it looks like it might be dicey, I start trying to put the stops inside.

Hope that helps!

scrobadope15 karma

Would you ever consider doing one thats a bit more suspensefull/thrilling? Sorta like that movie The Game with Michael Douglas.

squeakysqueakysqueak24 karma

This is tricky for two reasons:

The first is liability. The participant doesn't actually sign a contract (I know, i know), But imagine the deflation that happens when someone is given a wax sealed envelope and told to get in the limo outside, but FIRST needs to sign a waiver from a business.

The second is that I just love creating pure joy!

that being said, there is DEFINITELY a market for suspense/thrill.

hope that answer works!

Beckland15 karma

I live in Portland, OR, and have done many (most?) of the escape rooms in town with my SO. Would love to “up the ante,” for a birthday adventure. Local history, dive food joints, gay culture, and anything paranormal are instant winners.

Would love to get an outline going, where do I begin?

squeakysqueakysqueak17 karma

I live in portland! Always happy to grab coffee or a beer and brainstorm in person!

putting a placeholder here while i grab the locations and gambits I've used for my last portland adventure. Back in a second!

EDIT: BACK!

Here are the stops I used for the last adventure (granted I wasn't living here at the time)

  • Council Crest park - beautiful view with a giant compass in the middle of the hill. Great hike down to the zoo
  • Oregon zoo - great, clean, and plenty of things that could be used
  • Lan Su Chinese garden - It's right in the middle of downtown and WAYYYYYY cheaper than the japanese friendship garden up near council crest.
  • Pépé le Moko - Its a cool little speakeasy disguised as an oyster shop. The underground feel is dope.
  • Mill Ends park - It's the world's smallest park and absolutely the most portland thing ever.
  • Powell's rare book room - Incredible.

There were other stops but they were more specific to the person and location. Hopefully this helps get you started!

Let's grab a beer next week!

Beckland10 karma

As you say: HELL YES, let’s grab a beer!

squeakysqueakysqueak11 karma

PM me!

Once the dust settles on this AMA, We'll plan a spot. I know this really cool little speakeasy style bar near Powell's

Trollcifer7 karma

You're going to have to solve the puzzle of how to escape from the well in OP's basement.

Norgeroff14 karma

What color is your toothbrush?

squeakysqueakysqueak18 karma

Asking the real questions here.

I have two. the one at home is white with blue, and i have a travel one that folds up that beige.

That being said, I'm probably 69 quip advertisements away from finally breaking and purchasing one of their brushes (quip, if ur reading this, plz sponsor me)

Norgeroff2 karma

Thanks for my first gold kind stranger!

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

I got you!

xLitecoin13 karma

Are you the guy who made the secret Santa gift for Adam Savage? I watched the video the other day and I thought it was a super cool idea.

squeakysqueakysqueak17 karma

Not me but I love that guy! I'm trying to find his username right now to bring him into this AMA. He reached out a few years ago and we became friends! We talk frequently!

He's a fantastic guy and super creative. I love the work he does.

paintedsunshine10 karma

squeakysqueakysqueak10 karma

THANK YOU!

u/leigero is brilliant with his puzzles, lockboxes, and adventures!

IchAntworteAufDeutsc12 karma

Any ideas for Berlin? I would like to go on a hunt with my whole Ultimate Frisbee team as a team building activity. 20-25 guys. Do you think large groups like this work for scavenger hunts?

squeakysqueakysqueak20 karma

Berlin would be a PLAYGROUND for these!

Yes, large group games are totally doable. Here is my basic formula (We can elaborate from there)

Split the participants into teams of 4-5. Now instead of worrying about 20-25 people, you have 5-6 Groups.

When building this, you need to make it openended. You don't want a big blob of 25 people herding from one stop to the next. What I like to do is make a map using this website. Giving each team a map is great because it's a simple way to give them lots of information.

Using the map, give them 5-10 checkpoints that they need to find. At each checkpoint maybe they'll get one line of a clue or a gem. You could make it so once a team has 5 different color gems, they'll be allowed in the finish line (a pub).

This is my favorite way to handle crowd control. It also gives you a great outline. You come up with the start and finish, and then find some fun spots in the area to send them to!

Hopefully this is a good start! I can elaborate more if you'd like!

mrcplmrs12 karma

Do you have plans of expanding to Asia?

squeakysqueakysqueak18 karma

oh man i would LOVE to!

It's not a matter of expansion, just a matter of finding a client that wants to (and can afford) an Adventure on the other side of the world from me.

I've done adventures in foreign countries and they were a blast. The language barrier was tricky but not insurmountable.

cleveruniquename776912 karma

I'll try. I did a really basic scavenger hunt for my daughter's birthday years ago and now she asks for one every year for her and her friends and I've gotten more and more elaborate but I'm kind of stumped for this year. Any suggestions for a group of 14 year old girls for a suburban Columbus neighborhood in late March?

squeakysqueakysqueak11 karma

Oh man I fall into this all the time! The trick is not raising the bar too high every year!

tell me a little about the neighborhood. Any parks or landmarks nearby?

at a glance, I would recommend giving them a treasure map. you can use this website

Here is an example of a map i used. Maps are great because you can house all information you need on the front and back. After that, Create 4-5 checkpoints where they have to find and collect something. First person to collect all the items wins!

Get me know about the neighborhood and I'll see if i can get more detailed

Eypc210 karma

Have you worked in corporate team building at all?

squeakysqueakysqueak15 karma

Yep!

About 30% of the adventures I do are corporate. They're quite different from the single serving, immersive adventures (more thought goes into crowd control) but still very fun to create and run!

Eypc29 karma

Awesome. I've passed your site on to one of the people who tells me what to do at work. I think he'll be a big fan. Glad I stumbled into this post.

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

sweet! have them reach out!

Even if im not the right fit, I can probably point them in the right direction!

Random_519 karma

Do you franchise? I have started doing the same but am I sure how/ where to go next.

squeakysqueakysqueak24 karma

I don't but I have a few proteges and I am MORE than happy to give you everything you need to start a business.

PM me or shoot me an email at [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]).

There needs to be more of this in the world.

technicolored_dreams9 karma

Thanks for doing this! I always get a huge kick out of seeing your posts and reading about all the adventures.

Have you ever done an adventure in Kansas City? My SO and my sister both turn 30 this November, and I'd love to plan them a hunt that slowly picks up more people throughout the day and ends at a blowout birthday bash. I'm gonna go check out the sub and starting getting ideas together!

squeakysqueakysqueak9 karma

Weirdly enough i haven't!

But you should absolutely create one. Start here and use this scheduling template.

Start looping in the friends now. Juggling them is going to be a big task.

Next, lock down your anchor points. Start at the end, then figure out the beginning, then work your way to the middle. Keep in mind you can have each family member be the gatekeeper and then once the challenge is complete, they join the party!

bwl177 karma

Hey, I’m blown away reading your responses to other questions, I can’t imagine being as creative and diligent to create anything like this!

My girlfriend and I (both 24) are moving to Manchester (UK) in a couple of weeks and it would be great to be able to plan something like this to introduce her (and me) to the local area. Would you be able to pass on any tips?

Thanks!!

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

Always happy to pass along tips. I'm going to paste my boilerplate "Here's what to do first" template below (I feel bad that I'm just spamming this around) but first, let's talk about the exploration.

You should make the theme something like "we're in search of the perfect view" and then hop on google and trip advisor and find all the places that people think are worth seeing. think about the things she loves:

coffee? a nearby coffee shop is the PERFECT starting location.

hiking? look up easy trails (You can do the harder trails when you're not running an adventure.

beer/drinks? google great bars/restaurants/breweries and ask if you can use them as a stop (maybe pay in advance or leave a card down with automatic gratuity)

Hopefully thats a good start, here is my outline I've been copying and pasting to help people get started

--

Here is a "basic outline" that I'm copying and pasting and elaborating on. Hopefully this can get you started:

You need to start with the purpose, and then the "perceived purpose". The purpose is simple, maybe a proposal or a birthday. That being said, you can’t tell your players what the purpose is ("Happy birthday honey! There's a surprise party waiting for you and you need to find it!)

This brings us to the perceived purpose. It could be something as simple as “I built this day for you, follow the clues!“ Or to be more elaborate. “Here’s a box. you need to find the key.“

After that you start with the anchor points. The most important anchor point is the end. Figure out where and when, and then figure out the beginning.

Once you have the beginning and end down, you can scout for fun locations in between. Simple rule I like to follow is “no location should ever be longer than 15 minutes Travel time from the previous location”.

This should help narrow down the radius of where you want this Adventure. After that it’s just a matter of finding fun and interesting locations. In the beginning just write down everything and slowly narrow it down.

Some of my favorite basic locations that usually work for any area:

Park, Zoo, museum, bookstore, coffeeshop, library, antique shop, Statue, Bronze plaque, High point (An overlook or a hill where you can use a monocular)

Once you’ve built the basic outline, then it’s time to start figuring out the puzzles and games. I like to start very simple, and let my players get used to what’s happening.

After that I’ll slowly ramp at the difficulty until about 75% of the way through, then I’ll taper off and make it easy.

Start with simple “go here and find this” clues and then you can start encoding messages. If you check the very top of the page I put in some of my favorite websites to help you encode messages

I hope that helps!

M1st3rYuk7 karma

How likely are you to take a buy out from a larger company that can do this? Or would you take a consultant role for it? What are your yearly revenue numbers?

squeakysqueakysqueak7 karma

I dont know how I missed this!

I was recently thinking about how much I would need to be bought out. I doubt it would ever happen but I'm not completely against it. I think my price would be too high for a company. I'm not really that big and since all I'd really be selling is a small following and an image. So to me this business is everything but to a buyer, it would just be another acquisition.

Revenue numbers dont mean much since I charge a flat rate and then it's just the budget for an adventure. But last year I believe was 150k and I took home around 40ish? (still waiting on taxes to destroy me.

Let me know if you have any other questions!

AnotherDrunkCanadian6 karma

Hey squeak, been a fan of yours since your first ama.

There is a very real possibility that my wife and I will buy an island in French Polynesia (Tahiti, Bora Bora) down the road.

We were thinking it would be awesome to do a treasure hunt, or a massive escape game, or fight against a zombie insurrection.

  1. Any other suggestions?
  2. Think people might be interested in renting an island for an adventure? Would need a pretty massive budget though.

squeakysqueakysqueak9 karma

Hey...It's me....your new best friend who wants to live on your island.

you could do something absolutely incredible. Were you thinking of doing something like a weekend or one day event, or create something overarching where someone staying a week could piece together clues?

AnotherDrunkCanadian6 karma

I was originally thinking like a (repeatable) one-two day event. Kind of like a massive scale escape room.

But a longer piece could also definitely work. I suppose it would depend on budget, desires and intent of the group. If someone has the money and wants to rent it for a week, they can be our guest!

I suppose this idea will sit on the back burner for now and well reach out in a few years when the right opportunity comes up

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

absolutely! I'm always excited to help in any capacity I can.

I love your thinking

HydrateLevel46 karma

I'm really enjoying reading your AMA.

Thank you for doing this and sharing your ideas with us.

My family just did our first escape room experience in Orlando, FL and we really enjoyed the experience (we escaped).

We live in St. Augustine, FL and I love the idea of doing an adventure in the historic district of St. Augustine.

Any ideas that you can share on creating an adventure for my family?

Edit:. I saw in another comment that the age of my kids is important in considering the parameters of the adventure. My daughter is 14 and my son is 12.

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

duuuuuuuuude! St. Augustine looks PERFECT for something like this

I'm currently looking at this page for ideas

I'll be back with an EDIT

missjoules6 karma

I am in Sheffield, England. I would love to plan a family friendly something. We're into escape rooms and geocaching, so something moderately difficult would probably be ok. I've thought abut putting something like this together for years, but I just don't know where to start.

If nothing else, I'm really excited about the new sub!

Have you done much work in the UK?

squeakysqueakysqueak4 karma

I've never done anything in the UK but I bet it's rife with potential adventure stops!

Here is a "basic outline" that I'm copying and pasting and elaborating on. Hopefully this can get you started:

You need to start with the purpose, and then the "perceived purpose". The purpose is simple, maybe a proposal or a birthday. That being said, you can’t tell your players what the purpose is ("Happy birthday honey! There's a surprise party waiting for you and you need to find it!)

This brings us to the perceived purpose. It could be something as simple as “I built this day for you, follow the clues!“ Or to be more elaborate. “Here’s a box. you need to find the key.“

After that you start with the anchor points. The most important anchor point is the end. Figure out where and when, and then figure out the beginning.

Once you have the beginning and end down, you can scout for fun locations in between. Simple rule I like to follow is “no location should ever be longer than 15 minutes Travel time from the previous location”.

This should help narrow down the radius of where you want this Adventure. After that it’s just a matter of finding fun and interesting locations. In the beginning just write down everything and slowly narrow it down.

Some of my favorite basic locations that usually work for any area:

Park, Zoo, museum, bookstore, coffeeshop, library, antique shop, Statue, Bronze plaque, High point (An overlook or a hill where you can use a monocular)

Once you’ve built the basic outline, then it’s time to start figuring out the puzzles and games. I like to start very simple, and let my players get used to what’s happening.

After that I’ll slowly ramp at the difficulty until about 75% of the way through, then I’ll taper off and make it easy.

Start with simple “go here and find this” clues and then you can start encoding messages. If you check the very top of the page I put in some of my favorite websites to help you encode messages

I hope that helps!

mike____5 karma

What would you recommend for a Conference Event?

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

oooo great question. How many people are you working with, do you have rooms you can use, and/or is there potential transportation available?

fallfromvega5 karma

Charlotte, NC here! Any ideas for a fun adventure date day? My husband just moved here from Germany and I’d love to spend a Saturday taking him around the city!! We are both in our early 20s.

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

Putting in a place holder! (in the meantime, check out Asheville, NC! I did an adventure there and it's an amazing little city)

I'll return with some potential locations! Give me a bit!

Xmaspig5 karma

I know I'm here late, but I'd love some ideas if possible. It looks like you cater more for adults but its my 5 year olds birthday coming up, hes autistic and obsessed with surprise eggs and shopkins. Its literally all he asks for every birthday and christmas. Any ideas as to how to create a mini adventure for him involving surprise eggs? He loves doing puzzles but obviously he is young and cant read yet, but we can help him with that sort of thing obviously. I think he would be super excited to have a wee adventure on his birthday. Thank you for any ideas you can throw at me.

squeakysqueakysqueak7 karma

I would LOVE to help come up with a few ideas to create something fun.

something you could consider doing would be to hide an egg, take a picture of said egg, then give him the picture. It could be two parts:

  1. Locate the egg in the picture
  2. Walk to the location where the picture was taken.

Once he opens the egg, you can have another picture inside so he can continue his quest! Or if you wanted to make it a little less procedural. Just hand him a new picture every time.

Let me know if this seems like it might be down the right track and I'll try to come up with a few more fun little ideas

Xmaspig5 karma

That actually sounds like something he would really enjoy! Handing him a new picture each time might be best as he would probably be disappointed if there was just a picture, lol. Or I could have the picture and a wee thing in there too. Definitely the sort of thing I'm looking for, thank you 😊

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

Of course!

Another fun thing you could think of is to print out/buy a bunch of big arrows where each arrow points to another and another, all leading up to the final reveal!

Things dont need to be complex to be fun!

SethRogen-Not5 karma

Have you ever seen The Game with Michael Douglas? This is what I imagine.

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

I always like to say my adventures are kind of like the game, scaled back, and not quite as creepy.

cultofshezmu5 karma

When you're building an adventure, do you work on the narrative first and let that dictate the mechanics of the game, or look at specific puzzles first and fit the story around them?

squeakysqueakysqueak6 karma

Great question! Here is the order I'd recommend if you want to do something:

Start with the purpose and the perceived purpose.

The purpose is why you're doing this (proposal, surprise birthday, etc). Obviously you aren't going to tell your participant, ("Follow the clues and in the end Im going to propose to you!" so you need a reason why they're leaving the house.

It can be as simple as "I built this fun day, follow the clues!" Or it can get more elaborate like "Here is a box, you need to find the key!

after that, it's time to lock down anchor points. The two most important anchor points are the ending, followed by the beginning. Once you have those set, you can begin to research different cool spots along the way. When you're finding spots, just throw everything on a list and narrow it down. After that, THEN add in the puzzles and gambits to propel them forward!

The story can be built in between but you definitely don't want to get so far in the story that you have to scrap it because it wont work logistically

Luxsens4 karma

Wow pretty cool how your gift exchange turned into a full blown business! Great jo, this must require deep levels of planning!

Are you working just by yourself, or do you have employees?

squeakysqueakysqueak4 karma

It's just me and I hope to keep it that way! I like what i've got here but it would stress me out to have another person rely on my for their financial well being!

kalechipsaregood4 karma

Can we trade usernames?

squeakysqueakysqueak6 karma

but...I like my username.

Your username is pretty sweet too..and accurate.

Blackberry-Hikes4 karma

Oh my God this is incredible! I have always wanted to do something like this. Have you ever done any in the Oakland or Berkeley area?

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

Not quite in those areas but I've done a few in San Francisco. There are so many spectacular spots in SF

available_username24 karma

How much money did you make in 2019?

squeakysqueakysqueak7 karma

My net income for 2019 was Just over 40k. i took a few unforseen hits toward the end of the year that definitely hurt. All in all i'm trending upward! Projecting around 60-70 this year but we'll see. Fingers crossed!

theassimulator3 karma

I had an idea for my 50th where I invite friends and do something other than the usual party games. Would this work? Or a work team building thing? I'll join the sub to read a bit more up on it

squeakysqueakysqueak5 karma

I recently had a consultation client do a "random acts of kindness" event where participants needed to locate agents who gave them money to purchase things for strangers.

You absolutely should do something fun or creative. How many people are you thinking?

Squibege3 karma

Do you do events for kids? Around what age does this style of activity get interesting?

squeakysqueakysqueak6 karma

Occasionally!

I worked at boys & girls clubs and YMCAs during and just after college so I love trying to build fun games for kids.

Children are super interesting to build for because their brains are wired to problem solve. They can think so creatively and tackle challenges in a different way.

age is a factor. at five years or below, kids can be kinda unpredictable so if you're going to build something, make it short. Once you get into the 6-11 range they can focus on things a little better and you can create some great challenges.

Teenagers are SHARP. I still think one of my smartest participants was a 13 year old girl. she CRUSHED the adventure her parents hired me to create. Since then I've used some of the same puzzles on adults and they struggled hard.

catsnpole3 karma

This might be a bit of an odd question. I’m a huge fan of what you do - I think it’s just so incredibly cool to create these adventures and bring so much joy to people. When I first heard about you from Reddit secret Santa, I told my partner all about that year’s adventure (I think it was maybe 2018?) and he had the exact opposite reaction to mine! He said he would be really uncomfortable with the idea of a stranger planning something so elaborate for him, seems like a lot of money to spend on one person when it could be donated to a cause that helps many, blah blah blah.

My question is this: any ideas on how to convince someone about how cool this is? I would never expect to “convert” him to the point that he would consider planning an elaborate adventure surprise for me (which would be the absolute best but is never going to happen), but I’d like him to at least understand what it is that is so great and appealing for many people.

squeakysqueakysqueak7 karma

Oh man you're in a tricky spot and you might not like my answer.

Bottom line is you can't change people's opinions! I absolutely love adventures and puzzles and intrigue, but there are lots and lots of people who think it's a waste of time and money. And that's totally ok!

you should work on accepting that some people just find joy in other things. It's totally great for you two to have a difference in opinions and interests.

If you want to try to nudge him think about it like an exercise in extreme thoughtfulness. You should work to create little fun surprise moments of joy for him. Not because you want to change his mind but because you want to bring him joy!

bbutterflysong3 karma

How can I develop a multi year game for my niece in Vancouver B.C.? I am located in a different part of the province so I would like to do alot by mail. I do have friends in Vancouver to help me set up. She loves to read and do gymnastics. I would like the game to develop over time, reemerging at different important parts in her life. I have be looking for somthin like this for years.

squeakysqueakysqueak4 karma

Oh my god I love this. If you don't mind, I'd so much rather hop on a call and just chat through ideas. it won't cost anything of course. I just think we'll have a bunch to discuss and I might need to go back and forth with you as you finalize details.

Let me know if thats ok with you!

superanth3 karma

You sir have my dream job! Were you inspired by the movie “The Game”?

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

You should start a business! Plenty of room for everyone!

Fun fact....I've never seen the game but I'm VERY familiar.

I also love the National Treasure movies (Shocking)

totallynotabear3 karma

Hi Chris! I reached out to you after hearing about you on the Endless Thread podcast to construct an adventure as a gift to my boyfriend. I filled out your form online and you asked to connect via phone the next week. Before wasting both of our time, I asked to get an idea of the budget range for this type of adventure. You replied rudely with:

"In the past, I've found that people who's no.1 concern is the budget instead of the adventure tend to add constraints that make it more difficult for me to build.

If I tell you the budget without telling you all the nuances and pieces that go into it, most likely we'll just part ways then, but best case scenario, you'll just want the budget to be as low as possible. That makes for a mediocre adventure which wouldn't be fair to anyone and wouldn't be worth the time and money you'd be spending."

My question is, why would you want to waste your time building an adventure for someone if they couldn't potentially afford it? Has your customer service improved?

I told a lot of people about your email, which makes a lot of assumptions based on the two-sentence conversation we had. With any good or service, price is always the first question.

squeakysqueakysqueak2 karma

Hey There!

I remember this! Firstly and most importantly, I apologize for being terse. I definitely could have handled that better and should have done more to try to communicate the reasoning. I was getting a ton of inbound at that time but that's no excuse.

That being said, I remember you not willing to hop on the quick 15 minute call before me telling you the cost.

And here is what that says to me: There is a TON of work that goes into creating these adventures. Both from my side and the client side. We need to have a lot of communication about all sorts of things, budget included. When you say "I need to know the budget" before we even have a chance to talk about what you want, where, when, the nuance, the details, the "must haves," It tells me that if you're not willing to hop on a quick call in the very beginning to talk through details, how good can our communication possibly be?

I use these calls to have a nice conversation. Even if I'm not the right fit for a number of reasons, i can at least point you in the right direction!

To wrap this all up, I sincerely apologize for how I made you feel. If you'd like, I'm happy to learn about what you'd like to accomplish and steer you in the right direction!

IEThrowback2 karma

Any chance you could send me some ideas for an erotic/adult themed treasure hunt? I have the so cal area in mind, but could use some great ideas that have worked in the past for you guys but give a sexual twist to it.

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

This is such a flippin great idea.

Like i've said in a lot of answers, it's important to build the bones first. figure out the purpose, some of the stops. Create an outline, and then you can start adding in the flavor. Is this for just one person or a big group?

UberSmackTard2 karma

Was Adam Savage your Secret Santa? He had something similar to this that he posted on his channel.

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

No! But that was done by my friend u/Leigero!

He called me when he got matched and we collectively FREAKED OUT! Ben is a great guy and does incredible work!

yamaha2000us1 karma

Do people pay you to do this or a ransom to remove all of the traps from the building?

squeakysqueakysqueak2 karma

Maybe a little from column A, maybe a little from column B

hackel-5 karma

Why do you find it acceptable to use an AMA to advertise your fucking business? Who do you think you are?

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

Hey man, I'm really sorry if you're having a bad day. I hope you feel better!

wesmt-9 karma

Do you have an advertising budget or do you do all of it for free disguised as AMAs on Reddit?

squeakysqueakysqueak11 karma

My advertising budget goes into the yearly secret santa gift exchange. And yes, the AMAs are a big boon for me. However, I like to provide as much valuable information that i can and create a fun interesting read!

That being said, guess you can't please everyone! Do you get upset at every actor or business owner doing an AMA or do you like to pick and choose?

wesmt-15 karma

There is a huge difference in the two. An actor is a successful person that is doing an AMA to relate to fans. You are doing this, about yearly it seems, to make money off of free exposure, creating a fake persona, "I am the Architect." You write these posts as if you are famous and well-known, when in reality you are here to advertise.

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

Yikes, tough crowd

I'm not trying to be anything I'm not. I create unique days for people and have learned a lot of valuable lessons that I love sharing with reddit. I've been on here for a very long time and read through some fascinating AMAs!

I'm definitely not famous nor well known, just a guy trying to give some pointers and information.

I really hope your day gets better and I'm always happy to talk if you're feeling down.

Rand0mhero80-12 karma

You look like you have a tiny penis, why?

squeakysqueakysqueak3 karma

It's probably the fit of my pants. Maybe they should be tighter.