Week 9- This Is Halloween

Happy Halloween, and Happy November! We had our second round of Process Grades, and IAAPA is just on the horizon, so we’re really feeling the need to get everything done. Luckily, this was a productive week all around!

Puzzle Design

This week, we focused on refining the cluing of the puzzle. Now, the egg lights will slowly pulse as their idle state, one egg will pulse faster when the wheel points to it, and will be lit solidly after that. It was hard to playtest the efficacy of this, because ambient light in the room caused both this version and the previous lighting design to go unnoticed by some guests. The riddle still appears to be hard. Next week, we plan to playtest the easiest possible version of the riddle, which would require no matching of two different elements, to see just how easy we can make the puzzle and still be under two minutes.

Lori and Cleo also designed a system where our facilitators can override puzzle progress and puzzle timing to manage throughput. We have always had a “reset scale,” an RFID that can be tapped on any reader to turn off the show elements associated with that stage of the experience. But now, we have a “cheat scale,” which the facilitator in Room 3 can tap to give guests the puzzle answer, as well as a “dead scale” which the facilitator in Room 2 can tap to show that they aren’t magical and can’t activate the magical show elements. The “cheat scale” can be used to decrease the time in Room 3, and the “dead scale” can be used to increase the time in Room 2. Both cases should help us with the overarching issue that guests may have to wait for the group ahead of them to finish the Room 3 puzzle before they can progress.

In terms of the physical prototyping for the puzzle, Nolan faced the major challenge this week of egg pedestals and egg cages – how exactly are we going to encase the eggs until they are freed? We have decided to give each egg its own cage, since we believe that fits our space better than putting all three in a single cage. We went through a few egg cage prototypes this week, including one with a cut garbage can and a wire sculpted cage. These worked well technologically- we were able to connect the solenoid locks with our RFID system. However,, we have settled on making a laser-cut version for the aesthetic appeal, which Nolan modeled in Fusion360 and began cutting. He also plans to get ETC Laser Cutter training, which will allow him to use the laser cutter when Bryan Maher is not available to supervise.

The egg cage in Fusion360.
The first egg cage laser cut prototype!

Set Design

Again we went shopping at Spirit, this time for the post-Halloween specials. We got lots of decorations for our room for set dressing, as well as cloaks for all of our cast members to wear. We plan to decorate these cloaks with appropriately-colored ribbons (red, blue, and green) and patches which signify membership of the elemental guild.

However, we also learned that both of the sewing machines at the ETC are non-functional, so we hit a small delay in the cloak fabrication. Luckily, Kat has a sewing machine at home, so it’s not extremely pressing. 

For the dragon, this week was a lot of cardboard cutting! Early this week we finished the cardboard ribbing for the top jaw (the primary piece) and experimented with how to fill in the gaps. We decided to use long strips of scored cardboard, which gave the dragon a textured, ridged appearance. We started gluing these strips by the end of the week, and Lori plans to finish the top jaw over the weekend. The top layer will be papier-mache, and we want to start that as soon as possible next week.

We had a meeting about our pipe and drape quote, which was significantly more than we had budgeted for. We received three quotes for different amounts of drapes. Through a combination of taking the least expensive quote, repurposing the ETC’s small amount of pipe and drape, and shopping smarter in other areas of the budget, we should be able to make up for this expense.

And finally, Louise Cutter and Nolan finished painting columns for our Dragon Temple! They are now considered complete!


In addition to producing a solenoid lock based puzzle and updating the puzzle system, we worked on the fog machine! Dave Purta helped us with a fog cannon, which will help the fog come out of the dragon’s mouth horizontally and with force. It’s also able to withstand heat much better than our original plan of a single flexible hose. The current version uses a relatively heavy light, though, so this is still a work in progress.

Goals for next week:

The dragon puppet is in danger of falling behind. We need to texture and paint her, as well as construct the bottom jaw. With Lori gone starting Wednesday afternoon, it won’t be easy, but we will try our best. 

Additionally, we need to keep testing different versions of the puzzle, work on sound and lighting design, and finish the egg cages for the puzzle. 


This week, we made several improvements to the flow of the wheel puzzle, and hope to playtest them soon. Other elements, such as the dragon puppet, the costumes, and the egg cages, are a work in progress, and they all saw a lot of progress! Practical issues made both the fog machine and the pipe and drape system temporary crises, but help from ETC faculty and staff was instrumental to solving these problems.