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$30,600
pledged of $25,000pledged of $25,000 goal
176
backers
71hours to go

All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Fri, November 22 2019 7:59 AM UTC +00:00.

The Ladder: A Choice-Driven, Fully Replayable Escape Room

From the creators of Lab Rat, LA's #1 escape room. Claw your way up the corporate ladder at a corrupt vitamin company from 1949-1999.

The Ladder: A Choice-Driven, Fully Replayable Escape Room

From the creators of Lab Rat, LA's #1 escape room. Claw your way up the corporate ladder at a corrupt vitamin company from 1949-1999.

$30,600
pledged of $25,000pledged of $25,000 goal
176
backers
71hours to go

All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Fri, November 22 2019 7:59 AM UTC +00:00.

About

UPDATE: The Ladder is now completely funded! Woo! We're so excited, we've added stretch goals!

Stretch Goal #1, $30,000 (FUNDED!): We'll deck out the exterior of The Ladder with some or all of the following: a tie store where you can pick a nice tie to wear for your corporate experience, some Nutricorp signage for all your narcissistic Instagram needs, a 1950s-style bus stop so you can pretend to have taken public transit in LA, and a coffee stand with actual coffee, so you can get nice and jumpy before you play.

Stretch Goal #2, $35,000: We'll create a classy 50s-style punch clock you'll use at the end of your experience.By punching your card, you'll see exactly what path through the narrative you chose and what ending you got, so you have some idea of how you might want to play the next time around. The card will also feature a coupon for return visits, if you don't just wanna keep it as a beautiful memento of your time with The Ladder.

Like this, but better. (And by better, we mean more cheaply made.)

What is The Ladder?

The Ladder is a completely new take on escape rooms: a 90-minute, fully replayable and choice-driven immersive narrative experience. Your group will collectively take on the role of a new employee at Nutricorp, a vitamin company with a dark secret to hide. The game tracks your 50-year career climbing the corporate ladder—starting in 1949 and ending in 1999—as you progress from the windowless mailroom in the basement to that coveted corner office. It’s How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying meets American Psycho.

The Ladder is the second escape room from Hatch Escapes after Lab Rat, currently the #1 escape room in LA and the #8 room in the world. (Yes, there is an international ranking system. Escape room lovers are the most awesome of nerds.) It’s got real actors (like Jordan Belfi of Entourage, Tony Revolori of Spiderman: Far From Home, and Zelda Williams of The Legend of Korra!) pre-recorded and presented by way of screens and speakers. It’s through-composed with a fully original score. It’s got dastardly plots and brave heroes. All it needs now...is you! (And money. We can always use money.) 

How Do You Make An Escape Room Replayable?

Escape rooms are inevitably centered around puzzles, and puzzles are a big problem from a replayability standpoint. Much like a magic trick, once you know the solution to a puzzle, you probably don’t ever want to see it again. Similarly, once you’ve seen the ending of an escape room—assuming it has a story at all—you’re probably not all that interested in seeing it play out a second time.

Like an African leopard and a golden eagle who’ve simultaneously spotted the same overweight baby gazelle, The Ladder comes at the issue from two directions at once.

Direction #1: Each segment of The Ladder corresponds to a decade. The 50s is the mailroom (criscrossed with pneumatic tubes lovingly rendered in black and white). The 60s is the secretarial pool (you’re gonna love our giant switchboard). The 70s is middle management (we’re talking golf courses and martini lunches). The 80s is research and development (the walls are covered in light-up silicon). The 90s is the corner office (with digital views over the whole city you plan to conquer).

You get a limited amount of time in each room before you’re forced to move on to the next one. In other words, there is no “completing” a room. Instead, you have two goals in each decade, which we call tracks.

  1. The Puzzle Track: These are traditional escape room puzzles. However, they’re completely optional. If you solve the puzzles, great. If you don’t, the game will continue on anyway. However, in order to figure out the truth behind Nutricorp’s record profits—and to experience the game’s bonus room—you must solve all the puzzles in every decade. We don’t expect many groups to accomplish this on their first playthrough.
     
  2. The Scored Track: Each room will also feature a number of puzzle-like games that are electronically scored. These games will feature far more content than any group could ever get through in a single play, meaning you’ll inevitably be solving tons of new stuff whenever you return to The Ladder. And unlike your age, your final score ain’t just a number; it affects the story, including what ending you get!

Direction #2: The Ladder is a true choose-your-own-adventure, where both the gameplay and the narrative will change depending on the choices you make. For example, you’ll begin by choosing an avatar from a delightfully ahistorical demographic range. Other choices range from the personal (Do you get married?) to the professional (Do you hire a secretary?), from the trivial (Which hat should your avatar wear?) to the crucial (Are you a brave whistleblower, or just another soulless corporate stooge?).

Every ethical choice you make comes with a score penalty, while every bit of shady dealing gets you a bonus; in other words, it's a lot harder to be a hero than a villain (just like in the real corporate world!). It’s up to you whether to prioritize the scored track, which determines whether or not the company succeeds, or the puzzle track, which will allow you to solve the mystery of Nutricorp. How well you perform on both tracks will determine which of the ten possible endings you see at the conclusion of the game. If you want to see them all, it’s gonna take a lot of visits. Like, a lot. Honestly, if you see all the endings, you’ll have given us so much money, we’ll be able to buy yachts. Yachts, people. 

What are the next steps?

The script for The Ladder was started over a year ago, and the physical build began in early April. Our plan is to officially open this coming April, with previews (i.e. beta testing) beginning sometime in March. However, we have a ton of work to do to hit that deadline. While the entire room has been fully designed (and can be walked through in 3-D!), we’re still in the thick of the build. The Ladder is one of the most ambitious escape rooms ever conceived, and the time and money required to bring it to fruition are both significant. That’s why we need you!

Though $25,000 is only a small fraction of the total budget of The Ladder, it will help us pay for:

  1. Our upcoming film shoot, which is critical to making players feel as if they're walking around a living, breathing company headquarters.
     
  2. Paying the composer, multi-instrumentalist Giulio Carmassi, who has created a full score for each room within The Ladder, including individual songs for each of the many endings.
     
  3. Paying the large crew of builders, designers, programmers, and artists already hard at work.
     
  4. Buying and building sets, props, puzzles, crazy technology, video screens, complex lighting arrays, and fancy-ass bathroom tile for the corporate bathroom. (NOTE: The in-game bathroom is non-functional. Do not pee in the in-game bathroom. Seriously. Please.)

What your support will NOT go towards:

  1. Red herrings.
     
  2. Tired old puzzles you’ve seen a million times before.
     
  3. Sports cars for the founders of Hatch Escapes. (As I already explained, we’re really more about yachts.)

As for what you can expect to get for your support, we’ve lined up a nice batch of goodies to thank you for your largesse. In addition to pre-ordering discounted tickets, you could be immortalized as an employee of Nutricorp (i.e. we’ll include an illustrated version of your likeness and/or record your actual voice for various puzzles within the game), come have a party at Hatch and play both of our escape rooms, or even become a fully playable avatar within The Ladder.

The Ladder - Model to Reality

The Ladder - Lights & Effects

The Ladder - The Creative Process 

Who is Hatch? Who else is involved in The Ladder? I demand names!

Hatch Escapes was founded by childhood friends Terry Rolapp and Tommy Wallach, who met at a summer program for writing musical theater when they were both still in high school. Their first escape room, “Lab Rat,” quickly rose to the top of the escape room rankings.

Terry and Tommy, Young and Sleepy

Terry Rolapp (co-founder) spent the aughts in New York City racking up degrees and passing time as a playwright, a composer, a graphic artist, a high school teacher, and a professor of art criticism at NYU. Then he picked up an MBA at UCLA and ran a few companies. In designing and building escape rooms, Terry has finally found the perfect vehicle for his unique assortment of skills and interests.

Tommy Wallach (co-founder) is the author of four novels, including We All Looked Up, which spent over 25 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and is in development as a television show. Tommy adapted his second novel, Thanks for the Trouble, for film, and is currently attached to direct the project for F Gary Gray and Fenix Pictures. Tommy was signed to Decca Records as a singer-songwriter, and performs regularly in LA.

Arvind Ethan David (producer) is a lead producer on the Broadway musical Jagged Little Pill, based on the groundbreaking album by Alanis Morissette. He was the executive producer of BBC America’s cult hit Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, and has produced 8 feature films, most recently The Garden of Evening Mists for HBO.  Arvind is also a comic book writer, whose credits include the Stoker Award-nominated Darkness Visible.

Jordan Belfi (lead actor) is best known for his work on HBO’s Entourage, in which he played Adam Davies, the nemesis of Jeremy Piven's character Ari Gold. He has appeared in numerous other shows, including Grey’s Anatomy, The Rookie, 9-1-1, Chicago Fire, and Scandal.He can currently be seen playing Principal Ed Landon on the CW drama All American.

Giulio Carmassi (music) recorded and toured with the Pat Metheny Unity Group, starting with the 2014 album “Kin,” which debuted #1 in the jazz charts worldwide. With his writing partner Bryan Scary, he founded the music production team Hummingbirds, which has scored two feature documentaries produced by Anthony Bourdain and composed music for dozens of national commercials.

Why escape rooms, and why this escape room?

Here at Hatch, we believe escape rooms aren’t just a passing fad or a fun way to spend an afternoon: we think we’re looking at the early days of an entirely new artistic medium. Our goal is to move this medium forward in every way we can: technologically, aesthetically, and perhaps most importantly, dramatically.

The truth is, while there are a ton of escape rooms out there, most of them are pretty forgettable. So it’s all the more tragic that, when you do manage to find one you love, you only get to play it once! Our goal with The Ladder is to create a joyful, transcendent immersive experience that you can come back to again and again, and which will offer up new joys every time you play.

Risks and challenges

Honestly, the risks here are small. Though we're pushing the creative envelope, with your help, we're going to find our way through to the end. The biggest challenge is to be open for previews by March, but we're already on schedule, so everything's looking good!

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    You’ll receive a piece of original fiction set in the universe of The Ladder, written by New York Times best-selling author Tommy Wallach, providing backstory and a bit of in-game interaction. You’ll also receive access to the Nutricorp website and all $5 tier goodies.

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    Middle Management Level: Immortalization

    1.Be immortalized as an employee of Nutricorp! We’ll illustrate one person for a Guess Who-like game within the room and/or record their voice for an audio-based puzzle. You’ll also receive a poster-sized print of your character to show off forever.
    2. An invitation to our swanky opening night party
    3. All $5 and $25 tier goodies

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    Fully Booked Room (up to $708 value)

    A full booking of the room (up to the limit of 12) w/ early booking and all $5 and $25 tier goodies
    An invitation to our swanky opening night party
    A digital copy of the full soundtrack of the room, written and performed by Giulio Carmassi (of the Pat Metheny Group)

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    CFO Level Supporter: VIP Hatch Experience + Immortalization

    1. Bring up to 12 people to play both our rooms: the award-winning Lab Rat and the soon-to-be-award-winning The Ladder.
    2. We’ll give you a backstage tour of each room. We'll provide food and drink and music.
    3. Immortalization for one as described in the $250 tier

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    CEO Level Supporter: Become an Avatar

    CEO Level Supporter: Become an Avatar

    At the beginning of “The Ladder,” you can choose a playable avatar. If you support us at this tier, we’ll make you one of those playable avatars—fully digitized in-game! We can use your real name, or you can make one up! This reward also includes everything in the $2,000 tier.

    (5 available; supporter must be available for 6-8 hours in LA between November 14-16 for the film shoot; only available for first week of campaign)

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