Real Zero Escape — Trust on Trial

SCRAP announced “Real Zero Escape — Trust on Tri­al” even before I moved down to LA.

Trust on Trial

I imme­di­ate­ly tried to orga­nize some of my usu­al escape game group to make a road trip with me to play it. How­ev­er, this game requires a team of nine play­ers, and I moved down here and it fell apart. When we played “Escape from the Jail”, the staff said they could only guar­an­tee it would be around until the end of June, but might be avail­able longer if there was sus­tained demand. About halfway through June, when I real­ized that I was not going to be able to get a group down in time to play, I signed up to play on my own. It was the first time I played with­out know­ing any of my team­mates.

The week­end I signed up, July 1-July 4, was when Ani­mé Expo was in town, so there was much more activ­i­ty than usu­al in Lit­tle Tokyo. In fact, SCRAP was run­ning an out­door event over the con­ven­tion week­end called “Zero Escape Puz­zle Hunt”. My team were all out-of-town­ers here for the con­ven­tion, and while they were very famil­iar with Zero Escape, the video game the­me this par­tic­u­lar room was based on, (some of them were cos­play­ing as char­ac­ters from the game) they did not have much escape room expe­ri­ence. I, on the oth­er hand, knew noth­ing about Zero Escape going into this game.

WARNING: SEMI-SPOILERS AHEAD!

(I describe the process but not out­right answers.)

The game itself was like refined iter­a­tion of “Escape from the Jail”. The intro brief­ing is by video from a char­ac­ter from the game. The team is split into three small­er teams and placed into three sep­a­rate rooms. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is much more dif­fi­cult between the small­er teams than it was in “Escape from the Jail”, and you are more depen­dent on the oth­er teams to solve the puz­zles in your own room. This game had the biggest use of tech­nol­o­gy in the puz­zles that I have seen from SCRAP.

In true SCRAP fash­ion, when your small­er team solves the indi­vid­u­al room puz­zles and gets back into the main room, all the pieces of pre­vi­ous puz­zles are mixed up and reused for the next por­tion. One minor com­plaint I had about this stage is that the final lock in each small­er room has the same com­bi­na­tion, so we could have just given the answer to any oth­er team that was lag­ging behind on get­ting back to the main room. The final puz­zle is a very cool syn­chro­nized event that is very nerve-rack­ing as you try to pull it off.

The title of the game, “Trust on Tri­al”, and the intro brief­ing implied that trust is key to solv­ing the game. I thought that meant there would be a trai­tor in our mid­st, but I was not sure how that would work since the team could nine strangers or nine best friends. Would peo­ple set aside their real rela­tion­ships to play a trai­tor in the game? SCRAP could not count on that, so it had to be some­thing bet­ter. There is one point in the game where we get access to our char­ac­ters’ jour­nals and need to cross-ref­er­ence the state­ments like a zebra puz­zle in order to solve the next puz­zle. I thought that may­be one char­ac­ter would be a liar and we had to ignore or invert their state­ments to solve the puz­zle.

The answer is a bit sim­pler than that. The nine of us are in deed work­ing as a sin­gle team. We just have to “trust” that our team­mates in the oth­er rooms are good enough to solve their puz­zles and help us solve our own puz­zles.

END SPOILERS

All in all, a very slick SCRAP game. Mechan­ics-wise, pos­si­bly the best SCRAP game I have played. Puz­zle-wise, fair­ly stan­dard SCRAP dif­fi­cul­ty, but the com­mu­ni­ca­tion lim­i­ta­tion makes it more chal­leng­ing. I def­i­nite­ly rec­om­mend the game, but only if your team is fair­ly expe­ri­enced in escape rooms.

The­me
Puz­zles
Phys­i­cal Chal­lenges
Staff
Fun
Aver­age

My team, of course, failed on the final puz­zle.

Trust on Trial team

Oh, and I saw Suta and Kazu there. I believe Yuki was work­ing the con­ven­tion, but I did not run into her. Also got to meet the very friend­ly SCRAP LA staff, who I am sure will soon be sick of me. Suta is a big Zero Escape fan and helped devel­op this game, so while we were doing the debrief, she also point­ed out all the East­er eggs she had hid­den for fans.

June 2016 Training Update

Last day of June seems like a good time to do anoth­er train­ing update.

Body 30 May 30 June Diff
Weight 220.0 211.0 –9.0 (-4.1%)
Body­fat 31.1% 29.1% –2.0% (-6.4%)
Waist 44 58 43 12 –1 18 (-2.5%)
BMI 35.5 34.1 –1.4 (-3.9%)

This mon­th was OK for me. For­ward pro­gress, but I could have been bet­ter.

My goal for June was to not eat out any week­night. I did not always stick to it, but I did sig­nif­i­cant­ly curb it. This is due to actu­al­ly doing week­ly meal prep with the Tup­per­ware I had bought but just let sit around before. Now that I can just pull some­thing out of the fridge and give it a quick nuke before eat­ing, I am much less like­ly to be lazy about cook­ing and clean­ing than I was before.

My goal for July — not eat­ing any snacks from the office kitchen.

And as for the expen­di­ture side of things, here are my lift­ing num­bers.

Lift May 1RM June 1RM Diff
Bench Press 219 158 –61 (-27.9%)
Dead­lift 284 301 +17 (6.0%)
Over­head Press 148 148 = (0%)
Back Squat 191 209 +18 (9.4%)
Wilks 484.27 479.32 –4.95 (-1.0%)

Still on Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 pro­gram, and I worked in the extra “Big But Bor­ing” acces­so­ry lifts this mon­th. It seems to mar­gin­al­ly help my endurance; I have a lit­tle bit extra left in the tank for the fol­low­ing cycle.

I reset my bench press num­bers because I failed on a top set with the safeties set just a touch too low. (Or may­be my weight gain made my chest thick­er than before). The bar­bell pinned me again­st the bench and I did not even have the ener­gy for a roll of shame. Scared of dying alone like this, I ordered some dumb­bells that I can safe­ly drop to the sides. I am now dou­bling the dumb­bell num­ber to get a rough equiv­a­lent bar­bell num­ber for the pur­pose of the­se write-ups. Doing the dumb­bell ver­sion is decid­ed­ly tougher and I start­ed low to make sure I am using prop­er form.

I also failed on my top set of over­head press. May­be just too much of a jump from last mon­th, or may­be I am just too close to my body’s phys­i­cal lim­its, but this lift has always had the slow­est pro­gress for me any­way. It might be time for me to break out the frac­tion­al plates instead of round­ing to the near­est 5 pound mark for the­se.

Incre­men­tal gains on dead­lift and back squat. Hope­ful­ly those keep mov­ing up slow­ly but steadi­ly.

211 puts me into the 30+ BMI “Class I Obe­se” range. Glad I was able to move out of Class II and hope to con­tin­ue drop­ping down. Next stop is 185, my Overweight/Obese bar­ri­er!

Legend of Tarzan

A few weeks ago, I signed up for WB Tick­ets, where you can get free tick­ets to advanced screen­ings of new movies. The first one I was able to snag was for Leg­end of Tarzan.

Tarzan poster

I was not very excit­ed by the trail­ers, but I am not one to turn down a free movie. And I am a big fan of Christoph Waltz. On the Mon­day before gen­er­al release, I ran home after work, changed into a t-shirt and bas­ket­ball shorts, and caught the train down to the Dol­by The­ater. Hol­ly­wood and High­land is always jam-packed with tourists, so I did not know where to go from the sta­tion. Besides the usu­al throng, there were met­al secu­ri­ty bar­ri­ers along Hol­ly­wood Boule­vard and lines for Tarzan pop-ups in the par­tial­ly-closed street. The first looked like a pho­to booth with some card­board cut-outs. The sec­ond was big­ger and looked like a jun­gle-themed bar. I walk towards the Dol­by The­ater entrance and there are addi­tion­al bar­ri­ers from the street up to the the­ater to keep passers-by from inter­rupt­ing some sort of red car­pet-ish event. There is no actu­al red car­pet, and no press, but the crowds are just stand­ing along the bar­ri­ers with cam­era phones in hand.

I ask a secu­ri­ty guard how I get into the movie screen­ing, and he tells me to go to the box office. The box office is on the oth­er side of the bar­ri­ers, but I talked to anoth­er guard right by it on my side, and he tells me the line starts on the street. I head back out to the street and go to the begin­ning of the bar­ri­ers, where a third secu­ri­ty guard impa­tient­ly tells me the screen­ing pass says exact­ly where I am sup­posed to line up. I go to the cor­rect spot, which I had pre­vi­ous­ly dis­count­ed because there was a stand for a local radio sta­tion there and I thought it was a line for anoth­er event. It turns out, the radio sta­tion was check­ing in VIPs, but the nor­mal line was also there. So I am in line, which has now dou­bled back away from the offi­cial check-in point, no one has looked at my pass yet. I oscil­late between feel­ing like a dum­b­ass and wor­ry­ing that I will not make it in. Some peo­ple in line are incred­i­bly well dressed, like they are going to the opera.

The appoint­ed start time comes and goes and I am get­ting more ner­vous. Final­ly, the line lurch­es to life. After I round the cor­ner and up the stairs, some the­ater staffers have a check­point. They scan my pass, give me a quick once-over, and bot­tom-deal me a tick­et from a giant stack. I hus­tle into the the­ater, where free pop­corn and Coke prod­ucts are avail­able. A series of ush­ers show me to my seat, which is in the very upper left cor­ner of the orches­tra lev­el, in a fold­ing chair in what I assume is a wheel­chair spot. The edge of the mez­za­nine lev­el blocks a slice of the top of the screen from my view, so I am a lit­tle annoyed, espe­cial­ly since I see peo­ple who were behind me in line mov­ing for­ward to bet­ter seats. The bet­ter-dressed peo­ple.

After every­one is set­tled, the lights dim and two men step out in front of the screen.

Tarzan screening

It turns out, this was not just an advance screen­ing. This was the Hol­ly­wood pre­mière! Those two men were David Yates and David Bar­ron, direc­tor and pro­duc­er. They pro­ceed­ed to thank the cast (who were sit­ting in the audi­ence!!!), and some behind-the-sce­nes folks, includ­ing a pro­duc­er who passed away. Also attend­ing was the First Lady of Gabon, where the aeri­al shots of Africa were filmed. And with that, the movie start­ed.

Based on the trail­er, I thought it was going to be a fair­ly stan­dard retelling of the Tarzan sto­ry. Instead, it starts lat­er in his life, when he is “civ­i­lized” and back in Eng­land, hav­ing reclaimed his family’s lands and title. He is already mar­ried to Jane, and goes back to Africa at the invi­ta­tion of the Dutch king. His orig­in sto­ry and his ear­ly rela­tion­ship with Jane are cov­ered through inter­spersed flash­backs.

The plot is so-so, along the lines of any sum­mer action/adventure flick. Every­thing keeps flow­ing despite some non­sen­si­cal points. The Earth­porn shots are amaz­ing. Samuel L. Jack­son, who I did not even know was in the movie, was comedic gold. He plays the straight man to Tarzan’s super­hu­man feats, and even though he can­not car­pet f-bomb because it is a PG-13 movie, you can see it in his facial expres­sions.

Mar­got Rob­bie has talked up her desire to play empow­ered wom­en, and this Jane def­i­nite­ly fits. Besides refus­ing to scream “like a damsel” as we saw in the trail­er, she fights again­st her cap­tors every chance she gets. The natives, on the oth­er hand, are not empow­ered at all. They are can­non fod­der in the “nature vs. tech­nol­o­gy” or “native vs. invader” or “black vs. white” war, and are basi­cal­ly just anoth­er resource at Tarzan’s dis­pos­al. Sure, Tarzan respects his adopt­ed tribe and the chief makes a valiant sac­ri­fice, but in the final show­down, the com­bined tribes lit­er­al­ly stand on the cliffs and do noth­ing as Tarzan takes out the invad­ing army sin­gle-hand­ed­ly.

All in all, see it for the great shots of Africa and for Sam Jack­son. As for me, I will put my the­o­ry to the test by dress­ing up next time to see if I get bet­ter seats.