darcydodo: (lighthouse)
I played this weekend in the Pirate BATH game, which started at Coyote Point (a little ways below SFO), went all the way down to Watsonville, approximately, and then headed back up the 1 to somewhere around Devil's Slide. This game was different than others I've played in for a couple of reasons — first of all, we got to sleep. Yay! My body failed to take much advantage of this, because I woke up after about four hours of sleep, but in theory it was nice, and even four hours is better than none. Also, we were camping near the ocean (probably why I woke up so early), so apart from the whole tiredness issue I didn't mind being awake too much — I could listen to the waves breaking, and I got to catch a glimpse of the sunrise (only a glimpse because it was behind the trees) and hear the chirping of crickets suddenly and magically be replaced with the chirping of birds.

I spent the first day dressed as a pirate, which was great at the opening of the game when lots of other people around me were dressed as pirates but by the time I was walking along the Santa Cruz boardwalk looking for particular arcade signs made me a bit conspicuous in the crowd. I didn't mind too much, though.

Another reason this game was different is that the majority of the clues were written by the teams playing. This allowed us to indulge in a wonderful guessing game of which-team-wrote-this-clue? By and large, we were totally off, although Ian did correctly guess at the Burninators' clue. Most of the clues were piratey in some way or another, and what's wonderful is the spread of pirate-ness that managed to get covered. Blood Skull & Bones used a message in a bottle plus some (helpful, which I initially read as "hateful") flotsam; the Burninators SS Pancake Wagon used eyepatches; XX-PiRated used knot-tying; Golden Booty used skulls and daggers; Briny Deep used walking the plank; Lowkey (who were divided up into donkey in a pirate hat and sloth in a pirate hat) used being stuck on a deserted island and treasure chests and eel-infested waters and things; someone used pieces of eight; someone else used sea shanties; two teams (including ours) used the game battle-ship, but in entirely different ways, and the other team also used signal flags (a standard part of the puzzle-hunter's repertoire, but also nicely piratey). And there were plenty of other piratey themes too (given that seven other teams also wrote clues), I just can't remember what off the top of my head.

Many of the locations we went were pirate-y — on the other hand, many of the locations we went were places we'd just been for No More Secrets. I felt so sorry for the BATH GC, since they must have just been kicking themselves during the entire NMS game, at Memorial Park, at the Felton Covered Bridge, at the SS Palo Alto, and at sites where we were practically, if not exactly, in the same place as before. They were all so gorgeous that we didn't mind, of course. We did, however, use it as the subject of our scathing poem that we wrote to insult Captain Bloodbath and get a special doubloon:

With Bloodbath we sought to explore
And plunder for booty galore,
But the map was the same
As a previous Game —
We've been on this voyage before!

Once again, I brought my camera but failed to take any pictures. *sigh*

In addition to the eighteen (well, kind of seventeen plus a meta plus a meta-meta, but that's another story) main puzzles, there were some other cool things going on:

We got one or two or three mini-puzzles at every site in addition to the main puzzles, and while many (though not all!) of them were very simple, they provided good things to do in the car. I was navigating, though, so got to do many fewer of them than Ian or Michael; Corey, on the other hand, was driving, and so didn't really get to do any at all. Occasionally my humanities background and even general upbringing were useful — one mini-puzzle consisted of indexing into the names of famous artists, bits of whose paintings were shown, and I knew almost all of them (and could call my parents with a precise question to find out one name I'd forgotten), and one main puzzle even seemed utterly trivial to me but apparently would have been much harder for the rest of the team. On the one hand, I kind of don't believe that; on the other hand, I did see some evidence of that in other teams. Which leads me to the next cool thing...

A barter economy! At the beginning of the race, they'd given us a pouch of skulls, which were worth points. Now, they said we could do with them what we liked, but they suggested we might wish to gamble with other teams or bribe them with skulls. They also said that we would need a fair number for the first evening, when there would be a pirate carnival. (The carnival ended up consisting of petanc, liar's dice, a game of haggle, and firing a cannon.) So we didn't really do anything with our skulls on the first day, though we heard later that some other teams had indeed been exchanging skulls. The second day, though, after the carnival was over, the skull-trading economy really boomed. For us, it started when coed astronomy Mateys and Wenches with Astrolabes phoned us and suggested that whichever of us first figured out how to solve the current puzzle (which was taking a long time and being tricky) sell a hint to the other team. Well, we solved the puzzle first and sold them their hint for five skulls, and for a while that was that, but a bit later in the morning hints started to be sold right and left, and we made out like thieves pirates. As Corey later said, probably the optimal strategy for making skulls would be to solve a puzzle quickly, drive to the next site and get that puzzle, and then drive back to the previous site and solve the next puzzle there while selling hints for the previous puzzle. Of course, the extra driving time would probably kill one, but from the perspective of greed it would totally have worked.

We had a big long discussion last night after we got back about hint-systems and scoring and timing issues and what different levels of team like; this is entirely standard after every game, but sometimes it's prompted by what one didn't like in a game, whereas last night it was pretty much prompted by feeling that the BATH GC had done a really good job on all fronts.


Mar. 13th, 2007 07:58 pm
darcydodo: (taft)
I've finally decided to make a userpic for puzzle hunts. This is a slightly altered version of our new team logo (Scrabble tile-stacking courtesy of mconst).

This post is also in no way a suggestion that [livejournal.com profile] lahosken might wish to make an lj account solely for the purposes of reading locked posts that may also deal with puzzle hunts. (You know that you can still comment anonymously if you so desire, right?)
darcydodo: (hp - wingardium leviosa)
You may remember that a few weekends ago I playtested the Hogwarts puzzle-hunt. Well, now the actual event has taken place, which means that I can finally reveal all. I wrote this back then, just after we got home.

As I said before, the SNOUT Hogwarts game was certainly the finest puzzle-hunt I've ever played in, but also it was the finest one I've ever heard described. (This was, after all, my first full-length game.) There were, of course, glitches, but this was the playtesting weekend, and besides, with the exception of one puzzle which they hopefully just scrapped (by the time I actually post this I guess I'll know whether or not they did) and the first serious wand-glitch, nothing actually reached, or even approached, the "I'm not having fun" stage. But I'm getting ahead of myself with that mention of the wand, so let me start at the beginning.

Continued behind cut: long but hopefully entertaining )

Starting from the Emeryville Amtrak station, photos are now up on Flickr!
darcydodo: (goombarcy)
I'm having an essay crisis, but The Apprentice: Zorg is finally over. It was majorly glitched in some unfortunate ways (all the glitches could have been rectified with a few extra days, but we know full well that if we'd had the extra few days, we would still have had the exact same glitches, because the nth law of [something] is that work expands to fill the available time), but most teams seemed to have had a reasonably good or very good time regardless.

A few photos from the event are up — I'm hoping that more teams will send stuff as they recover.

It's pretty clear that I'm having an essay crisis, isn't it? I mean, I'm posting on lj.... *sigh*


darcydodo: (Default)

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