This week: a roundtable debriefing with the crew behind Ghost Patrol BANG! Thanks to Brian, David, Greg, Jenn, Jesse, Matt, and Rachel for chatting with me in DeeAnn's absence.
[ Download mp3 - 44 MB ]
00:59 - introductions
02:30 - whence Ghost Patrol BANG?
05:50 - wedding first, Game later
07:53 - Desert Taxi + lowkey = crazy delicious
12:18 - SHaRC vs. OWL
14:40 - application expectation
18:06 - simulcasting
22:40 - the consequences of over-preparation
25:50 - production value enablers
28:57 - "But it's still a paper puzzle...right?"
33:05 - the new kid on the block
35:15 - GC roll call: Greg
35:50 - GC roll call: Jesse
36:29 - GC roll call: Brian
38:07 - GC roll call: Jenn
40:11 - GC roll call: David
41:50 - GC roll call: Matt
43:15 - GC roll call: Rachel
44:19 - what's next?
44:58 - get your own Puzzled Pint franchise!
45:21 - upcoming events: Iron Puzzler (winter)
47:30 - The End
Music: instrumentals from "Code Monkey" and "Skullcrusher Mountain" by Jonathan Coulton
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This was a good interview with a good bunch of folks :-) But I want to sound a note of caution on that "You can let teams know about problems via Twitter".
When I watched a clue station in San Francisco, I let teams know about the problem with our game map. But I started by asking: "Have you been checking Twitter?" 90% of the time, the answer was "Nope."
I don't have a better way to notify teams than Twitter. I'm just sayin' that if you rely on Twitter for this, it's gonna let you down. (Though that might change as more teams adopt it and learn how to use it etc etc)
Yeah, in order for Twitter to actively notify users, the teams would have to follow the GC user *and* tell Twitter to send those updates to the team's mobile phone(s) by SMS text message. (You can specify this, per-user-you're-following, on twitter.com.)
This is what we did during Shinteki Disneyland, but I'd been using Twitter for a while and already knew about this feature. If Twitter had been more popular in early 2008, Team Snout would have used this method in Midnight Madness--and written up detailed instructions for all teams--instead of using our kludgey email-to-SMS gateway script, which turned out to be pretty unreliable.
The overall problem, IMHO, is twofold: 1) SMS is the only widely adopted standard for mobile "push" notifications; and 2) SMS can be flaky. There's still no substitute for having staffed clue locations. Well, unless you're the Microsoft Intern Game and have access to pimped-out company laptops with GPS and 3G data modems.
Thanks again for chatting with us. It was a lot of fun.
A few of things:
A shout out - I think it was mentioned but it is worth mentioning again how great Larry was in helping us put on this BANG. His generosity with his time and knowledge and webapp and manual labor was appreciated and his attitude and sense of humor are infectious.
Another shout out: The same goes for Alexandra who really is just an unstoppable force. We were dealing with friends, neighbors and ourselves while she managed to wrangle an all volunteer cast of total strangers; strangers not only to us but to the game community. Awesome.
Lastly, some meandering thoughtage - When mobile web was becoming much more common, I don't think it would have been a long shot to see it as somewhat of a threat to puzzle hunts. Does it cheapen a trivia clue if the team your presenting it to has Google in their van or, as now, in their pocket? I think it's great to see how GCs have adapted their game presentations and their clues to recognize and utilize the ubiquitous presence of the mobile web. I had originally wanted to write an iPhone app to be the OWL answer checking, clue giving device. This would have been more unwieldy than we were willing to deal with and would have limited us to teams with iPhones. Larry's webapp was the perfect solution for us. Of course, this assumed all teams would have smartphones. Only one team in approximately a bajillion did not and we were able to work with that. The way Shinteki: Disneyland used Twitter was great. Friending a fake profile (Hannah Hunts?) on Facebook for preclue info for Paparazzi was cool (forgive me if I misremember). These things exist and are often easily adaptable to different aspects of puzzle hunts (immersion, communication, research). Right now I'm taking a crack at using the Google App Inventor to create a relay stopwatch for the Hood To Coast relay. Again, using Google App inventor for Game aspects would limit playability to Android consumers but the potential to create locally distributed apps is great and of course makes me think of ways to use it for puzzle hunts. What other existing services could be used to enhance gameplay? Could teams get something extra for checking into sites with Foursquare? I don't know; I've never used Foursquare. I'm not sure I had a point here, just rambling.
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