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Field Offices
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What did you think of the field offices?
Good Idea, Good Execution
66%
 66%  [ 12 ]
Good Idea, Execution Needs Improvement
11%
 11%  [ 2 ]
Neutral
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Didn't Like It
22%
 22%  [ 4 ]
Total Votes : 18

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Peter Sarrett



Joined: 26 May 2007
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 12:47 pm    Post subject: Voluntary restraint Reply with quote

Rich,

I love the idea of an honor code about calling in, but I fear it's doomed to failure without GC enforcement. At some point, when the van gets cranky and everyone's stuck and tired of a puzzle, the "we agreed to wait 15 more minutes before calling in" group in the van is apt to lose to the "I want the pain to end" camp. If the competitive teams opted in to an enforced system, however, GC would politely say that they can't get any hints for x more minutes. The question of whether or not that's the desired Game experience is left as an exercise to the reader.

For what it's worth, Briny Deep starts out VERY reluctant to call in. As we get tired, our patience for wall-banging diminishes and we're more likely to call sooner. We won't call unless everyone in the van agrees to it. If anyone feels like it's too early to call, we'll work at the clue a bit more and poll the van again if no progress is made.

We work a little differently in Shinteki, where we budget our time in the second half of the event to try to reach all the clues. But then, you buy hints in Shinteki so the competition is self-regulating.

An opt-in competitive system, where teams in the same Game can play either recreationally or competitively and their selection is enforced by different GC behavior, would be a really interesting idea. Briny Deep would be evenly split about which division to join, though. Confused
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Jasters



Joined: 02 Jun 2007
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

With the exception of the final one at Microsoft, I didn't get to experience any of the field offices, but I think the concept has a lot of merit. It makes a nice blend between road rally and conference room events and allows the slower teams to experience most or all of the Game proper while the faster teams are kept occupied in the offices. I know there are teams that dislike conference room puzzling, but are there any teams that actually hate it? Short of lengthening the Game route another 50% (and liberally skipping the slower teams) I'm not sure there is a way to completely please the faster teams.

I like the idea of giving the teams a puzzle for the road. We spent a lot of time in transit and it would've been nice to have an extra puzzle to solve. Perhaps the locations after the field offices could hand out one of the cold cases to teams that didn't make it into the office.

Besides missing the field offices, we were skipped over three of the route clues and each time it was completely seamless. We sometimes had our suspicions but we never knew when or if we were skipped. This lack of knowledge coupled with "catching up" to the lead teams after each field office really helped us stay motivated.

Still, it sucks learning you've been skipped even after the fact and it would be nice if it was somewhat avoidable. I played in the last Shinteki and I liked knowing the closing times beforehand. It did cause a bit of time pressure on some clues but this is much preferable to missing a clue entirely.

I love the idea of live scoring, but then I am the most competitive person on my team. It is sometimes difficult for me to just "go with the flow" and up-to-date scores would only exacerbate this. And opting out wouldn't be a very good solution because knowing that the data could be available would only torture me.

Determining when hints are taken is one of the toughest decisions for our team. We hate taking them and even when we are not making any progress on a clue, we often postpone calling in because one of us has a "tickle" telling them the clue is about to drop. Timed hints would resolve a lot of our decision problems but then we run the risk of missing out on an "aha" moment.
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richb



Joined: 22 May 2007
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 2:25 pm    Post subject: Re: Voluntary restraint Reply with quote

Peter Sarrett wrote:

For what it's worth, Briny Deep starts out VERY reluctant to call in. As we get tired, our patience for wall-banging diminishes and we're more likely to call sooner. We won't call unless everyone in the van agrees to it. If anyone feels like it's too early to call, we'll work at the clue a bit more and poll the van again if no progress is made.


This actually sounds like, in practice, pretty much what we end up doing too. We actually start off every Game with the lofty intent of finishing the entire thing without having to call for help, and the first call is always the hardest. Once that first call happens, the bar for when to call on all subsequent clues is substantially lower. We too have the policy that if anyone in the van doesn't want us to call, we don't, and by having some basic guidelines for when it is ok to call, it has made it a bit easier to gain consensus.

Well, I feel like I've gotten plenty of information now to run a Game, at least in terms of structure, that all teams can enjoy. Now if only there was an easy way to come up with all the clues themselves... Smile
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DaleNeal-GC



Joined: 21 May 2007
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 2:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JanChong-GC wrote:
I think live scoring would be an interesting idea during an event. Watching that leaderboard in real time was fascinating. We didn't do it because... it didn't really occur to us.


Well, that's not entirely true. I half-heartedly suggested making STATUS# on the phone line tell you your score, the top score, and the average score. It was pretty soundly voted down by all parties present, including myself. =)

My personal view is that real-time scoring would encourage extra competitiveness from moderately competitive teams and would on the whole detract from the event, even though the top 4-5 teams would really like it. I think of the number of times coed astronomy has wondered "did we get skipped?" or "how far behind are we?", and I know there's no way we could resist pouring over that data if we were to have access to it. Think of how disheartened we get when we see teams leaving a clue site we're at, and imagine that we could now see teams ahead of us leaving future clue sites. I know all of that info would certainly detract from my clue solving ability, personally.

Also, the issue with live scoring is that the server has to work perfectly. Given that I knew only GC would see the scores in real time, I didn't have to bother testing that functionality extensively, since I could fix the issue after the fact with all of the server logs. Knowing that multiple GC members *out in the field* called me within *a minute* of seeing a single team mis-routed, I don't even want to imagine the phone bombing that would occur in a real-time scoring game where the scores got off.

richb wrote:
One possibility to address this would have been to do for the non-cold-case clues what was done for the cold-case clues, which was to have predetermined times at which teams could ask for hints, and subsequent hints.


Yar can give more info on this, but we had been discussing a more constrained hint system until several of our members helped man phones for Hogwarts: The Draconian Prophecy and got a better perspective on how teams feel working on clues late at night. After that, I think our philosophy was that teams would have the most fun if we gave them as much or as little help as they asked for.
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richb



Joined: 22 May 2007
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DaleNeal-GC wrote:

I think of the number of times coed astronomy has wondered "did we get skipped?" or "how far behind are we?", and I know there's no way we could resist pouring over that data if we were to have access to it .... I know all of that info would certainly detract from my clue solving ability, personally.

Would it make a difference if the information was only available when you weren't working on a clue? Like say, only for the 5-10 minutes after each solve, might approximate that.

DaleNeal-GC wrote:

Also, the issue with live scoring is that the server has to work perfectly.

Yes, this is a very good point.

DaleNeal-GC wrote:

After that, I think our philosophy was that teams would have the most fun if we gave them as much or as little help as they asked for.

This is also a fair point. This sort thing should almost certainly be opt-in.... But then again, did anyone complain about the system you had for the pit stops? I noticed a few times people approached Yar before they were scheduled to get a hint and he turned them away and told them to come back in a few minutes. Did this cause any bad vibes for anyone? I guess this is more a question for the teams out there.
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neilfred



Joined: 27 May 2007
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 2007 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rich -- regarding team hint-taking practice... Most of the teams I've played on have pretty much followed a guideline that we call when we're not having fun anymore. I think this probably winds up matching up reasonably well with your "fifteen minutes from the last new idea" system, though we've never explicitly specified any particular timing for it.

Dale wrote:
My personal view is that real-time scoring would encourage extra competitiveness from moderately competitive teams and would on the whole detract from the event, even though the top 4-5 teams would really like it.

Speaking as someone who usually plays on teams that fall somewhere around the middle of the pack, I think that live scoring would push me to be more competitive, to work harder, and probably I would actually wind up solving (a little) faster. I think I would enjoy that kind of competitiveness, particularly if I'm right that I would overall be faster. That said, I can certainly understand that other people would similarly be driven to be more competitive but would then have less fun.

Peter wrote:
An opt-in competitive system, where teams in the same Game can play either recreationally or competitively and their selection is enforced by different GC behavior, would be a really interesting idea. Briny Deep would be evenly split about which division to join, though.

I think that kind of system pretty much needs to offer the option of downgrading from hardcore to mellow. In which case, you could always enter as hardcore, and then if at some point you're frustrated enough to want more help than GC will give a hardcore team, you just downgrade. Though I suppose the decision to downgrade to mellow could create more conflict within the team than the question of whether or not to call in currently creates...
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YARRRRR-GC



Joined: 21 May 2007
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2007 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
My personal view is that real-time scoring would encourage extra competitiveness from moderately competitive teams and would on the whole detract from the event, even though the top 4-5 teams would really like it.


One possible negative side effect that I would see from this is that if you combined this with a free hint system, I think people would take hints sooner than they normally would (i.e. when the lead team got, say, two clues ahead of them). I think if you did this, you'd need a more rigidly enforced hint structure.
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sparCKL



Joined: 21 May 2007
Posts: 14
Location: Mountain View, CA

PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2007 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I believe that "live scoring" would really change the dynamics of a Game--I don't know if it would be good or bad in the long run, but it would definitely be different. Here's my anecdotal evidence from the Hogwarts Dry Run:

We had only three teams, and we observed none of the normal spread between the fastest and slowest teams.* Since we had observers riding with each team, we also know why this was. There were many situations where all three teams were solving at the same location, and when the first team drove off, the other two immediately began talking about taking a hint. The impulse to "catch up" is much stronger when you can actually see the other team leaving you behind. As a result, the three Dry Run teams tended to travel in a cluster rather than spreading out.

So I'd guess that with live scoring, even if all you know is your current ranking (e.g., "10th out of 20 teams"), many teams would be more willing to call in for hints to keep from falling too far behind. But that might not be a bad thing! It would certainly be a more natural way to control the spread; i.e., by giving slower teams a way to motivate themselves--but only if they choose to partake of that information.

I encourage an enterprising GC to test this hypothesis with their next Game. Smile In general, Snout always approves of new Game innovations, and scoring/ranking is clearly a big issue for many teams.

* A typical spread over the entire weekend is about eight hours between the fastest and slowest teams. Snout tries to limit this with bonus clues and invisible skipping; we can keep it to four hours pretty well, and with great effort, under two hours. But we prefer not to fiddle with the natural state of affairs too much, unless we have time constraints on locations; and we try to keep those to a minimum.
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sparCKL



Joined: 21 May 2007
Posts: 14
Location: Mountain View, CA

PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2007 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

richb wrote:
DaleNeal-GC wrote:

I think of the number of times coed astronomy has wondered "did we get skipped?" or "how far behind are we?", and I know there's no way we could resist pouring over that data if we were to have access to it .... I know all of that info would certainly detract from my clue solving ability, personally.

Would it make a difference if the information was only available when you weren't working on a clue? Like say, only for the 5-10 minutes after each solve, might approximate that.

That's an interesting idea. I might not object to a phone system which told us our current ranking every time we solved a clue: for example, "Congratulations, Snout! You've solved 'Bug Recording.' You are the 10th team to solve this Clue." But that would really suck if you're the last team to solve a clue. :P Maybe only give ranking for the first five teams? Or the top half? I dunno. Wherever you set that threshold, somebody's going to be unhappy when they land on the wrong side of it.
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JustinSantamaria-GC
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Joined: 14 May 2007
Posts: 4
Location: Mountain View

PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DaleNeal-GC wrote:
... we had been discussing a more constrained hint system until several of our members helped man phones for Hogwarts: The Draconian Prophecy and got a better perspective on how teams feel working on clues late at night. After that, I think our philosophy was that teams would have the most fun if we gave them as much or as little help as they asked for.


I was a big proponent of a manned GC with "give the teams what they want." An opt-in system is definitely interesting, but unlike a BANG or even Shinteki, that overnight leg can be a killer, even with the best teams.

I think that when a team calls into GC, especially a competitive one, having a 'keep them happy' philosophy makes a phone call a win-win situation, and not a frustrating experience. It turns out in NMS, none of the teams really called in for help that got them a 'leg up' on the competition -- good teams seemed to be very self-regulating regarding taking hints. Additionally, GC _NEVER_ gave away the 'aha!' unless EXPLICITLY asked to do so. Most teams wanted the tiniest of nudges. The phone was basically used as a "We're not having fun anymore" lifeline.

Several teams expressed some frustration with our 'level of help' with Propagation until after they solved it and realized why we may have been dodging some of the questions! In a system where there were very specific rules about hints just doesn't seem to be as compelling to me, at least for the bulk of the Game. I thought our dual hint system (route clues vs. field offices) struck a decent balance.

I think teams (even the competitive ones), as understandable as a structured live hint system would be, could really start to resent it -- and it just wouldn't be the positive experience that I think our GC as a whole had while on the phone with teams.
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