Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Input sought on puzzle cache series

I have a series of six caches in Highland Park in Saint Paul called Plato's Five Gems. Four of them are puzzles, one is a two-stage multi that has a puzzle at the first stage (by the way, this post by Spinowner suggests to me that I am correct, or at least justified, in classifying this one as a multi and not a puzzle), and one is a traditional.

Some recent posts on the MnGCA forums have given me an idea about this series. First, Silent Bob suggests in this post that there should be an 18 month time limit on caches. Second, pfalstad suggests in this post that hard puzzles should not be taking up space in city parks in cache-dense areas.

Some folks have had trouble with these puzzles, so I guess they're hard in some sense, and Highland Park is indeed a city park, and this series takes up a good fraction of that entire park's cache-able area.

Here's my idea: the "container" for the cache that ties them all together, Plato's Five Gems: Bunganator's Grand Slam, is a large icosahedral die, and the finder signs one of the 20 faces to log it. (See this blog post by Sokratz for a discussion on whether this is a proper cache container.) At this moment, there are 10 finders, and so there are 10 faces left to sign. I propose that when there are 20 logs on the grand slam cache, I will archive the entire series.

The only thing that gives me pause is the expectation of cache permanence in the guidelines. And I don't want to archive the series simply because some people don't do or hate or ignore puzzles. But still, it might be fun to create a sort of race for the last 10 finders, and then the icosahedral die would be a keepsake (or potential travel bug?) containing the names of 20 puzzlers.

Input welcome.


The O'Schumachers said...

You asked for it, so here are my two cents (wish they were valued like Euro cents, but not)
Cache density: I understand the guideline to be 528 feet. I think this should be the “rule” and then stick with it. The ambiguity of GC is causing the issue. Bungantor and I bumped into each other at Hillcrest, and we worked it out. I also don’t accept any complaints about current cache density. If I placed a cache outside of 528 then what is the complaint? As time goes on it will become far more difficult for any new people to participate, so I would anticipate seeing areas becoming more and more populated. I think most of complaining comes from the ”I started playing before you mentality” which makes people have differing perspectives on this issue. BTW: Highland Park is not dense per the guidelines and I did not realize fractions came with positive or negative connotations. (“good fraction”). Is that a math thing?
Multi versus Puzzle: I am surprised multis are still used because of the numbers factors. KnowsShoe (f.k.a. KnowsChad) thought this too. So, I guess I don’t agree with GCs suggestion about “power trails”. I think multi’s are better served for Geocaching to still have a Waymarking aspect which provides finders an experience. Example: I am planning to do the Minnehaha Tour multi. It will probably take a few hours for one cache, but it appears to be very interesting. On the flip side, I just found a multi which is 17 miles apart. I doubt I’ll get to that anytime soon unless it’s by chance. At $4 a gallon is it worth it?
Puzzles in parks: It’s a cache isn’t it? I think the issue is more related to not knowing there is a final nearby after you have placed one and are going to publish. One my last hide, I emailed SJ to confirm. He kindly obliged. Perhaps could devise a way to automate this without disclosing puzzle solutions.
Containers: Geocaching is not Waymarking, so I think it would be appropriate to at least sign something. Being creative is a challenge in this game. After all, how many pill containers does the world need?
However, I don’t think we should be vandalizing a permanent or natural object. I read somewhere a great quote: “It’s a fine line between placing a cache and littering” and think the same could be said in cases about signing objects.
I loved your GS final. My 100th find! Stand your ground. It’s a brilliant challenge. I think YOU should keep the first polliwogialhedralthingajimmy as a souvenir when it’s reached 20 and then put another one out.
Permanence: I think Surfer Joe is monitoring the activity of the user, not the cache. I think that’s a better solution. I saw a note posted on one particular cache page indicating a possible archive if owner did not respond. I also came across a nearby cache and the profile page of the owner indicated the user had not logged in for over a year!
There you go.

firstbass said...

Hi O'Shoestorm,

Thanks for the input. We'll see how much action these caches get this summer. If it evolves that the only finders are winter carnival medallion hunters who chuck the cache in the trash out of frustration, then I'll be archiving them for a different reason!

In "good fraction", I meant "good" as a synomym for "large". No value statement.

Regarding automated coordinate approval, I read somewhere, I think in the national forums, that people were concerned that if coordinate approval was automated, then people could use the system to triangulate and determine the final coordinates of puzzles without doing the puzzles.

But so what? If I really want to subvert the puzzles, I can just talk previous finders into giving me the final coordinates, but then I don't have the experience of doing the puzzle.

I don't care too much how people find my puzzle caches -- I'm just happy when people decide to spend their time on them. In particular, I don't care if people brute-force the puzzle with Google Earth or some other method. Part of the fun of making the puzzle is trying to brute-proof it.

Shawn_Kummrow said...

Hey 1B. Stand your ground. If someone doesn't like puzzles, then they don't have to do them. I know the frustration of placing a cache only to find that it's too close to a final coord of a puzzle, but who cares. I agree with you though, GC should let you check the coords ahead of time and if folks want to "brute force" the puzzle with triangulation, so be it. I'll stick to doing them the right way and asking the cache owner for hints if I need to. Puzzle challenge you mentally to solve them, then physically, when you go find them. Even though I'm not in certain areas, I still try to solve the puzzles. I solved Yoda, pretty quickly, but I've yet to make it down there to claim the find. Keep up the good work on the puzzles...cuz "I like puzzles" too. ;)