Larry Hosken: New: 2-Tone Game: Pacing

Yar wrote some email talking about the 2-Tone Game. One of my answers got pretty long. I guess eventually it should find its way into a game write-up. But it won't if I lose it in my old mail queue. So I'll copy it here.

(I don't think there are any spoilers here.)

> I'd be really curious as to how you think this format went -- since it's
> such a drastic change from the standard game format, I'm sure that a lot of
> things went differently than you expected (for better or worse). Any
> insights?

Yeah, it didn't go as I expected. I announced all that stuff about "leisurely" and "take it easy", but still expected a wave of hyper-eager folks to nigh-overwhelm the server at 10:00 sharp and then race and race to be first to finish. But that didn't happen. People trickled in, solved some puzzles, took breaks, resumed...

One aspect where wrong assumptions lead to wrong decisions--

There's this logic on the server that tries to send teams to the same location at the same time so that gamers have a better chance of bumping into each other. But there haven't been that many people playing at the same time.

That same logic means that two people on a team who each use the server, each one using their own account, can get confused and dismayed--they solve puzzles in the same order, but get sent to different puzzles, just because one of them entered the answer at 10:58 and the other one entered the answer at 11:02. The server sends people to locations based on time of day, hoping that folks will thus bump into each other... but that's not obvious. The confusion isn't a terrible thing, and you can imagine it being justified by a trade-off. But the other half of that trade-off turns out to not exist.

(I should probably dismantle that logic.)

Another thing I didn't expect--I figured someone would have finished the game by now. There's a few folks who, like yourself, are just one puzzle from finishing. But no-one's finished. So... I mis-characterized gamists as hyper-competitive hyper-kinetic folks.

It's strangely satisfying to check the game logs and realize that people are playing this game during their lunch hours and visiting sites after work. Like, uhm, it's nice to see that they're making this thing fit into their lives.

Over the course of the week, there's been about as much activity as one week-end day. Not so much going on at any given hour, maybe just one person playing at a time. But it adds up.

Another thing that felt good about the pace: When it rained so hard on Sunday, I was glad the game wasn't "forcing" anyone to get wet. (A couple of folks were at puzzle sites around then, but they could have stayed home.)

But I know that the pace isn't right for all people. I talked with my friend Andrea Frome, who's played some BANGs but didn't want to play this game. She likes the focus of BANGs. Andrea's pretty intense. For her, "leisurely" is a bad thing. I bet there's a bunch of people who feel that way.

Maybe there's correlation between the hyper-kinetic folks and folks who don't want to play a leisurely-paced game. That might explain the hey-it's-been-five-days-and-nobody's-finished-yet thing.

Anyhow, there are good aspects and bad aspects. Maybe a way to keep the good aspects but clear away some bad aspects: have an optional-but-encouraged starting event that gets players together at the start. Then maybe more players would be playing at the same time, and thus more of them would bump into each other at puzzle sites. And it would be an excuse to be sociable.

Overall... I think I like "live" events better. I like having a web-based "LEON" for a live event—it worked well for the Back-to-School BANG. I'd like to apply lessons from the 2-Tone experience to a live event.

But I could see doing other just-set-up-the-web-site-and-point-people-at-it thing. The lack of logistical stress is nice :-)

Tags: puzzle hunts 2tonegame
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