I'd seen the GC interface a couple of years ago, tinkered with it. More recently, I'd used ClueKeeper as a player for a test run, Shinteki Decathlon 8, and playtesting the 2013 Elevate Tutoring puzzlehunt. I knew it had changed: there was an iPhone client. Perhaps more importantly, I had changed: I'd finally upgraded to a new-enough phone to run ClueKeeper's Android client.
So I slapped together a little test “hunt”: answer words tended to be “test”; locations were spots on the sidewalk in front of my apartment. So far, I'd played with the hunt-writing interface and I'd played in hunts, but this was my first time seeing how that hunt would appear to players.
What did I learn? I learned that the hunt-composing UI is well thought-out. To set up a puzzle, you go through a few screens of UI; those screens are ordered as the players will encounter stages of the puzzle. There's a screen to configure what the players will do on their way to the puzzle (optional message, location, “start code”), at the puzzle (hints, answers, “partials”), and after solving (congratulatory messages, nudges where to go next). Within each screen, the UI elements again correspond to the order in which teams encounter things. In a puzzle's “preamble”, you can optionally specify that a team's GPS confirm they're at the right spot; you can optionally set a “start code” for them to give before the puzzle proper starts. The hunt-composing UI presents the elements in that order: GPS, start code. Thus, you can infer from that if both those options are on, then teams will have to first go to the location, then enter a start code. Obvious once you see it. I needed to see it, though.
I said “option” there a lot. As a hunt creator, you have plenty of those. To me, it didn't seem like an overwhelming amount of choice; it might help that I've played in Shintekis and DASHes and so I can look at a terse option description and say “Oh yeah, a Shinteki-style start code” or “I bet this comes in handy if you're using the Universal Longshots Scoring System.” Other folks… can probably figure it out. You can also set hunt-wide defaults for these settings.
ClueKeeper does not yet do everything I could imagine in my wildest fantasies. By the time you read this, though, it might. Whenever I asked Rich, “Hey, is there some way I could make it do _______?” and the answer was “not yet,” that answer continued with a well-thought out plan of how that feature could be added. That's the awesome thing; this program is being created by folks who are awesome Game Control folks in their own right; and they furthermore know professional and amateur gamerunners who are lavish with design advice and feature requests. They've set up a framework that's well-suited to its task. As folks say “Hey, we're running a game in a few months, can we use ClueKeeper to do X?” the answer's likely to be “Thanks to the advanced warning, yeah you will be able to do X.”
At the recent GC Summit, Rich said that in addition to live events, they also want some persistent in-the-world hunts available. So if there's some data-lush area of your hometown that could be viewed as a flurry of puzzles, you might want to learn about the platform and talk to the ClueKeeper folks about setting something up. (Of course, if your puzzly city site has a big old octothorpe in it, I think you should turn it into an Octothorpean puzzle instead; but it turns out not all such sites have octothorpes.) Check it out; it's pretty cool.