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Upcoming game projects exciting me right now - Many a mickle maks a muckle

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April 3rd, 2013


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01:24 pm - Upcoming game projects exciting me right now
1) As previously hinted at, the DASH puzzle hunt is coming to London this year. This will be the fifth annual-ish occurrence of DASH, whose full title - Different Areas, Same Hunt - neatly explains the premise. One big problem with real-world puzzle hunts is that they only take place in one location; DASH runs the same hunt in lots of different cities. Historically all the locations have been in the US; this year, there will be an event in a to-be-disclosed Central London location starting at 10am on Saturday 25th May, and fourteen events across the US one week beforehand. (Not quite sure how that will work in practice whether we'll all be required to avoid spoilers for a week; we'll see.)

Teams of 3-5 take place and travel a distance of probably 2-3 miles over the course of most of a day, solving something like 8-10 hunt-style puzzles. I believe that the travel is not timed, so (a) there's no advantage to jogging around (good, otherwise I would cry) and (b) there's no problem in stopping for toilet breaks, snacks and so on. The hunt is expected to take most teams 4-7 hours, and other cities seem to be applying a hard deadline of 8 hours. I don't know who's running the event, other than "not me", though I have my suspicions. It's a non-profit event and fees are £25/team. You can see previous years' puzzles from DASH 4, DASH 3, DASH 2 and DASH 1. They are salty enough to be worth spending a day on them, especially if you're not familiar with the hunt "work out what you're meant to be doing" format.

On the other hand, DASH does go out of its way to be accessible:
  • it's possible to register for Easier Puzzles at the very start of the hunt;
  • it's always possible to take hints on each puzzle if they're required, and there's no worse punishment than a missed scoring opportunity for not solving a puzzle;
  • I believe there really is an ethos of offering as many hints as are required in order to get people through as many puzzles as possible and making sure people are having fun at all times.
I reckon that, particularly for the first year in London, the organisers will be erring on the side of keeping things newcomer-friendly because so many participants will be newcomers - so if you find yourself thinking "this looks potentially fun but may be too hard for me", I reckon people will be almost bending over backwards to make it worth your time and effort, before later years offering the potential for people to send themselves down black-diamond slopes.

I'm very confident about this being a spectacular event - and, more to the point, I'm quite hopeful about it being a tremendous social event, bringing together lots of interesting people who would surely be interested in other interesting puzzle-related events over time. I've been snapped up onto a team already, but I can quite easily think of a couple of dozen of you who I think would enjoy it and I hope to see you there. Registration is open now and set to remain open for another three weeks, though there is a generous limit on places; I believe London is limited to 25 teams, of which two spots have been taken... and I hope to get our spot in the next day or two.

If you have questions, you can find out more about the London event and more about DASH in general. One open question: is there any significance to "Catch DASH Fever!" in tiny writing in the footer of one of the DASH web pages, or the "S" in some of the logos being replaced by what appears to be a twisted double helix? I have no answers, though am interpreting this as a potential nudge towards a possible medical or weird-science theme.

2) Why has nobody told me about Hint Hunt in London? It appears to have existed for at least eight months, and I go looking for This Sort Of Puzzle-y Game-y Thing fairly often, so it does not speak volumes about their marketing. It appears to bear a resemblance to the Real Escape Game things that happen in the US and Japan - sixty minutes for a team of (concidentally) 3-5 of you to crack the codes, puzzles and so on and Escape The Room.

The price is a little on the steep side; we're looking at a good twenty quid a head, including VAT, though this is probably not unreasonable for London rates, and it is somewhat targeted towards corporate entertainment where it would be cheap at twice the price. Furthermore, I have seen a spoiler which suggests that there are some cool toys involved that may make it worth the money regardless of the quality of the game material. I also get the impression that the game has been cunningly playtested to guarantee a fair share of in-the-nick-of-time wins and other happy endings, though there is a second harder game available as well. It's probably a good sign that you have to book in advance and lots of the time slots appear to have gone. Anyone interested? Sadly it doesn't seem to mesh well with DASH weekend but you'd have thought that there would be likely to be natural crossover between the two constituencies.

3) Unrelatedly to either of the above, the Hide and Seek company have a Kickstarter in progress for the production of an iPhone app which will attempt to suggest an appropriate real-world game for the situation and number of potential players you find yourself with. For those of us who don't have a way of running iOS apps, or would prefer just to have a list of all the games rather than an app that will (presumably, rather playfully) attempt to deal with the picking-which-one-is-appropriate process, the same £8 donation will produce the list of game rules in ebook form. There are some delightful-looking higher-priced options if you wish to supply your patronage further.

The campaign has not quite had the vitality that some recent successful Kickstarter campaigns have had, and one of the videos they put out made quite a misstep in poor taste which I would have hoped would have been dealt with. The campaign is just past half-way in time, and just past half-way towards its £25,000 goal, so I think the way of Kickstarter probably makes it narrowly odds-on to meet its funding target but short odds-against reaching any of the stretch goals. After having a good old grumble about it, I have stuck in my eight quids' worth; several_bees is lovely and I regard Hide & Seek as having good form. At worst case, you're paying £8 for a book with lots of short game rulesets, and I reckon there are bound to be eeeeasily £8 worth of original, interesting, fun ideas in there.

Please redirect any comments here, using OpenID or (identified, ideally) anonymous posting; there are comment count unavailable comments to the post already. Thank you!
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