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Thread: Thinking of writing a similar hunt (now with sample puzzle!)

  1. #1
    CharlesLS is offline Junior Twelever +1 Bronze CharlesLS is an unknown quantity at this point
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    Default Thinking of writing a similar hunt (now with sample puzzle!)

    I'm a puzzle author and I've been putting a project together that in some ways is similar to this hunt, except that I tend to write word and logic puzzles rather than illustrative ones. I'm now far enough along that I wanted to ask some questions of my target audience. I'm not sure this is exactly the right place to put things, so please feel free to move my post.

    In some order, the things I'm trying to find out are:

    (1) Would there be interest in this sort of book?

    (2) Is the large prize money important to you? Basically, the reason that ATT has such a large list price is in part because of the large prize money. The book could probably be $10-15 cheaper if the prize for winning were much lower. I could also offer a prize that's a certain percentage of the sales or something, I guess. Does anybody know if that would run afoul of some set of legal restrictions? For that matter, what do I have to do legally in order to run something like this anyway?

    (3) For that matter, what other changes would you make? Do you like the idea of there being 13 different winners? Should there be fewer? More?

    (4) Also, if there is anybody interested in working with me on this project, feel free to email me at csteinh (at) fas (dot) harvard (dot) edu.

    (5) What do you think about hints? Good? Bad? The ones from ATT don't seem to have been that helpful thusfar, but would you have preferred that they be? That they not have been released at all?

    (6) One of the hardest problems for me in writing this has been to gauge the difficulty of the puzzles I write. After all, I'm trying to write puzzles that will be difficult for a large group of people working together on them yet will be solved at some point. And I dislike the idea of making the puzzle pure combinatorics, as some of the MS puzzles have ended up. If I posted a sample puzzle, would you be interested in working on it?

    Anyway, I'll stop here for now and see what feedback I get -- please let me know what you think, and I definitely appreciate any replies, even negative ones.

    Edit:

    (7) Is travelling an important part of the hunt for you? I'm trying to balance the fun of going someplace and searching for something with the difficulties is causes people on the wrong coast who solve a puzzle, or for that matter solvers not in North America.

  2. #2
    quakrspecl's Avatar
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    CharlesLS-

    Have been reading and enjoying these "treasure hunts" since discovering Fred Hancock's book The Last Fairy way back in '83.

    Response to questions:

    (1) From a personal standpoint, there would most definitely be interest.

    (2) With reference to Hancock's two buried "treasures"(one in England, the other in the U.S.), the monetary value was not all that great. Can't recall what I paid for that book over 20 yrs. ago, but was well worth the entertainment and challenge.

    (3) Multiple winners seems to be okay, although we have seen the dynamic the internet plays. (Back in the days of the The Last Fairy, I bought almanacs and atlases, in addition to hanging out in the local library for hours on end. I wasn't married at the time!)

    (4) Sure.

    (5) I don't care for hints. Would rather take the source material and work it.

    (6) That's a tough one, indeed. Samples for feedback may be a good idea.


    Good luck with this endeavor!

    q

  3. #3
    CharlesLS is offline Junior Twelever +1 Bronze CharlesLS is an unknown quantity at this point
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    OK, here's a sample puzzle for feedback then. I'd be very interested to see how difficult it actually is, although my impression is that it is a little bit too easy (which is the reason that I've chosen to discard this one and use it as a sample). In addition, I apologize in advance for any mistakes -- one of the problems with something like this is that I do not have a testsolving staff, and that's something I obviously plan to remedy. You can email me your answer at the email address in the first post here, and I'll let you know whether it is correct. I hope I have written this puzzle in a manner such that it will be immediately clear to you when you have arrived at a solution.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    1st race:

    Tiger Claw (4/1) - a late scratch

    Milliondollarbaby (18/1) - true story: trainer comes up to me and insists this filly can run with the colts. So I put money on it, and she starts all right, but takes a rough bump on the turn and can't finish. Suddenly the trainer's begging for the horse to be shot. What a class act she is.

    America (14/1) - was told he ran well on sandy tracks, but he couldn't beat Anonymous

    The Lord Saves (21/1) - except during an NHL work stoppage

    Terra Pinto (6/1) - should've gotten worried when I saw he drew the post next to Durham K, but I kept the bet in. So of course the two horses get tangled...

    Emeritus (5/1) - well, he used to win races...

    Robhoyzer (13/1) - the race was fixed, I tells ya!



    2nd race:

    Runaway (3/1) - did just that, dragging his jockey about 50 feet.

    Shotoutofacannon (8/1) - blew up on the backstretch

    Eternal Sunshine (16/1) - let's agree to forget about this one

    3rd race:

    Oneofakind (18/1) - and for good reason!

    Nature Boy (2/1) - all flair, no closing speed.

    Schiraldi (5/1) - don't ask how this went. Thought I won the bet at the 16th pole. Never betting on him or anyone from his stable again.

    Desperate Housewife (15/1) - threw in the towel

    Overtherail (23/1) - which is how he got disqualified, too

    Night Mare (12/1) - yup


    4th race:

    Hardy (even) - rested on his laurels

    Open Sesame (6/1) - lost to a 40/1 shot



    5th race:


    Alexanderthegreat (11/1) - finished dead last

    Philly Filly (18/1) - is it a bad sign when the horse you bet on gets booed out of the starting gate?

    Pinta Santamaria (5/1) - finished second to Eric Rouge

    E.T. (15/1) - phoned it in


    6th race:

    Got to the betting window too late, but some guy gave me real good odds on the existence of God. I don't remember exactly how good...hopefully I can reconstruct it later. Seems win/win though; I don't lose that much if I'm wrong, and if I'm right, it's a big payday!


    7th race:

    Louie Louie (23/1) - never really figured this one out

    Lazarus (3/1) - looked like he was dying for the first half of the race; great recovery still left him fourth

    Allin (16/1) - beaten by Runnerrunner

    Torreador (24/1) - led by 15 lengths at the quarter pole, only to lose a photo finish to Lord Tito

    Imaginary (off the board) - how was I supposed to know they meant it?

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    [Edit: removed HTML code that wasn't working]

  4. #4
    destructo is offline Banned Aquamarine destructo is an unknown quantity at this point
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    CharlesLS -

    Go for it. Really, do it and don't think twice. We need more of these puzzle books/treasure hunts and since each hunt takes on a very different character, the more the better.

    I'm doing my own hunt and have just gotten the final go-ahead from my investors. Suelough is working on a hunt of her own, and there are several other people with similar aspirations.

    I'd like to bring in a more learned and creative style to my hunt, more like the 48 hr scavenger hunts I did at Stanford.... where you were asked to expand your mind, not get a better bifocal to look for minute details... in what turns out to be a mundane solution.

    No special knowledge? Psh... most of the fun is figuring things out that you didn't know before. No collaboration? Psh... I'd have to say that most people had a lot more fun because they could talk here and interact with others.

    M. Stadther has been very helpful in giving me pointers on how to get started with self publication and I'd be happy to share knowledge that I gain by doing my own hunt.

    I've started a thread on here called something like "What kind of hunt would you design" that has gotten some great responses. Doing a little research on past hunts and current hunts, I think you can certainly figure out what you like about them and what you would not do the same.

    I'll probably merge this thread at some point with the aforementioned one to create a nice central place for reference that can be used by those of us who were inspired to to a hunt ourselves.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Thinking of writing a similar hunt...

    Hi Charles,

    (1) Would there be interest in this sort of book?

    From me, yes. I love solving puzzles.

    (2) Is the large prize money important to you?

    It is not really that important. The thrill for me is solving the puzzles – and if that is achieved, finding something hidden of limited quantity. It could be some sort of trinket or anything really. It's more the fact that you were one of the lucky 12 (or however many).

    (3) For that matter, what other changes would you make? Do you like the idea of there being 13 different winners? Should there be fewer? More?

    I like 13 winners. There could be more. I wouldn't object to a hunt with 50 winners (one hidden in each state).

    (4) Also, if there is anybody interested in working with me on this project, feel free to email me at csteinh (at) fas (dot) harvard (dot) edu.

    Oooo I'm so there.

    (5) What do you think about hints? Good? Bad? The ones from ATT don't seem to have been that helpful thusfar, but would you have preferred that they be? That they not have been released at all?

    I like the hints. I don't care how relevant they are (although after the solve, if it was hard, it is disappointing if it is of no help). It is fun to receive "new" information to go along with a book you have read thousands of times.

    (6) One of the hardest problems for me in writing this has been to gauge the difficulty of the puzzles I write.

    I tried your sample puzzle but I don't understand the goal. Is the solve going to be a location?

    Hope this helps,

    Deb

  6. #6
    CharlesLS is offline Junior Twelever +1 Bronze CharlesLS is an unknown quantity at this point
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    I tried your sample puzzle but I don't understand the goal. Is the solve going to be a location?
    The solution to this puzzle is a proper noun, and I guarantee that when you have arrived at the solution, you will be entirely certain that you have solved it. One thing this puzzle is intentionally light on is explicit directions, which is in keeping with the style of puzzles I have been writing for the hunt I'm putting together.

    This puzzle is obviously not a complete hunt, but was a puzzle I intitially wrote as a piece of a hunt, which is why you don't get a location directly out of it.

  7. #7
    jrrag is offline Good Twelever Platinum jrrag is on a distinguished road
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    The more good treasure hunts the better.

    1) Yes

    2) I think most people will tell you the size of the prize isn't that important, however, you will sell more books to the non-hardcore puzzlers with the allure of bigger prizes. You have to figure out what the right place on that curve is, and also your target audience. MS was able to have a whole secondary market capitalizing on the "share it with a child" aspect. A larger prize will keep the hunt from dying as quickly if little progress is being made. I can tell you for sure that if the prize for beetle was $1000 I would have stopped looking at it weeks ago.

    3) Multiple chances to win will sell more books, keep morale of the puzzlers up, and make the hunt run longer probably, so I like the idea. Not to mention that when one prize is found, you will have another run on your books as people realize it can be done. Look at ATT.

    4) Would love to, but can't. I lived down the street for 7 years...

    5) I think you should not promise hints necessarily, but offer them if the hunt needs to be rejuvenated. As to rather or not the ATT clues have been helpful, well, we don't know yet!

    6) I can understand why that is difficult. And short of revealing the puzzles to a test crowd, which you don't want to do, I don't know an answer.

    I looked at your puzzle as well. Clever lines, but not quite sure how to proceed yet. I see the obvious nods and symbolism, but am yet to get a good grasp of what is needed.

    Publish your book if you can.

  8. #8
    deboriole's Avatar
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    The only thing I have so far is anagramming the first letter of each line:

    HORSE APPELLATIONS DON'T MATTER

    Charles said I could post that here since it is not the answer.

  9. #9
    CharlesLS is offline Junior Twelever +1 Bronze CharlesLS is an unknown quantity at this point
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    Should I give a hint?

  10. #10
    suelough's Avatar
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    A hint would be nice.

    Sue
    Whatever I feel like I wanna do. Gosh!

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