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Journal of No. 118

August 28th, 2011

ChronoAgents Reloaded @ 10:21 am

Yesterday was Aaron's second ChronoAgents roadrally. Lots of fun and an agonizing finish for us, as we placed a close second behind Team Delorean. They beat us by 4 minutes, and as their thief managed to (within the rules) sabotage us by 5 minutes, that was a crucial difference. There were a billion other things that added or subtracted time that could be called the deciding factor, but that one just psychologically feels right, since they did it to us.

To recap:
Aaron ran ChronoAgents.
Inspired by his, I ran Save Our City
And now ChronoAgents Reloaded with added Gauntlet/light LARP elements.

This'll be a little spoilery, and I think it would be easy for Aaron to get the clues up so people could play the home game. So you may hold off until Aaron has said his say. (and that reminds me, I need to get the PDF of Save Our City back online.)

First, thanks to Aaron, Kirsten, Ross & the boffer squad for putting it all together.
Awesome thanks to my last-minute teammates: Chris, for driving, tech, and physical prowess. Beth for even more tech and Magic-User defense and offense. Nick, for thievery and being our main away team on many occasions.
Thanks to the venues for putting up with us. The Time Travel Mart (natch), Cafe 50s on Vermont, and PS612.
Special thanks to the helpful guys at the Kip's Toyland at the Farmers Market, and the caretaker at the Museum of Death.

Things that stood out:
Generally overloading our brains, simultaneously juggling audio clues on the CD, written clues, driving logistics, puzzles, gathering 'spell components' and thievable objects.
Our thief stealing a cup from someone. OK, it was on his tray, and he was headed for the trashcan, but still... it takes a special thief to Yoink! something from a befuddled stranger.
Shining a flashlight through the bars of the (unfortunately) closed and dark Museum of Death, and thereby rousing the caretaker, who came out, talked to us, and gave us the info we needed. (Not so triumphant, the winning team was also nearby and heard the clue and escaped while we were explaining to/thanking the guy.)
Witnessing our warrior participating in an epic boffer duel inside the Streetlamp art exhibit at LACMA. Aaron alleges he had clearance for this, but THE MAN came down on us and made us stop, but not until a fair degree of awesomeness had been achieved.
Finding the smallest and cutest park in LA county.
Um, the cleric and the magic-user researching in their WiFi spellbooks, in order to solve a clue through astral projection, rather than having to go to the location itself.
Being part of a surprisingly well-oiled team, with complementary strengths.

What kinda bit:
A number of closed locations. Though I have no right to complain since one of the clues in my game was actually demolished before game time.
The dinner location was only revealed after doing X, but we didn't know that. So doing X had no priority for us. So we did X near the end of the first half of the game, and dinner was quite a distance from the X location.
The final location (or rather the puzzle for it) was only revealed after doing Y. This we knew. But with the closed locations, many of the after-dinner clues became gimmes [though rewards were given for having achieved it while they were still open, or sweettalking the caretaker]. But the effect was that you do Y, get the last puzzle and the answers for the gimmes all in one lump. And I think if you were missing a clue, maybe two, this big lump would be enough to solve the final puzzle without doing all the locations. So it was sort of like: do Y, and go directly to endgame. Now I have no personal beef with this: I think we were the first to do Y, so we were off quick, and I know the winning team did both of the gimmes (even if they overheard one that we have the moral right to say we earned) and we did only one. And we only astrally projected one location, so it's not like we visited them all. But it'd be interesting to see how many teams did #10 in the flesh, rather than astrally, or just not at all but were still able to solve the final puzzle.
Probably because of the rapidity of the endgame, it bit a lot to get there before the gamestaff. We were later 'remotely' checked in at the end, but who knows what the actual time we exited the maze was? Again, my moral ground is shaky here, since Team GRAB BAGS got to lunch a bit before I did in Save Our City.
But mostly... PARKING IN DTLA

But these are pretty small potatoes. I had a lot of fun, again.
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[User Picture Icon]
Date:August 28th, 2011 05:41 pm (UTC)
Awesome. I am sad to have missed it.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:August 28th, 2011 06:31 pm (UTC)
Long wrap up coming later, but in general:

1. I didn't want to give out the final location clue until later, specifically to block people from hacking the code. I call it "The Ian Factor". I didn't want it to be possible to solve the game by just looking at the materials. I wanted to make it so you HAD to complete the challenge.

As to the locked locations, I do feel bad about Griffith, because I nearly made it a daytime location, but aborted because I didn't like the swaps I would have to do. Upon reflection, it should have been swapped with the guitars.

My biggest problem was time and flakiness:
I didn't have nearly enough time to prep everything (Kirsten was printing out the final puzzle at 3pm), and my player count went from 32 to 16 to the final 21. I also lost locations at the last minute, and had to squeeze in substitutes, such as the guitars and PS612. Both of those came into the game on Wednesday or maybe even Thursday before game, after my former choices bailed on me (for legit reasons, but still). And the MoD was also a last minute addition. I should have left it out, because the owner said he couldn't handle people asking him questions. I knew it closed at 10pm, but forgot it once we were running late (dinner). Anyway...more later.

Thanks for playing, and I think for the very thin structure I propped up, it mostly worked.

[User Picture Icon]
Date:August 28th, 2011 07:43 pm (UTC)
1. I didn't want to give out the final location clue until later, specifically to block people from hacking the code.

That's right. My complaint is that it came out (potentially) too early. Once we had that sheet, and quickly decoded it, we went straight to the finish line. Yes, our team had physically done everything doable, with the exception of the Pier, but I think it was very possible to have skipped finding a couple clues and still be able to decode the puzzle after getting it.
Or a more direct improvement would be that the clue sheets should have also been scored, to see how many clues had been done before getting to the finish line.

To be super minimal, if a team had done Clue 6, and gotten Clues 8 & 9 for free and the final sheet at the 2nd Challenge, that's enough to get the first line of the final sheet. Although that first line is cryptic, the #1 google hit for it is the twitter feed for the finish line. Obviously there'd be no way to know that you only needed one of the first set of clues, but the point is that... you're right, "you HAD to complete the challenge" to get to the finish line, but you didn't necessarily have to solve all the clues.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:August 29th, 2011 02:53 am (UTC)
SOC clue PDF is still online - change the URL and substitute archive. for www.
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Date:August 29th, 2011 02:00 pm (UTC)
Great! Thanks for reminding me.

Journal of No. 118