Puzzle Cache Questions....

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What's a good way to ask puzzle cache questions without resorting to multiple choice?

My wife and I would like to place some movie trivia caches, but don't want to make it easy by asking mulitiple choice questions. It seems to us that even a "hard" question can be solved by deduction. At very least, it allows someone to "force" find the cache by trying the different combinations. We'd like the questions to at least make the cacher watch the movie to find the answer, but I don't necessarily want to have the cachers email us to verify answers to obtain coordinates either.

I've thought about finding various numbers/street addresses/places in the movie and using that info to let the cacher derive the coordinates. Any other ideas to push this along?

TIA!

What a great idea... kinda like the "What price does the cash register show when the checker 'scans' Maggie on the opening credits of the Simpson's cartoons?".

Of course it'd be hard to come up with some exact matches you'd have to have some kind of conversion table or something. Either that, or make people watch like 27 movies or something.

I did a cross-word puzzle for this one (but I wanted to keep it simple non-puzzle cachers).

Yeah, I think you need to find "numbers of things" in the movies. For example, the number of years that Humphrey Bogart had worked with his murdered partner in The Maltese Falcon, or the number of horses pulling the stagecoach in Stagecoach.

Hmmm...neat idea! I might have to steal it.

How 'bout a Monty Python & The Holy Grail cache?

Step 1) Find a hiding spot, get the coordinates.

Step 2) Watch the movie. Look for parts of the movie that match your numbers.

I.e; The cache cane be found at N AB* CD.EFG/W HI* JK.LMN

A = The number of killer rabbits

B = The number of eyes on the cave monster

C = How many times did the knights who say "Neigh", actually say "Neigh".

E = How many limbs were hacked off in the battle between _____

F = How many times was the word "Brave" sung in the "Brave Sir Robin" song

If you can be sure to ask the questions so that the answer is always a single letter, then you can provide a conversion table (A=0, D=1, M=2, etc.). That would expand your possible questions to include non-numeric answers, such as "what is the first initial of the leading lady's best friend's last name?"

You could do something with the dates of the movies that are answered.

For example, let's say the answer to stage #1 is Star Wars: ANH. Then say: "You have to take the year this movie came out and subtract xxxx from it to get the N/S corrdinates for the next stage and xxxx from it for the E/W of the next stage."

Same holds true for an actors birthday if he/she was the answer.

Problem: These probably would require research that cannot be done in the field, so it might have to be done over a period of time.

I have 2 caches that are a series of questions. Each question has a yes or no answer. For example, one question is "The Spanish influenza of 1918, which killed 22 million people worldwide, did not infect anyone in Phoenix because of its isolation from the east coast cities. If the answer is true, coordinate "a"=3, if false "a"=2". The final destination is located at N33* ab.cde W111* fg.hij. It isnt an easy cache to find the answers to, and some questions are deliberately tricky.

Just a little tip when designing puzzle caches. Ideally there should be only one, clear solution (i.e. with multiple questions, each should have but only 1 possible correct answer) In reality, that's not all that easy to do.

So to ensure that folks don't rush off on a wild goose chase 'cuz they THINK they have the correct solution when they don't (and/or pester you to confirm their coordinates by email), it's a good idea to provide a "check sum" for the solution. e.g. if the solution is N 47 23.532 and W 122 18.788, then simply post on the cache page that the check some for the N is 26 (i.e. 4+7+2+3+5+3+2=26) and for W is 37 (1+2+2+1+8+7+8+8).

You could also have folks solve for just the last 3 decimal minutes of each coord (i.e. 532 and 788 above) and then supply a check sum of N=10 and W=23

If you want to be a "typical" cacher then be sure to ask ambiguous questions where the person reading the cache description can't be EXACTLY certain what you are asking. I freaking HATE, HATE, HATE caches where the person has a puzzle but you can't really tell what you are supposed to do. WORDS MEAN THINGS!!! If there is more than ONE way to interpret the question then you have worded it poorly and you are a \$!%^head.

Please, try to make sure that your question makes absolute sense in English. If you don't have good language skills please ask someone else who does have good skills to look at your cache listing. I'm very literal and understand English quite well. When someone lists a puzzle with a "fuzzy" sentence stucture I'm totally unsure how to manipulate the data to come up with the proper coordinates.

Here is what I did on my first one:

All of the answers are on the internet, but does require some searching. Also, if I found a different numberic number (ie; 1901 or 1902) I dropped it and chose something else....

Rick

globalgirl's suggestion of a check sum is EXCELLENT I've done at least three puzzle caches where (unbeknownst to the cache owner) different answers/numbers were possible from their questions. I got to be the guinea pig in the field - right answers, but wrong coords.

If there are different possible correct answers, place a cache at each of the resulting locations.

I once did a puzzle cache with a complicated word/letter substitution based on some obscure knowledge of Jimmy Buffet lyrics. I solved the puzzle but when I got to the coords, my GPS was pointing inside some security-fenced private property.

Just on a hunch I plugged in the "bogus" coords posted on the cache page. Bingo. A Cache. Called the cache owner to help her fix the glitch.

-Hugh Jazz

I freaking HATE, HATE, HATE caches where the person has a puzzle but you can't really tell what you are supposed to do. WORDS MEAN THINGS!!! If there is more than ONE way to interpret the question then you have worded it poorly and you are a \$!%^head.

Dang Thrak, don't hold back. Tell us how you really feel.

Not so funny true story;

I created a puzzle cache based upon a typewriter keyboard and the requisite finger placement thereon. I'm not a typist, so I had no clue what fingers go where. I took an on-line typing course that showed me the layout and hand placement, and designated specific fingers for specific letters. I used this data to create my puzzle, dedicating it to a local geogenius. His "ground zero" was 600' from the final coordinates, and cost him the FTF.

At first I assumed that he got his numbers wrong, however, several others E-mailed me asking for coordinate verification, and they all made the same error. Obviously that meant the mistake was on my end, not the geocaching general public. I went back to my on-line study course and verified that my data matched their instruction, then I checked out another on-line course that contradicted the first one. After checking numerous sources, I determined that all but one, (the one I initially used), would've resulted in the same 600' error.

The bottom line? My initial data was faulty, and it resulted in my puzzle being faulty. If I had taken the time to check with just one person who actually knew how to type, then he would not have wasted an hour in some nasty woods, searching for a cache that was 600' away.

Edited by Clan Riffster

An awful lot of puzzle caches can be trivially Googled, which takes the fun away.

These days my puzzles are out there on the trail in some form. And with a bit of luck there's no mobile phone reception nearby. Make 'em work for it.

The bottom line? My initial data was faulty, and it resulted in my puzzle being faulty. If I had taken the time to check with just one person who actually knew how to type, then he would not have wasted an hour in some nasty woods, searching for a cache that was 600' away.

Precisely. And if you'd simply supplied a check sum for the correct solution on the cache page from the getgo - folks would never have set out with the wrong coordinates in the first place.

The beauty of check sum is that it in no way detracts from the challenge of the puzzle. It merely ensures that if folks somehow derive a different set of coordinates than the one you expect/the solution - they will at least know it before they set off on a wild goose chase.

Oh, I agree wholeheartedly. Another bonus with check sums is, you don't have to solve the whole puzzle. If you get all but one number, you can do a bit of math and solve the missing digit. For some that might take away a bit of the challenge, but it beats me having to eat crow cuz I sent somebody looking in the wrong spot.

Check sums coming up!

I know you said that you preferred not to use multiple choice, but I'll mention another technique since there is an excellent multi-stage multiple choice cache in my area.

The cache in question in SesquiTrivia. Each stage is a small container or film canister. At each stage you will find a multiple choice question, and each answer supplies you with a different set of coordinates. If you answer the question correctly then you end up at the correct coordinates and find the next question. If you get the answer wrong then you end up at the wrong coordinates, where you will find a small container which tells you that you chose poorly. In some cases, if the answer you selected was very wrong, the bad coords direct you up a hill or into thick brush or into otherwise undesirable terrain.

(1) None of the questions are known on the cache page, so the finder can't figure everything out in advance.

(2) The use of multiple choice enables the hider to use trivia that does not necessairly rely on underlying numbers.

For example, in a movie context, you could ask questions about conversations which were central to the plot:

From whom did Maggie learn that Stephanie was sleeping with Rodney?

a. Bert N 34 02.762 W 80 56.664

b. Earnie N 34 02.857 W 80 56.375

c. Sylvia N 34 03.104 W 80 56.861

If you were to as a difficult question in a spot in the woods with poor cell phone coverage (behind a hill, bottom of a ravine), then you can force the finder to rely on memory, and not phone a friend.

Hope this is useful.

[Edited to prevent b. from becoming a smiley]

Edited by TinSparrow

I just created This Puzzle Cache, and it's been getting good remarks by the people that have tried it, so that might mean it's a good way to do it.

Cinema Nevada cache is a movie puzzle like you describe,

http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?wp=GCJ3JP

Here is one way of doing it.

BTW, it's in downtown Reno on the main street, so visit it if you come :>

If you want to be a "typical" cacher then be sure to ask ambiguous questions where the person reading the cache description can't be EXACTLY certain what you are asking. I freaking HATE, HATE, HATE caches where the person has a puzzle but you can't really tell what you are supposed to do. WORDS MEAN THINGS!!! If there is more than ONE way to interpret the question then you have worded it poorly and you are a \$!%^head.

Please, try to make sure that your question makes absolute sense in English. If you don't have good language skills please ask someone else who does have good skills to look at your cache listing. I'm very literal and understand English quite well. When someone lists a puzzle with a "fuzzy" sentence stucture I'm totally unsure how to manipulate the data to come up with the proper coordinates.

I just tried my first two puzzle caches.

"The Searchers" and "Movie Quotes"

The instructions given for "The Searchers" was "GOOD LUCK!!!! HAVE FUN!!!! ENJOY!!!!" That's it.

I e-mailed for a hint and was told that the word search puzzle contains the names of "famous" geocachers. Once I received a list of these obscure names I was able to cross them off and the left over letters spelled out the coordinates. Great cache, great hide, very glad I did this one. Cannot imagine a newbie figuring this one out with help.

"Movie Quotes" said "To find the cache, you'll need to identify the movie quotes below. No movie is repeated twice. When in doubt, chose the movie that made a quote "famous" or was a bigger hit. The cache is a small pint sized container."

So I go through the effort of identifying every movie title by the quotes. Now what? I e-mail again and was told to use the last digit of the year the movie was released. WTF? How could you deduce that from the instructions.

I like the idea of puzzle caches and truly appreciate the amount of work involved in creating them. PLEASE be clear about how to solve and how to verify the results without having to send out e-mail.

Thanks,

caylor

This cache

and

this cache

Also my own Let battle commence works well.

Hope you set a good un

Callahan's Riddle and Ob-Noxious are some of the harder puzzles I've designed, and the only ones to make it all the way to becoming a cache. They both use words so you can ask for someone to fill in a blank, and then tell them how to use the word in the blank to find a cache. Check them out!

-Jen

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