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Below Above- A reforendum


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As many are aware I created the Below Above series which involves solving a puzzle to find the encripted locations and then decoding the route through a quarry to find the cache.

So far the four current in their present form which has evolved from two previous, now archived ones, is a huge success as can be seen from the logs and meeting people doing them.

Although they're set as Mystery caches thats because 'puzzles' have to be solved and helps make life easier for our hard working reviewers who I spent a great deal of time talking to to get the right format.

When I set the second I used whats called Book code to encode the route, This involved working out what the book I used was, looking up the page, line and then the word count to find the correct word, i.e. 137 (15)(4). It was very time consuming and took about three weeks to write one route not particularly long. With the current there were four caches being created side by side and basically I thought to myself, s** that 12 weeks to write four routes! So I used a different code system which most people have realised is Keyword code and somewhere on the page is hidden the keyword to use.

With The Secret City I had a small personal sweepstake running as to how long it would take to solve. I though about two months. In fact six weeks after release it was found twice in very quick succession. I always wanted the caches to be found but as they are special and take a LOT of work to set I didn't want them to be too easy and that is in fact one of the conditions of using the quarries set by the people who look after them. They thought that if somebody is clever enough to solve the puzzle they're clever enough to be safe down there. OK we all know people crib the answers off others, I've done it myself ;-)

So with the release of the current ones they were being found after one week. I thought to myself I've made them too easy. So I've been looking at alternative code methods.

I made a posting on one of the caches a new one is coming soon, Below Above- Multi 2, and mentioned changing the codes;

Some good news, Below Above- Multi 2 will be coming soon.

Some bad news, as people solved the previous batch so quickly and easily there are new codes, harder!



Within a short time I recieved a mail asking me not to change the system as it might make it unobtainable to people who don't normally do puzzles and not only had a set a working format for the series, but why fix something thats not broken?

Without giving too much away this is a sample of the intended code and is part of an actual route;

23 57 92 03 73 58 67 64 33 11 43 64 29 37 21 79 83 35 44 13 97 93 99 71 10 80 72 27 75 56 24 35 90 48 07 30 36 92 37 05 18 25 81 38 47 11 11 53 06 74 04 74 46 95 26 74 10 17 53 49 09 31 72 80 04 53 58 45 49 08 29 59 96 50 33 29 38 26 87 31 43 09 75 30 39 44 59 46 28 17 22 78 15 07 29 15 61 91 41 30 32 99

So I'm currently undecided. I have a new encoding system worked out and installed on my pc. I have a new system to picturise the numbers. Do I use it?

I'm giving people a chance to have their say;

I see three options;

1 Leave alone, it's not busted, don't fix it.

2 Change both the numbers and route.

3 Compromise, keep the number coding as is but encript the route differently and harder.

Whatever you the viewer decide I'll stick to. So it's your chance to have a say on the look of future Below Aboves and there are several more planned.



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Well I'll pipe up as an 'interested party' as it was me who emailed BareClawz putting the case against changing the code.


My vote therefore is to leave as is - you already have a unique effective code that provides sufficient security to help prevent most non-cachers from following, why change it? Also by making 'adventure' caches require complex puzzle-solving you'll prevent non-puzzlers (like me) from having the fun of your caches.


There's already another fun 'adventure' cache in my neck of the woods which I can't do 'cause I can't crack the puzzle (isn't there TIM :laughing: ) - what a shame.

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Fully agree with FollowMeChaps, there are caches and puzzles, some people just like to do the caches without all this "Let's make it really hard for people" attitude. Non-geocachers will not find it so its safe and it is visited by Geocachers who are keen to try and find it...be grateful, after all was that not your intention to have people enjoy the hunt! :laughing::rolleyes:

Edited by Gralorn
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I must admit these are caches I have often looked at and would LOVE to do, but despite being a fairly intelligent bunny with a first class maths degree and a job that requires a few brain cells, codes and ciphers have just never been my thing. I don't seem to be able to figure out even the simplest of puzzle caches. Mental block, maybe. So I am disappointed that I can't participate in your caches even with the current codes, let alone any trickier ones you might put in place. But all that said, I do fully understand why you need to restrict access to these sensitive areas, and this is a good way to keep the numbers down. I look at the cache as a reward for those clever people who are more puzzle worthy than I :laughing: well done to them.

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I think I will have to abstain. Having enjoyed the 4 current caches, I'll want to be able to solve the puzzle for the next one... and leaving it as is would ensure that.


But I was expecting the next one to be a different puzzle. It is unusual to create a new puzzle cache using exactly the same code as a previous one by the same owner. So I would say if you want to change, it, change it.


But I understand the view to not make it too difficult. The thing is, these caches are so unique. There are lots of puzzle caches out there. Some I can do, some I can't. The ones I can't I just leave; no problem, there are lots of caches to find.


But there aren't a lot of caches like these. If I can't solve "Multi 2", I can't just forget about it and find other ones. I'll either keep trying until I solve it; or I'll join forces with someone who has solved it.


If you do change it, please be prepared to give additional hints (after FTF), to people who truly want to find it, but can't crack the puzzle.

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Don't forget, as CO they are your caches. When I set caches, I like to try different approaches, because that's one of elements that I find interesting. If a CO took a poll each time they set a cache, the winner every time would be a straightforward approach -- the figures speak for themselves. Yes, there are people who love finding all the alternative forms of caches, including puzzles of varying difficulty, but they are in the minority.


So it boils down to how do you like to set your caches? Do you like to weave a tale/puzzle relevant to each location and task? Or, if there were no conditions attached by the Guardians of the Underworld, would you rather spell it out to be accessible to all? Your caches would certainly get more Finds, if that's your primary interest as CO.


The four more recent BA's were far easier than The Secret City, IMHO. Those who are not able to solve either set may naturally ask "make them a bit easier". Those who are able to solve the easier set, but not the harder, may naturally ask "keep them the same". And so on. Each group will get smaller and smaller as the difficulty rises. There is no easy answer to your question! As I said, as CO these are your caches, so go with your own instinct.


Remember, relatively few people read this forum, and those who do may not be very representative; furthermore, those who write to this forum is an even more restricted group.


Good luck with your dilemma. It's a nice one to have :(

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Before I respond to this one I should declare a vested interest. Having written a computer program to take the grunt work out of decrypting the last lot, and then supplied that to Clawz to reduce the effort he needed to make if a route had to be modified, he asked me to provide a similar program for the new code. Which I have done.


Now, solving the cipher and using the solution to decrypt the cipher text are separate things. My program doesn't provide the solution, it just means that having solved it, I don't have to spend hours mechanically converting each character to plain text, which doesn't require any intelligence but is just boring grunt work.


Should Clawz decide to change the system I do, of course, have a small advantage in that I know what class of cipher is being used, but I suspect Clawz was going to give some strong hints in that direction anyway. But knowing what system is being used is a long way from being able to solve the problem. So I've been giving some thought about what methods I might employ to crack this one. I've come up with one or two approaches which might work or might not, and I'd quite like to see if they do :( .


So while I'm generally not an enthusiast for puzzle caches, I'd quite like to try this one out :(. Sorry, folks ;):P. And who knows, even though I live over 100 miles away, it might give me a chance at FTF :D.


However, most of the above rather misses the main point. BareClawz has to ask himself the question - has the current encryption achived the correct balance as far as the owners of the quarries is concerned. Those who question if Clawz wants people to find the caches or not need to bear in mind the reason for the encryption on the first place - it's not Clawz but the people who gave permission who want to control the number of visitors.


If the current colume of visitors is acceptable to the owners, then it's up to Clawz whether or not he makes it harder. If the current level exceeds that which the owners are comfortable with, then probably it is necessary to make it tougher.


Rgds, Andy

Edited by Amberel
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