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Do you Wherigo?


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The idea of Wherio caches always sounded interesting to me, but I didn’t have a device which could play them. (When I first looked you needed certain Garmins or the rare Pocket PC with GPS, neither of which I had).

 

Having recently acquired an iPhone, over the holidays I discovered there was a Wherigo app for iPhone. That would be “cool” to try out I thought. The nearest one was only 7 miles away from home.

Well, that one didn’t work on the iPhone. It worked a bit, but not enough to complete the cache. But still it sparked my interest. Enough in fact that I created my own Wherigo cache.

I’m starting this thread for several reasons:

 

1. Most importantly, to raise awareness of the growing number of devices which can run Wherigo. Specifically the Wherigo app for iPhone, and the WhereYouGo app for Android.

 

2. To hear from others who have found or set Wherigo caches what they think.

 

3. To share my thoughts and experiences.

 

If you don’t know what a Wherigo cache is; I think of it as a variation of a Multi or Puzzle cache, which involves interacting with an application as part of the experience. Entering a defined geographical “zone” triggers actions. It includes the concept of characters and items you can interact with, and tasks you complete. I’m quite excited about it, as I like Multis and Puzzles, and this adds a further dimension.

 

There are currently only 97 Wherigo caches in the UK. That’s 10 more than there was a month ago, as it includes a recent series of 9 by Delta68, and the one I recently published. But that’s not many. Why I wonder?

 

My initial thoughts on that question:

 

1. Of course some people don’t like Multis and Puzzles either… and there are less of those than Traditionals. But still far more Multis and Puzzles than Wherigos, so that’s only part of the story.

 

2. Many people don’t have the hardware to play them. (But as smartphones become more popular, this is changing).

 

3. People have devices which can play them, but they don’t know about that.

 

4. Wherigo doesn’t seem to have been marketed very strongly by Groundspeak.

 

5. For playing: There can be compatibility/software issues. E.g. the first one I tried didn’t work on iPhone. Cachers may try it out and get frustrated if it doesn’t work. There can be bugs in the specific game itself; there can be bugs with the app which plays them, and bugs with the tools to create them (see point 6).

 

6. For creating (building) Wherigos: There is a learning curve which needs to be overcome to create them. For people who have experience in software development it is not complex – and there are tools which shield you from needing to write real “code” yourself. But without wishing to insult anyone, I think the “average user” will find they need to invest significant time learning how to build one. This is made more challenging by bugs and incompatibles in the tools and apps. I found several bugs where my “cartridge” (that is the term used) worked fine in the emulator, but not on the iPhone. I was able to work around these issues (as I have an iPhone) – but there may also be Garmin specific bugs (I won’t know until someone tries my cache with a Garmin). The cache builder generally won’t be able to test it with all possible devices.

 

In short – I think Wherigos are a great idea – let down somewhat by the stability and ease of use of the technology. But I like them, and I am going to seek out more of them to find, and I hope to create some more myself.

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I've done a few using OpenWIG on my Blackberry, and really liked them.

 

I thought about creating a Wherigo cache, and in fact I have built a cartridge but I haven't released it because of the stability problems on different platforms. I tested it with OpenWIG and it works, but I have no way of testing it on all the other H/W and I wouldn't want everyone to turn up and have it crash on them with their iPhone, Colorado, whatever.

 

So until the H/W compatibilities are sorted out and it's a more stable/reliable platform I don't think I'll be releasing one myself.

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...until the H/W compatibilities are sorted out and it's a more stable/reliable platform I don't think I'll be releasing one myself.

 

I'd say bite the bullet and get it published. You might be pleasantly surprised just how many platforms it will run on.

 

Make it clear on the cache page that it has only been tested on certain hardware and hopefully other cachers will try it on other systems anyway and confidence will grow as successful reports roll in...

 

 

Mark

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I thought about creating a Wherigo cache, and in fact I have built a cartridge but I haven't released it because of the stability problems on different platforms. I tested it with OpenWIG and it works, but I have no way of testing it on all the other H/W and I wouldn't want everyone to turn up and have it crash on them with their iPhone, Colorado, whatever.

 

This was (is) my biggest concern about creating one too.

 

The only thing that gives me some reassurance is that it seems like the iPhone app is one of the worst for compatibility - and that's the one I can test - so I hope that if it works for iPhone it will work for others. But there is no guarantee.

 

My strategy to try and mitigate this is:

 

1. I have asked finders to post what hardware/app they used, and I will keep the web page updated with this info. So currently, with my cache, it's been tested on iPhone and Android, and should work. If I find problems with some devices I will also create a list of unsupported devices. If everyone did this on their pages it would help. A finder who doesn't want to risk disappointment can chose ones which have already been verified for their device, or take a chance.

 

2. I've tried to keep it simple. Playing audio files would be neat (and is supported in theory), but I know that is an area of major device incompatibility, so I stayed away from it.

 

3. If a finder reports issues with a specific device, I'll try to borrow one to debug it. That might include asking the person who had the issue if they would help me.

 

Not perfect but all I can think of.

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I have recently published one and initally it would only work on the iPhone, as that is all I had to test it on. It did take a lot of playing around to even get it to work on that, so I would say it is not an easy thing to do, but it may be I did not start with a very basic cartridge.

 

After publishing it I was notified by the first people to try it that it did not work on the Garmin Oregon and Andriod phones :( .

 

I have since managed to borrow a Garmin from a local cacher :) and I managed to tweak the cartridge to work on the Garmin eventually. Only to find it then did not work on the iPhone!!! :mad: A few more hours of tweaking and I eventually managed to get it to work on the Garmin and iPhone. I still have no idea about the Andriod phones yet, but I may have a gueinea pig testing it for me soon :)

 

To sum up:

 

  • I would say it was fun, but then I am a software developer, so I like this type of challenge.
  • It is going to take you some considerable time to learn how to build the cartridges, so you need to keep plugging away at it, just remember there is more than one way of doing anything.
  • Before releasing test the cartridge on as many different bits of equipment that you can beg or borrow from your friends. :D

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2. To hear from others who have found or set Wherigo caches what they think.

I was an "early adopter" and was deeply scarred by the experience. I used a PocketPC that ran TomTom, MemoryMap, CacheMate, OziExplorer, and aps I wrote myself, in a totally satisfactory manner. I believe the problems I experience were not the fault of the platform or the device.

 

The first time I tried to use it, it clagged up the machine completely. To the extent that I had to do a cold reset (not a warm reset). This involved reinstalling and reconfiguring all of my numerous applications, taking about 4 hours. As you can imagine, I was pretty peeved about this, and my humour wasn't improved when I read on the forums a note from the developers that said they knew it was full of bugs when they released it, but they just wanted to get it out there and get people using it!

 

A while later there was another release. Against my better judgement, because the idea appealed to me, I tried the new version. Exactly the same thing all over again!

 

I then left it for quite a while and several more releases before, with some trepidation, trying it for a third time. And this time, thank goodness, it didn't crash immediately.

 

Bear in mind that up to now I hadn't even got as far as loading a cartridge. So I tried my nearest one. It was a very simple one, but the system locked up a short way into it. But at least all I needed to do was restart the cartridge, not reinstall everything. I tried half a dozen times, and it locked up half a dozen times, at a different place each time. Having spoken to the cache owner it appeared that on one occasion I actually reached the final location but didn't know because it locked up at that point.

 

I then decided to abandon Wherigo for ever. But when I got an iPhone I found there was an app for it, and as it was written by an independent developer and was nothing to do with Groundspeak I tried it. It was a very simple cartridge, but it did work just fine, bearing in mind the poor quality GPS receiver on the iPhone 3GS.

 

But I've never done any more. It was too late, IYSWIM - I was so put off by my earlier experiences.

 

I'm so negative about them now that when I set a series of caches in the Royal Parks (with finals outside the parks, of course) I chose not to do them as Wherigos but as simple web pages, just question/answer stages like a normal multi, no use of GPSr, no timing elements etc.

 

Rgds, Andy

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Thanks for the responses!

 

Flookfinders - I'm now more nervous about my cache working with Garmin devices! I may ask a friend to be a beta tester.

 

Amberel/Andy - I don't blame you being put off. I'd like to say it is better now, but I'm not sure of that. Certainly the iPhone app itself is stable - installing it didn't cause me any problems. The games don't always work, and I've verified some bugs which only appear on the iPhone, so there are bugs in the app - but nothing that does harm. (Apart from the frustration of not finding the cache).

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My 1st experience was the one placed for the Harrogate Mega. Sadly this was not a good experience and has probably tainted my opinion of them :unsure:. I was using a Pocket PC (iPaq RX5935) and struggled to get in the zones to activate the next stage, possibly due to the hardware? I also had multiple crashes requiring a soft reset of the iPaq, and would also mean going back to the start if progress was not saved :mad:. I did get the cache in the end but it was not an enjoyable experience.

I have since found 2 more, but to be honest these were at an event and I just tagged along with others.

 

I have looked at setting a cache, installed the builder software but soon decided that life was far too short to continue.

 

I have since obtained a Garmin Oregon but have yet to use it for a Wherigo, maybe one day?

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I think I might quite like Whereigos, as I'm drawn to caches with strong storylines :) I looked at them soon after I took up caching, but I got the impression they could be buggy (originator and/or finder equipment), plus I suspected that the handler of our small GPSr screen might have fun, but it might be less involving for the rest of the family (a major factor nowadays, as caching is a less attractive pastime to the growing kids). Furthermore, my own multis/puzzles tend to have a restricted enough audience, without adding an additional niche element!

 

I have an Oregon 300, which claims to work with Whereigos, so I might try yours Mark - in fact, I think "I've got mail" ;)

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Interesting that a newer, high spec Garmin unit does not support Wherigo!

Dakotas don't either

 

I think it's since Garmin had a lover's tiff with Groundspeak

 

Or it could be that Garmin would rather try and promote their Chirp stuff instead.

 

Talking of which, anything a Chrip can do you can do with a simple Wherigo (as long as you are outdoors)

Not only that, you get a great looking icon, it will run on more than just Garmins and saved yourself £20 in the process!

 

Mark

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I've always wanted to try one as I think the kids would love it - but I've been worried by all the reports of them not working, and didn't want two frustrated children if we tried for an hour or two and then it crashed before we got to the end, or something...

 

I have both a Garmin Oregon and an Android phone, maybe if we tried it with both at once that would give us a better chance of succeeding?

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I've always wanted to try one as I think the kids would love it - but I've been worried by all the reports of them not working, and didn't want two frustrated children if we tried for an hour or two and then it crashed before we got to the end, or something...

 

I have both a Garmin Oregon and an Android phone, maybe if we tried it with both at once that would give us a better chance of succeeding?

 

Yes it would. I think most caches would work on one of them.

 

I'm hoping to make my next cache a Wherigo in Swindon... so if I do you can try it out there.

 

Mark

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Wherigo won't play on my GPSMAP 62,

Interesting that a newer, high spec Garmin unit does not support Wherigo!

 

The Montana doesn't support Wherigo either.

 

It seems to me they are in many ways a good idea that was implemented badly. The idea of using the GPS to make sure you have actually followed the route seems fine although does mean that if for any reason you are unable to complete the cartridge you're pretty much hosed.

 

Looking at Amberel's comment about his quasi-Wherigo caches. I've done two of those and they work well. All you need is a phone with internet capabilities, so if you get part way through and your browser crashes or some such then as long as you can remember the answers you can start over and simply key them all in.

 

Comparing this to Wherigo leaves me wondering how Wherigo could be made to work better. When the cartridge creator creates "zones" that the player must be in to receive the next stage, it renders the player vulnerable to temporary works, fences etc. Whereas a web page based cache might allow the player to look through/over a temporary fence to read a sign or count the arches on a bridge or whatever, with a Wherigo if an area is fenced off you can't continue. Which may not be a problem - it's not unheard of to get part way around a multi only to be thwarted by a fence or a temporary issue - but unless the option to save the cartridge progress is reliable it means you have to start all over again.

 

Throw in the fact that many GPS units don't support them and it's easy to see why they aren't popular. For me to do a Wherigo cache means I need to take my GPS dongle with me. I can't mount my phone to my handlebars so end up pushing my bike the entire way, which makes them take longer and leave me less inclined to do them.

 

And of course for good measure there's the whole chicken-and-egg issue, where there aren't many Wherigo caches out there which leaves developers reluctant to develop anything for the technology, and because the technology is a bit iffy there's less incentive for people to build the cartridges.

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I have both a Garmin Oregon and an Android phone, maybe if we tried it with both at once that would give us a better chance of succeeding?

 

Two devices is a good idea. The first time I did a Wherigo I was with a caching buddy - I was using a Windoze mobile and he was using Android. His crashed at the second stage but mine saw us to the end.

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In short – I think Wherigos are a great idea – let down somewhat by the stability and ease of use of the technology.

I've done one but, lacking a Wherigo compatible device, I had to disassemble and modify the lua bytecode in order to remove anti-emulator protection and unlock the first zone; then I played it on the emulator at home before venturing out to sign the logbook. It was fun, but I probably won't bother a second time.

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I've done one but, lacking a Wherigo compatible device, I had to disassemble and modify the lua bytecode in order to remove anti-emulator protection and unlock the first zone; then I played it on the emulator at home before venturing out to sign the logbook. It was fun, but I probably won't bother a second time.

 

I've run a few on the emulator, but it is more fun in the field (if you have the device). I've left mine open so people can play it on the emulator if they wish.

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Comparing this to Wherigo leaves me wondering how Wherigo could be made to work better. When the cartridge creator creates "zones" that the player must be in to receive the next stage, it renders the player vulnerable to temporary works, fences etc.

 

Great point and has given me an idea. In the cart that I've made I only allowed the question to be asked when inside the zone. To make this work with PDA with low accuracy or cars parked in the way, I made the zones big. In fact I wonder if they are too big that users with accurate devices then have to hunt a bit for the info but that's a different issue. Small zones have in the past annoyed me though one cart uses small zones as part of the game and while frustrating certainly earned a favourite point from me.

 

It's perfectly possible for the creator to have the question answered after the zone has been visited (would require user to save regularly). You could even set two zones, a large wide area for the question and a target one to point the user in the right direction.

 

If however the hindering factor is too large, then perhaps the cart would need to be disabled for a while.

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I love Wherigo's and had great fun creating one in Saffron Walden to take cachers around the official town trail to see the old buildings. I'm also sad to see that they fizzled out. :sad: They have great potential. I did a couple of blog posts a while ago on Wherigos and inspired 3 cachers (That I know of) to create Wherigo's in Essex, all of which I've done. Might be of use to you...

 

Blog posts here (playing Wherigos) and here (Creating Wherigos).

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I love Wherigo's and had great fun creating one in Saffron Walden to take cachers around the official town trail to see the old buildings. I'm also sad to see that they fizzled out. :sad: They have great potential. I did a couple of blog posts a while ago on Wherigos and inspired 3 cachers (That I know of) to create Wherigo's in Essex, all of which I've done. Might be of use to you...

 

Blog posts here (playing Wherigos) and here (Creating Wherigos).

 

Thanks for that - I wish I had seen your blog earlier! Interesting your comments on Earwigo. I've only used the "standard" Wherigo builder. I took a quick look at "Urwigo" - but by that time I was already comfortable with the Wherigo builder, and like you I found it confusing where to start. I'm pretty comfortable with Wherigo builder now, but will give Earwigo a chance.

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Arrgh!!! My new Wherigo, which works fine for iPhone and Android (and with the emulator) doesn't work with Garmins.

 

I'm getting help with that, and hope to be able to fix it.

 

It confirms that the technology is not very robust. With a quality product, you would test it on the emulator, and if it worked there, it would work on all devices.

 

Lesson learned is to test with a Garmin as well.

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The only thing that gives me some reassurance is that it seems like the iPhone app is one of the worst for compatibility - and that's the one I can test - so I hope that if it works for iPhone it will work for others.

 

Unfortunately not so true. The only cart I've published worked seamlessly on the iPhone but crashed on Garmin. That was until I adapted it slightly.

 

Sorry, just seen someone else already said this and now you are experiencing it yourself. A d'uh moment on my part.

Edited by metal-bijou
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I've always wanted to try one as I think the kids would love it - but I've been worried by all the reports of them not working, and didn't want two frustrated children if we tried for an hour or two and then it crashed before we got to the end, or something...

 

I have both a Garmin Oregon and an Android phone, maybe if we tried it with both at once that would give us a better chance of succeeding?

 

Yes it would. I think most caches would work on one of them.

 

I'm hoping to make my next cache a Wherigo in Swindon... so if I do you can try it out there.

 

Mark

 

ooh fab, will look out for it!

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I did my first and to date only Wherigo (The London Wall) with hublander, beanie28 & sammyjw on the day of the Lord Mayor's show last year. It was enjoyable given the company and good weather but some observations:-

 

1. Stability - Based on advise there does seem to be stability issues and there is a definite need to save in every zone otherwise if the app creashes you have to go back to the very start.

 

2. Zones - there was a noticable difference in how the zones were triggered. I have an Oregon 550 with Hublander having a smartphone and on almost every zone the proximity detection was different, in some cases by quite a large margin. I should add that this may not necessarily be the fault of Wherigo but it was an interesting if frustrating observation.

 

3. Play Time - I know that there's a 'suggested' time but it would be nice to know how many zones are used, or distance covered, to better gauge effort.

Edited by davemcwish
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I love playing Wherigos, and particularly enjoyed Delta68's Reindeer Round-Up series of 9, which ran flawlessly on my Oregon 550 (and other Oregons in the group that day).

 

The only problem I've had was a Wherigo not restoring itself properly while part-way round a circuit, despite having been saved. In reality, most Wherigos are not done in isolation, because their route takes you past other caches that you want to search for on the way.

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