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# Ambiguity in puzzles

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In the neighbouring thread I raised the question about confirmation of coordinates. The common response was that ambiguity in puzzles isn't good. This approach was stipulated as something obvious and clear. "I do this and that to avoid/remove any ambiguity in puzzles".

Having in mind that we're all (I hope) enjoying a treasure hunting game I'm asking another question to the COs: have you ever embedded ambiguity in your puzzles intentionally?

I'll provide a simple example. Say, we have a multi-step puzzle cache in woods. There's a task on the first step in a capsule hidden in a tree. Once a cacher finds this capsule he/she is offered a small riddle to get numbers X and Y and use them to calculate the coordinates of Step 2. However, this small riddle has more than one solution but a combination of variants (X=5 Y=2 or X=7 Y=13 or X=8 Y=0). All pairs are correct solutions. So, the player gets three sets of GPS coordinates with two possibilities:

1) Chances for Step 2 to be at any of these three points are equal. Say, we're at some crossroads and the calculated Step 2 may be 50m away in three directions. Check variants one by one until you find the correct one.

2) Chances are different. The first waypoint appears to be well behind our current location along the route, the second point is in the middle of a big lake according to the map, and the third point lays in the most logical direction and distance and surroundings. Check the most probable variant first.

This concept was used in some of my puzzle caches. If you as a CO have used the same idea in your puzzles please share how your visitors felt and responded in logs.

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Having in mind that we're all (I hope) enjoying a treasure hunting game I'm asking another question to the COs: have you ever embedded ambiguity in your puzzles intentionally?

Ambiguity in puzzles generally (not always, but almost always) makes them worse. Nothing more tedious than an exhaustive search of multiple options with no way to distinguish between them.

So, IMO, the scenario you describe is not what I would consider a good puzzle.

On the other hand, I have sometimes been intentionally tricky in my puzzle solutions. I have, for example, a puzzle that requires solving an apparently simple velocity/time problem; however, the velocity is so high that relativity must be considered. The naive solution lies right next to a trail in a park.

I think that one has a checker, though, so it's not likely to actually fool anybody.

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Not in puzzle design, but a well received ambiguity in a multi-cache design (not mine).

In a large state forest, there were 1 - 3 sets of coords at each location. Seeker didn't know how many sets there were, nor which set might take them on a longer or shorter trip. All coords worked, no doubling back, and all would ultimately loop to the same final.

Longest possible route was 11 miles, most routes were shorter, how much shorter was not specified.

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One person's ambiguity is another person's challenge.

It isn't a puzzle, but I do own a multi cache that ends with two possible sets of coordinates (the final coordinates are derived by calculating the intersecting points of two large circles). I am pretty clear in the cache description that there are two possible solutions, and I give some details to lead people the right direction. I don't recall any complaints.

The reason I added those details is because I placed the cache in an area where the locals aren't really used to multis like that and I felt that they needed some hand-holding. If I was placing the same cache around Ottawa, I would unabashedly leave those details out because this type of thing is so common here.

I've done many caches that are somewhat like this, some with more ambiguity than others. Looking in the wrong place is just part of the adventure. You just have to keep your wits about you.

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Ambiguity in puzzles generally (not always, but almost always) makes them worse. Nothing more tedious than an exhaustive search of multiple options with no way to distinguish between them.

So, IMO, the scenario you describe is not what I would consider a good puzzle.

Right, it's not figuring anything out at that point, it's basically a forced task with effectively a random chance that the one you check is correct. It's more frustrating in that sense if there's equal opportunity to be wrong. There's nothing more you can do to ensure you have the correct solution. At least when it comes to lengthy physical tasks. When it's, say, having a list of possible answers and having to check every single one until you find the correct one, that's more a mental frustration than a physical one, but the same concept - aside from repeated manual labour, there's no way to "deduce" the solution at that point. I wouldn't call that a puzzle.

In those cases, however, if there is even a subtle hint as to which direction or theory is correct, then deduction is still possible even if someone might 'miss' such hints. So I'd say that could bring it back to puzzle status.

IMO, if there is a way to deduce a single correct solution without taking any chance-based leaps (including reading the puzzle-maker's mind) regardless of how obfuscated/hidden any steps may be, then it's a good puzzle in my books.

Edited by thebruce0
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I recall doing a puzzle that brings people to a cemetery. From there, they must find a gravestone and note the coordinates at that location...then walk a bearing, find another gravestone and mark the coordinates at THAT spot. They must then use those coordinates and subtract a given number from one portion of each to get coordinates for the final.

So ambiguity is built-in at each waypoint since every person's coordinates at each gravestone will vary by a fairly large degree.

It's not a bad puzzle, and it's not overly difficult...but the fact that the CO is relying on the cachers to basically provide their own coordinates adds in a fair degree of uncertainty. It does help that the final is in a small open park space that limits the number of possible hiding spots and is bound by roadways on two sides and dense woods on the third (it's triangular).

So my point is, I suppose, that it kind of depends on the puzzle and hide. If the ambiguity extends to the final hiding spot and the level of uncertainty never really decreases, then I'd say the puzzle is poorly constructed. If the ambiguity eventually gets reduced or eliminated once the puzzle is "solved" and the hiding spot is revealed...then I have no problem with it.

Edited by J Grouchy
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I recall doing a puzzle that brings people to a cemetery. From there, they must find a gravestone and note the coordinates at that location...then walk a bearing, find another gravestone and mark the coordinates at THAT spot. They must then use those coordinates and subtract a given number from one portion of each to get coordinates for the final.

Hm. In that case I think the ambiguity is more reliant on the accuracy of your device. Even then, the final's accuracy will be directly proportionate to the accuracy at each of the gravestones; likely a matter of meters (unless someone has a very bad device or is really not paying attention to their readings, which I'd chalk up to skills, not chance). Basically you're just determining two corners of a triangle (with enough info that the headstones are identified) where the third is the final cache. In theory you could do it visually, even (well, by sat map/triangulation).

Now if the puzzle were to project a distance/bearing from the nearest headstone using the date on the headstone, a few times, and the last one is the cache location - and it had no checker (even a 'fuzzy' checker to ensure you were in the right vicinity) then I'd hate that one a lot more Each step could get you off target by increasing degrees (literally) especially if you use any incorrect gravestone. That could have you going back and running the process a number of times until you get a feasible answer (which itself may still not be accurate).

Maybe that style could be considered more like a letterbox hybrid task? *shrug*

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Looking in the wrong place is just part of the adventure.

Yes.

And of course it depends on how the cache is constructed. Say, I know from the description that Step 2 is located in a hole in a oak. I'm currently in the middle of a forest with three paths going in different directions. They lead to three probable points and these variants seem equal so I cannot decide where to go for sure. The distance is 50 m. The forest is nice. The trail is easy. There are no muggles around. The cache is somehow devoted to this wonderful forest. And once I'm at Variant 1 I clearly see there are no oaks nearby so I don't waste my time looking everywhere for a small capsule. The way the owner designed this step of his puzzle doesn't seem poor to me. If the distance was 5 km and the trails disappeared in bogs I would probably think differently.

As for the ambiguity which "eventually gets reduced". One of my puzzle multi-step caches was based on stories about pirates. There were capsules at every step with questions and 4 variants of answers. One of them was correct and led to the next capsule. Three other variants led to black marks on trees meaning dead ends. The first question was very simple, something like "How pirates called their flag?" It could be answered by a kid without any trouble. The second question was a bit more difficult, then even more difficult, and so on - pirate maps, old coins, historical stories. Some of them still could be solved by Internet browsing but not those in the very end of the route. Those were really hard. Besides, the distance between variants grew as cachers walked from one point to another and the terrain also became harder. The whole cache required at least two days to complete. I've never heard any complaints about it, only positive logs. Some teams did this cache in two or more attempts but they all seemed to be happy - despite the fact that the ambiguity got higher and higher.

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Ah. I see your point now. It's something like GC13GC7, but with (many) additional elements (stories, some puzzles, and so on). I'm personally not a fan of puzzles (or games maybe?) like that, but I do see how it could be fun for some others. In that case, my suggestion is to make it clear upfront that there are more than one valid solutions and the actual challenge is to figure out the one with the actual cache, and they may need to visit multiple remote locations as there is no legitimate path to nail down to a single intended solution. You might also say that you would not confirm the solution. I'm pretty sure that some people would just ask the actual location to previous finders instead of to you, but you'd have to accept that.

The thing is that most puzzles are designed to have a legitimate path to a single solution, so people would just ask the CO if they find many, thinking that the puzzle may have an error or two. That's quite reasonable in my opinion, and I sometimes do so.

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And of course it depends on how the cache is constructed. Say, I know from the description that Step 2 is located in a hole in a oak. I'm currently in the middle of a forest with three paths going in different directions. They lead to three probable points and these variants seem equal so I cannot decide where to go for sure. The distance is 50 m. The forest is nice. The trail is easy. There are no muggles around. The cache is somehow devoted to this wonderful forest. And once I'm at Variant 1 I clearly see there are no oaks nearby so I don't waste my time looking everywhere for a small capsule. The way the owner designed this step of his puzzle doesn't seem poor to me. If the distance was 5 km and the trails disappeared in bogs I would probably think differently.

As for the ambiguity which "eventually gets reduced". One of my puzzle multi-step caches was based on stories about pirates. There were capsules at every step with questions and 4 variants of answers. One of them was correct and led to the next capsule. Three other variants led to black marks on trees meaning dead ends. The first question was very simple, something like "How pirates called their flag?" It could be answered by a kid without any trouble. The second question was a bit more difficult, then even more difficult, and so on - pirate maps, old coins, historical stories. Some of them still could be solved by Internet browsing but not those in the very end of the route. Those were really hard. Besides, the distance between variants grew as cachers walked from one point to another and the terrain also became harder. The whole cache required at least two days to complete. I've never heard any complaints about it, only positive logs. Some teams did this cache in two or more attempts but they all seemed to be happy - despite the fact that the ambiguity got higher and higher.

Nice.

In both of these cases though, I think a significant factor in enjoyment is expectation going in.

If I know that there's a multi that can take up to a couple of days to finish, then I know I'm getting into some potentially difficult tasks; I'd be ready and accepting of backtracking and more exploration. Or if I know it's in a wonderful forest and I have time to enjoy the hike, I wouldn't be upset if 50m becomes 200m.

In the first case, if I didn't know there could be backtracking, I might think it could be a quick find, and make an effort for it having limited time. But then I might come away upset even just about an extra 3x50m hikes, despite how amazing the forest is (though personally I might choose to come back another day with more time, if only because of the forest ). Of course there is always the option to walk away (no one's forcing you to find the cache), but I think the point is that expectations going into the cache hunt can differ wildly and affect enjoyment.

Maybe I could even come away upset after that pirate multi if I do every step perfectly the first time and only spend 2 hours doing it when I'd hoped to spend 2 days heh

Edited by thebruce0
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Looking in the wrong place is just part of the adventure.

Yes.

And of course it depends on how the cache is constructed. Say, I know from the description that Step 2 is located in a hole in a oak. I'm currently in the middle of a forest with three paths going in different directions. They lead to three probable points and these variants seem equal so I cannot decide where to go for sure. The distance is 50 m. The forest is nice. The trail is easy. There are no muggles around. The cache is somehow devoted to this wonderful forest. And once I'm at Variant 1 I clearly see there are no oaks nearby so I don't waste my time looking everywhere for a small capsule. The way the owner designed this step of his puzzle doesn't seem poor to me. If the distance was 5 km and the trails disappeared in bogs I would probably think differently.

As for the ambiguity which "eventually gets reduced". One of my puzzle multi-step caches was based on stories about pirates. There were capsules at every step with questions and 4 variants of answers. One of them was correct and led to the next capsule. Three other variants led to black marks on trees meaning dead ends. The first question was very simple, something like "How pirates called their flag?" It could be answered by a kid without any trouble. The second question was a bit more difficult, then even more difficult, and so on - pirate maps, old coins, historical stories. Some of them still could be solved by Internet browsing but not those in the very end of the route. Those were really hard. Besides, the distance between variants grew as cachers walked from one point to another and the terrain also became harder. The whole cache required at least two days to complete. I've never heard any complaints about it, only positive logs. Some teams did this cache in two or more attempts but they all seemed to be happy - despite the fact that the ambiguity got higher and higher.

This reminds me of this cache, which involves looking for tags on trees. I got darn lucky when I went out for this one. https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GCHMKW_deja-vu

Then there is this cache, which took us multiple visits. The premise again is that you're looking for tags, and eventually when the tag is missing, you do an easy projection to get to the cache. But the tags are so insanely difficult to find that you can never quite be sure if the tag is missing, or you just can't find it! https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC6A23_the-missing-link

The guy who put out those caches is one of a handful of early cachers in this area who kind of set the standard for difficult multis and puzzles. I worked on all of his caches over a period of about a year, with a friend who is now my husband! So I have many reasons to appreciate ambiguous caches!

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I have a puzzle that has three ways to solve it. Two fairly easy, obviious ways (both come out to the same set of co-ords - that took two years to work out!) and a very unobvious solution (the correct one). I do comment that if the solution doesn't seem to match the D it's not right, besides the incorrect co-ords lead to a "Dead End" sign along a road. So I did build in a bit of ambiguity into the puzzle - I still recall the FTF party "slamming down" a cell phone on me (with a bad word) when they realized what the sign meant...

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I usually like my puzzles to have one solution, be it easy or difficult. Since I have limited time to cache, between job and family obligations, these days I normally don't enjoy wild goose chases. Had I time to check X different locations based on X different solutions, things might be different, but I at least currently don't.

So if I had an indication ahead of time a puzzle was ambiguous, I likely wouldn't attempt it. Whereas if I didn't have an indication ahead of time and had some of my limited free time wasted on a wild goose chase, I would not appreciate it and would likely not seek any other puzzles by that hider.

If that's how you want people to react to your caches, by all means. I like my caches to be found, so my puzzles, easy or hard, have had one solution (at least by my design), which could then be verified with a geochecker.

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If that's how you want people to react to your caches, by all means.

Being that busy you still found time to reply to the thread where I was trying to find people with different approach than yours. Perhaps you will also find time to search for such a geocache some day, who knows for sure?

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I describe them like a combination lock. You get first part wrong you have to start over. You get to the second part and get that wrong you have to start over and so on. I have seen Wherigo's like that and they are frustrating.

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I describe them like a combination lock. You get first part wrong you have to start over. You get to the second part and get that wrong you have to start over and so on. I have seen Wherigo's like that and they are frustrating.

Yeah, though the scale of a combination lock differs wildly from a multi-km hike And we know what to expect with combination locks. And it would depend if we had 10 combos try or 500

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Let me add that ambiguity in caches isn't that hard as soon as one is in the area and uses their experience and intelligence to find out the most probable variant. As soon as I remember there always were some minor signs and details that could help geocachers to deduce that the ambiguity isn't symmetric. However, there were newbies or those who hurried somewhere or those who came after dark, etc. etc., and some of these people blamed the CO for adding "unnecessary and disappointing ambiguity" to his puzzle.

One part of my old puzzle/multi-step quest involved a story about soldiers capturing a building. The capsule was hidden in one of the rooms. There was a transcript of radio communications between soldiers in this squad. The text consisted of phrases like "What you see Jack?" - "A big room, two windows, one more door to the right", etc. It was impossible to make any sense from that without going outdoors. One could try and draw a plan of this building but there was not enough information and the ambiguity seemed so large. Once you were inside the building the level of ambiguity decreased quickly. And though there remained some uncertainty the majority of cachers was able to decrease the number of possible locations to 2 or 3 rooms. (And if one was really cool he could deduce the solution to 1 variant only). So, what seemed a big ambiguity at a first glance proved to be not that hopeless after visiting the place.

On the other hand, I got complaints once from a cacher who suffered from cold weather and snow and darkness and crying kids while trying to find one of my traditional caches in the city. He said my description was too vague and the absence of a spoiler photo made him suffer from ambiguity. I was (seriously) worried about poor little kids and asked several questions. It happened that the guy actually lived 2000 kms away and never visited my cache. He just decided to join our online discussion because he hated ambiguity.

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It happened that the guy actually lived 2000 kms away and never visited my cache. He just decided to join our online discussion because he hated ambiguity.

I've seen some tempers flare about ambiguity around here on a few occasions, but that's pretty intense.

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We've got one puzzle creator here who has managed to create two different puzzles that yield three different solutions. He created one listing for each of the three possible solutions on both projects.

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We've got one puzzle creator here who has managed to create two different puzzles that yield three different solutions. He created one listing for each of the three possible solutions on both projects.

I know of at least a couple of caches that refer to the incorrect solutions of older caches.

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A few of my Favorites are puzzles that incorporate some degree of ambiguity. But I think there's a difference between a puzzle that is ambiguous because it was poorly constructed, and a puzzle that incorporates ambiguity into the puzzle design.

For example, some of my Favorites have incorporated ambiguity by providing multiple answers, but there was information in the puzzle that would let you sort out which answer was correct. Sometimes the incorrect answers were true red herrings (e.g., obtained by "solving" the puzzle in the obvious way, rather than in the correct way). Sometimes the correct approach produced multiple answers, and you had to think through the information in the puzzle to figure out which was the correct one.

But I think this is different from a puzzle that is vague, unclear, and poorly constructed. Around here, we sometimes refer to "moon logic" puzzles, which essentially require reading the CO's mind to figure out how the puzzle is supposed to work. That is a bad kind of ambiguity.

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We've got one puzzle creator here who has managed to create two different puzzles that yield three different solutions. He created one listing for each of the three possible solutions on both projects.
Cool. I've found a pair of puzzles that used the same puzzle, where the second one says something to the effect of "there's another solution to the first that produces another set of coordinates". But I haven't seen a set of three solutions to the same puzzle.
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A few of my Favorites are puzzles that incorporate some degree of ambiguity. But I think there's a difference between a puzzle that is ambiguous because it was poorly constructed, and a puzzle that incorporates ambiguity into the puzzle design.

I did one that involved several steps and included the suggesting along the way that an offset wil be required at some point. During the solving process a set of coordinates were revealed that, if one looked on a map, they could see that it was at the 50 yard line of a NFL football stadium. It was pretty obvious that the that the cache wasn't there and I still needed work to do. I suppose that really isn't ambiguity though.

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if one looked on a map

Yes, this was one of my points in the thread. There's no such thing as absolute ambiguity. Once I look at the map I immediately see that some variants just aren't possible (or very much unlikely). Then I look around and exclude more variants. And so on.

Let me provide a simple example from one cache in Estonia. The coordinates led me to a big impressive stone (with its own history). From this stone cachers were suggested to make 50 steps and find the hidden container. The text didn't even mention the direction though it was said that I would find another stone (a smaller one).

This simple task could be solved by brute force of course. I could make 50 steps in any direction and walk along the circle (keeping the same distance from the stone). I acted differently. First, I excluded the path I used to get to the stone because there were no stones along it. The area around the large stone was mostly flat (field) and no stones were visible. I walked to a lone tree which seemed 50 steps away and found nothing under it. While walking through this high grass I thought that since the cache was rather popular there should be some path between its steps made by geocachers. So I switched to searching for a path and soon found one in bushes nearby. 50 steps along this path into the forest brought me to the second stone 2 and to the cache.

It was really simple but my experience was quite limited at that time (and still is). I remember that I was disappointed first when I knew that no direction was given. I can also understand a cacher who has found hundreds of hides with exact GPS coordinates and runs into a cache with some level of ambiguity.

Edited by -CJ-
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Yes, this was one of my points in the thread. There's no such thing as absolute ambiguity. Once I look at the map I immediately see that some variants just aren't possible (or very much unlikely). Then I look around and exclude more variants. And so on.

The problem with this approach is that the correct solution may not be one of the variants I came up with, so that leaves me looking at a bunch of dubious locations. In that case, the idea of picking out the one attractive answer fails miserably, so I end up visiting a bunch of pointless, hard to reach places with no redeeming value and, unbeknownst to me, none of them will lead me to a cache. If I know the CO and think they wouldn't do that, then I might realize all my answers are wrong, but that's rarely the case.

On the other hand, you're assuming the CO is going to pick a place that looks good on the map over a place that's hard to get to. The cache fizzymagic mentioned in the worst case: it turns out that the wrong solution looks very reasonable. On the other hand, the correct solution, the one requiring relativistic distance calculations, is way up on an absurd hill, a really tough bushwhack. Using your method of evaluating ambiguous solutions, I would have rejected the correct solution flat out. Fortunately, fizzymagic provided a geochecker. I happen to know that fizzymagic never makes anything easy, so I almost didn't bother to check the simple solution, but I doubt I would have tackled that hill if I weren't sure GZ was up there.

Let me provide a simple example from one cache in Estonia. The coordinates led me to a big impressive stone (with its own history). From this stone cachers were suggested to make 50 steps and find the hidden container. The text didn't even mention the direction though it was said that I would find another stone (a smaller one)...

I'm not complaining about a cache that, by design, involves searching for something. It only bothers me when the CO makes me think the design is leading to a single solution, but, unexpectedly, the answer is ambiguous. I find that frustrating because I don't know whether I made a mistake, the CO made a mistake, or that the intention is that I deal with the ambiguity. Besides, that's assuming I detected the ambiguity to begin with. If I don't, then I'll assume the cache is missing, so there's no reason for me to go back to find other possible solutions.

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unexpectedly, the answer is ambiguous. I find that frustrating

And I find that challenging Anyway, we're (again) getting back to those who search for caches, and the original question was addressed to COs.

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unexpectedly, the answer is ambiguous. I find that frustrating

And I find that challenging Anyway, we're (again) getting back to those who search for caches, and the original question was addressed to COs.

In which case, as a CO you readily accept that people may find your cache quite frustrating, even while you, were you in their shoes, would have found it challenging. So it is a CO choice, but as a CO I can understand the frustration aspect, and wouldn't want to put a finder into that potential spot. I'd want them to enjoy my cache, so there's a much better chance of that happening with a style of 'challenge' that more people are bound to enjoy than intentional ambiguity.

Edited by thebruce0
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And I find that challenging

I have to believe we're thinking of different examples. In the puzzles I'm imagining, there's nothing challenging about it: it's just doing the work over again after I've met the challenge.

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you readily accept that people may find your cache quite frustrating

I said that I find something challenging but I didn't say that I myself implement the very same "challenging" tricks in my own caches

Strangely, you're right. There always will be people who will find some of my cache frustrating. Even a simple traditional one with no ambiguity at all. By all means we could discuss how to place caches which more people are bound to enjoy but I think we should do it in a different thread.

Edited by -CJ-
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If that's how you want people to react to your caches, by all means.

Being that busy you still found time to reply to the thread where I was trying to find people with different approach than yours. Perhaps you will also find time to search for such a geocache some day, who knows for sure?

Yes, I did find five minutes in between work projects, while I was already sitting at my computer, to read your initial post and type a response to it. Well spotted.

Thank you.

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unexpectedly, the answer is ambiguous. I find that frustrating

And I find that challenging Anyway, we're (again) getting back to those who search for caches, and the original question was addressed to COs.

In which case, as a CO you readily accept that people may find your cache quite frustrating, even while you, were you in their shoes, would have found it challenging. So it is a CO choice, but as a CO I can understand the frustration aspect, and wouldn't want to put a finder into that potential spot. I'd want them to enjoy my cache, so there's a much better chance of that happening with a style of 'challenge' that more people are bound to enjoy than intentional ambiguity.

Cachers can look at a cache description and make an informed choice about whether or not to pursue a cache. If, at any point, they find it too frustrating, they can abandon it. Cachers need to take some amount of responsibility for their own reactions. When someone places a puzzle cache, it's an invitation to others, not an obligation. Frustration is largely a choice.

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Yes. Nowhere did I deny that in my comment.

It goes both ways.

Cachers don't have to find every cache; if you don't want to get frustrated, don't work on that cache.

COs don't have to make caches non-frustrating to every cacher, but do create them with an acceptable chance of frustration based on experiences with previous cache-hiding styles.

A CO who places an intentionally ambiguous puzzle cache should be prepared to face potential frustration from finders, understanding why.

A cacher setting out to solve an ambiguous puzzle doesn't have to get frustrated at the CO or cache just because the CO doesn't 'cooperate' or the puzzle isn't cut and dry.

Edited by thebruce0
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There is ambiguity built into all puzzles. That is the nature of them.

Such as what is 1 and 1? Some will say 2, others eleven, but yet it may be 3.

Why? 1+1=2, 1 put next to another 1 is 11. Then there is binary in which 11 is 3.

Now that is ambiguous ain't it or is it subjective.

Recently I solved a puzzle in which there where multiple possibles for many of the coord numbers.

Now that was a pain, many different possible answers to the same question.

Different sources of info had different answers, UGH! Ambiguity is something to just live with and deal with.

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Yes, it's quite subjective. And that's the problem.

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Yeah I came across a mystery puzzle one like this weekend which involved different countries boats and I think it was about times they came into port but when I found the list of times in the visitor center that you are supposed look in, they weren't on there so I am not so sure what exactly you were supposed to look for to determine the coords. It said you could even use Google when the visitor center is closed but what you were supposed to be Googling is still beyond me. I looked at the logs and I wasn't the only one lost at how to find the cache.

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Frustration is largely a choice.

I'm not sure how I'm supposed to anticipate that I'll be frustrated and stop before I am, but the point is definitely that I'll rate the puzzle negatively and choose not to solve any more of this CO's puzzles if finding the cache turns out to be the mental equivalent of an ivy hide. The claim is not that all frustration must be avoided, just that it shouldn't be mistaken for making a puzzle more challenging.

There is ambiguity built into all puzzles. That is the nature of them.

Such as what is 1 and 1? Some will say 2, others eleven, but yet it may be 3.

Why? 1+1=2, 1 put next to another 1 is 11. Then there is binary in which 11 is 3.

Now that is ambiguous ain't it or is it subjective.

The issue isn't ambiguity in the puzzle but only ambiguity in the answer. If a puzzle gave me no way to determine whether 2, 11, 3, or 17 (hex) or 9 (octal) or 6 (number of letters in "eleven"), etc., is the right answer, in most cases the puzzle wouldn't seem very interesting, so I might skip other puzzles by the CO. It becomes less about solving a puzzle and more about gambling on which possible answer is correct.

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the mental equivalent of an ivy hide
I like that phrase. That's a good description of "bad ambiguity" in a puzzle: the mental equivalent of an ivy hide or some other needle-in-a-haystack hide.

The claim is not that all frustration must be avoided, just that it shouldn't be mistaken for making a puzzle more challenging.
Yep. As fizzymagic has pointed out, creating an impossible puzzle is easy. The real challenge is to create an interesting puzzle, one that is solvable but non-trivial, engaging and not overwhelming.

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