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Release Notes (Adventure Labs) - March 26, 2019

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I just wonder what Lab Cache creator is thinking, "Hey! I want to have a Lab Cache event in the middle of smegging nowhere, where there's no cell coverage! That'd be fun!" 

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9 hours ago, The A-Team said:

Is there any reason why the Labs need to be fully online, though?

 

Linear gameplay may require that you complete it stage by stage without possibility to peek forward.

 

 

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8 hours ago, Komikino said:

I just wonder what Lab Cache creator is thinking, "Hey! I want to have a Lab Cache event in the middle of smegging nowhere, where there's no cell coverage! That'd be fun!" 

 

You can use portable satellite Internet anywhere 😀

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On ‎3‎/‎27‎/‎2019 at 2:12 PM, hal-an-tow said:

Why would they ? Use of the Groundspeak app is a revenue stream for Groundspeak.

Giving third party apps a way into the workings of the ALC would undoubtedly compromise that third point :

 

Not necesseraly so. They allow third party applications for "regular" geocaching and give them access to their API.

Why can't it be so for ALC ?

If they are asking a fee for the usage of the API, no loss of revenue. Maybe even an increase of revenue for them and better apps for the users.

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15 minutes ago, p0cy said:

Why can't it be so for ALC ?

 

I would make an App which automatically logs all ALC caches for me. :D

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9 hours ago, Komikino said:

I just wonder what Lab Cache creator is thinking, "Hey! I want to have a Lab Cache event in the middle of smegging nowhere, where there's no cell coverage! That'd be fun!" 

Maybe it works differently over the pond, but over here it's not uncommon to find  areas where it's possible to get coverage from only some service providers, so a CO who's on an O2 phone might have a signal for placing it, but searchers on an EE phone won't have a signal to search for it.

 

 

 

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29 minutes ago, arisoft said:

I would make an App which automatically logs all ALC caches for me. :D

If you mean you would use your app developer API key, then that would almost certainly be in breach of the agreement you would be required to make in order to receive an API key.

 

If you mean you as a regular user would use another third party app to log all ALC caches, then how is that different to how you could use GSAK etc to do that with all regular caches already?

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2 minutes ago, MartyBartfast said:

If you mean you would use your app developer API key, then that would almost certainly be in breach of the agreement you would be required to make in order to receive an API key.

 

The agreement is public. Can you find the breach?

 

There are more practical reasons not to allow 3th party apps. The most important is that the game can change anytime. New features added or old features removed. Supporting many developers would be a nightmare.

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5 minutes ago, arisoft said:

Can you find the breach? 

I'll leave you to read it, I've got better things to do.

 

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7 hours ago, MartyBartfast said:

Maybe it works differently over the pond, but over here it's not uncommon to find  areas where it's possible to get coverage from only some service providers, so a CO who's on an O2 phone might have a signal for placing it, but searchers on an EE phone won't have a signal to search for it.

 

 

 

Welcome to Texas and Verizon cell service. Some areas don't support Verizon signal.

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21 hours ago, The A-Team said:

Is there any reason why the Labs need to be fully online, though? What about allowing them to be offline for viewing and navigating, but keep the verification online-only? Then finders could still have the necessary information to find the Labs at the top of the mountain and could later log them from farther away where there's signal/Wi-Fi.

 

I wouldn't be against that, though I'd assume HQ would have to come up with a way to ensure having the lab offline isn't suddenly easily hackable. Not that it would matter so much, since you'd have to be within proximity to 'claim' it with the keyword, even if you were to figure out what it was without doing the lab.

 

11 hours ago, MartyBartfast said:

Maybe it works differently over the pond, but over here it's not uncommon to find  areas where it's possible to get coverage from only some service providers, so a CO who's on an O2 phone might have a signal for placing it, but searchers on an EE phone won't have a signal to search for it.

 

Right. And if that's the case, especially if the lab is placed for an event, I'd make a disclaimer that data reception isn't 100%, but it was tested and works with X and Y service providers.  That at least lets people know if they'd be able to run the lab.

 

 

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I don't want to be a spoil-sport, but given today's (non-)performance of the geocaching.com services, I wonder if Groundspeak's infrastructure is really ready for an online-only game :rolleyes:. If the service is down while I'm caching, it's not really a big deal - I have everything I need on my GPSr and/or smartphone, and can log my finds days or weeks later. When the service has problems while I'm playing an ALC ... well, I can scratch the ALC I guess.

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On 3/28/2019 at 10:30 PM, Frau Potter said:

 

Yes, it is true. The creator of the Adventure can set the radius for location validation (or "geofencing"). It can be "off" or it can be a range of up to 100 kilometers if it is turned on (but most creators are choosing much closer than that!). In our builder guide, we recommend setting the geofencing distance so that it is large enough to allow users to log from a WiFi location at their hotel etc. if they do not have data while completing the Adventure. But ultimately it is up to the creator to decide. 

 

Which brings me to another feature request that is necessary to support a global game. Offline availability and offline logging (which should be synced once WiFi is available).

 

I stopped playing Munzee because I was only able to log them in my home country. Not so much a problem in the U.S. (and nowadays) in the EU but for everyone/-where else it prohibitive.

 

I know you could fake your GPS signal to log later but that shouldn't be the solution.

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4 hours ago, famerlor_dragon said:

Which brings me to another feature request that is necessary to support a global game. Offline availability and offline logging (which should be synced once WiFi is available).

 

I stopped playing Munzee because I was only able to log them in my home country. Not so much a problem in the U.S. (and nowadays) in the EU but for everyone/-where else it prohibitive.

 

I know you could fake your GPS signal to log later but that shouldn't be the solution.

 

Necessary? No.

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Phones don't have to be online to capture the current GPS data, so I don't see why a log couldn't be created while offline that captures the GPS data when the log was created.  Then, when the log is submitted, it could verify the GPS data is within the allowable range.  The log could be encrypted when stored and decrypted on the server side.

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52 minutes ago, Keystone said:

I split off 15 posts from this thread into a separate thread in the Lab Caches forum section, so as not to distract from the discussion of the Lab Cache app.  Feel free to continue the conversation there.

The way I view it, this is clearly an issue with the app itself (since the app is now the only way to log lab caches). Lots of fake logs on new adventure labs, which should be handled by both fixing the app and banning the users that abuse the hole.

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On 3/30/2019 at 4:36 AM, MartyBartfast said:

Maybe it works differently over the pond, but over here it's not uncommon to find  areas where it's possible to get coverage from only some service providers, so a CO who's on an O2 phone might have a signal for placing it, but searchers on an EE phone won't have a signal to search for it.

 

 

 

 

One does not have to be in the middle of  nowhere for this to be the case.   I live "in the city" (such that it is...), very close to a large university where cell phone coverage is quite good.  My brother and sister n law live in a small town (officially called a hamlet) six miles away.   I occasionally get 1 bar of service from their driveway using one of the major carriers but understand that one of the other major carriers recently upgraded some nearby towers so users of that carrier get decent service.   This is in the middle of state of New York.  

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Posted (edited)

So I have a tablet with GPS functionality, but it's not a cell phone, will it still be able to do these lab caches? (assuming no wireless connection, and that I don't care about doing logging in the field.)

Edited by Dgwphotos

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1 hour ago, Dgwphotos said:

So I have a tablet with GPS functionality, but it's not a cell phone, will it still be able to do these lab caches?

 

You need a smartphone to open a Wi-Fi hotspot. Then you can connect your tablet to internet and start playing.

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10 hours ago, arisoft said:

 

You need a smartphone to open a Wi-Fi hotspot. Then you can connect your tablet to internet and start playing.

Actually that depends on the tablet and your data service.  My tablet handles wifi hotspots just fine, and also can connect to my data service - btw, I don't have a 'smart phone' as the tablet does everything (except calls) a smart phone can (and is easier to read) so why have both?

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Today, some finders of my Adventure Lab Cache reported a strange problem, which to me sounds like a bug in the app.

 

My ALC has a bonus cache, whose coordinates you get in the Journal entry, when you complete the 5th location. The bonus cache also has a geochecker, and I explicitly recommend in the listing to use it because you get further hints and a spoiler picture. Unfortunately, the first finder reported that there is a problem with the bonus cache placement, and I ended up moving the cache to a different spot (some 30 meters away). I updated the geochecker, and also the 5th location of my ALC to present the updated bonus coordinates. That was last Thursday, April 4th. Today, the ALC got 7 finds, and at two of the finders contacted me that they couldn't get the geochecker of the bonus cache to show "green". It turned out that they saw the old bonus coordinates in their Journal entry! In one case, two cachers did the ALC together, and one of them had the old and the other the current bonus coordinates.

 

It is possible that even though the Adventure Lab app has to be online to play an ALC, it still uses some kind of data caching? That maybe players, who had already opened my ALC before I updated the 5th location, didn't get the current data? Whatever the root cause for the problem is, it should be made sure that any updated to an ALC are reliably reflected in what the players see. E.g., it might be necessary to change a find code months after the ALC was first published.

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I'd like to give a longer feedback on ALCs from the owner viewpoint. I hope this is on topic in this thread.

 

Adventure Lab Builder Tool

  • The Builder is easy and straight-forward to use, especially with the Guide which has come with it. It also ran very stable, I didn't have any technical issues.
  • The "Test" option is basically very nice. It's good to check for typos in the texts and (most importantly) find codes, and to see whether the images look good on a small smartphone screen. But in the "Test" mode, the geofencing is apparently not enforced. While this is practical for checking the functionality at home, I couldn't verify that things would actually work out on location (which was a bit of an issue for me, because my location was mainly indoors). Maybe enforcement of geofencing could be added at least as an option when running in "test mode".
  • The Leaderboard is rather rudimentary (after 10 finders, you don't see any additional names). The option to download the full data as XML is useful, and if you are a programmer you can easily process the data to generate visual output. But not everyone is a programmer ;) , so a final product should probably offer something in this direction.

Owner Experience

What I can do with an ALC with 5 locations is very similar to an ordinary multi with 5 virtual stages. So I'll compare...

  1. Pro: An ALC is easier to set up. E.g. you don't have to care for a conversion of answers at one stage into coordinates for the next stage.
  2. Pro: No need for a physical container, if there is really no way to place one as a final (or if you don't like having to maintain one).
  3. Pro: No need for a reviewer. Nothing against our reviewers ;) , but full control over the publication state of your ALC is an advantage.
  4. Con: No feedback whatsoever from the players (unless they write you a personal e-mail about their experience).
  5. Con: The ALC doesn't show up on the normal cache map, and may therefore remain unnoticed by many cachers (even if they're caching with a smartphone, and are therefore potential ALC players).

Point #4 was a big issue for me personally. I know that many cachers don't give that much feedback in their log anyway, but I didn't want to create a cache and then read anything about from the finders. So as a workaround I placed a physical mystery cache as a "bonus" of the ALC (which also solved item #5). This worked very well - my ALC was noticed in the community, and so far, the ALC finders who also logged the bonus cache all wrote interesting logs. Even if logs become more plain over time, it was definitely worth the effort.

 

In the end, the result (ALC + physical bonus) is even closer to an ordinary multi. This leaves basically items #1 and #3 to choose an ALC over a multi, and #3 is mostly irrelevant to me. So only #1 remains. Well ... to be entirely honest, that's a bit "thin" to argue for a completely new app and all. I agree that there is one big(?) incentive for the players - they get 6 find "points" for my ALC+Bonus instead of only 1 for the equivalent multi. But all said and one, I think I'd currently go for the conventional multi in the (hypothetical) situation, that I have to choose between placing another ALC (+Bonus) or a more or less identical multi.

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Has this new scheme fixed the annoying bug whereby all lab cache logs are dated Seattle time?  I'm heading to the Mega at Queanbeyan and would really like my lab caches to be counted against the real date, not whatever the date is somewhere else in the world.

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Not sure if this is the appropriate place to report potential bugs, but I will attempt to describe an issue. I recently completed a set of 10 Adventure Lab caches using the new app. I received the confirmation for each one and then the "You've completed the Adventure Lab" message after the 10th find. However, after checking my stats later that night I was only given credit for 9 out of 10. After checking the app again, it also reported only 9 out of 10, even though at the time it showed 10/10 complete. I found out this was also happening to other cachers, so it was not just my app/phone.

 

I found out afterwards, that the question and answer to the one lab caches was changed at some point (I believe before I actually started the AL). Based on having only done the 1 set of AL caches, it would appear that the question/answer are stored on the app as well as the server. When I answered some of the AL caches wrong, I got an "incorrect" message almost immediately, so it was pretty obvious the answer was not being verified by the server.

 

I think what is happening is that the server and the app got out of sync when the question was changed. When this happens, the submitted answer is verified by the app, then actually submitted to the server. The server probably reports that the answer is incorrect, but this never makes it back to the app. The app has already marked the answer as correct because it has the old question/answer. So the app eventually gives you the "Completed the Adventure Lab" message because it's not checking with the server and the cacher has no way of knowing they submitted an answer that was not actually accepted by the server.

 

Eventually the app somehow gets synchronized and receives the new question/answer, and the lab cache is reported as not completed requiring the cacher to return to that GZ and submit the correct answer. It was verified that returning to GZ after this happens does work and allows you to actually complete the Adventure Lab.

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1 hour ago, ruylopez said:

I found out afterwards, that the question and answer to the one lab caches was changed at some point (I believe before I actually started the AL). Based on having only done the 1 set of AL caches, it would appear that the question/answer are stored on the app as well as the server. When I answered some of the AL caches wrong, I got an "incorrect" message almost immediately, so it was pretty obvious the answer was not being verified by the server.

 

I think what is happening is that the server and the app got out of sync when the question was changed. When this happens, the submitted answer is verified by the app, then actually submitted to the server. The server probably reports that the answer is incorrect, but this never makes it back to the app. The app has already marked the answer as correct because it has the old question/answer. So the app eventually gives you the "Completed the Adventure Lab" message because it's not checking with the server and the cacher has no way of knowing they submitted an answer that was not actually accepted by the server.

I suspect this is related to the  problem I reported earlier (where users see outdated texts in their journal entries). The app seems to cache the ALC's data, and there is no obvious way for the user to force an update.

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I have done both an AR cache (with 3 parts and a final), an Adventure Lab cache (with 5 sections) and a Wherigo (one of mine - with a group) in the past while.  I normally use a Garmin 64s but used my 2 year old LG5 smartphone for the 2 tests.  

For the AR - the phone gave a couple of the spots with the accompanying dialog but the download speed, processing speed? was so slow that after that the dialog boxes were just a blank rectangle on the screen.  I got frustrated searching around with no concise directions of where to go or which direction to look.  One of the people in the group had a new Apple iPhone and I just tagged along with them after a while.  I got to the final and there was a cache and a log.

 

For the Lab cache, I did it with my wife who has the exact same phone, purchased at the same time, with the same SD card etc.  She managed to get through the 5 stages, with a few minor "wanders" to get the program to accept you were "in the zone".  My phone had me 90m away and I could not get it to get any closer with any amount of wandering.  I actually got credit for one zone because my wife had done one of the questions and the phone decided that I was now there (when I was nowhere near) and I could answer the question.  I went back a few days later and used my wifes phone and signed into the app with my login and completed the other 4 zones.

 

For the Wherigo - I did it with a group of 12.  I used the same phone as above.  There were a variety of phones, and Garmin devices.  In the 10 stages, I was amazed at the variety of locations that the devices triggered the zone entry.  My phone was close except for one where I ended up following the arrow out into traffic (never said I was bright).  The Garmin seemed the most accurate and a couple of the phones never did get entry (can't go through a brick wall).  At the final GZ my phone "dinged" at 1m from the cache but most of the others were across the lane for a time and some slowly moved over.   As the cache owner I was taken aback at the variety of the variation at each location.

 

I am not happy with either of the 2 new types of caches.  I do not like using the phone for caching - it gets you close to the GZ but it is very jumpy.  I travel a lot and I am not willing to pay $12/day for roaming (the current cost in Canada) and I cache for enjoyment - not for being frustrated by technology, service problems, or the "look everywhere around you" idea that the AR app required - I don't enjoy Where's Waldo? 

 

As for the Wherigo - I am not convinced I will write any more - if the phones are that "jumpy" that if I take you to a spot to see something specific - you could be quite a ways from the spot and miss the point of the stop entirely.

 

While I understand Lab caches at an event, why should a cacher get credit for 5 finds on a single Lab cache and 1 find for a multi?  Am I missing something or is this just an attempt at attracting more "numbers hounds" at the expense of those of us that have been the loyal customers for years?

 

I suppose the point of this long ramble is - I do not like the direction Geocaching.com is going where the Smartphone is becoming the "go to" device for caching when there seems to be such a wide variation in produced results.  Obviously the 2 cache owners in the above examples (plus me) spent a considerable amount of time planning and programming their creations.  For me to have the "less than optimal" experience doing their caches through no fault or theirs does not seem like what I want caching to become or what will keep CO's happy.


 

 

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Hm. Well, first thing's first... don't blame the "smartphone". There's already an enormous variety of hardware and experiences across that 'class' of GPS device (and some would argue the same for dedicated handhelds).  I don't disagree that the direction of geocaching towards an experience that is less about finding physical containers and more about location-based gaming isn't a favourable one, imo.  But that's not a "smartphone" thing despite it being something that is played out on smartphones. That's a design decision on Groundspeak's part.

 

Point being - as with anything - with the proper hardware (whatever class of device), geocaching itself is doable on smartphones, and well.  Unfortunately there's a wide variety of hardware experiences to be had, and little explanation about the differences between devices - brands and generations - so "smartphones" get the brunt of the criticism when the worst experiences bubble to the top.

 

As for HQ, they can only do so much to ensure the best experience across all devices. And some devices (generally older ones, but sometimes certain brands/models) just won't stack up to the better hardware.

 

Lab caches aren't cache types - they are, basically, a side-game to geocaching.

AR caches are just Unknown caches, just with a different type of "puzzle" - and we all know everyone has puzzles or tasks they love and hate, just like terrains. So if you don't like AR, that's just fine, you don't have to do them (or you can get someone else to do them with).  On top of that, the software to run AR caches isn't developed by HQ, so I think most people recognize that the approved tools can still use a whole lot of improvement! Can't blame HQ for lackluster AR experiences =/  (Personally I really want to see that experience improve!)

 

Wherigos have been around a LONG time, so criticizing them isn't going to help much :P

 

Lab caches are basically now like the new Wherigos but smartphone-native and not a physical standard cache type (they have no other trackable properties than the +1 smiley (or more) for claiming it complete; perhaps also a general location).

 

But, the heart of your comment I'm on board with. Other companies have the location-based gaming nailed. I'd like to see Groundspeak continue to dominate the physical-gps-scavenger-hunt market (even making use of newer technologies) but let the others compete for that other type of virtual gaming.

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On 3/27/2019 at 1:07 PM, thebruce0 said:

I'd be kind of curious as to why someone would create and publish an Adventure Lab in a location without ANY data connection.

 

ASP Geobash (GC7NM2W) - a long-standing Mega, in a location that has never had good cell service, and has had lab caches each year. The organizers have handed out paper forms for you to record your finds, then you'd have a week to log them online when you get home. This year I expect the lab caches are going to be a mess.

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Sure, but:

 

2 minutes ago, CanUSeeIT said:
  On 3/27/2019 at 1:07 PM, thebruce0 said:

I'd be kind of curious as to why someone would create and publish an Adventure Lab in a location without ANY data connection.

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6 minutes ago, thebruce0 said:

Sure, but:

 

I'm not sure what your point is. The app won't work there. So lab caches aren't going to work anymore. One of the traditional activities that people have enjoyed at this event is being broken. 

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My point was the difference between some and none. With some, you can still say it's doable, just need to find someone who has access to viable service providers.  With non, there is NO chance of playing them. So why would someone create one where there is NO chance to play them?

 

Yes, previously, they could be done offline and claimed later. But that was the structure that allowed for excessive abuse.  The only way to reduce abuse is a way that's more restrictive of freedom for use. My comment was in response to "but now we can't play them offline". Well, the ones being made now won't be intended to be played offline, because they won't be posted somehwere they can't be played offline.

 

The corrollary, of course (which is what you're getting at), is that fewer will be made in places or for events where there no way for people to play them offline.

 

But that's the tradeoff (at least as far as HQ has determined feasible) to reduce abuse across the system as a whole.

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19 minutes ago, CanUSeeIT said:

I'm not sure what your point is. The app won't work there. So lab caches aren't going to work anymore. One of the traditional activities that people have enjoyed at this event is being broken. 

 

The web player was too easy for the cheaters.  That is part of why we cannot have nice things anymore.

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I've just tried to play my first AL.  My phone is a galaxy Trend Plus and I downloaded the app, signed in and was presented with a list of adventures.

 

On my son's phone, the nearest adventure was a couple of metres away.  On my phone I had the following

 

4236 Km S Exploring the Capt Town Waterfront

4238 Km  S The Company's garden

then a lot more  including 5649 Km N Welcome to Devon

 

Given that I was in NSW, Devon is a lot more than 5649 Km away and it is also a lot further than  100 Km from cape Town I suspect that the distance calculation was incorrect!  Every adventure was in the 4000 - 6000 Km range.

 

We managed to complete the adventure by alternately logging in and out of the app on his phone.

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Having completed my first adventure, I would like to add the Lab caches to my GSAK found caches database.  It would be really helpful if we could somehow extract the coordinates for each stage from the app.  Ideally, each adventure should have a downloadable gpx file containing the official GC code for the lab cache, its name and its coordinates.  It would still be doable if just the coordinates were available, but the gpx would be better

 

I'm sure there are lots of others who like to keep lab caches in their personal statistics.

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, HHL said:

Check your GSAK forums thread (click here) again. 😉

Hans,  that thread covers the specific case where the adventure had an associated mystery cache.  The mystery cache had all 5 locations as virtual stages.  I could, therefore, create lab cache entries from the virtual stages. 

 

Unless every adventure has an associated mystery cache and the mystery has the locations as child waypoints, then the solution in my GSAK thread won't work.

 

I'm looking for a generic way to get the location coordinates in all cases

Edited by Gill & Tony
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2 minutes ago, Gill & Tony said:

then the solution in my GSAK thread won't work.

Ah, I see. Didn't know that.

 

Hans

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8 minutes ago, Gill & Tony said:

I'm looking for a generic way to get the location coordinates in all cases

 

The most generic way for all cases is that you write them down when visiting the cache as you may do when visiting a multi-stage multi-cache.

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7 hours ago, arisoft said:

 

The most generic way for all cases is that you write them down when visiting the cache as you may do when visiting a multi-stage multi-cache.

Or mark a waypoint on the GPS.   

 

Maybe I should have added the word automated

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2 hours ago, Gill & Tony said:

Or mark a waypoint on the GPS.   

 

Maybe I should have added the word automated

 

There should be an export option for POIs in your GPSr to fully automate the import into GSAK.

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On 4/17/2019 at 12:39 PM, CanUSeeIT said:

I'm not sure what your point is. The app won't work there. So lab caches aren't going to work anymore. One of the traditional activities that people have enjoyed at this event is being broken. 

And if ASP GeoBash doesn't have Lab Caches this year, so be it.

Yes, people have enjoyed them, but there is plenty of other thigns to do. Not all places need Lab Caches.

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On 4/17/2019 at 6:59 PM, Keystone said:

 

The web player was too easy for the cheaters.  That is part of why we cannot have nice things anymore. 

 

This is not a very convincing argument. You don't fix a game by making it more complicated for everybody. Either you should fix it properly or let them cheat. The guidelines didn't even say, you had to be at the location. So if this is required now, it should be made as convenient as possible for legit cachers. For me, this includes offline availability, which shouldn't be too hard unless you use cell tower data for verification..

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Note the words "part of" in my post that you quoted.  I included those words thoughtfully, because the prevention of cheating was not the only reason for switching to a smartphone app.  The app allows for creating experiences that cannot be duplicated when simply downloading waypoints onto a GPS.

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19 minutes ago, famerlor_dragon said:

it should be made as convenient as possible for legit cachers. For me, this includes offline availability, which shouldn't be too hard unless you use cell tower data for verification..

 

There are many other reasons why offline is not an option. Deterring cheating and hacking is but one. If it were that easy to provide a full experience offline, then the AR experiences would be offline too (and those aren't Groundspeak's product). Why not make internet websites themselves 100% offline? That would be more convenient wouldn't it?  Heck, let's make the whole "Cloud" itself offline! Wouldn't that be convenient?

Convenience isn't the only factor in deciding whether something is 100% offline, partially offline, or online-required. Whichever it is. And sometimes online is more convenient. So who makes the call?

 

In the case of Adventure Labs, there are multiple reasons, similar to other mobile games, why it's online-only. That's just the way they are now. It's not unique to Labs, not in the slightest.  If anyone wants offline Lab adventures, well we have Wherigos for that :) (and you even get legit smilies with stats for finding them)

 

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1 hour ago, thebruce0 said:

Convenience isn't the only factor in deciding whether something is 100% offline, partially offline, or online-required. Whichever it is. And sometimes online is more convenient. So who makes the call?

Sorry, but this is one of my pet peeves with smartphones in general. Back in the days of PDAs, all apps were offline apps, and they worked great. But with the advent of smartphones, apps assume you always have a data connection. But not everyone always has a data connection. Some of us travel to places without cell coverage, or where cell coverage is limited to voice only (no data). Some people don't pay for data service and use WiFi when its available.

 

Smartphone apps would be more useful if they accommodated offline use. So few of them actually accommodate offline use though.

 

</soapbox>

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Just now, niraD said:

Sorry, but this is one of my pet peeves with smartphones in general. Back in the days of PDAs, all apps were offline apps, and they worked great. But with the advent of smartphones, apps assume you always have a data connection. But not everyone always has a data connection. Some of us travel to places without cell coverage, or where cell coverage is limited to voice only (no data). Some people don't pay for data service and use WiFi when its available.

 

Smartphone apps would be more useful if they accommodated offline use. So few of them actually accommodate offline use though.

 

You do realize there is a fundamental difference in what an offline app vs an online app can do? PDAs were HIGHLY restricted in being only offline. Smartphones CAN run those very same apps (for arguments sake) 100% offline. Your complaint isn't against smartphones, your complaint is against programmers who make apps needlessly require online.

 

Like I said, if we want 'offline labs', we have wherigos. There are numerous reasons why Labs - amongst many other mobile apps and games - require online connectivity. Not "just because they're smartphones" which is the argument you are essentially making. I feel like you, NiraD, could have come up with a better criticism of smartphones than that somehow they are to blame for the very idea that apps could require an online connection. :huh:

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With the current implementation, there's absolutely nothing that require the app to be online, other than creating the illusion that it prevent people from cheating. All the data is transferred to the app, and the validation is already done in the app - which could be done offline - without affecting the features. This is why it's so easy to cheat now - why not use that to let people find them offline? Find other ways to detect cheaters, and simply block their access to the lab cache API. Problem solved.

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30 minutes ago, thebruce0 said:

Your complaint isn't against smartphones, your complaint is against programmers who make apps needlessly require online.

Absolutely. But as a smartphone user, I'm stuck with the apps that have been created for smartphones. There are things I was able to do easily with PDA apps that are impossible with smartphone apps because of the way programmers design them to require being online.

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Oh I agree. If the lab is entirely offline (including completion code), it is effectively a Wherigo cartridge (and as easy to hack/crack/cheat). I can even conceptualize how it could be done right now (same as wherigos). Being local data, someone just needs a program to access the phone files, decode the lab data (that'd be cake for a pro), write an app that parses the content and extracts that completion code, and if necessary spoofs the device location to trick the app into running the Lab while not on site, or else just letting the user enter the code, with or without online.  Write that program and anyone can download it and cheat.
 

IF Groundspeak's only reason for having an online check (that is, only connectivity checking, and everything else is 100% executed locally, including completion verification) IS actually to thwart cheating, then they're going about it all wrong. And IF that is the only reason the Labs are online-required, then they've got other issues to deal with (mainly that a mere online check is far from sufficient to stop the cheating).

 

I forgot that the codeword check is done offline in the app with success/fail sent to the server - that came up in another recent thread, if I recall correctly how that's done. I may eat my words because I'm running on the ideal that content is loaded while playing the Lab (like the AR experiences), even possibly encrypted with regular security/session checks.  The inconsistent completion code issue (confirming the text locally/offline, then telling the server the result, which can cause different completion stats if the code changes, as reported in another thread) is one issue with offline completion.

 

At this point though, HQ swatted the biggest fly first - and that was the ease of cheating via the website player.  So that bug is swatted. Now it's a matter of honing the mobile app to provide the best experience - both the online and offline components.

 

The main thing HQ needs to focus on is making sure that claiming completion can only be done securely, verified to the user account, and as intended -> at the Lab location.  For the purposes of cheating, that means app-only, online, on location.  Content could be downloaded offline (as opposed to caching when needed which requires online but would be a faster engagement time), or lab execution run entirely locally (as opposed to posting each in-game command to the server for a response, which would be online but more secure), but the completion step (or any number of points during the lab) would need to be verified online.

 

And of course, cheating can never be blocked 100%.

But other benefits of labs being online are remote loading content, quick immediate play (no extensive downloads), easy updating of experiences without needing to sync to outdated versions, better security and encryption options, etc.

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