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Release Notes (Adventure Labs) - March 26, 2019

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1 minute ago, thebruce0 said:

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.

It's so much simpler than this to get the data! So I think the best way to deal with the cheaters, is to block them. And let us honest people play with better tools.

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1 minute ago, niraD said:

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.

 

If those apps require online features, then that's the benefit of those apps. If you want 100% offline apps that do the same thing, you'll either be looking for a very crippled app these days, or more than likely freeware or abandonware or open source. Those things you could do easily with PDAs you could still do today easily offline with a smartphone. You just need to hope there's a programmer out there that saw value in an app that worked that way, without putting online features in.

I don't know what kind of apps you're talking about, but I find it hard to believe that there's no app out there that works offline to do the functions you want that themselves don't require any online activity... at worst you could contact a freelancer and see if they'd be up to the task of making an app to do what you want it to do and be 100% offline.

 

That's not smartphones. That developers embracing the benefits that smartphones provide above and beyond strictly offline capabilities.

 

I'd agree with you on this though: If I had an app did that had functions I want that can work offline, but the developer stopped me using the app entirely if I was in airplane mode, I'd be miffed. (kind of like being logged out of the Geocaching app and being unable to log back in or do anything with it until I got cell reception again; another reason I still love Geosphere)

 

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3 minutes ago, thomfre said:

It's so much simpler than this to get the data! So I think the best way to deal with the cheaters, is to block them. And let us honest people play with better tools.

 

Absolutely, but it's a reflexive response. Cheaters have to cheat before they can be blocked then. So if the argument is effectively to do nothing because cheaters will cheat, so get them after they cheat, then why put any work into trying to thwart cheating before it happens? At all?  But we already see the response of lab creators who are irate because of cheaters fake logging - so the effort here is to find a way to thwart the cheating before they're caught (and still block/ban them if/when they are caught)

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1 minute ago, thebruce0 said:

That's not smartphones. That developers embracing the benefits that smartphones provide above and beyond strictly offline capabilities.

In 75% of the cases, it's developers (or managers) embracing the benefits of online ads and tracking... There's a long way from utilizing online capabilities, to requiring being online... Partly offline is much better than no offline support at all. Imagine how hard geocaching would be if the app didn't support offline lists.

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Just now, thebruce0 said:

 

...then why put any work into trying to thwart cheating before it happens? At all? 

Exactly! This would be the perfect solution! Don't waste time on preventing it (we'll just get better cheaters). But detect and block instead.

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, thomfre said:

In 75% of the cases, it's developers (or managers) embracing the benefits of online ads and tracking... There's a long way from utilizing online capabilities, to requiring being online... Partly offline is much better than no offline support at all. Imagine how hard geocaching would be if the app didn't support offline lists.

 

Oh sure, if the only reason a developer requires online and will not let the app be used otherwise is so they can play ads, I think they're crippling their potential.  But again, developers to blame, not smartphones.

 

10 minutes ago, thomfre said:
12 minutes ago, thebruce0 said:

 

...then why put any work into trying to thwart cheating before it happens? At all? 

Exactly! This would be the perfect solution! Don't waste time on preventing it (we'll just get better cheaters). But detect and block instead.

 

Why is your opinion not to do anything to make cheating harder (why not just give everyone the completion code and make it all honour system then?) more relevant and valuable than the opinions of the people who create these experiences and want cheating to be harder or to stop from the get-go?

 

Are you against the requirement to have completed the lab in order to get the completion code? Would you rathere there be, say, at the beginning and end, a prompt asking "Have you completed the lab?" answering yes to get credit for it?  If so, then why "put the work" into programming for a completion/verification code in the first place? I mean that's there to ensure people do it "as intended". So why is the arbitrary requirement for a completion code different from the arbitrary requirement for being online, on location, app-only?  Yeah, the latter is more work the former; but the former is more work than no work.

 

Either there's effort to thwart cheating - and a decision made about how much should be thwarted - or there's nothing. And if there's nothing, then, well, just give'em a yes/no prompt to get credit for completion. Let's see how well that goes over...

Edited by thebruce0

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2 minutes ago, thebruce0 said:

Why is your opinion not to do anything to make cheating harder (why not just give everyone the completion code and make it all honour system then?) more relevant than the people who create these experiences and want cheating to stop from the get-go?

It's not. It's simply my opinion. We have an adventure lab in our household as well, so I am very much aware of how annoying the cheaters are.

 

Quote

Are you against having to complete the lab in order to get the completion code? Would you rathere there be, at the beginning and end, a prompt asking "Have you completed the lab?" answering yes to get credit for it?  If so, then why "put the work" into having a completion in the first place? That's there to ensure people do it "as intended". So why the arbitrary requirement for a completion code differing from the arbitrary requirement for being online, on location, app-only?  Yeah, the latter is more work the former; but the former is more work than no work.

 

Either there's effort to thwart cheating - and a decision made about how much should be thwarted - or there's nothing. And if there's nothing, then, well, just give'em a yes/no prompt to get credit for completion. Let's see how well that goes over...

Absolutely not. But we are talking about geocaching. Why spend a lot of time making lab caches very hard, when it's so easy to cheat with the millions of normal geocaches in the world? The current app, with the current implementation, could very easily support offline, without making it easier for "the ordinary geocacher" to cheat. The cheaters will cheat anyway, so just detect and block them.

This is how *I* would like it to be. This is not the only possible solution, just the one I would prefer. I don't have any issues with people disagreeing with me about that.

 

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But again, developers to blame, not smartphones.

I don't disagree with that.

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Posted (edited)

It's good to have opinions :) It's good to discuss them reasonably. Thanks. I have no argument with you having that opinion, and I'm sure it's one HQ can take into consideration... (I hope they are taking the variety of opinions into consideration though).

 

I just think, if the opinion is that it's not worth it to thwart any cheating, then that can easily be reduced ad absurdium. There has to be some amount of effort to making cheating hard, or the demographic for using the system won't be there, because not everyone has thick enough skin to even shrug off an occasional cheater. So it's all a balancing act.  Games can't be 100% honour system. But game creators can't assume they can somehow come up with a 100% effective solution to stop cheating entirely. So where can the line be drawn to balance keeping people interested in playing, interested in investing their time in creating content in exchange for an enjoyable experience, and the work and cost necessary to provide that framework effectively?

 

We'll find out soon enough if the app-only, pseudo-connected nature of the current app is enough.

Edited by thebruce0

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The recent podcast with HQ folk, suggested the STOP IT letter that was sent to obvious lab cheaters dramatically reduced the incidence. For those still doing it egregiously, remedies like deleting all their lab cache finds COULD be brought to bear. 

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15 minutes ago, thebruce0 said:

Why is your opinion not to do anything to make cheating harder (why not just give everyone the completion code and make it all honour system then?) more relevant and valuable than the opinions of the people who create these experiences and want cheating to be harder or to stop from the get-go?

 

There is a huge amount of cheaters in the game. Players who do not care a dime about the experience the CO has planned and build for players. From this base I can not understand why these Adventure Labs are more important to secure than normal Geocaches. These are a niche. Cheating which really have effect to the game happens on physical caches from day to day. When  cache owners realizes this, many of them stops making new caches just because they see no point to continue in the situation. I am not saying that all players are cheaters but cheating with Adventure Labs is not anything new in the game.

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If reflexive consequences for cheating/hacking are sufficient to assuage creators' concerns and keep people using the system, then I'm all for it. Not everything needs high-tech development work. The best defense is reducing the value of cheating by increasing the value of legitimate play (that's a win for everyone); next would be increasing the work and effort required to cheat above the value of the reward for cheating (that's only a win for people who don't like cheating because it's a whole lot more work on the dev end, and cheater's end =P)

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, rragan said:

The recent podcast with HQ folk, suggested the STOP IT letter that was sent to obvious lab cheaters dramatically reduced the incidence. For those still doing it egregiously, remedies like deleting all their lab cache finds COULD be brought to bear. 

 

I wish that they would do this also with real geocaches. Just add "report this geocacher" to every log entry and start getting statistics. When GHS (Geocacher Health Score) hits the threshold level a warning letter will be sent to the cheater. Geocachers could compete with GHS scores who is the best geocacher.

Edited by arisoft
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26 minutes ago, arisoft said:

 

From this base I can not understand why these Adventure Labs are more important to secure than normal Geocaches.

 

They aren't more important. Its just they are the hot topic right now.

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Today I learned a new downside of Adventure Labs. I beta-tested one for a friend before it got published to ensure it's quality. Since it was not published, I got no find credits apparently. Too bad as I know have to go do it all over again -- assuming I can do that since the app shows it as Completed. This discourages beta testing before publication. One might hope a completed lab happening before publication would be credited after publication.

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18 minutes ago, rragan said:

Today I learned a new downside of Adventure Labs. I beta-tested one for a friend before it got published to ensure it's quality. Since it was not published, I got no find credits apparently. Too bad as I know have to go do it all over again -- assuming I can do that since the app shows it as Completed. This discourages beta testing before publication. One might hope a completed lab happening before publication would be credited after publication.

Did your friend use the "Test" option in the Lab Builder to create a temporary test adventure for you? If so, the "real" adventure is different from the test version and should appear in you app once it's published. I beta-tested my own adventure this way more than once, and each "test" version, as well as the real one after publication, showed up separately in the app.

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2 hours ago, rragan said:

The recent podcast with HQ folk, suggested the STOP IT letter that was sent to obvious lab cheaters dramatically reduced the incidence.

I don't know about that podcast or a "STOP IT" letter, but for whatever reason, cheating has indeed been reduced significantly.

 

When the first "new" ALCs came out, owners started to complain on this forum that they got hundreds of "finds" from the other side of the world in the first 24h after publish. On my own ALC, I had 38 genuine finds (within 20 days) before the first obvious armchair log arrived. Shortly before that armchair log, the find codes had been made public in a certain cheater group. I expected that I'd get many more cheater logs from then, but that wasn't the case. In fact, the current total number of armchair logs is only 2(!), four days after the find codes were leaked.

 

The removal of any options to log ALCs without location spoofing did probably help. And even if some posters here suggest that it's "very easy" to get the completion codes (because lots of data is stored offline by the app), it's in fact not "easy" by my definition of the word ;) . The number of people who are able to hack their way to the completion codes is definitely very small. Also, longer and/or complex completion codes (no simple numbers or words) make this hack significantly more difficult or even practically impossible. Finally, the blocking of GC accounts, which are obviously and openly used for lab cache fake logs may also have discouraged some cheaters.

 

Bottom line: Whatever GS did to reduce cheating on ALCs, it seems to work :) . Now the next step can be to get some bugs out of the Adventure Lab App ...

 

 

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1 hour ago, baer2006 said:

And even if some posters here suggest that it's "very easy" to get the completion codes (because lots of data is stored offline by the app), it's in fact not "easy" by my definition of the word ;) . The number of people who are able to hack their way to the completion codes is definitely very small. Also, longer and/or complex completion codes (no simple numbers or words) make this hack significantly more difficult or even practically impossible.

 

Two aspects here - Hacking the data is as easy one programmer creating a good/easy tool to do it and sharing it freely online. If no one creates a tool, then yeah the 'average joe' isn't going to get the data themselves.
Secondly, longer/complex codes only deter brute force attacks by making exponentially more possible character combinations to 'test' with a script; and usually testing via online requests.

 

The latter is typically deterred by throtttling the checks to a more 'human' rate than as fast as a script can loop requests to the server.  If the verification is done entirely offline, by this time the app would be hacked already and throttling an algorithmic checker is a non-issue.  A script will reverse engineer the keyphrase with ease if it's not already decrypted plainly from the data.

 

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10 hours ago, Keystone said:

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.

 

Thanks for replying to my concerns. If the second "part of" your argument above is "why we cannot have nice things anymore", I don't get it.

 

I get that a smartphone app is the logical choice/evolution an the way to go for lab caches though. And I appreciate that because handling a Website on the phone when doing lab caches was not super convenient in the past. I do normal caches with my smartphone, too.

 

But that's not the point here. I don't know your roadmap for the app, but so far the app does not create experiences that could not be cached or played offline (note: GPS is available in flight mode).

 

Having said that - and I think everything about offline availability has now been said - the key issue will be to make it easier for players to find adventures (browse map! notification if near an adventure!) and make them fun.

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4 hours ago, famerlor_dragon said:

Having said that - and I think everything about offline availability has now been said - the key issue will be to make it easier for players to find adventures (browse map! notification if near an adventure!) and make them fun.

 

Open the app and start browsing. The nearest Adventure is waiting for you. I have one 100km south (overseas). I can't see this from the map easily because it is too far away.

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I just noticed that Android version of the Adventure Lab player is not respecing the back button to close the app. How do I close the app?

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Last Saturday I reported that the app doesn't work on my Galaxy Trend Plus, but there has been no mention of the issue since.  I'm repeating the point in the hope that a lackey might be able to look into it.

 

Thanks

 

Tony

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Posted (edited)
On 4/24/2019 at 10:01 AM, arisoft said:

I can't see this from the map easily because it is too far away. 

 

That's what I meant. Mere kilometers or miles is not useful at all. If I don't know where they are on a map, I can't include them in a tour. And they don't keep me entertained for long enough to just drive 50km (possibly without highways) to one of them just because it's the closest by distance.

 

If you stand next to one, its fine. But selecting a suitable adventure from afar is cumbersome (at best).

Edited by famerlor_dragon

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1 hour ago, famerlor_dragon said:

That's what I meant. Mere kilometers or miles is not useful at all. If I don't know where they are on a map, I can't include them in a tour.

 

Ok, understood. 😃 When you open the Adventure you will see exactly where it is on the map. That's the best you can get now.

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On 3/28/2019 at 6:55 PM, Frau Potter said:

 

There is no current offline functionality for the app. It is one of the ideas we have considered for future project ideas, but we would have to be careful that it respects the linear game-play and location validation, etc.

The lack of this feature made the Labcaches useless at the ASP Geobash this past weekend. It was frustrating to lose this traditional aspect of the weekend. I understand the desire to prevent "cheating", but this change only served to disappoint the people who were trying to play the game properly.

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For the third time I am reporting that the app doesn't work on my Galaxy Trend Plus.  It would be awfully nice if a lackey would at least acknowledge this report.

 

Thanks

 

Tony

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10 hours ago, CanUSeeIT said:

The lack of this feature made the Labcaches useless at the ASP Geobash this past weekend. It was frustrating to lose this traditional aspect of the weekend. I understand the desire to prevent "cheating", but this change only served to disappoint the people who were trying to play the game properly.

I was wondering the other day (after I had heard reports of what was described to me as near-universal problems with the labs at ASP) if this isn't going to be an issue for some of the more "traditional" cache-event venues.  Places out "in nature" where cell phone coverage may be spotty, places like ASP or Letchworth in NYS, for example.  (I know Letchworth isn't a mega, but there are plenty of places there that would seem to be wonderful for some type of lab cache experience.  It was voted the USA's #1 state park a few years ago, after all.)

 

 

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1 hour ago, GO Geiger said:

I was wondering the other day (after I had heard reports of what was described to me as near-universal problems with the labs at ASP) if this isn't going to be an issue for some of the more "traditional" cache-event venues.  Places out "in nature" where cell phone coverage may be spotty, places like ASP or Letchworth in NYS, for example.  (I know Letchworth isn't a mega, but there are plenty of places there that would seem to be wonderful for some type of lab cache experience.  It was voted the USA's #1 state park a few years ago, after all.)

 

 

We went through the same thing a few years ago when the "Official Geocaching App" didn't have the ability to download offline lists of caches or maps. Expecting an always-online connection may make sense in Seattle where the developers work, but it doesn't work out in the places where the adventures are. I'm surprised this oversight has been repeated.

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There already is an adventure lab type application that provides for geo-location locking and code entry,  takes cachers to places that aren't conducive to placing physical containers, doesn't need cell service to work, and has the added bonus of a container and physical log to verify completion.  It's called a Wherigo.  Too bad WIG doesn't receive the love and attention from Groundspeak that it deserves.

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