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Gill & Tony

Lab caches vs virtuals

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What is the fundamental difference between a lab cache and a virtual?  I know the implementation is different, but they are both fundamentally "Go to a location, answer a question, get a smilie."  Virtuals can have an optional "take a photo to prove you were there".  I can't see any reason why lab caches and virtuals are fundamentally different.

 

Would it not make sense to make Adventures generate virtuals and dump lab caches in the bin?

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Well, thinking technically...

 

ALs are automated verification; Virtuals require owner 'approval' of Find logs (even if passively)

 

ALs have their own unique framework and management in their mobile app; Virtuals adopt the same framework as standard geocache listings (permission/reviewer/approval/maintenance/etc)

 

ALs provide a new 'icon', even though it's programmed as an exception to be somewhat included in statistics.

 

As a separate app, ALs can attract the 'mobile location game' crowd and hope to draw them into geocaching.

 

I'm sure there are more differences too.

 

..but I'm sure you knew all this, and the question was more nudging the idea that Adventure Labs should just be Virtuals :)

 

I think the biggest point would be that they are what they are because of what they were. Initially being "experimental" non-caches, with the option to do things that wouldn't be doable in geocache listings or else as temporary setups, they formed the basis for what are now Adventure Labs (which to me seem very different than those "lab caches" of olde, but they kept and enhanced that framework).

 

Now the way things are, they are much closer to Virtuals than ever. I'd agree.

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All the points you raised are valid but they are the implementation, not the concept.  All those points would still apply if the result was a virtual rather than a lab.  In practice, I believe that getting a virtual, appearing in the statistics, etc., would draw more AL players into geocaching proper than getting a lab, which stands outside the main game.

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2 hours ago, Gill & Tony said:

All those points would still apply if the result was a virtual rather than a lab.

Respectfully, I disagree. The points above are some technical differences between Adventure Labs and Virtual Caches, the implementation focus is intended.  To create an Adventure Lab experience instead as a Virtual, there would be a couple of minor changes to the setup, but those technical differences above simply wouldn't apply. That is to say - as a Virtual, the experience would no longer require use the exclusive, distinct app (and all the benefits that provides). The advantage of being an AL in a separate app as way to draw people into geocaching is lost if the experience is created as a Virtual Cache (which already generally assumes they are a geocaching user; the discovery is a very different route). As a Virtual the AL icon/stat count is lost. etc

So that's not saying that the AL experience couldn't be recreated, necessarily, as a Virtual - but those technical differences between the two would be lost.  So the issue would be - are those technical differences actually intended benefits to AL platform? Or needless hindrances to an experience that's otherwise virtually identical? I think that's the question. (and my opinions of the AL mechanic in general is no secret ;))

 

If you're intending to only discuss the conceptual implementation of the experience, well then, I'd agree generally speaking that an AL experience could exist as a Virtual. But then your question "Would it not make sense to make Adventures generate virtuals and dump lab caches in the bin?" ignores all the very different results of the technical implementations that are, perhaps, some of the main reasons why ALs are not implemented as Virtual Caches. :)

Edited by thebruce0

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I was not suggesting that 1 AL becomes 1 Virtual.  I was suggesting that 1 AL with 5 stages, producing 5 lab caches would become 1 AL with 5 stages producing 5 virtuals.

 

The AL would still run through the app.  Each stage would still produce 1 smiley.  Everything to do with an AL would remain the same, except that caches generated would be virtuals rather than labs.

 

As you said previously, "Now the way things are, they are much closer to Virtuals than ever. I'd agree."  I'm simply saying that the two cache types are so close now that they should be merged into one cache type - virtual preferred because they integrate with everything else.

 

 

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Ah, gotcha.

Can you explain what you mean by "caches generated" then?  "1 AL with 5 stages, producing 5 lab caches" doesn't make sense to me.  1 AL has 5 stages, and each stage completed is counted as 1 AL/stage complete according to the stats, so 5 AL 'finds' (or smileys). Admittedly the wording and terminology for AL stats tracking is weird; one of my irks about them =P.

 

Are you suggesting that on creating an AL with 5 stages, those 5 stages should instead be created as separately listed Virtual caches, while the AL remains as it is, a distinct listing in the mobile app?  If so, then you'd be asking additional server end functionality to link those virtual caches to the AL so that the AL can be registered as complete once those 5 Virtuals are logged as "Found" (assuming you intend to keep the same logging mechanic).

Alternatively it might be as easy as simply having the app check the find status of its list of related Virtual GCs; and that would be a one-way check. So if you view a Virtual, the link to the AL would have to be manually created in the description by the CO. But that allows the AL system to know if an AL is complete - if the related GCs all return as 'found'.

 

But now you'd lose the connected nature of the AL.  What about linear experiences?  Individual AL stages would be visible publicly at all times as separate Virtuals. You wouldn't be able to design a linear experience apart from simply encouraging people to do the Virtuals in a specific order.

On a positive note, one could inadvertently complete an AL by logging the related Virtuals without even opening the AL.  They could claim the AL complete on opening the app and seeing that all its stages are 'found'. ... So the AL would show +1 complete, and the standard geocache statistics wouldn't be altered other than the +5 Virtuals as expected.

I'm grasping your idea.

 

However, the change would still have to deal with the logging framework change. Going back away from the AL completion mechanic that's relatively automatic and hands-off, to the Virtual Cache mechanic involving reviewers and active CO maintenance.  (regardless of whether either is better/worse, it's still a major framework difference between ALs and Virtual caches)

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When you go to a stage of an AL and answer the question it adds a Lab cache to your collection.  Next stage, next question, another lab cache.  5 stages, 5 lab caches.

 

All I am suggesting is that, instead of a lab cache, each stage reward you with a virtual.  They would not be listed as separate virtuals, they would only be "found" by following the app.  But, once added to your stats they could be properly integrated into PQs,  could have associated gpx  files and all the other stuff available with virtuals. 

 

A muggle with the app would get a geocaching profile (optional, opt in), would get a real Groundspeak cache added to their profile and that would be much more incentive to join the game than a lab cache.

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So... Virtuals, but not Virtuals?  Are you suggesting Virtual Geocache Listings? Or a pseudo-virtual +1 for the stats? Where are these Virtual "Finds" located?  I think it would be worse to add in Virtual +1's for that aren't for Virtual cache listings... that would be even more confusing. If I click on my Virtual finds, what would I see? The GPX is created from a Virtual listing, and all of its associated data. That would need to be created in addition to the AL for each stage. If you're suggesting that doesn't need to be done, that would be much more programming work and adjustment to the back end by my estimation... as opposed to creating standard Virtual listings that would be linked as stages for an AL, which wouldn't add any extra layered work on top of the current standard cache listing framework. Keeping all the development work to one department (ALs) would be much more optimal, I'd say.

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I have similar thoughts. I have been offered to make an Adventure Lab, but as far as I can see, it is very similar to a Virtual and/or a Wherigo. And a little bit of Turf.

 

I made a Virtual last year and I didn't do it well. It isn't popular, and I still can't figure out why. Now I don't want to repeat that mistake with an Adventure Lab. What do people like in Adventure Labs? Is it very common, and desirable, to connect the Adventure Lab with a bonus mystery cache? Is it just location, location, location like with Virtuals?

 

Concerning the question of stages above, virtuals, too, can have stages, require multiple locations to be visited, and that seems to be my mistake with my virtual. I tried to make it funny, I should have made it long since people remember the long ones (naturally, with multiple interesting locations). Multis have multiple stages, Wherigos have multiple stages (often painfully many) so of course an Adventure Lab can have multiple stages.

 

But there is one thing I can make with a Wherigo that I don't know if Adventure Labs can do: Customization. You can tweak Wherigos quite a bit. I havn't gotten started with Adventure Labs yet so forgive me for being ignorant, but I hope that Adventure Labs can at least have hidden stages. Right?

 

So, any advice you can give me is welcome. I am trying to come up with a decent idea before the time runs out.

Edited by Ragnemalm

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I'm no expert (yet) but I think you should definitely include a bonus mystery cache.  Only the mystery cache will properly promote your adventure lab.

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1 hour ago, elyob said:

I'm no expert (yet) but I think you should definitely include a bonus mystery cache.  Only the mystery cache will properly promote your adventure lab.

 

Good point. The bonus becomes the entry point.

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The bonus is also the place to put the lab cache locations as child waypoints so folk can easily create the lab caches in GSAK or wherever.  I added a gpx download of the lab caches in my final description.

 

I have suggested to TPTB that we be given the ability to add D/T ratings and attributes to the stages ( and to the overall AL).  Also the ability to search for AL's.  It would be nice to know that there's an AL which takes less than an hour and is low terrain in the town I'm going to visit.

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8 hours ago, Gill & Tony said:

I have suggested to TPTB that we be given the ability to add D/T ratings and attributes to the stages ( and to the overall AL).  Also the ability to search for AL's.  It would be nice to know that there's an AL which takes less than an hour and is low terrain in the town I'm going to visit.

 

What would be the difference to a plain vanilla multi cache (or series of Virtuals) then?

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1 hour ago, baer2006 said:

 

What would be the difference to a plain vanilla multi cache (or series of Virtuals) then?

Same difference as without these features - not a lot.

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It is just about the numbers, isn't it?

 

I found my first "adventure lab" last weekend and in the end I found 5 virtual stages using my smartphone and one real cache container (bonus cache) in the end. I had to write a log using my smartphone (which I don't like) and got five "statistic points" for it which I cannot view using the geocaching.com website (no caches but found loigs??). I'll write a detailed log for the bonus cache.

 

That's a multi cache (or unknown, Wherigo, letterbox hybrid) using smartphone technique with one final location and one final cache box.

 

I don't see a point that adventure labs are outstanding or new so instead of making virtuals out of them (please no!) just get rid of the whole idea.

 

Jochen

 

PS: If I find more of them in the future I will do them just to boost my statistics. That's it. :-)

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It occurs to me that using a special program on the phone is not legal for virtuals. At least I don't think it is. That is an additional requirement for virtuals that would be against the rules, so a different type, adventure lab or Wherigo, is needed for adding that possibility. Or changing the rules.

 

That sounds like an argument for a different type. But do we need a new type for it? I think it could fit into Wherigo or mystery.

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What is legal is what TPTB decide is legal.

 

There is already a special  program on the phone (actually several) for finding virtuals, among all the other cache types (except ALs).  

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