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Update on Adventure Lab® platform vision - March 30, 2021


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Update on Adventure Lab® platform vision - March 30, 2021

 

We would like to take a few moments to share an update on the Adventure Lab® app and platform vision.
 
What is the Adventure Lab® app?
Geocaching Adventure Lab® is a new and evolving app and platform from the team at Geocaching HQ. It allows you to create, play, and share location-based experiences and games called Adventures. Adventures guide players to find clues, unlock fun stories, solve puzzles, and explore new places. 

 

In contrast to core geocaching, Adventure Lab has more simple guidelines, no distance requirements between geocaches or other Adventures, and does not involve placing physical objects. Adventures can also be private and time-limited. 

 

You can download the Adventure Lab® app here.
 
What is the future of the Adventure Lab® app and platform? 
 
Our vision is that the Adventure Lab platform will enable anyone to create, share, and play interactive, media-rich, location-based experiences worldwide.

 

To achieve that vision, we have several intentions for Adventure Lab as we continue to experiment and innovate:
 

  • HQ will continue to experiment with the Adventure Lab platform and features to enable more people to discover and explore the world around them. As we experiment and attempt to offer updates quickly, we expect some improvements to happen in steps and perhaps a bit of instability along the way. We are okay with this as it allows us to learn and build better tools faster.
     
  • 'An Adventure requires that a player travel to specific locations or perform specific activities in the real world. Players are not allowed to use apps, devices, programs, or any other means to misrepresent their device’s location for any purpose in the Adventure Lab® mobile app. We recognize that despite the efforts we have made and plan to make in the future, there will be some players who find ways to misrepresent their device’s location while playing. We will do our best to address this but understand that we may not be able to completely stop this practice.
     
  • Geocaching HQ intends to expand the Adventure Lab audience and opportunities to explore by welcoming creators and players beyond the current geocaching community. As we work towards this, some of the decisions we make will favor welcoming new audiences, rather than trying to integrate Adventure Lab into the existing geocaching game. 
     
  • The Adventure Lab platform includes elements that complement the core geocaching experience but it will continue to be distinct from core geocaching with a limited intersection of features. 
     
  • We encourage Adventures to contain compelling narratives, for their stages to share a common theme, or for them to unfold in a sequence defined by the content creators. Adventure Lab aims to provide creators with a broad toolset that allows them to create the type of Adventures that they wish to create and to tell the stories they wish to tell. We believe that providing more choices will ultimately result in a broader and better array of Adventures for people to play. Each Location (or stage) of an Adventure is a component of the story the creator is trying to tell and it is in the spirit of Adventure Lab to protect the Adventure creator’s narrative. For this reason, it is intentional that we are only showing Adventure starting Locations on the app map. 

 

Thank you for helping us innovate, build something new, and create more opportunities for people to explore the world around them. Specific feedback, bug reports, or feature requests are best submitted via the “Feedback” form in the “Profile” tab in the Adventure Lab app itself so that the feedback is available to the entire team. 

 

Interested in creating an Adventure? Learn more.

 

Product Manager, Erin (Oceansazul), and Lead Adventure Lab developer, Stuart (syntaxerror) are watching this thread to answer questions about high-level product intentions when possible.

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As we look to the future of Adventure Lab, you may also be interested in some of the history.

 

Adventure Lab development history 

 

In 2011, it came to our attention that public and private events were requesting densely-placed, temporary geocaches that weren’t possible within the existing geocaching ecosystem. An engineering team created a new product offering that could meet the request while adding a layer of storytelling, interactivity, and rich media. We named the offering “Adventures”. We built a mobile responsive web application prototype to create and play Adventures and placed this within the labs.geocaching.com website. This website was a ‘laboratory’ intended to house HQ’s experimental prototypes.

 

In 2013, a new “Lab Cache” cache type was added to Geocaching.com to represent a ‘find’ originating from any of HQ’s experimental product offerings. The first public Lab Caches were available at Geocaching HQ’s Block Party in 2013.

 

Adventures enjoyed success within the geocaching Mega-Event circles and other audiences. No other experiments were added to labs.gocaching.com which led to Adventures becoming synonymous with “Lab Caches”.

 

In 2015 the Adventures platform, “Lab Caches'', was gaining popularity. At this point, the original prototype provided a substandard experience. It also lacked the mobile device capabilities needed to provide the next level of interactivity and rich media we had envisioned. 

 

In 2018 a small team experimenting with React Native decided to build an app in order to address the shortcomings in the web-based experience. The effort was a success and the app launched on the iOS and Android app stores that same year. We retired the original prototype shortly thereafter. Now, the Adventure Lab iOS and Android mobile apps are the de facto means to play an Adventure.

 

There are still some rough edges and loose ends due to the patchwork of integration points done by various teams over the years. However, some of the experimental design is intentional to provide room for innovation both at HQ and within the community, as described in more detail in the main post.

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1 hour ago, Geocaching HQ said:
  • Geocaching HQ intends to expand the Adventure Lab audience and opportunities to explore by welcoming creators and players beyond the current geocaching community. As we work towards this, some of the decisions we make will favor welcoming new audiences, rather than trying to integrate Adventure Lab into the existing geocaching game. 
     
  • The Adventure Lab platform includes elements that complement the core geocaching experience but it will continue to be distinct from core geocaching with a limited intersection of features. 

Are you planning to move whole thing to its own domain, a la Waymarking? And give it its own statistics? Because I don't really see the geocaching.com home page as being a great place for anyone interested in something else than geocaching...

 

1 hour ago, Geocaching HQ said:

We will do our best to address this but understand that we may not be able to completely stop this practice.

Do you have any concrete plans you could share? Are thinking of rules for creators, stricter rule enforcement or adding technological barriers...? As the cheating is so rampant, it seems clear to me that many adventure lab creators are not able or willing to come up with questions that would be difficult to answer without visiting, and the recent addition of multiple choice questions seems to be another step in the direction of, well, making cheating easier rather than harder.

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4 hours ago, Geocaching HQ said:
  • HQ will continue to experiment with the Adventure Lab platform and features to enable more people to discover and explore the world around them. As we experiment and attempt to offer updates quickly, we expect some improvements to happen in steps and perhaps a bit of instability along the way. We are okay with this as it allows us to learn and build better tools faster.
     

Hum could you please define how fast is ''Updating Quickly''? Under a year? Took at least 9 months to be able to hide completed adventures.

 

5 hours ago, Geocaching HQ said:
  • 'An Adventure requires that a player travel to specific locations or perform specific activities in the real world. Players are not allowed to use apps, devices, programs, or any other means to misrepresent their device’s location for any purpose in the Adventure Lab® mobile app. We recognize that despite the efforts we have made and plan to make in the future, there will be some players who find ways to misrepresent their device’s location while playing. We will do our best to address this but understand that we may not be able to completely stop this practice.
     

 

 

A good start to reduce cheater would be to give Owner the ability to delete those Bogus logs. Could you share those future plan?

 

5 hours ago, Geocaching HQ said:
  • We encourage Adventures to contain compelling narratives, for their stages to share a common theme, or for them to unfold in a sequence defined by the content creators. Adventure Lab aims to provide creators with a broad toolset that allows them to create the type of Adventures that they wish to create and to tell the stories they wish to tell. We believe that providing more choices will ultimately result in a broader and better array of Adventures for people to play. Each Location (or stage) of an Adventure is a component of the story the creator is trying to tell and it is in the spirit of Adventure Lab to protect the Adventure creator’s narrative. For this reason, it is intentional that we are only showing Adventure starting Locations on the app map. 

 

Hum that doesn't make any sense that paragraph. You wrote that you wants to gives creator broad toolset available but at the same time you restrict them to only show one point on the app map or the character limits. Would be nice to see all non linear adventure on the app map because the numbers of story telling is really low here. It doesn't make sense I need to use an unapproved app to be able to do that so I can optimize my caching route without opening 10 adventures to double check their location.

 

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6 hours ago, Geocaching HQ said:
  • Geocaching HQ intends to expand the Adventure Lab audience and opportunities to explore by welcoming creators and players beyond the current geocaching community. As we work towards this, some of the decisions we make will favor welcoming new audiences, rather than trying to integrate Adventure Lab into the existing geocaching game.

 

How will bonus caches fit in with this broader non-caching audience? Will it put them at high risk of being muggled?

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48 minutes ago, barefootjeff said:

 

How will bonus caches fit in with this broader non-caching audience? Will it put them at high risk of being muggled?

Not sure how muggles will be able to find those bonus caches if they don't go to the geocaching app side unless they enter the coordinates on Google Maps and then wonder why no question popped up there. The muggled probability is low IMO.

 

But I have no idea where Groundspeak is going with AL because the vision they share is pretty vague. It's still part of geocaching with the new souvenir promotions but at the same time they are trying to steer in the opposite direction by welcoming muggles.

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3 minutes ago, Lynx Humble said:

Not sure how muggles will be able to find those bonus caches if they don't go to the geocaching app side unless they enter the coordinates on Google Maps and then wonder why no question popped up there. The muggled probability is low IMO.

 

Just the wording "bonus cache" would to muggle eyes suggest a prize for completing the Adventure, something for them to find and keep as a memento. A reminder to self to add stash notes to mine.

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8 hours ago, Lynx Humble said:

A good start to reduce cheater would be to give Owner the ability to delete those Bogus logs.

If you would go this route, quite a lot would contact Groundspeak and would complain about deleted Logs.  From my prospective, ALs are designed in the way, that GS has very little interaction with this "cachetype".  No approval, no "forgotten pencils", no "photo logs", no deleted logs and so on.  With the growing community of geocacher, there were just to many complains and GS would like to avoid it.

 

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On 3/30/2021 at 6:18 PM, Lynx Humble said:
On 3/30/2021 at 1:03 PM, Geocaching HQ said:
  • We encourage Adventures to contain compelling narratives, for their stages to share a common theme, or for them to unfold in a sequence defined by the content creators. Adventure Lab aims to provide creators with a broad toolset that allows them to create the type of Adventures that they wish to create and to tell the stories they wish to tell. We believe that providing more choices will ultimately result in a broader and better array of Adventures for people to play. Each Location (or stage) of an Adventure is a component of the story the creator is trying to tell and it is in the spirit of Adventure Lab to protect the Adventure creator’s narrative. For this reason, it is intentional that we are only showing Adventure starting Locations on the app map. 

 

Hum that doesn't make any sense that paragraph. You wrote that you wants to gives creator broad toolset available but at the same time you restrict them to only show one point on the app map or the character limits. Would be nice to see all non linear adventure on the app map because the numbers of story telling is really low here. It doesn't make sense I need to use an unapproved app to be able to do that so I can optimize my caching route without opening 10 adventures to double check their location.

 

One of the more difficult aspects of creating my first adventure lab was cutting my descriptions at the various stages to 1024 characters (including spaces and punctuation!!)  "Compelling narratives" and telling a story continuing from one point to the next in an adventure is at odds with a very limited number of characters allowed in the description and the messages after the stage completions.

 

I also agree that seeing stages of more than one adventure at a time would be helpful in planning outings, as many in my area overlap locations; it's possible to do a stage from 2 or more different adventure labs from one location, or within a few steps, and minimizing travel and backtracking would allow more efficient completion of several labs at one time.  It can be done as it is, perhaps with each person in a group pulling up a different lab to see what's around the current location, but it's clunky to switch between labs on  one device.

 

Hubby and I each have a lab credit that we hope to get into play soon, and I'm hoping to get more creative than I did with my first one. It's been well received, but at least one cacher was "disappointed" there was no bonus cache associated with it - since most of the locations were nearby themed caches I had placed previously, I led adventurers to those caches instead of placing a bonus cache.  My next one probably will have a bonus cache with a container to find and a log to sign.

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24 minutes ago, Arrowrat said:

Adventures we have completed, are no longer visible on the App. (iPhone) Is this intentional?

 

Open the Adventure Lab app

on the bottom, click on "Profil"

Click on "settings"

Switch on or off "Hide Adventure" to see or hide completed ALs

 

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38 minutes ago, Arrowrat said:

Adventures we have completed, are no longer visible on the App. (iPhone) Is this intentional?

AL app or AL pins on Geocaching app? If you were only referring to the adventure lab app, then Mausebiber has given you the perfect solution. 

Edited by Max and 99
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I have come to use the Mapped results of Shared Lists as a way to provide a link to cache information, and our caching, for several years. Problem: AL's don't show up in the website so I can never include AL's in this sort of information.

Are there any plans to include AL's on the website maps?

Thanks - JimRKY (Geocaching® Curmudgeon at Large)

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Well I installed the app today. Did a first adventure lab nearby. And then found out that this totally screwed up my Geocache-Score. Gladly found out how to delete the adventure lab logs. How dumb is it, to score 5 points for one (!) adventure? This AL I did, was nice and easy. Maybe 200 metres for all 5 stations... Now I need to decide, to give the app another try with a different or new account or to wait and see, until this bug is corrected and fixed. But seeing my real geocaching-score getting screwed up big time was really annoying.

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1 hour ago, Norden74 said:

Well I installed the app today. Did a first adventure lab nearby. And then found out that this totally screwed up my Geocache-Score. Gladly found out how to delete the adventure lab logs. How dumb is it, to score 5 points for one (!) adventure? This AL I did, was nice and easy. Maybe 200 metres for all 5 stations... Now I need to decide, to give the app another try with a different or new account or to wait and see, until this bug is corrected and fixed. But seeing my real geocaching-score getting screwed up big time was really annoying.

Groundspeak sadly decided that 5 finds is a feature and they aren't going to change that.

 

You don't have to create a new account you can delete 4 of the 5 stages afterwards if you wish to get 1 smiley instead of 5.

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1 hour ago, Max and 99 said:

In case anyone missed the announcement, you can now see your Adventure Lab finds on your profile in the Adventure Lab app.

That sounds interesting, and so I checked...

It turned out that I can only see my find count (about which I couldn't care less) but not the finds (a list of all my completed ALs) themselves. The latter could be really useful, especially if they were sorted by completion date, and included an indicator to show if I already wrote a log message. I don't like at all to write logs "in the field", and therefore I don't do it. And if I want to write something later at home, I have to ...

  1. ... enable the display of completed ALs on the map, leading to a hopeless clutter
  2. ... find the recently completed AL within all the clutter
  3. ... write my log 
  4. ... repeat #2 and #3 for further ALs
  5. ... disable the display of completed ALs

I'm not jumping through these hoops, and therefore I almost never write a log for an AL. Now, OTOH, if there were an easy-to-use list of recently completed ALs... but that's probably a rather big "if" :( .

 

 

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10 minutes ago, baer2006 said:

That sounds interesting, and so I checked...

It turned out that I can only see my find count (about which I couldn't care less) but not the finds (a list of all my completed ALs) themselves. The latter could be really useful, especially if they were sorted by completion date, and included an indicator to show if I already wrote a log message. I don't like at all to write logs "in the field", and therefore I don't do it. And if I want to write something later at home, I have to ...

  1. ... enable the display of completed ALs on the map, leading to a hopeless clutter
  2. ... find the recently completed AL within all the clutter
  3. ... write my log 
  4. ... repeat #2 and #3 for further ALs
  5. ... disable the display of completed ALs

I'm not jumping through these hoops, and therefore I almost never write a log for an AL. Now, OTOH, if there were an easy-to-use list of recently completed ALs... but that's probably a rather big "if" :( .

 

 

That's my process too. I find it a little frustrating.

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4 hours ago, Max and 99 said:

In case anyone missed the announcement, you can now see your Adventure Lab finds on your profile in the Adventure Lab app.

 

Interesting that they only count one for each completed Adventure as opposed to the scoring method of one per waypoint for smileys.

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, barefootjeff said:

 

Interesting that they only count one for each completed Adventure as opposed to the scoring method of one per waypoint for smileys.

I still don't understand my count. I knew something didn't seem right so thank you for pointing out what it was. I'll take a closer look later and see if I can figure it out. 

Edit: O.K. I think I understand the number now. It's the number of completed adventures. I was a little confused because I have several adventures that I started and didn't finish so there's more on my profile than there is on the adventure lab app. 

I got it all sorted out. 

Edited by Max and 99
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So now if I understand this right, we have a third general statistic... GC profile statistics (Locations Lab Caches as smileys), which are different than Project-GC statistics (Lab Cache stats included only for PGC premium users?), which are different than the AL app statistics (Only complete ALs show as a +1).  :mellow:

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Hi, I wanted to share a little bit about the recent new statistic addition to the Adventure Lab® app profile screen. This new stat, "Completed Adventures", is a count of full Adventures you have completed.

 

An "Adventure" contains a collection of "Locations" (also known as stages). Currently, all completed "Locations" count as a Lab Cache find on Geocaching.com. As we shared in our intentions statement, above, "We encourage Adventures to contain compelling narratives, for their stages to share a common theme, or for them to unfold in a sequence defined by the content creators." To support this intention, we thought it would be valuable to show players a count of the Adventures they have completed, as this is not a statistic that was easy to locate previously. 


The "Find count" you see in the Adventure Lab profile remains the same as it did previous to this addition. It is your total Find Count of all caches you have found, including Lab Cache finds.  

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On 3/30/2021 at 10:03 PM, Geocaching HQ said:

As we experiment and attempt to offer updates quickly, we expect some improvements to happen in steps and perhaps a bit of instability along the way. We are okay with this as it allows us to learn and build better tools faster.

Will further updates on the Adventure Lab app be given here or in the release notes section?

 

On 3/30/2021 at 10:03 PM, Geocaching HQ said:

'An Adventure requires that a player travel to specific locations or perform specific activities in the real world. Players are not allowed to use apps, devices, programs, or any other means to misrepresent their device’s location for any purpose in the Adventure Lab® mobile app.

You mean this? Screenshot_20210510_141456_com.groundspeak.react.adventures.thumb.jpg.7bb94cff8b737276eb98aaa4dde480ab.jpg

Is the message about actions in the past, even tough the text is in the present?

Is it an issue to have a fake gps app on your phone?
(I program as well and sometimes need to test GPS functionality in the browser)

 

On 3/30/2021 at 10:03 PM, Geocaching HQ said:

some of the decisions we make will favor welcoming new audiences, rather than trying to integrate Adventure Lab into the existing geocaching game

Wouldn't it be better at that point to completely separate adventure labs from geocaching?
Looking at the original purpose when they where introduced and how much labs are not geocaches why integrate this into geocaching at all wouldn't it be better of as a separate game?
 

Some feedback:

  • Add multi language support for both the text and the questions. (I had to shorten my questions/text to have enough room to add English and German to my lab cache besides Dutch)
  • Maybe a different icon for a partially completed labcaches?
  • Notify owners when their lab is played or when a log is placed.
    • I created a labcache last year and have not really looked at it since because there is no reason to. It feels kind of empty to create a labcache because there is no further interaction like with geocaches where you can read the logs
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6 hours ago, ardila.nl said:

You mean this? Screenshot_20210510_141456_com.groundspeak.react.adventures.thumb.jpg.7bb94cff8b737276eb98aaa4dde480ab.jpg

Is the message about actions in the past, even tough the text is in the present?

I saw this for the very first time today, when I launched the AL app. The app took unusually long to start (showing only the startup screen all the time), and eventually ended up showing me this warning. At first I thought, I had inadvertently activated GPS spoofing (yes, I have such an app, and have used it when playing AL - see further down for an explanation). But this was not the case, the GPS spoofer was not running.

I wanted to experiment a bit ;) . I closed the AL app, and even stopped with the phone's app manager. Then I activated GPS spoofing, and relaunched the AL app. No warning whatsoever came up :o. So, effectively, it gave me a warning, when I did not spoof my GPS, and vice versa.

 

And why do I sometimes use GPS spoofing at all? Well, my phone is not the newest one (to put it mildly), and its GPS is sometimes less than accurate. Especially in "difficult" environments, like between tall buildings or under dense tree cover. Quite often when playing ALs, I'm right at the location, ready for any question, but my phone is 50+ meters out and "refuses" to come closer. Instead of running around in circles until my phone finally realizes where it actually is, I tend to just persuade it by spoofing the position. But in fact I would happily fall back to really running in circles, if GS implemented a reliable anti-spoofing algorithm :) .

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