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Is Wherigo dead?


SpeedCore

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Over the past few years, I was trying to get any tiny piece of information about the future of Wherigo from lackeys I met at events but the answer was always the same. You guessed it - noone could tell me anything about it. I'm not sure if it was just because nobody cared about that topic at GCHQ or if there was some top secret project going on but seeing the almost abandoned and hopelessly outdated "official" website Wherigo.com and the "3rd party project" wherigofoundation by Ranger Fox that was left to its fate in 2014 I'm not convinced about the "top secret project" option anymore. Whenever GCHQ asked for my opinion in a poll or survey, I asked for news or even a plan or a roadmap for Wherigo but it seems that it's just the unwanted stepchild of GCHQ.

 

I'd love to see synchronized logs for my Wherigo finds across geocaching.com and Wherigo.com, merged statistics to find out which of my found wherigos are still missing a completion code (and a log), a Wherigo builder further developed than to alpha state (maybe think about collaborating with external partners like urwigo who have already developed a decent application) and much more. I'm absolutely convinced that Wherigo had so much potential if it was fully integrated to geocaching.com - please consider resuming to work on that project again.

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Two words.

 

Adventure Labs. 

 

While I do enjoy them, they definitely took over the Wherigo platform in many ways. They're much easier to manage, are more accessible (both on the "playing" and "creating" fronts), and in general are less buggy/more stable than the Wherigo system.  

 

That said, I definitely think that it's possible to "save" Wherigos and open up opportunities for cache hiders to create innovative cartridges. 

Edited by Hügh
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I really like Wherigo, but many users have problems with playing. But this is a problem that is possible to solve.

Instead of the new ALC, GS could have renewed Wherigo. Unfortunately, they didn't do that, although I think Wherigo has great potential.

IMO it's really sad that sites like wherigofoundation are not supported, and the links to the site are even forbidden. 

 

And if GS is not interested in Wherigo, why they give it not to OpenSource hand? Urwigo, WhereYouGo, ... are already created by volunteers. 

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10 hours ago, Hügh said:

Two words.

 

Adventure Labs. 

 

While I do enjoy them, they definitely took over the Wherigo platform in many ways. They're much easier to manage, are more accessible (both on the "playing" and "creating" fronts), and in general are less buggy/more stable than the Wherigo system.  

 

That said, I definitely think that it's possible to "save" Wherigos and open up opportunities for cache hiders to create innovative cartridges. 

 

Wherigo and Adventure Labs are two totally different game types. While Wherigo allows to build complex procedures with triggers, conditions and dependencies and even allows to implement items and characters into the story, Adventure Labs is just "five virtual finds" with a very limited set of customization options, beginning with the limit of five "zones" or "locations". Another big difference is that you'll find a physical container when you finish playing a Wherigo and with AL everything's virtual (except the owner published an AL bonus cache on geocaching.com). Wherigo cartridges can be played offline while you'll need an active internet connection to play AL. These are only three big differences and I could continue this list with another ten. If AL was ever planned as the follow-up of Wherigo, there is a lot to add to the AL app to only come close to what Wherigo offers.

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5 hours ago, SpeedCore said:

Wherigo and Adventure Labs are two totally different game types.

 

Indeed. 

 

5 hours ago, SpeedCore said:

If AL was ever planned as the follow-up of Wherigo, there is a lot to add to the AL app to only come close to what Wherigo offers.

 

I doubt ALs were meant to supersede Wherigoes. 

 

But when you're a small company that has to make a choice between maintaining either (1) an old, clunky platform; held together by duct tape that the average cacher cannot create content for; or (2) a new platform, set-up so that more cachers are able to engage and create; which one are you going to pick?

 

Wherigoes do allow you to implement complex stories, but, it's very difficult for the average person to create such a story -- the official builder barely works, even with a builder coding skills are necessary, and the website gives inexplicable errors. It just makes sense to drop the project, and create a new platform that everyone can easily create content for.  

Edited by Hügh
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Adventure Labs are Wherigo lite.  They're popular because people get a find credit for each location, most are quick to do, the knowledge barrier to entry (make and play) is lower, and the React Native app is simple to use.

 

Creating anything other than something simple in Wherigo takes time, effort, and knowing what you're doing--and you have to make sure you test it to make sure what you wrote works.  Finding cartridges where one was and loading them wasn't a seamless process, either.  Playing a cartridge could take some time, which resulted in one find credit.

 

I think I might have recovered from last time and my previous job's massive amount of uncompensated overtime.  I'm still hesitant to make another attempt because it would involve a not-insignificant investment of time on my part, and there's more of a chance the same result will happen again.  I still pay the not-cheap hosting fees, at least.  There's just a lot of work to be done to improve Wherigo and make it more accessible--too much for just one person with only a couple hours a night to spare.  It would take quite a bit of time.  At the moment, traveling and photographing things just feels more enjoyable and fulfilling.  But I can still be persuaded, if I'm not alone in the attempt this time.  I really don't want to do this alone.

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I just saw this post, but I'm definitely with you Ranger Fox! I believe lots of people would come on board to support Wherigo, especially if a partnership could be worked out. I wonder if Groundspeak would consider a non for profit organization where the Wherigo Foundation partnered with Groundspeak. The Wherigo Foundation could still raise funds to support itself. The board of trustees could be made of Foundation Members as well as Groundspeak Lackey(s). I have seen a similar example of this where https://scratch.mit.edu/ partnered with MIT to create the Scratch Foundation. For those who aren't familiar, Scratch is an online block coding website - very similar to the Wherigo builders. 32,000 scratch projects are released every day from all across the world. Scratch proves that people can learn coding and that its not beyond the reach of a person without coding knowledge. With the right support Wherigo could be just as popular and also much more accessible to the geocaching community. 

 

I have always believed Wherigo is a solid product, it just needs support. If you take any broken product and let it sit stagnant for many years and allow the problems to fester, of course people will want to get rid of it. But Wherigo could be so much more.

 

Adventure Labs are successful because players get lots of quick easy finds and because the platform is supported. If you were to take away the geocache find from an adventure lab and also remove the support then no one would play it. This is what happened with the original Adventures app. If Waymarking, Wherigo, and bench marking all counted towards a geocache find, and those platforms were supported, they would be just as popular as Adventure Labs.

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I have created and submitted my first Wherigo yesterday. I don't understand why Wherigo was abandoned. Its problems are eminently solvable, it's just no one cared to do that. Adventure Labs could have been built with the Wherigo backend. Beginner friendly builder could have lowered the barrier to entry while letting experienced creators use the real power of the underlying framework and lua scripting. I don't understand the draw of Adventure Labs. It seems rather antithetical to the spirit of geocaching. If you want to be collecting meaningless points by hundreds, then there's Munzee. And tellingly, it's mostly dead around here, so it probably is not the experience people want.

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Ugh. I came here to make a similar post and request to Groundspeak (anyone listening?) that they revive the platform. At the very least, update the website with the same aesthetic and technology used in the geocaching website. And more importantly, develop and maintain a multi-platform tool for creating Wherigo cartridges. Wherigo has so much potential, but it's so inaccessible to creators.

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I have made 5 different Wherigo's and 1 Adventure Lab.  Two with Wherigo//Kit and the other 3 with Earwigo.  I plan on making two more Wherigo's.  Thanks to the Software developers for Wherigo//Kit and Earwigo and I still have a lot to learn on making better Wherigo's!

Wherigo is truly an adventure with a D/T, whereas Adventure Labs have NO D/T, well maybe 1/1.  Also AL's do not count for all of your stats, nor States nor Countries.  Adventure Labs are very easy to make and I agree that making an Wherigo is not an one night stand, it takes some planning.  

 

I agree with Forest-Ghost and Roger Fox that Groundspeak should support the product or allow a partnership.  The Wherigo.com website has not been updated since Last Update: 1/4/2008.  At least they made an update to the iPhone app in 2021 (thank-you). 


Please support Wherigo's.

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I would also like to support WIG. I'm a SW developer and would love to help maintain the codebase for the builders/players, assuming I'm not alone reverse-engineering stuff.

I don't get why WIGs are not supported by GS. Sure, only a fraction of users have the skill/time/will to develop a good cartridge, but that just means they will always be special, which is IMO good. Every WIG is a gem (other than all the reverse caches, sorry :) ).

 

I myself have developed a relatively complex cartridge with Urwigo, but I cannot even properly test it, as WhereYouGo doesn't work on my phone since the latest Android update (at least it doesn't show me my own location on a map). It's a little frustrating knowing all those hours developing would be appreciated by a small subset of cachers willing to put effort into setting up their players.

 

Not sure what I can do other that offer my support, I love the idea about GC partnering with WIG foundation. As I'm late to the party, I don't know the history and I'm just shocked links to WIG foundation are forbidden in listings. To be frank, this hostile behavior prevents me from paying for premium membership and reminds me of Microsoft in the 90s.

 

So I'll ask, will someone (Ranger Fox) try to contact GS and make a deal with them? If not, is there any plan B? Maybe develop a much more modern WIG for smartphones from scratch? The idea has a lot of potential, people pay a lot of money for escape-room-like games you can play at home and I've played WIGs outside which were more fun and for free.

 

Either way, thanks for all the work you people involved have done over the years. The fact that community created all these tools despite the hard conditions is a little miracle.

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59 minutes ago, PetoG said:

If not, is there any plan B? Maybe develop a much more modern WIG for smartphones from scratch? The idea has a lot of potential, people pay a lot of money for escape-room-like games you can play at home and I've played WIGs outside which were more fun and for free.

 

This would seem the only option as many have tried and requested for Groundspeak to update the Wherigo platform for many years now with no luck. Even adventure lab, which has an entire team dedicated to the platform has seen very little improvement. With the removal of the benchmarking database, it seems the company has little interest in adding new game elements, rather, their focus is mostly on improving accessibility/bringing on new players. I would say if someone wants to create a supported Wherigo type platform, than the best bet would be to do it outside of geocaching. I have long believed that trying to run a company and make money off of geocaching will always be at odds with the game itself. Geocaching should be a non for profit organization. And so long as the goal is to make money off of it, the quality of the game and the elements that provide interest will continue to dwindle more and more. 

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9 hours ago, PetoG said:

 

I myself have developed a relatively complex cartridge with Urwigo, but I cannot even properly test it, as WhereYouGo doesn't work on my phone since the latest Android update (at least it doesn't show me my own location on a map). It's a little frustrating knowing all those hours developing would be appreciated by a small subset of cachers willing to put effort into setting up their players.

 

 

Did you try the Wherigo player in Geooh GO? 

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I would love to see Wherigo development goes on and if someone make a deal with GS that they give WIG in open source hands, I would like to be part of the team (Though I probably can't be of much help right now)

 

6 hours ago, SpiritGuide said:

Did you try the Wherigo player in Geooh GO? 

I would like to try the app, but unfortunately there is no version for testing. 

You describe the app as radical different and not like c:geo. So before I buy it blind, I would like to test it. (That may also avoid more negativ feedback)

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22 hours ago, PetoG said:

So I'll ask, will someone (Ranger Fox) try to contact GS and make a deal with them? If not, is there any plan B? Maybe develop a much more modern WIG for smartphones from scratch? The idea has a lot of potential, people pay a lot of money for escape-room-like games you can play at home and I've played WIGs outside which were more fun and for free.

 

Either way, thanks for all the work you people involved have done over the years. The fact that community created all these tools despite the hard conditions is a little miracle.

 

I tried making a deal with Groundspeak around 2014 or 2015.  I'd review the partnership agreement within a day or two and send it back, then have to wait nine months for their side, despite my asking monthly where the agreement was.  Then there was the passive-aggressive nature of not allowing cache descriptions to mention anything about any community-developed software.  When I started moderating this forum, I was also supposed to check with Groundspeak about whether or not to allow discussion about community-developed software.  After not hearing from Groundspeak after the first player app was released, I managed to get permission to be the arbiter of which software gets discussed in this forum--a privilege I'm not sure is granted to other moderators (and, doubtless, the current team at Groundspeak has changed and no one remembers I still have this privilege).  And, finally, I was disturbed that the partnership agreement had wording that said that if I stepped away from Wherigo (without setting up continuity plans, I guess), it would be shuttered.  And between the ton of overtime hours I was spending at work and the questionable nature of whether of not anything I put my time into with Wherigo could see the light of day, my intense involvement began to wane.

 

I do have a plan B, but it's risky and I do not want to do it alone.  I must have a lot of people helping in order to pull it off.  Plan B is a hostile takeover.  To put it simply, make awesome tools people want to use and then begin developing the Wherigo platform further, creating new features and capabilities.  Oh, and hope that Groundspeak doesn't pull out a cease and desist.  They'd always be welcome to help provide direction on features to add since it's originally their product, but I wouldn't tolerate having to wait, say, nine months for feedback.  (That was one of the other things I wanted in the partnership agreement from before: if I have to get permission to do something, there should be a certain period of time in which it should be decided so I'm not waiting for a reply for too long.)

 

Trying to go the Wherigo Foundation v2.0 route involves a massive amount of work (regardless a benevolent partnership or hostile takeover):

- The site UI needs to be overhauled so it's responsive and modern.  I would choose Blazor.

- Mobile apps would need to be created, likely using .Net MAUI so I can share Blazor views.

- An API underlying it all would need to be created and authentication would still need to go through the geocaching API.  Microservices should likely be used, but I don't have much experience doing enterprise architecture with microservices, CQRS, and the like.

- If we want to move Wherigo from lua to JavaScript, C#, or something else, we would need to decide at the outset.  Player apps could have a backward compatibility mode.  I'm more concerned about ease of development for the future.  One strong point for lua is we can tightly control what it does because it must always do everything through the player app API.  Were we to move it to C# or JavaScript, I'd be afraid a cartridge developer might use external API calls to do things they shouldn't.  As long as we can guarantee still using lua would be fast enough for cartridges, I don't mind sticking with it.  But we should make a decision as a team at the outset.

- One feature people would want is the ability to embed video into cartridges.  I'd need to set up a CDN so we can stream video to cartridges so the download is smaller.  It might be that all assets are not required for an individual person's playthrough, but they can choose to play in offline mode, which would require all assets to be downloaded.  If a cartridge uses multiplayer, the cartridge can't be offlined.

- I wouldn't mind Urwigo being the official builder if we could port it to either the web or OS-agnostic code.  A web-based builder app and emulator would be more accessible to people.

- I would need to create an event system (likely run through RabbitMQ) to be able to give Wherigo multiplayer capabilities

- We should create a Wherigo v2.0 spec ahead of time, outlining all new features and providing a roadmap.  All application developers would need to be in on this and agree to it.  I can't have it where I create multiplayer and the player app developers implement it and the builder and/or emulator developers don't or release it eight months behind schedule.

- The cartridge download process needs to be streamlined, but this would be easy once an API is in place

- Media assets and an overall themed art style would need to be chosen

- An overall point scoring system should be created.  I shared a complete idea with the Wherigo Foundation a while back.  The point scoring is a combination of playing, building, and completing cartridges that haven't been completed in a while.  The number of points you receive when playing (taking from the community) would begin to taper off until you build cartridges of your own (give back to the community).

- Wherigo would need to be self-sufficient in its own funding.  What I've been hosting comes to just under $2K a year or something (I'm not sure because I just pay the bills these days without looking at them).  I can continue funding Wherigo up to about $5K a year, but I'd rather it generate revenue to fund itself.  So unless anyone would have a better idea than Wherigo Invaders, then I'd need to implement that massive meta game.  Any overage on revenue would be first held in reserve for group needs (software licenses, hardware for testing, etc.), then the overage would be split between the group and community.  I would want the money aspect addressed ahead of time because it's one of the things that can cause a rift in groups, and I'm uninterested in having conflict in teams when altruism should instead be the rule of the day.

 

So, that's what you're looking at and why I haven't tried again.  It's a massive amount of work and would be more than just a little miracle to pull off with a group of volunteers.  There are many different technical skills that would be necessary.

 

If I could get together a group, I'd be willing to try one last time.  I've said to Groundspeak before that Wherigo development isn't going to be the Ranger Fox show, it's a community effort.  I'll organize it, lead it, and be one of the main engineers in the group, but it needs to be a group effort and have continuity plans in place in case someone has to drop out either for a time or permanently.

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Thats sounds like very much work. But it looks like you have a good plan of what to do. I really would like to help,  but unfortunately I have no knowledge in the most of these things. I wrote a few small webpages and learned a bit Java at university. So I can only help with the website.

I know that many cachers are software engineers, so we need to find the Wherigo-fans under them 😅

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On 12/27/2022 at 11:37 AM, Ranger Fox said:

To put it simply, make awesome tools people want to use and then begin developing the Wherigo platform further, creating new features and capabilities.  Oh, and hope that Groundspeak doesn't pull out a cease and desist.  They'd always be welcome to help provide direction on features to add since it's originally their product, but I wouldn't tolerate having to wait, say, nine months for feedback.  (That was one of the other things I wanted in the partnership agreement from before: if I have to get permission to do something, there should be a certain period of time in which it should be decided so I'm not waiting for a reply for too long.)


What about starting over from scratch with a completely new platform? Something different from Wherigo. There wouldn’t be any concern of Groundspeak pulling out because it would be a totally separate new gaming platform. I think it’s extremely unlikely Groundspeak will ever agree on some deal. They have been really buttoning down the hatches over the last 3-4 years and I believe at one point they came VERY close to pulling the plug on Wherigo permanently. Even if there was some sort of agreement, the relationship would always be a conflict of interest as they would be trying to steer the platform for their own profit whilst the people who build it would be receiving almost nothing in return. We saw this with project gc— there have been a bunch of features and tools that Groundspeak had them remove from the website because “they didn’t align with the core mission of geocaching.”
 

Location based gaming has huge potential and I believe this could be an opportunity to create an entirely new game. Visual coding platforms like stratch and blocky have become hugely popular since the beginning of the pandemic, but none of them utilize location based elements. I think this could be an opportunity to create something really amazing, maybe even a whole new metaverse of games within games— sort of like “the oasis” in ready player one. 
 

I created a massive rpg world in Wherigo over the pandemic and have wanted to publish it but I’m not sure Wherigo really is the right platform. If there was a new platform, I would wholeheartedly support it in any way I could. My meager coding skills would probably not be super helpful on web and app development, but I’m really good at creating games. I could probably help out with creating graphics as well. It’s very possible also that if you guys were to build something new, these new games could be cross listed on geocaching.com with permission from Groundspeak obviously. But that would only be a small part of it— this new platform could be an entirely new scavenger hunt game with finders and hiders in its own world. But maybe more so, there could be a way to create a game that continues on indefinitely or has so much content that it’s almost impossible to ever run out of things to do.

 

Geocaching is so limited by wether or not someone puts out new hides, and in our area the hiders have mostly stopped putting out new hides. What if this new platform was centered around creating content, making it so that the very goal and reward is to make new games. This could include making the builder extremely user friendly but maybe even something like having it so that players can build games “in the field” — say walk around the park and build the game while your out exploring. Or maybe the game somehow uses locations to become part of the game— sort of like Waymarking,  but could include other technology like AR and object recognition to create specific objects in the world for players to find and use their phone camera to identify. 
 

Well I’m rambling now, but I really do believe that there is a huge interest for some type of new location based platform— players like me who want to go deeper, but feel limited by the confines of geocaching and the age old Wherigo website. Let’s create something new!

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Hello all. I'm sharing the concerns of others in this thread. I put a lot of work into creating Wherigo cartridges and I would hate to see them go. Also Adventure Labs don't do anything for me. I'll be very happy now as ever to join a community attempt at pushing Wherigo somewhere better. I have an idea of my own that I started playing with last year, but haven't had a lot of time to continue it. I'll try again to put some time in it this year. The end goal is to create a bridge between Wherigo cartridges and the Unity game engine so that cartridges could provide sophisticated game activities.

Edited by Mangatome
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Yes, that would not be for the casual Wherigo developers, although one could argue that Adventure Lab already covers the casual's needs (not to mention that Wherigo and Lua were never friendly on beginners anyway).

 

However, I think the most advanced developers, those who made complex carts (like Pac-Man or Pokemon remakes or large RPGs) are currently tremendously held back by the Wherigo tech. I believe that a Unity-powered player could enable game developers to create very unique experiences and activities and make them available to Wherigo cartridges. (Scratch is way too limited in my opinion, I'd rather shoot for the stars. And besides, I have seen Unity being taught to artists with little IT knowledge in a week, so it's not that bad to learn!) To me, it would be like an experimental sandbox the community can use to push Wherigo forward. Minigames and activities could be developed and later repackaged for use in more casual setups.

 

At this point, I think Wherigo will need all the pushes the community can afford. We'd probably need several projects in parallel to experiment with different directions the game could take. In parallel, there could be a project about making a new easy cartridge editor for beginners, etc. However the advanced users are currently very discouraged from creating things in Wherigo, and I believe this should be tackled.

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1 hour ago, Mangatome said:

I believe that a Unity-powered player could enable game developers to create very unique experiences and activities and make them available to Wherigo cartridges.

 

The beauty of Wherigos is that they are "cartridges": to me, that carries the connotation that they are fairly lightweight simple games (à la NES/Famicom/Gameboy), not ridiculous 3d games requiring gigabytes (or even megabytes!) of memory—I know, I'm a dinosaur 🦕.

 

The only thing that I would really want to add to Wherigo is a dynamic canvas. Forcing creators to bundle every asset statically beforehand is much too limiting.

 

I recently stumbled across the WASM-4 project. It is essentially a platform for building games, using WebAssembly. Cartridges are small, self-contained .wasm modules that can be run securely in a [browser/app] sandbox; they are provided with only a small set of functions for I/O interactions. So far, pretty similar to the existing Lua-based Wherigo platform. But where they shine is that, thanks to emscripten, you can write your WASM-4 games in pretty much any programming language (Javascript, C/C++, Rust, and probably thousands more... maybe even Scratch!?) Wouldn't that be great?

 

If Wherigo were entirely under my control, I would definitely try to do something like this. (Obviously, I'd propose a different set of library functions—getUserPosition, among other things :D.)

Edited by Hügh
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3 hours ago, Hügh said:

 

The beauty of Wherigos is that they are "cartridges": to me, that carries the connotation that they are fairly lightweight simple games (à la NES/Famicom/Gameboy), not ridiculous 3d games requiring gigabytes (or even megabytes!) of memory—I know, I'm a dinosaur 🦕.

 

 

I hear you, but small file sizes and fun experiences are not mutually-exclusive. I'm not saying we should put World of Warcraft in a GWC :D But already a few animated and interactive elements, customizable UIs and maybe the possibility to use AR, to show videos or to communicate with other player's devices would enable many fun experiences.

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I previously shared my thoughts in the post linked below, but I just want to reiterate for anyone who has hope of an improved Wherigo platform:

 

The best chance for success is to launch a SEPARATE PLATFORM where we wouldn’t be dependent on Groundspeak. Groundspeak is never going to give up control of Wherigo.

 

 

 

 

On 12/29/2022 at 9:39 AM, Forest-Ghost said:

What about starting over from scratch with a completely new platform? Something different from Wherigo. There wouldn’t be any concern of Groundspeak pulling out because it would be a totally separate new gaming platform. I think it’s extremely unlikely Groundspeak will ever agree on some deal. They have been really buttoning down the hatches over the last 3-4 years and I believe at one point they came VERY close to pulling the plug on Wherigo permanently. Even if there was some sort of agreement, the relationship would always be a conflict of interest as they would be trying to steer the platform for their own profit whilst the people who build it would be receiving almost nothing in return. We saw this with project gc— there have been a bunch of features and tools that Groundspeak had them remove from the website because “they didn’t align with the core mission of geocaching.”
 

Location based gaming has huge potential and I believe this could be an opportunity to create an entirely new game. Visual coding platforms like stratch and blocky have become hugely popular since the beginning of the pandemic, but none of them utilize location based elements. I think this could be an opportunity to create something really amazing, maybe even a whole new metaverse of games within games— sort of like “the oasis” in ready player one. 
 

I created a massive rpg world in Wherigo over the pandemic and have wanted to publish it but I’m not sure Wherigo really is the right platform. If there was a new platform, I would wholeheartedly support it in any way I could. My meager coding skills would probably not be super helpful on web and app development, but I’m really good at creating games. I could probably help out with creating graphics as well. It’s very possible also that if you guys were to build something new, these new games could be cross listed on geocaching.com with permission from Groundspeak obviously. But that would only be a small part of it— this new platform could be an entirely new scavenger hunt game with finders and hiders in its own world. But maybe more so, there could be a way to create a game that continues on indefinitely or has so much content that it’s almost impossible to ever run out of things to do.

 

Geocaching is so limited by wether or not someone puts out new hides, and in our area the hiders have mostly stopped putting out new hides. What if this new platform was centered around creating content, making it so that the very goal and reward is to make new games. This could include making the builder extremely user friendly but maybe even something like having it so that players can build games “in the field” — say walk around the park and build the game while your out exploring. Or maybe the game somehow uses locations to become part of the game— sort of like Waymarking,  but could include other technology like AR and object recognition to create specific objects in the world for players to find and use their phone camera to identify. 
 

Well I’m rambling now, but I really do believe that there is a huge interest for some type of new location based platform— players like me who want to go deeper, but feel limited by the confines of geocaching and the age old Wherigo website. Let’s create something new!

 

 

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5 minutes ago, Forest-Ghost said:

The best chance for success is to launch a SEPARATE PLATFORM where we wouldn’t be dependent on Groundspeak. Groundspeak is never going to give up control of Wherigo

That would result in a series of problems.

We cannot use it for Cache => We don't get players => We don't get creators => We don't get players => ... => We don't get new developers

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9 hours ago, Mangatome said:

I believe that a Unity-powered player could enable game developers to create very unique experiences and activities and make them available to Wherigo cartridges.

 

Additional question. Does this "need" to be Wherigo?

 

The Wherigo platform was created in the days before cellphones, as a way to have interactive "games" that were playable in the field. However, nowadays we (all) carry cellphones. Scratch the whole "limited computing environment" theme I waffled about earlier: why not just use the browser that comes on every phone, and just make your "cartridge" a Javascript-powered game/web app? This way, you get "a few animated and interactive elements, customizable UIs and maybe the possibility to use AR" pretty much for free. With some work on a backend, you could also get "communicat[ion] with other player's devices".

 

The geotrailssw.com mob caches which are popular around the world are built this way. GC66PXA is another one: it is listed as a Wherigo (it does technically require you to play the cartridge, as per Guidelines!) but is mostly powered by a website the user is directed to shortly after opening the cartridge.

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22 hours ago, capoaira said:

That would result in a series of problems.

We cannot use it for Cache => We don't get players => We don't get creators => We don't get players => ... => We don't get new developers

 

In fact, lots of independent platforms are used regularly and successfully with geocaches! Scratch, Intercache, geomob, metaverse, YouTube, the list goes on. 

 

We saw recently that HQ removed the benchmarking database, deleting hundreds of hours of work for benchmarkers. The leadership team at HQ has made it pretty clear that they don’t particularly like Wherigo either. An independent platform that could still be used with geocaches would ensure the safety of all we create. 

 

As an added benefit, creating a new platform, separate from Wherigo.com, actually has the potential to be a lot bigger than geocaching. Websites like Scratch have millions of users and over 100 million projects! Location-based technology is still in its infancy, and there are very few games out there. How cool would it be to have a website devoted to creating NEW location-based games? And then, instead of just pulling from geocachers, we’d be accessible to developers, builders, and designers worldwide.

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16 hours ago, Forest-Ghost said:

In fact, lots of independent platforms are used regularly and successfully with geocaches! Scratch, Intercache, geomob, metaverse, YouTube, the list goes on. 

 

We saw recently that HQ removed the benchmarking database, deleting hundreds of hours of work for benchmarkers. The leadership team at HQ has made it pretty clear that they don’t particularly like Wherigo either. An independent platform that could still be used with geocaches would ensure the safety of all we create. 

 

As an added benefit, creating a new platform, separate from Wherigo.com, actually has the potential to be a lot bigger than geocaching. Websites like Scratch have millions of users and over 100 million projects! Location-based technology is still in its infancy, and there are very few games out there. How cool would it be to have a website devoted to creating NEW location-based games? And then, instead of just pulling from geocachers, we’d be accessible to developers, builders, and designers worldwide.

I know two location based games, with success, independent of geocaching. Munzee and Pokémon Go. The second was only one big hype for a few months. I think the most people, who are really interested is such games, are geocachers. So the best and fastest way to get users is a cooperation with GS.

 

What I never understood: GS haven't any interest in WIGs anymore, why they won't give it to Open Source hands? The most used tools for WIGs (Builders and Players) are from the community.

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8 hours ago, capoaira said:

I know two location based games, with success, independent of geocaching. Munzee and Pokémon Go. The second was only one big hype for a few months. I think the most people, who are really interested is such games, are geocachers. So the best and fastest way to get users is a cooperation with GS.

 

What I never understood: GS haven't any interest in WIGs anymore, why they won't give it to Open Source hands? The most used tools for WIGs (Builders and Players) are from the community.

 

 

It’s because their goal is increasing revenue—bringing in new players, simplifying the geocaching platform, and making it more accessible. Wherigo, as it currently stands, does not accomplish this goal. Wherigo is Groundspeak’s intellectual property and they don’t see a benefit from giving it away. The leadership at HQ doesn’t have some personal investment in the Wherigo platform like we do.

 

The community has tried a partnership before. The Wherigo foundation website was launched in 2013—a solution to the myriad of Wherigo problems, but several years ago, HQ made everyone remove any reference to the Wherigo foundation website from their cache pages, and barely even acknowledged that the website existed. They never acknowledged all the hard work the foundation members and community has done to improve the Wherigo platform and don't seem to care.

 

I don’t see any scenario where HQ changes course and partners with the community, and this isn’t a democracy where the community can decide on things or try and take over. The only option is if the community starts their own platform. 

 

Btw Pokémon Go currently has 71 million active players. Geocaching has around 2 million. Success outside of geocaching is definitely possible. 

 

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Some thoughts, in no particular order:

  • Pokémon Go is successful because it uses the fanbase of a successful franchise.  I'm not so sure it would be as popular if it itself were to introduce the idea of Pocket Monsters.  Likewise, we have a fanbase of geocachers.  Latching onto that avoids the problem of advertising and gathering an initial userbase.  And, to be honest, the part of my moderator responsibility would need to prevent discussion in the forum of a non-geocaching service.  (That just seems fair delineation.)
  • I like the idea of WASM, but I'm partial because I like what's being done with it with Blazor.
  • Whatever capabilities included in Wherigo v2, I would want absolute control over one feature: networking.  You can do some pretty cool things if you gave cartridge developers network access, but there are just too many security concerns and opportunities for abuse.  No network access for you.
  • Back to the WASM sandbox.  I like this idea.  We would expose everything necessary to Wherigo v2 developers through an API, same as when you're creating an app or application.  You can create your own UI that interacts with this API as well.
  • I'd want something set up so developers can pull code snippets from a repo managed by the community.
  • Cartridge size does become a problem.  High quality assets, videos, audio files: these all can consume a good deal of storage space and bandwidth.  I still like the idea of capping cartridge size.  As an alternative, it might be interesting instead to run the game on the server and stream the results to the client.  If you're familiar with server-side Blazor, that's what I'm thinking about.  If you say something like, "people will download the cartridge at home since they know they'll be playing it," I'd have to disagree.  Think of some use cases: people meet on the trail or at an event and then want to do a cartridge, someone finds themselves somewhere with unexpected free time and might want to play, hotel WiFi in the US isn't really that great, something is published for an event, and so on.  I'd like to be easy on people's metered cellular data plan.
  • Game saves would be mirrored on both the device and the Wherigo Foundation server.  Game saves can be deleted from the device when the game is deleted, but persisted on the server.  A developer would be able to write a cartridge that can request a game save from another of the developer's games, then read it.  This opens up the possibility of carrying over items and equipment from one cartridge to another.  For example, while players can play my Chapter Two game without having played Chapter One, players who have played Chapter One will be able to carry over certain things they acquired from Chapter One, plus certain NPC states.  This might make Chapter Two easier or more challenging, depending upon actions taken in Chapter One.
  • Developers would have a good analytics suite.  They'd have error logs, playthrough statistics, and so on.  You wouldn't be able to track them to a specific user, but I do want developers to have more feedback from their games.
  • I'm not sure Groundspeak is as money hungry as one might think.  We all have to focus most of our time on what keeps the lights on and employees paid.  But I'd expect a different behavior from a company interested in increasing revenue for the sake of profit.  I do know some things learned from my volunteer side that I can't share publicly because I haven't heard it through non-private channels.  Should the community and I pursue Wherigo v2, we too will need a way to generate revenue to pay for our expenses (relying on donations and individuals' contributions is not a stable plan).  There will then be other parts of the community critical of our handling of funds.
  • Creating Wherigo v2 will require a multi-year commitment from many different people.  This is a large undertaking.  Keeping a group of volunteers going though life's vicissitudes is its own challenge.
  • Always keep in mind the barrier to entry.  How much would someone have to learn to create a simple cartridge?  Make this as low as possible.  We create the tools, but it's the rest of the community that creates the content.  The more tools we have that make it easier for people to create simple cartridges, the more users we will have.  Several of those users would then try to learn how to make more complicated things.  But it needs to be accessible to as many people as possible.  Would lab caches have been as prolific had you had to create a Wherigo cartridge, even using Kit?  I think not.  (And if you think about it, the lab cache app acts like a perfect Wherigo player app: it lists the cartridges available, downloads the one you select, and runs it.)

 

So, here are the steps we'd need to take:

  1. Define a feature set for Wherigo v2.0, v2.1, then shove everything else that would be a good idea for a future version.  Choose three killer features that would draw interest to v2.0, then a couple simple to implement other features for v2.1.  Put all the rest off until later.  Even were we just recreating Wherigo v1.0, there would be a ton of things to do: player app API, player app, listing service, back end API, CDN, scoring mechanism, full website, overall brand theme, and so on.
  2. Knowing those features and having a vision for the future, decide on a technology platform.  Will WASM give us what we need?  Regardless, the player app and sandbox/engine itself be separated to the point where we could launch cartridges that use completely different engines.  Decide on technologies for most of the features.  For example, even if multiplayer won't be a v2.0 feature, you'll know later we'll be using some sort of pub/sub like RabbitMQ or SignalR.  But when other features are considered together, that might guide our adoption of one thing over another.  So it's important to know where we want to end up.
  3. Outline everything that needs to be done at a minimum prior to launch.  Get commitment from people and know this will take a while because you're working with everyone's free time.  Make sure people aren't working isolated and without feedback and encouragement.  That's one thing the rest of the Wherigo community who can't contribute technically can really help: feedback and encouragement.
  4. Create the teams.  Who is going to be responsible for what?  Have redundancy.  This isn't for just for software engineers.  We need artists and testers.  As long as we can keep going if someone has to drop out or go on a very long break, things are looking good.  (Why, yes, I do place a high emphasis on continuity.  If this is to succeed and stand any chance at being officially recognized, it has to survive volunteer churn.  If I was Groundspeak, I'd demand the group demonstrate they can survive in the long term without dumping the responsibility back onto the company.)
  5. Everyone would need to recognize that everything they create is not private.  For example, if you create the only player app, you can't make your GitHub repo private or take it down if you want to leave.  Everyone is depending upon it.  The team has access and you'll have to leave your work with the team if you leave.  The repos themselves could be private amongst the team.  Anyone on the team can make a pull request, but we'll leave it up to those in charge of that project to decide to merge or send it back.  Always more than one person so the project can survive.  (Sure, we can start with single people, but the entire project doesn't succeed until we have redundancy.)
  6. Find funding.  Now that we know the technologies and features involved, we'll know what to look for when pricing tools and environments in Azure, AWS, or something else.  We'll need at least a dev and prod environment, including rules for signing off on automated deployments.  I'll commit to funding around $2K a year since I'm doing that already.  But that likely won't fully cover all the dev and UAT environments necessary.  And suppose I'm going on a caching trip and the airplane crashes.  If we do this, we need to make sure it can survive if one source of funding dries up.  Likewise, I don't want to be shouldering $10K a year or whatever in expenses as the only one keeping the lights on.  That's the reason I came up with Wherigo Invaders.
  7. Work with everyone to come up with a minimum viable proof of concept: create a cartridge using script or code (a builder can come later, but it will need to come), upload this to a website, have an app contact the API to log in, search for it, download the cartridge, and launch it.  When you enter the zone, have it display a hello world message.

Well, that's all the time I have for a reply.

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12 hours ago, Ranger Fox said:

Some thoughts, in no particular order:

  • Pokémon Go is successful because it uses the fanbase of a successful franchise.  I'm not so sure it would be as popular if it itself were to introduce the idea of Pocket Monsters.  Likewise, we have a fanbase of geocachers.  Latching onto that avoids the problem of advertising and gathering an initial userbase.  And, to be honest, the part of my moderator responsibility would need to prevent discussion in the forum of a non-geocaching service.  (That just seems fair delineation.)
  • I like the idea of WASM, but I'm partial because I like what's being done with it with Blazor.
  • Whatever capabilities included in Wherigo v2, I would want absolute control over one feature: networking.  You can do some pretty cool things if you gave cartridge developers network access, but there are just too many security concerns and opportunities for abuse.  No network access for you.
  • Back to the WASM sandbox.  I like this idea.  We would expose everything necessary to Wherigo v2 developers through an API, same as when you're creating an app or application.  You can create your own UI that interacts with this API as well.
  • I'd want something set up so developers can pull code snippets from a repo managed by the community.
  • Cartridge size does become a problem.  High quality assets, videos, audio files: these all can consume a good deal of storage space and bandwidth.  I still like the idea of capping cartridge size.  As an alternative, it might be interesting instead to run the game on the server and stream the results to the client.  If you're familiar with server-side Blazor, that's what I'm thinking about.  If you say something like, "people will download the cartridge at home since they know they'll be playing it," I'd have to disagree.  Think of some use cases: people meet on the trail or at an event and then want to do a cartridge, someone finds themselves somewhere with unexpected free time and might want to play, hotel WiFi in the US isn't really that great, something is published for an event, and so on.  I'd like to be easy on people's metered cellular data plan.
  • Game saves would be mirrored on both the device and the Wherigo Foundation server.  Game saves can be deleted from the device when the game is deleted, but persisted on the server.  A developer would be able to write a cartridge that can request a game save from another of the developer's games, then read it.  This opens up the possibility of carrying over items and equipment from one cartridge to another.  For example, while players can play my Chapter Two game without having played Chapter One, players who have played Chapter One will be able to carry over certain things they acquired from Chapter One, plus certain NPC states.  This might make Chapter Two easier or more challenging, depending upon actions taken in Chapter One.
  • Developers would have a good analytics suite.  They'd have error logs, playthrough statistics, and so on.  You wouldn't be able to track them to a specific user, but I do want developers to have more feedback from their games.
  • I'm not sure Groundspeak is as money hungry as one might think.  We all have to focus most of our time on what keeps the lights on and employees paid.  But I'd expect a different behavior from a company interested in increasing revenue for the sake of profit.  I do know some things learned from my volunteer side that I can't share publicly because I haven't heard it through non-private channels.  Should the community and I pursue Wherigo v2, we too will need a way to generate revenue to pay for our expenses (relying on donations and individuals' contributions is not a stable plan).  There will then be other parts of the community critical of our handling of funds.
  • Creating Wherigo v2 will require a multi-year commitment from many different people.  This is a large undertaking.  Keeping a group of volunteers going though life's vicissitudes is its own challenge.
  • Always keep in mind the barrier to entry.  How much would someone have to learn to create a simple cartridge?  Make this as low as possible.  We create the tools, but it's the rest of the community that creates the content.  The more tools we have that make it easier for people to create simple cartridges, the more users we will have.  Several of those users would then try to learn how to make more complicated things.  But it needs to be accessible to as many people as possible.  Would lab caches have been as prolific had you had to create a Wherigo cartridge, even using Kit?  I think not.  (And if you think about it, the lab cache app acts like a perfect Wherigo player app: it lists the cartridges available, downloads the one you select, and runs it.)

 

So, here are the steps we'd need to take:

  1. Define a feature set for Wherigo v2.0, v2.1, then shove everything else that would be a good idea for a future version.  Choose three killer features that would draw interest to v2.0, then a couple simple to implement other features for v2.1.  Put all the rest off until later.  Even were we just recreating Wherigo v1.0, there would be a ton of things to do: player app API, player app, listing service, back end API, CDN, scoring mechanism, full website, overall brand theme, and so on.
  2. Knowing those features and having a vision for the future, decide on a technology platform.  Will WASM give us what we need?  Regardless, the player app and sandbox/engine itself be separated to the point where we could launch cartridges that use completely different engines.  Decide on technologies for most of the features.  For example, even if multiplayer won't be a v2.0 feature, you'll know later we'll be using some sort of pub/sub like RabbitMQ or SignalR.  But when other features are considered together, that might guide our adoption of one thing over another.  So it's important to know where we want to end up.
  3. Outline everything that needs to be done at a minimum prior to launch.  Get commitment from people and know this will take a while because you're working with everyone's free time.  Make sure people aren't working isolated and without feedback and encouragement.  That's one thing the rest of the Wherigo community who can't contribute technically can really help: feedback and encouragement.
  4. Create the teams.  Who is going to be responsible for what?  Have redundancy.  This isn't for just for software engineers.  We need artists and testers.  As long as we can keep going if someone has to drop out or go on a very long break, things are looking good.  (Why, yes, I do place a high emphasis on continuity.  If this is to succeed and stand any chance at being officially recognized, it has to survive volunteer churn.  If I was Groundspeak, I'd demand the group demonstrate they can survive in the long term without dumping the responsibility back onto the company.)
  5. Everyone would need to recognize that everything they create is not private.  For example, if you create the only player app, you can't make your GitHub repo private or take it down if you want to leave.  Everyone is depending upon it.  The team has access and you'll have to leave your work with the team if you leave.  The repos themselves could be private amongst the team.  Anyone on the team can make a pull request, but we'll leave it up to those in charge of that project to decide to merge or send it back.  Always more than one person so the project can survive.  (Sure, we can start with single people, but the entire project doesn't succeed until we have redundancy.)
  6. Find funding.  Now that we know the technologies and features involved, we'll know what to look for when pricing tools and environments in Azure, AWS, or something else.  We'll need at least a dev and prod environment, including rules for signing off on automated deployments.  I'll commit to funding around $2K a year since I'm doing that already.  But that likely won't fully cover all the dev and UAT environments necessary.  And suppose I'm going on a caching trip and the airplane crashes.  If we do this, we need to make sure it can survive if one source of funding dries up.  Likewise, I don't want to be shouldering $10K a year or whatever in expenses as the only one keeping the lights on.  That's the reason I came up with Wherigo Invaders.
  7. Work with everyone to come up with a minimum viable proof of concept: create a cartridge using script or code (a builder can come later, but it will need to come), upload this to a website, have an app contact the API to log in, search for it, download the cartridge, and launch it.  When you enter the zone, have it display a hello world message.

Well, that's all the time I have for a reply.

 

 

Thanks for laying out those steps. Is this something we're going to move forward on? And if so, what is the plan?

 

 

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