Jump to content

Creating A Good Puzzle Cache


rusty_tlc
Followers 3

Recommended Posts

I'm starting to get the knack of searching these forums.

I still didn't see any topics specificaly related to creating a puzzle cache, forgive me if I missed somthing.

 

Any way, we don't have any puzzle caches around here. I'd like to change that. I've read as many puzzle cache pages as I could find. But not having actually found one I could probably use some advice before I go out and place one.

(If somebody knew of a good puzzle cache in the Sacramento area that would probably help to. I could drive over and try it some weekend.)

 

What makes a good puzzle cache? Got any examples?

 

How difficult can it be before you get discouraged?

 

What kind of puzzles do you like best?

Word?

Math?

Picture?

??????

 

How much time are you willing to devote to a puzzle cache?

 

How far would you travel?

 

Would you expect the reward to be a great location? prize? or would the chase be enough reward?

 

Thanks for helping.

Link to comment

One approach I used was to post my puzzle caches "as is", and then gradually post clues until enough people can solve it. Be prepared for folks to contact you looking for hints or help (that's part of the game I enjoy; I've met several cachers that way).

 

Here are a few of mine:

 

Michael Gordon Elementary

 

Solitary Confinement

 

Primal Instinct

 

You can also find more links on my profile page.

Link to comment
How difficult can it be before you get discouraged?

 

What kind of puzzles do you like best?

 

How much time are you willing to devote to a puzzle cache?

 

How far would you travel?

 

Would you expect the reward to be a great location? prize? or would the chase be enough reward?

As for your other questions -- I like almost all puzzles. I lean towards the more challenging ones. I'm willing to devote quite a few evenings to solve a good one, as long as I'm making progress. I'd drive 100 miles or so, probably not too much more. I wouldn't expect any special rewared for solving it. Just like with any other cache, a good location (or hike there) is what I enjoy; the contents of the cache don't matter much.

 

One other tip -- try to avoid puzzles where you can search for the solution on the internet. You'd be surprised how many puzzles can be solved with some brute force web-searches.

Link to comment

I've placed a couple of puzzle caches. I agree that slowly leaking hints is a good plan. But I usually try to start out with something mathematical. I will also occasionally mix it up a bit and create a multi-stage puzzle cache using micros with additional hints - never giving away the final stage totally.

 

79 Cipher

 

27 Transform

 

One of my favorite multi-stage puzzle caches in my area was done by hiddenrock:

 

The Sanford Bases

 

Of course, my all time favorite puzzle cache was done by CacheMonkeez:

 

Central Florida's First Night Cache

Link to comment

First, you will need to have an idea of the type of puzzle you want to include. Next, brainstorm to find the best way to incorporate it into the hunt.

 

Since it gets really hot and humid here in the summer, I made mine so most of the work had to be done before starting the hunt. Once the instructions are correctly decoded, the caches are pretty easy.

 

My current ones are Great Caesar's Ghost Cipher and Caesar's Library.

Link to comment
One approach I used was to post my puzzle caches "as is", and then gradually post clues until enough people can solve it. Be prepared for folks to contact you looking for hints or help (that's part of the game I enjoy; I've met several cachers that way).

 

I tried this approach on one I wanted to be particularly hard. I didn't want to give too much away, so I erred on the side of too little info and I'm adding hints as I go, just as you suggest. The necessary details have always been there, but I didn't give any clues as to what to do with them.

 

Unfortunately, some folks got upset that 'all the information' wasn't on the cache page to start with, and that the cachers who contacted me for hints were able to find it first.

Link to comment

For a word puzzle puzzle cache check out our Callahan's Riddle (GCE59F). It can be solved at leisure for the final coordinates. No running about town. (We have another one called the Six Pack that folks have likened to following us on a shopping expedition as we take them Everywhere in town to the steps.)

 

Another fun one to solve before heading out, and which takes a while to work through is Crypto Delicatesson (GCF0B2). That cache is fun if you like progressively harder puzzles.

Good luck creating your own cache & happy holidays!

-Jennifer

Link to comment

I have created quite a number of puzzle caches. People have said they like them, so they must at least not be terrible.

 

Here are my criteria for what makes a good puzzle cache:

  • It must be solvable. That may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised. Some people think that putting out an unsolvable cache proves that they are smarter than anyone else. In reality, creating an unsolvable puzzle is trivially easy.
  • It must require less tedium to solve than it does to create. Nobody is interested in a puzzle cache that requires hours of work to solve, especially when creating the puzzle was easy for the hider. On the other hand, I greatly appreciate a puzzle that took hours to create but can be quickly solved after the right flash of insight.
  • Don't make people solve long, tedious puzzles on the road. There's nothing wrong with a multicache that contains puzzles, but I would find a multi for which each stage took hours to solve infuriating. The best puzzle caches are those for which any time-consuming problems can be solved before starting on the hunt, IMO.
  • When the right answer is obtained, it must clearly be the right answer. I've done a couple of puzzles where there were several possible "right" answers that all gave reasonable coordinates. I dislike those because there is no way to tell that you've solved the puzzle correctly.
  • In retrospect, the puzzle solution must make sense. That means that everything in the puzzle fits together. Ideally, everything should fit into a single storyline that enhances the cache.
  • No obscure red herrings. Oscure clues in the cache name or description are great, but making those clues intentionally misleading makes for a frustrating caching experience.

Anybody else have ideas about what makes a good or bad puzzle cache?

Edited by fizzymagic
Link to comment

I think a great tip is to have some kind of check at the end of solving the puzzle that lets them know it's solved and solved right. I've done a few multi caches that had you count things and plug those into the final digits of the coordinates.....problem was that if you miscounted or had a difference of opinion on what constitues 'in front of' you'd be off on a wild goose chase and know it.....best to have some kind of 'check sum'.

 

r/

The Beys

Link to comment

Personally, I look for "flow". If a puzzle seems contrived then I sometimes wonder about it.

 

On a purely random search http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?wp=GCH9X2 has a neat sort of flow. There are no "magic" numbers in the puzzle. At no time are you multiplying by 17 or subtracting 52 for, well, no real apparent reason. It feels "elegant" to me. And I have the feeling the people who made that cache spent a heck of a long time in the park trying to find combinations that worked.

 

I love the way http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?ID=66860 reads. I don't have a clue what the heck they're talking about there but it's the kind of thing that would have me hopping in my car to find out. The puzzle is part of the story, not outside of it. A lot of puzzle caches seem to read like math quizzes from high school. This one feels more like it's part of the story, sort of how Lewis Carrol threw puzzles into Alice in Wonderland.

 

It seems to me that a lot of effort went into these two very different caches. I could be wrong, all I have is their web page to go off of, but they both look like the work of someone trying to create something special.

Link to comment
Anybody else have ideas about what makes a good or bad puzzle cache?

Puzzle caches can be fun, but after spending hours figuring one out, the last thing I want to do is find out it is hidden in the local WalMart parking lot. Spend as much time figuring out a good hide as working on the puzzle. I'd rather have a puzzle cache that requires some work in the field, just my preference. Doing all the work at home is kinda like "Couch Potato Caching". :mad:

 

14843_2200.jpg

Edited by Navdog
Link to comment

I like good puzzle caches but the principal puzzle hider in the area left us for some reason. I've gotten up the courage to begin hiding some puzzles. You can see my profile for a list. The recent ones are about 50% puzzles. So, I don't know just how far I'd go for a puzzle, but I can tell you that people will go out of their way to be a first finder or make it a highlight stop when they come into town, if the puzzle gets enough praise.

 

I think they key to a good puzzle is being able to know exactly where it's hidden. You're going to get a lot of questions on hard puzzles and a few folks will act angry that you upset their flow. In the end, everyone who has found The Hex has learned something or at least gotten to brush up on something learned years ago. One laying in wait is REGZ FAN III which should be a bit more of a challenge, but I gave clues on solving it when I placed the Hex.

 

I think that if I keep my puzzles in an area that is vacant, my fellow cachers will know that they are entering Puzzle Land and to watch our. Since the locations are close to me, I can keep tabs on the caches year round to make sure the clues stay true.

 

I get a kick out of posts that call me an "Evil, Evil Being" and notes that include the words "hate" and "confused". If you don't appreciate those logs, keep the puzzle simple. I do make the puzzle hard, but the find easy. That way the adults of a caching family can solve the puzzle and the kids will enjoy the find as much as any other cache. No sense in making it a long tedious experience.

Link to comment

I like navigation puzzles, because geocaching is all about navigation, after all!

 

In our area, we have:

 

The Cache Where YOU Are the GPS

 

Radio Waves

 

And a shameless plug for:

 

Venus Unilateral

 

Not a navigation puzzle, but still a good puzzle:

 

Balderdash

 

Not in our area, but they look like great navigation puzzles:

 

Celestial Navigation

 

Aerial Intelligence

Edited by Team Og Rof A Klaw
Link to comment

I think what you've found with this thread is that puzzle caches come in all kinds of flavors. Have fun with it.

 

A piece of advise for all who place a cache (and inexperienced hiders in particular) is to use a buddy to do a trial run of your hide prior to posting it on the site.

 

Off Topic:

 

Team Og Rof A Klaw - In the last several months reading your posts, I only just now realized the meaning of your name. All the sudden, <click> and I read it.

Link to comment
:mad:

There is one Cache puzzle in the sacramento area by Jeeplife, it is called Square Off. Try it and you may like it. I just finished it three days ago.

Thanks,

Jeeplife sent me an e-mail. Some folks are just modest I guess. :D Looks like they have done a few good ones. Besides anybody with a screen name like jeeplife has to be cool. I will probably make a trip "over the hill" as we say and check them out after the holidays.

Link to comment

Check the profile of these two NW cachers.

 

Fractal & Kiwimonster

 

Fractal is a puzzle 'god' in these parts. All of his puzzle caches are elaborate, well thought out and wonderfully interesting. The Contact Cache an Pi are good examples of his creativity. He has also incorporated puzzle caches into events that have become legendary in Portland (See The Game & Broken Arrow for examples).

 

Kiwi's puzzles receive rave reviews up here, but sadly I've only done one due to general laziness/busyness on my part.

 

I want to second what Navdog said - finding a good location for the final cache is just as important as making the puzzle good.

Link to comment

I have created quite a number of puzzle caches. People have said they like them, so they must at least not be terrible.

 

Here are my criteria for what makes a good puzzle cache:

  • It must be solvable. That may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised. Some people think that putting out an unsolvable cache proves that they are smarter than anyone else. In reality, creating an unsolvable puzzle is trivially easy.
  • It must require less tedium to solve than it does to create. Nobody is interested in a puzzle cache that requires hours of work to solve, especially when creating the puzzle was easy for the hider. On the other hand, I greatly appreciate a puzzle that took hours to create but can be quickly solved after the right flash of insight.
  • Don't make people solve long, tedious puzzles on the road. There's nothing wrong with a multicache that contains puzzles, but I would find a multi for which each stage took hours to solve infuriating. The best puzzle caches are those for which any time-consuming problems can be solved before starting on the hunt, IMO.
  • When the right answer is obtained, it must clearly be the right answer. I've done a couple of puzzles where there were several possible "right" answers that all gave reasonable coordinates. I dislike those because there is no way to tell that you've solved the puzzle correctly.
  • In retrospect, the puzzle solution must make sense. That means that everything in the puzzle fits together. Ideally, everything should fit into a single storyline that enhances the cache.
  • No obscure red herrings. Oscure clues in the cache name or description are great, but making those clues intentionally misleading makes for a frustrating caching experience.

Anybody else have ideas about what makes a good or bad puzzle cache?

 

FizzyMagic,

YOU ARE my hero! I wish all those who have created puzzles in our area would have read your words of wisdom! We here in the Northern Virginia area have been unfortunately blessed with some of the most powerful brains in the universe. I believe that those with such awesome powers often forget themselves and create puzzles that are practically unsolvable. Then, there are those of us who are relatively new to the sport of Geocaching and would like to learn how to solve them, but the cache creators are elusive and unwilling to part with their knowledge. Then what? Well, I have left many cahces untouched because of such attitudes. Thus, infuriation abounds within me towards those who would create a cache with the intent of it never being found to prove to themselves just how awesome their brain pans are. Again, thank you for your words of wisdom. Semper Fidelis.

 

Major_Dad

Link to comment

What FizzyMagic said.

 

I would add that in order to make sure a puzzle can be solved I like to email my puzzles to someone out of state and have them solve the puzzle. I have been a combination beta-tester/FTF on more than one puzzle cache. This can be maddening if there are typos or other problems in the puzzle. Once somebody double-encrypted using rot-13 and then Playfair (if I recall correctly). The problem was that the encoding wasn't reversible. I had them switch the order of the encoding process and it worked fine.

 

In my opinion all of the necessary info to solve the puzzle should be available when the cache is placed. If you have to add hints later then the puzzle is not properly constructed.

 

One of my favorite puzzle caches of mine is "Each Chord Went Thud" I placed the key to solving the puzzle inside the cache. And yet the cache was found within a few days.

Link to comment

GC10JQ1-Hazmat101

http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_detai...6e-9a34ee32655d.

 

Me being a firefighter, I had to throw this one out there. Also it is right next to the local city fire station which houses the haz mat unit.

 

GC116TC-OxfordTown

http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_detai...d9-d4b4f01a5ef8

 

This puzzle alot of people are still trying to figure out. Only 1 person has found it without any help.

Link to comment

I have a pair of caches out there - Chalogical #1 and Chalogical #2 - which require you to solve a logic puzzle and do a bit of research on my other cache listings... but once you solve the one puzzle, you have the coords, container type, and general hiding method for both caches. Not many people find the caches, but that's okay... I just enjoy it more when someone does! And they seem to enjoy the challenge, too. :unsure:

Link to comment

This is perhaps the best piece of advice I've seen in this thread.

 

[*]When the right answer is obtained, it must clearly be the right answer. I've done a couple of puzzles where there were several possible "right" answers that all gave reasonable coordinates. I dislike those because there is no way to tell that you've solved the puzzle correctly.

 

And this is perhaps the worst.

 

Make the subject of the cache something you enjoy eg they have to find out dates that famous footballers won awards etc..

 

I've done quite a few puzzle caches and skipped many, many more. All of the ones I've bothered to do have been caches where I could solve a puzzle of some kind and end up with a concrete answer that either gave me the coordinates or gave me numbers to plug in and get the coordinates. I've done puzzle/multi-caches where you had to get the answers from clues at the first stage and ones that could be solved without leaving my desk, but only once did I ever try to solve the location for a puzzle based on obscure triva about someone's pet subject. Doing web research for the size of victoria secret's model's breasts or the episode number in whcih the lead character in Gilmore Girls got married is the last thing I'd want to do to solve a puzzle.

 

I suppose I could bend that rule if the questions were reasonably concrete and could be tracked down without days of reading inane triva (the atomic number of carbon as a digit for example) but I could care less about how many strokes Tiger Woods had in the fourth round of the Masters Cup (which year? which course?)

 

Just my opinion of course.

 

AK

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Followers 3
×
×
  • Create New...