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Mystery Hunt 2017: That Unlocking Structure - devjoe [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
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Mystery Hunt 2017: That Unlocking Structure [Jan. 21st, 2017|10:09 am]
devjoe
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Data from Death & Mayhem about the unlocks:

  • At 7:23 PM Friday we had 12 open puzzles.

  • At 7:24 we solved Dismal Dungeon, which unlocked seven more puzzles.

  • At 7:40 we solved Thespians, which unlocked seventeen more puzzles.

  • At 8:17 we finished the first event (and solved Pentoku at the same time), and this combined to unlock fourteen more puzzles.

We solved other puzzles in the meantime which unlocked puzzles as well (including the backsolves from the Cleric meta), so at this point we had 50 puzzles open. (The plot we made from our own data shows a moment with 51 open, but it is because closing Pentoku sorted after the puzzles it unlocked.) In all, over this period of 54 minutes, we solved 16 puzzles and 1 event, and unlocked 54 puzzles.

The real problem was that solving a quest meta unlocked puzzles all over the hunt, and it could open a LOT of puzzles. It was a nicely thematic idea to have a quest meta solution level up all the characters, but the way unlocks were structured just failed with this.

Setec likes these hunt structures where puzzles from multiple rounds unlock together. They can work. We had this in Monopoly (2002), where every 3 hours you got a set of board puzzles: 11 when the hunt first started and 3-6 at a time after that. Once you solved enough puzzles to figure out how the board tour worked, you could open a set of 5 house and hotel puzzles with each new puzzle release. After that you got about 10 new puzzles at once, but nothing else for three hours, so although some teams had all the puzzles open 21 hours after the hunt started, the release schedule was relatively sane.

In Normalville (2005), solving a map puzzle unlocked up to 3 puzzles which were beyond it on the map. Solving a  meta unlocked the star round of that color and whichever of its puzzles you had reached on the map. Solving subsequent map puzzles might unlock 1-2 additional star puzzles depending on which metas you had solved, but still no more than 5 at once and that only in extreme cases.

In this hunt, well, I posted the numbers above, which might be more extreme for us than for most teams, but this is what happened. This power of quest metas worked the other way as well. I read a report of a team who couldn't solve Despondent Dynast, and they reached a point where they only had a few puzzles open on Friday evening, all of which they were stuck on. So they were feeling pretty despondent, until they completed their first event which unlocked a bunch of stuff.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: Dan Katz
2017-01-23 12:47 pm (UTC)
As I said elsewhere, I think the puzzle flood was mainly a function of (a) the quest metas being easier than we expected/intended (we didn't expect teams to have three metas done before the the first event!) and (b) being too safe with the unlock numbers within quest rounds (totally my fault).

For (b), all of the unlocks were within a span of 2-3 levels (for different characters) and they were set up so that if a team just barely reached a quest unlock (which would be likely if you got there by leveling up characters) you'd likely have about three puzzles open, no matter how your levels were distributed at that tipping point. But as it turns out, if you did a lot of your progression by solving quest metas, as many top teams did because of (a), you blew past the minimum unlock requirement, started the quest round with a ton of puzzles, and could focus on the easiest ones, leading to more quest meta solves and more unexpectedly fast progress, lather, rinse, repeat.
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