[Edit: We've started a discussion forum for people to share information about creating hunts. It contains many how-to guides and frequently asked questions. It also contains an updated version of this blog post.
Come join us there!]
We've been asked what makes a good public hunt, and having made a few ourselves, we have some suggestions to offer.
Keep It Interesting
This is obviously the most important element. Someone is taking their precious time to follow the path you laid out, don't waste it on a bland tour of your local supermarket's aisles. Have an interesting inner city walk or challenging rural bike ride you particularly enjoy? Is there a breathtaking overlook or meditative stream few are aware of? Or perhaps you have an eye for interesting detail in an otherwise mundane everyday setting? Focus on what surprises and interests you.
There Are All Kinds of Interesting
Maybe interesting to you means highlighting seminal architecture or unusual geological formations. Maybe it's a tour of your favorite sweets shops. Maybe the interest is less in the path, and more in the details: an inspired work of art, an ironic sign, a relevant but often missed public notice.
Maybe you want to create a bucket list for others: require them to visit the best tourist sites in Seattle, or climb all the tallest mountains in the US. (Some hunts might be harder to create than others!)
Maybe you want a slow, savory hunt, or perhaps you're more interested in a fast and frantic rally, searching for the giant "W".
Whatever it is, put yourself in the shoes of your players, as they'll soon be walking in your footsteps. Is it for kids? Make sure there's space to run around without traffic, and don't take your pictures from an adult's eye level. Are these chiseled-bodied X-gamers? Make the clues extremely difficult to reach. Older couples? Keep it on a smooth, level path.
Your hunt's description should give some sense of its character. If there is difficult terrain, let people know. If it's a bar crawl, kids shouldn't be playing it, so let their parents know.
Inform people regarding how much time your hunt will require. You can do this by setting Time Required on the Hunt Details screen.
Consider The Passing of Time
Your hunt may be around for a long time. Will that painting on the wall still be here in a year? Are you in snow country? Will it melt in the spring? In either case, your clues will likely stop matching as time goes by. Try to find subjects that have a good chance of lasting for awhile.
If your hunt is public, you absolutely MUST avoid private spaces. And of course, avoid inflammatory or potentially offensive content. Your hunt will likely be removed if doesn't follow these guidelines, and your account potentially suspended.
Titles Can Be Fun
Play with your clue and hunt titles to add more texture. They can even be subtle (or not so subtle) hints, like "Under the Boardwalk". Just don't give it all away!
Choose Good Clue Subjects
People will enjoy your hunt more if the clues match consistently. To improve matching under varied conditions, here are some things to consider:
- Find subjects with good contrast and sharp edges. Organic elements like trees and bushes won't match well. Nor will mottled or regular textures, like grass, carpet, or sand. Good lighting will also ensure better contrast as well.
- Shadows matter. Klikaklu's image matching can be fooled into thinking shadows are part of the subject, and the matching may fail as light conditions change through the day. You're best off using flat elements (e.g. paintings, signs, unusual horizons) that have little likelihood of casting shadows, or using locations where natural light changes little.
- It is more difficult to match an image in direct sunlight, since it can be hard to see the screen. It works, but it will make your players squint a bit more.
Check Your Locations
The GPS in your phone is great, but it will occasionally put the pins for your clues inside walls, up trees, in the middle of a lake, etc., which might be slightly misleading to your players. Verify a clue is in the correct location by tapping Adjust on Map from the Clue Details screen. If it's off, you can drag the pin to the correct spot.
Include Hints For Difficult Clues
This isn't as hard as it sounds. You can simply take a picture of the surroundings, to lead them to the subject. You can of course get as creative as you wish, with visual or verbal riddles.
Again, consider your subjects; if they're kids, you'll want to make the hunts easy. If they can't yet read, you'll want to use pictures. And avoid references your likely audience won't understand (for example, if they aren't familiar with the graphic novel Bone, they're not going to understand references to Rat Creatures and Quiche).
Include a Reward!
While the journey itself should be the reward, you'll delight your players even more if there's something waiting for them at the end. This can be a joke, a personal anecdote/commentary about the spot they're standing on, a link to a relevant website, a silly picture, a call to meet the rest of the hunters somewhere, or some other interesting tidbit you think of.
How About You?
Got any tips of your own? We'd love to hear them in the comments!