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Moriash Moreau: My Second Life
Monday, March 21, 2005
 
SL Ideas #4: Scavenger Hunt
There may be some technical hurdles to this one, as well as some creativity required on the part of the event hosts. This is similar to an item collection quest designed for the fifth anniversary of EverQuest. Basically, the event host writes a series of clues, and the player searches through unique, interesting locations in the game world to find the objects in question.

Now, in EverQuest, this was a relatively easy proposition. The quest simply involved solving riddles involving game lore, visiting several little-seen places (for nostalgia and tourist value), killing certain mobs in those zones, and picking up specific pieces of loot. Turn in these items, and get a prize. But all the objects in EQ are predefined. In SL, it becomes a bit more difficult. However, each object in SL has a unique key identifier (or UUID). And apparently, with the right sensor script, these UUIDs can be read externally. More research is required here, but I believe that it should be possible to scan an area for all objects, and list their UUIDs. More on this later.

I propose an SL sightseeing scavenger hunt. Players would be given an attachment that would feed them clues, one at a time. These clues would lead the player to a specific location in the game world. This is the tricky bit: the clues would have to lead to one specific location in the world. It wouldn't be sufficient to say "Go find a vehicle." The clue would have to lead to a specific, unique object in a unique location. Further, these hints would have to obviously (at least as obviously as a crossword puzzle clue) result in keywords to be used in the Find Places utility. This would require considerable work on the part of the event designer to choose locations that were inobvious, challenging to find, and not simply vanity. ("Now go to see my Prim Hair store in FooBar Sim!") Ideally, this hunt would take players to interesting locations in the process.

As for the player interface, I envision a simple voice controlled attachment. This attachment would contain a notecard (suitably locked and inaccessible to players) which contains the hints, the sim location, and the UUID of the quest object. For example, one (somewhat mediocre) entry in the notecard might be:

Hallucinations and the spectre of the gun.
Sedig
[The key for the hallucinatory gun]


This would direct you to the hallucinatory gun in the Virtual Hallucinations project in Sedig. If the player has never been there (and if you haven't, you should), he can still use the Find Places function to locate it. (Of course, the clue would have to be tested to make sure that other options for search key words don't lead the player astray.) The player teleports to the appropriate landmark. When the player enters the appropriate sim, his scavenger hunt attachment gives audible and visual indications that he is close to his target. (Thus saving him time in chasing down false leads.) This will also activate a short range sensor to check for proximity to the target object. When he gets even closer, the attachment sends out a stream of particles pointing at the object with the appropriate UUID (using the particle system's point-at-target functions- will need to check the maximum range). Then, when the player gets within visual range (say about five meters), the attachment will confirm (by sensor) that the object has been found and read out the next clue. (The player will always have the option to have the clues re-read, of course.) And, perhaps, he will have seen something new and interesting along the way.

The last clue would return the players to the starting point, where the event coordinators would be on hand to officiate and judge the final winner.

To add a bit more excitement, the scavenger hunt attachments (which will be no copy, no modify, no transfer) could be placed in a modified vendor. This vendor would track all the people who purchased attachments from it. The total pot would then be given to the winner of the hunt, and the device would IM all of the contestants with a status report and directions for receiving a copy of the solutions list (if so desired).

For creating the destinations lists, perhaps a separate utility object would be required. The event creator would stand near the object and call for a scan. The scanner would list the nearest object, say its name, say its UUID, and point a stream of particles at it. If the UUID is correct, the event creator notes the UUID. If not, he calls for the next nearest item, and the next until he gets the correct object key. Obviously, stable, permanent objects would be required.

My only concern is the stability of UUIDs. I know that keys of objects change every time they are rezzed (this includes when they are created, pulled from inventory, and teleported along with an avatar as an attachment). Some testing would need to be done to see if these keys remain constant from one sim reboot to the next. I suppose that physical locations (XYZ coordinates with appropriate tolerances, say within 5m) could be used, but this would reduce the amount of help the attachment could give in finding the objects (no use of the particle stream mentioned above). I suppose some method of hot and cold games, manually directed particle streams, or compass arrows could be used when you are in the right area, but this is less satisfying and more difficult to implement.

There's several interim problems in design and execution that need to be solved, of course. But with a little work, this could be an interesting new type of event.
Comments:
Of course, people do this kind of event from time to time, with considerably lower tech methods. Oh well.

I think the idea here had its roots in Final Fantasy: the Movie. They had a similar concept. They were looking for 8 keys- 8 objects in the world that had the right paraphysical signature with the proper waveforms to counter the alien menace. (Or some hocus pocus like that.) That would be an interesting slant on the event. Send out search teams to capture the keys of specific objects in the world, and return them to complete some presumably important task (at least from a roleplaying standpoint). With the right prop design, this could be an interesting spin on the old concept.
 
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