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Call for comments!

(and would anyone like to playtest this? I have a Nokia 6220 running Gmaps, with an unlimited data plan but expensive calls..) --gwyn (talk) 2009-07-26 09:42:43

Sounds great if the GPS coverage is up to it. And probably an interesting challenge even with erratic coverage - if the Robber's signal suddenly dies in the shadow of a building, they have to decide whether to use that as "cover", or to panic and backtrack in case they're entering a GPS dead zone that's more than thirty seconds deep.

If erratic GPS is a problem, you could maybe relocate it to a relatively open park or residential area, and give the Robber a manual "cloaking" option (a software button, or a signal-proof bag) which they can use a couple of times each game, like the black "hidden movement" tokens in Scotland Yard.

I'd definitely be up to playtesting if the data load wasn't too high - I've got GPS capabilities and a halfway-decent phone, but I'm on pay-as-you-go. --Kevan (talk) 2009-07-26 14:50:03

I'm relying on GPS flakiness to make the game even possible, actually. +- 10m is a big enough area on a crowded street to give the robber a chance.

New GPS units seem to cope with London's high buildings much better. It's possible, though, that the robber will be excluded from many of the more interesting alleys by the 'GPS coverage' rule. We could change it to "the robber is not permitted indoors", and let them find the GPS shadows themselves. That makes it interesting, because if the cops figure out what's going on (based on last-known-location), they'll send one person to each end of the alley. --gwyn (talk) 2009-07-27 08:57:49

Three Mobile offer free sims with 150mb of data access after a £5 topup - which is a risk-free way to play if you have an unlocked phone. I'm using Three's PAYG, which provides unlimited data for £5 a month. --gwyn (talk) 2009-07-27 08:58:44

Thanks for the tip - a couple of SIM cards arrived today. Give me a shout when you're up for a playtest.

Interestingly, it looks like the new number can take incoming calls as soon as you put the card in your phone, without having to top it up. This should be pretty useful for setting up fire-and-forget player helplines (running Paparazzi on Saturday, life would have been slightly easier with the "newsdesk" being a separate number and phone), or plot-point mobiles that you give out to players and ring mid-game. --Kevan (talk) 2009-08-05 13:44:06

I'm on 3's £2.50 data tariff and I've never exceeded the limit - would this game tip you over, do you think?

Either way, it sounds great and I'm just near enough to Exmouth Market to make it for a lunch time (but just after work would be better!).

One question - if you register on Latitude how easy is it to un-register? I'd not been keen on being permanently tracked. People might realise how little I get up to... --Apolobamba (talk) 2009-08-06 13:32:17

As a heads up to future readers, I'm just firing up one of the SIMs for a private game of Scotland Yard tomorrow, and that £5 topup turns out to be a sneaky £10 "card verification fee" in practice (they charge ten pounds to your card to check that it's a real card, but generously give you ten pounds credit to make up for it). Still cheap, though, and I only need to make a few occasional calls on it to keep the account alive. --Kevan (talk) 2009-09-05 23:46:11

Latitude has an easy login/logout - and it doesn't track you when googlemaps isn't running. I doubt googlemaps/latitude would push you over any data limit.

Nasty about that £10 fee - why are all phone companies so slimy? Can you just buy a £5 topup at a corner store instead?

Too overwhelmed with other gaming stuff to run a test of this right now, but still want to do it at some point. --gwyn (talk) 2009-09-07 09:10:21

Nope, the £5 topup is only available online. It's all very cunning.

Still, I got 600 free texts for topping up, which is ideal for a run of Scotland Yard. --Kevan (talk) 2009-09-07 10:45:49

We ran a small playtest of this last night in central London, and it turned out that Google Latitude wasn't really up to the job - sometimes you'd get a cop or robber's location "1 minute ago", but several times it stretched as far as six or seven minutes, after which the player would pop back in in another place entirely, which made it very hard to keep up. It also turned out that different players were seeing different locations - Latitude evidently oversimplifies the accuracy of its data. There was talk of either finding an Android app that made more of an effort to keep locations up to date, or writing something from scratch.

Having said that, though, our robber enjoyed the experience, and if central London hadn't been gridlocked, I think the cops could have had a bit more freedom of movement with public transport. General agreement was that the game needs at least four cops per robber, though, (we only had two) to allow a reasonably effective dragnet. --Kevan (talk) 2010-09-09 10:29:51

Instamapper ( looks promising - wide range of supported devices, 5-second updates. It doesn't offer a mobile view that does everyone-sees-everyone tracking, but it offers an API so it would be easy to write one. --gwyn (talk) 2010-09-23 22:00:14