Talk:Scotland Yard

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The idea of a "games master" role is interesting, if they're on the side of the seekers. If you're running this with mobile phones, having someone with a map in a bunker would cut down on the number (and cost) of calls or text messages, as each group of hiders would only need to make one call each, and the games master need only contact the seekers who were within range. (You could even make it a bit Treasure Hunt, with a few seeker-team players sitting back in the bunker, poring over maps and trying to work out where the hiders are headed.)

Once you've got a second group of players, you could even run this remotely, with the bunker being in another city entirely. --Kevan (talk) 2009-04-25 12:30:47

Actually, I suppose in this day and age, this could run on a technology like Twitter. Every five minutes, each hider sits down and sends off the text-message they wrote five minutes ago; they then compose a new one describing their current location, and leave it to send next time.

Not everyone has the phone for it, but I imagine the percentages are high enough that you could definitely get a bunch of high-tech hiders, and enough seekers to lead a few groups. You could even ramp up the paranoia by making the game public, and allowing anyone in the city to be a seeker, simply by following the Twitter feed and being told to look out for people in armbands.

Using Twitter would also be great for having a permanent record of each hider's route, which you could map afterwards - or even on the fly. I missed Sandpit #11, but the huge, projected Twitter feed seemed pretty great. --Kevan (talk) 2009-05-11 12:52:16

I really like this.

As a possible extension: how about the hiders having to post pictures taken with their camera phone? Perhaps it's a little bit too much of an Orange Wednesday-esque idea, but it would give the control room people (or observers online) something to do rather than just farming out information to hunter teams.

(Obviously, this would require some guidelines about how defining photos would have to be, but if you had some of the people from Guess Where London involved then you could still make them reasonably obscure.) --Josher (talk) 2009-05-14 13:28:32

You mean sending out a photo every five minutes, instead of a plain text announcement? That sounds like fun, but puts the hiders under a lot of pressure to strike a fair balance between "guessable photos" and "saving their skin". Which is going to be hard, when running for your life. Having felt the blazing, irrational paranoia of Journey - where every chaser feels like an unstoppable robot night-vision ninja - I can imagine hiders might misjudge their opponents and err too much on the side of caution. (There also might be some of the narrative psychology that we've seen in Checkpoint, where if a team think the game narrative is setting them up as the "good guys", they can feel justified in fudging the rules a little to achieve their goal. That lurking near the British Museum and sending in a close-up photo of a postcard of Big Ben is a cunning ruse that we'll all laugh about afterwards, rather than an annoying cheat that other players will resent when the hiders get away.)

Would be interesting to run this variant with actors as hiders, though, who deliberately are playing fair. You could even drop the five-minute delay, and assume that the hiders will have a couple of minutes to get away while the seekers work out what the photograph is of. --Kevan (talk) 2009-05-14 20:27:19

Oh! Which is pretty much Igfest's Moose Hunt, actually. But condensing it to run in a shorter timespan, with the pictures being deliberate puzzles, might be interesting.

(See also The Hat Game, from the same designers, where players had to track down and claim a bowler hat that was pinging out a GPS signal every few minutes.) --Kevan (talk) 2009-05-14 20:31:10

Testing again. --Holly (talk) 2009-05-17 16:38:08

And again. --Holly (talk) 2009-05-17 16:40:52

Interesting to see someone successfully doing the Twitter-trailing thing as a stalking experiment (he ended up using a linked pedometer route and guessing at his target's hotel, but the opening moves are good).

We should definitely give this a go some time. It'd work with a handful of players (even just two), but if we announce it on Twitter beforehand and give it a bit of easy-to-link web presence, I'm sure we could drag a good number of random Twitter users in. --Kevan (talk) 2009-08-13 11:38:18

I ran a small variant of this yesterday, with a few rule changes. The hiders were "tourists" who were given a map with fifteen landmarks on it, and they got a point for each one they visited. Instead of calling in every five minutes with a delayed signal, they just had to send a text message to each of the seekers (via a simple "group" setup on their phone) when they arrived at a landmark.

offsite image link And it worked pretty well, with the hiders getting four landmarks before everyone had caught them - the game ended after I, the final seeker, ran from Hungerford Bridge to Trafalgar Square on a hunch, and arrived just in time to get a text confirming that they were in the area.

In retrospect, I can see how the five-minute rule makes things more interesting for the seekers - there was a full half hour between the hiders' first and second landmarks, which left the seekers a bit adrift (and, at least for me, anxious that the delay was maybe because they'd seen me waiting at my predicted landmark, and headed somewhere else).

The multiple landmarks seemed like a useful hybrid of the "safehouse" and "scavenger hunt" models of the original - the hiders didn't need to hit every landmark to win, so picking one and guarding it wasn't a guaranteed seeker tactic, but you could try to predict the direction they were headed in. I suppose you probably need around twice as many checkpoints as seekers, for this to work fairly.

I'd forgotten about the "no public transport" rule, which also makes a lot of sense in retrospect. (I think they ended up walking the whole thing, but I was speculatively guarding a distant tube exit at one point.)

One other change I made, for the sake of sociability (we were running the game for friends who were visiting London), was that when the seekers caught the hiders, they just joined the hider team and carried on playing. The actual scoring was that the hiders (and the joined seekers) got 1 point per landmark, and seekers got 5 points for finding the hiders. (So the hiders would win if they got through six landmarks before being caught, and the seekers could compete against each other either way.) There were apparently some attempts to lose the first seeker that joined the team, though, which might be worth thinking about.

The other change I'd make in future is that the hiders should have to send out a text whenever they encounter a seeker (either being caught by one, or noticing one in the distance). Holly caught the hiders early on, but I was innocently texting her as if she was still a seeker, clumsily giving away my location. It'd also be nicely dramatic to be told, via text, that the hiders had just spotted you and legged it.

I've now got a spare SIM card with around 550 free text messages left on it (and 89 days before they expire), so if you ever want to give another variant of this a go, Josh, let me know. --Kevan (talk) 2009-09-08 16:14:24


I need to have a think about the rules. Doing it by text message seems to work really well, and incorporating the hiders into the game - "gain points for every landmark you snap" - has a lot of charm. I think it would be fun with multiple hiders and multiple teams of seeker - adding a "I'm in Trafalgar Square but seeker team B is in Holborn, I wonder who can get to the other end of the Strand first?" element. --Josher (talk) 2009-09-17 13:49:10

Played the text message version of this again last night, with the added rule that we all had grid-referenced maps, and the hider had to broadcast her location at least every five minutes.

The big lesson was that continually broadcasting your location (and making witty in-character remarks) is hard work for the hider. One post-game suggestion that emerged was that the hider could use something like Google Latitude to broadcast their location to a gamesmaster figure, who (from the comfort of their home) could translate them into grid references and send the text messages to the seekers. Going back to the start of this thread, this could either be a passive moderation role, or an active player who also fields incoming messages from the seekers, and attempts to coordinate them.

This is edging towards becoming Intercept, though. --Kevan (talk) 2009-10-27 10:27:01

I would quite like to play Intercept at some point. --Josher (talk) 2009-10-27 10:28:35

You could use walkie-talkies instead of phones for this. When myself and a few friends ran Mr. Smith in September, we used walkie-talkies to confirm actor-switching: the switching was at roughly ten minute intervals, but as we weren't allowed to switch when the seekers were watching, we had to confirm them.

The battery life was pretty good for about an hour and a half of gameplay (we used Binatone and BT ones), and they generally have DC input on the walkie talkies, so you could have them attached to and external battery pack for long games.

Playing at night would seriously rock, but might make it slightly too much like Journey. --Peads (talk) 2009-11-10 11:56:02

The original ruleset actually uses walkie-talkies! We've just been mutating it a lot in recent playtests.

This probably does need to be split into two distinct games, so that we can refine them both - the last text-message playtest definitely felt like it would have been better with walkie-talkies and a collaborative detective team, for the ten minutes when Agent X was at Big Ben and every other player happened to have arrived in the vicinity. --Kevan (talk) 2009-11-11 19:52:04

Triffid Yard

I ran this as Triffid Yard in Kew Gardens today, with walkie talkies. The game design had Agent X radioing in whenever he liked, to announce that he'd "planted a Triffid seed" in a grid reference, the victory condition being to plant them in ten separate squares within a time limit and without being caught. (This forced him to choose between planting a lot of seeds efficiently and giving away his exact trajectory, and skipping over squares and doubling back to keep the seekers guessing.)

We played it so that when a seeker caught Agent X, they joined his team and walked with him (under evil Triffid spore control, so unable to radio back to the other seekers beyond a simple "ulp, Triffid spores" farewell) for the remainder of the game. Still not sure if this is more or less interesting than just calling the end of the game as soon as he's caught - it did get a little unwieldy when most of the players had caught him.

There could be some mileage in giving Agent X the option to abandon his attached seekers at any time (which happened once, but we regrouped when the seeker had caught the already-converted seekers); a chance at freedom, in exchange for reactivating those seekers. This is a bit weird because it means - if you have to have every seeker catching Agent X to overpower him - the optimum tactic is to hang back and never actually catch him until everyone can catch him at once. But maybe that would actually be quite good as an explicit game mechanic - the seekers have to coordinate to surround Agent X, stalking him while relaying instructions back, and can only capture him if all of them (or maybe just a 50% quorum) are present to make the arrest. --Kevan (talk) 2010-04-10 18:59:51