Difference between revisions of "How to Host a BANG"
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==== 5. Hints ====
==== 5. Hints ====
Two main schools of thought on this: Custom vs. prepackaged hints
Two main schools of thought on this: Custom vs. prepackaged hints.
All often, pre-packaged hints are either minimally or never testedcan players if the hints are unclear, confusing, or leave out steps. Be sure to get feedback from playtesters or find new playtesters just to test the hints
==== 6. Volunteers ====
==== 6. Volunteers ====
Revision as of 08:18, 23 October 2015
Hosting a BANG is simple: Get a team, write some puzzles, test those puzzles (repeatedly), make lots of copies, and hand them out to teams who walk by at a specific location at a specific date and time. Tell teams if they get the answer right, or help them find their way. Determine who won, if anyone. Kick back with your favorite drink with the knowledge a job well done.
Want more in-depth advice? Read on!
- 1 The Responsibility
- 2 Initial Planning
- 3 Development
- 4 Production
- 5 BANG Day!
"Any team that regularly plays in BANG should plan to produce one at some point."
The Bay Area Night Game is produced by volunteers only. If you don't put one on, who will? It is a tremendous responsibility, but don't be cowed by that. Your BANG can be as easy or hard as you want, as simple or complex as you want. If you decided to hand out six standard paper puzzles (word searches, crosswords, cryptograms, etc.), teams would still come and enjoy themselves. Set expectations ahead of time - "This BANG will consist mostly of standard puzzles of middling difficulty" for instance - but people will be grateful, happy, and have a good time.
In addition, it will help inspire other teams to run their own BANGs. To paraphrase Frank Herbert, "The BANGs must flow!" Help be part of that.
There are lots of ways to go about producing a BANG and most of these ideas should be taken as suggestions, not rules. Find your own way of planning that works for you. You will need a few things to get started, though:
1. Assemble Game Control!
Get a team of about 4-6 people together that can work together to put on a BANG. Start having regular meetings. Don't have a team? No problem! Post a message to the BANG mailing list and you will find that people are more than willing to support you.
2. Develop a theme!
Figure out what, if anything, you want to link your puzzles together. Use your favorite TV show or movie for inspiration. Create a unique story or use an novel idea. Be inspired by a major (or minor!) holiday.
3. Location, Location, Location
You don't need to know where every puzzle is going to be located at the start. If you don't already have a specific location in mind, at least pick a Bay Area county (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma) and narrow it to a city or geographic location (park, campus, etc.).
4. When's it gonna be?
Pick a date to host your BANG. Or at least the month; you can firm up an actual day as you get closer. Have one team member be in charge of keeping the schedule up to date and keeping people on schedule. BANGs usually take 3-6 months to produce, with possibly time off for winter/holiday months. Any longer than that, and you may be in danger of losing focus and abandoning the project.
When it comes time to pick a specific date, you want to avoid holidays, big events, and perhaps-not-yet-announced other puzzle hunts. Make sure your planned date doesn't fall on Yom Kippur or the Superbowl, for example. Puzzle Hunt Calendar has a cabal of secret-keeping folks who know the planned dates of many announced and unannounced events; ask them about the date you're considering.
5. Length? Night or day?
Have an idea of how long you want your BANG to last. Three hours is probably the minimum; anything longer than eight hours and you risk exhausting your audience.
Do you want to run your BANG during the day or the night? Technically, the "N" in BANG stands for "night" and the game was originally held at night. However, night games are several orders more challenging and limiting than day games (if you are a member of the Mailing List, read this post on the drawbacks of night games). These challenges can be overcome, but many teams prefer to run their games during the day. The choice is yours.
Okay, you've got all the conceptualizing you need to get started. Now comes the hard part: Actual work. And usually the best way to work is to start at the end and work towards the beginning.
1. The Meta
A meta puzzle (AKA the meta) is not a required but most BANGs have them. It links all the previous puzzles together. Popular ways to do this is using previous puzzles' answers, solving mechanisms, and/or physical parts. Test and firm up the meta first so all other puzzle will feed into a relatively stable puzzle.
You don't have to be a puzzle expert to write a puzzle. It will take a little practice to write good ones, though. A smooth-working fun puzzle is usually preferred to an elegant puzzle, though elegant puzzles are a pleasure in and of themselves. The number of puzzles usually is between 6 and 10.
Want to know what makes a good puzzle? Test each puzzle at each step of the way: Conception, proof-of-concept, first draft, each iteration, and then the dry-run. Dry-run is where the (hopefully) final copy is tested by a team in a practice run of the BANG.
4. Find Puzzle Installations
Get your team together and do some location scouting. Figure out where to have puzzles handed out. Safe places with access to bathrooms and/or food, protected from the elements with good places to sit is always preferable, but work with what you have. Ask businesses if you can use their building (many are happy to help) or if they can hand out puzzles. Since BANGs are on foot, walking time between puzzle sites probably should average 5-10 minutes. Get your route nailed down and then walk it yourself from start to finish.
A helpful tip: Find an ending location first. Many restaurants have a back room that you can rent out, or will let you use for free if you promise a certain number of people will actually order food. Community centers, lodges (Odd Fellows for example), churches, dance halls, etc., also may have a room to rent. Ending in a park is always an option, but many players like to sit down and talk about their experiences with food and drink.
5. Plan activities
Optional but fun step: Required physical activities to find the next puzzle installation or to actually receive the puzzle. Have teams kick a field goal, win a game of Nim, or beat another team at horseshoes. Nothing dangerous, but unique, fun, and not a puzzle.
These are some of the non-puzzley steps needed to make a BANG run. Many of them can be done at the same time as the Development.
1. Announcing your event
When you feel confident enough that your will be prepared to host your BANG on your selected date, there are three main places to make the announcement: This website, the BANG Mailing List, and the Puzzle Hunt Calendar. You are certainly welcome to make an early announcement that simply mentions that your team is planning on hosting a BANG and further details are coming, but please read the Announcement Note first.
You will need a website to post information about your event, when and where it is, when it begins, how long it lasts, equipment to bring, the expected difficulty, and/or walking time. The simplest method is to create a new wiki page on this website. You could also create a static webpage on your own domain. Some teams have put extensive work into their websites, with pre-game puzzles, interactive story-lines, flashy graphics, and the like. It is up to you, your team's ability, and the time you have.
You'll want teams to sign-up in advance, so you know how many copies of everything to make. There are multiple ways to do this, the simplest being taking emails or using Google Docs. Once accepted, teams could then send you the money for participation in whatever way works best for you. It's generally not a good idea to take payments at the time of the event. Many teams are now taking advantage of websites such as Eventbrite to handle sign-ups and payments together, though those websites often add a surcharge onto every ticket.
Many BANGs are scored. Some are not. Some use a hand-calculated scoring method and some design custom software. Many teams are now making use of ClueKeeper, an app for the iPhone and Android devices that takes a large amount of the burden of handling answers, hints, directions, story, event flow, scoring, etc. automatically. The drawback is that there is a charge ($10 per team as of this writing) that will need to be taking into account for your budget.
Two main schools of thought on this: Custom vs. prepackaged hints.
If you are using prepacked hints, some drafts should be written during puzzle design. Now that the puzzles are in near-production mode, the hints should be finalized before the dry-run. Adjust based on the results of the dry-run. All too often, pre-packaged hints are either minimally or never tested. This can frustrate players if the hints are unclear, confusing, or leave out steps. Be sure to get feedback from previous playtesters or find new playtesters just to test the hints.
Custom hints are great, but can lead to tricky logistics. Teams need a way to talk to GC at each clue site. For the first few puzzles, before teams spread out, probably several teams will want hints at the same time. For these first few puzzles, you'll want to make easy for GC to hint quickly: easy to see what players have done so far, quick to explain the "Aha".
In the past, puzzles have been hidden or left in the open for teams to find. There are obvious drawbacks to this. Having a volunteer or two at each puzzle installation to guard or hand out puzzles is now almost a requirement. In addition to your team members, you can ask friends, family and/or dry-run participants help out. If you're still short volunteers, send out a message to the Mailing List. Help will come.
7. The Dry-Run
With everything designed and tested, there's one final step to make sure your BANG runs smoothly: A full test of everything in as close a state to the actual event as possible. This is your dress rehearsal, a last chance to find flaws. This usually happens 2-4 weeks before the actual event, to give time for final changes and the full production of puzzles.
There will almost always be teams that are unable to make your selected date or get wait-listed. Offer a few of them a chance to play. Two or three teams is usually enough, especially if you get a good mix of beginners and experienced players. Otherwise, post to the BANG Mailing List that you are in need of teams for the dry-run.
Traditionally, teams are not charged to participate in the dry-run; they are doing you a favor. It is perfectly acceptable to ask or even require participants to help hand out puzzles on the actual day of the event.
Make time afterwards to get as much feedback as you can from teams. They will help you smooth out any problems that may pop up, spot flaws that no one has seen before.
One final note: Test any changes to puzzles made after the dry-run!
8. Puzzle Production
After the dry-run and any fixes that need to be made, lock down the puzzles. No further changes. Start ordering printouts of all the puzzle parts you need. Don't forget printouts of rules/instructions, waivers, answer/score sheets, or any other non-puzzley materials needed for each team. Make several extra copies of everything, in case teams lose their materials. If puzzles require custom assembly, consider having a production party. Have as many team members and volunteers who can make it get together in once place and put everything together.
If you get this done early, you'll have time to rest and recouperate before running the big event. Some teams have been known to finish production a week before their BANG actually runs. It's a lot better than getting everything together the night before.