Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong or Treasure Hunters Anomaly Report
This is an English translation of the original Russian report. Some phrases have been replaced by less epic ones, as I could not translate them. I apologise for the poor English. If anything, we've never had to wear masks outside, and the pandemic has already abated.
It is not customary to write a report on failed operations. I can count on the fingers of one hand the stories of epic failures. If I can even remember such material. I wonder if the fact that this report exists would suggest that the April 3rd anomaly was in fact a success. Moving away from philosophical musings, the case was this...
General photo at the finish!
15 February 2020. The date of the first edition of the rules and by and large it was not very different from the resulting one. Only the artifacts were not 9 of 7 kinds, but 15 of 12 kinds. The rules were sent in personal messages to five unlucky guys who were used to reading my crazy ideas and they were all evaluated from "Artifacts certainly add some complexity" to "Even 10 minutes of thinking about it didn't help to understand the main principle".
There was even a suggestion to play without artifacts, but it is beyond me, because the initial idea was that one gets an artifact, complete instructions for it and already on the spot orient what to do with it. Although "[to play without artifacts] seems boring to you, because you were sitting over the thoughts for a long time :)" had some sense.
To gauge the scale of the disaster, here's a concept of one of the artifacts that didn't come in:
10. Spaceship Shaper Green Herringbone fragrance
Breathe in the smell of concentrated XM! At the next checkpoint, you will receive 1.2 times the amount of coins for cell control, rounded up.
Example: The Resistance used a herringbone at 0:25 minutes, i.e. before the 2nd checkpoint. Therefore at the 3rd checkpoint at 0:45 minutes, if they were to receive 11 coins for cell control, they would receive 11x1.2=13.2 -- 14 coins.
Enter the code received with the herringbone to activate it. The cost of the sale is 10 coins. The activation of the herringbone will not be reported to the channel!
The point of the artefact was for the team to decide to gather at this checkpoint, capture as many poratls as possible, and use the item just before the checkpoint. And there was also a quantum clock that would instantly activate the cutoff at any time. Balanced.
The anomaly was scheduled for April, but Covid adjusted plans somewhat and the expedition was postponed for the whole year.
The first map of the anomaly. More hexagons
24 January. Paradoxically, the period of greatest activity in Ingress is in winter. This phenomenon deserves a separate study, but no matter how one looks at it, I was frankly bored after passing an excellent exam in every sense. There's still no normal travel to other cities, everything is closed, so out of boredom I decided to dig through my old billets.
The next day one of the testers still managed to knock into my head that such a number of artefacts is very difficult. After one heated argument I only held on to 7 species out of 12, but in fact held on to only one... which even in the final report is still too early to talk about.
So, the rules have been finalised. It remained to tweak the previously written terms of reference for potential scoring bot writers. As much as suddenly, one of them, Dreid, my long-time (fifth from Enlightened) partner in the IngressFS organization, turned out to have moved into a house 15 minutes away from mine a month ago.
My reaction to literally every aspid in the game, accompanied by a rather loud voiceover
On 3 February the first meeting to discuss the organisation of the anomaly was held, which smoothly devolved into kicking bugs at Hollow Knight and throwing cats at the Guild of Dungeoneering. Another meeting was held and the main dates were set after all. The event was announced, the rules arrived, which strangely enough didn't generate much discussion. Now I know that this is where it all went wrong.
How not to prepare an event
There's not much I can say about the process of developing the bot, as I might not be competent in this area:
- Set yourself deadlines for all tasks, and then push them all back at least two weeks, because the worst enemy of an organiser is optimism
- It's never too late to take advantage of people. They will be glad to help you, if you explain everything to them in a sufficiently interesting way.
In fact, if you follow these two simple rules, you will finish the bot not 15 minutes after the start. And now closer to my **** ups.
Mistake #1. During all the time since the announcement of the event I have focused on understanding the rules by all participants. Absolutely everyone must know how to play it, at least at a level: perform tasks, open cells, capture the portals to the checkpoint. About the artifacts could not bother to explain, but here the testers literally begged to talk about them to understand how they work, and plus they came out not the worst promo materials.
...materials and internal memes
And that turned out to be a fundamentally flawed approach. I could not even imagine that one could read the rules literally a day before an anomaly and not understand anything and feel even quite myself.
The truth, however, turned out to be irrationally simple: get the players to the start, and as for the rules, the participants will figure it out for themselves. That's not to say that I completely missed this point, but it wasn't in the first paragraph everywhere, so it was painful to watch the teams' preparations in the last few days.
Mistake #2. After looking at the feedback from the teams, the frequency of the registration plate review by the people in charge who added people to the teams, I asked for chats and added everyone myself, because "well you can't be that irresponsible!" At least with the Resistance.
As much as I did not set myself up or tell myself that "let them figure it out for themselves, it would be their own fault for not being prepared," I still spent a lot of time adding players and communicating with them within the teams. Still, I should have been in contact with the captains only.
Monument to the agents rendering operations in IITC. Photo to the F7 cell assignment
Mistake #3. If you are trying to remove as many Ingress community terms as possible so that new agents aren't afraid to play, then do it differently than I did, for "captain" = "teamlead" and "team" = "faction" wasn't clear to everyone! Although it's a mystery to me how anyone could not understand that in order to participate you have to come to St. Petersburg alive or be an operator. And there were cases like that! Covid syndrome, I guess.
Mistake #4. The development of souvenir products (merch) and prizes should be done by a person who knows how to do it. At least, he must understand what he wants who is responsible for the storyline and the other general sense of the anomaly, in order to draw exactly what this simpleton really means. And in general, it's better to organize an anomaly with at least three or four people, rather than just the two of them.
The rules were everywhere. Even on the biocards
While I was on my way to the start completing the remaining entries in the info channel, I had a feeling something might go wrong. Mainly because I was simultaneously answering to the developer what the point value of this artifact should be, and how best to display the grid of cells in the screenshot that the bot would send to people in response to the request.
On arriving at the starting point I immediately realised mistake #5: take some pebbles with you as a stoner to your materials. A rare drizzle and +4 C° I didn't really notice, although it's a bit chilly for early April here, but the wind pestered the printed task sheets and the codes for opening the cells for the teams.
14:50. The bot developer, Dreid, called and asked for the start to be postponed by 15 minutes. From that point on, I put an emotional block on myself so I wouldn't be distracted by something I could no longer fix. I just wished everyone good luck, laid out my worksheets and thought about nothing.
Mistake #6. Very inopportune happened to postpone the start of the anomaly by 15 minutes, when the agents had already received the tasks for the first cells. In fact, they had already completed 2 out of 3 tasks before the start, and when I got photos and videos from 6-7 people, I immediately realized that the tasks were too easy. Initially I had allocated 5 minutes to complete them. Some required more, some less. Most tasks were completed in 2-3 minutes.
Because of this moment and the rule that opens the cell team receives the task immediately, and the second in 3 minutes, a snowball has formed. That is, by the time a task appeared in the channel, it had already been completed by another team. I can say straight away that these three minutes will be reduced to about one minute.
The grading process itself was surprisingly good. It was much faster to rate several people's submissions and send the codes than the one minute I set aside for it. There were a lot of good videos, photos and other stuff to adorn this report now. For example, the assignment for F3 was "Any nursery rhyme in Estonian in front of the consulate on video. We're a European city." And it came out like this:
I don't know if the agent knows Estonian, but this is now one of my favourite tasks. In general it was really hard to write tasks, as some of the squares were too empty, and asking about portals was too difficult, as looking at a picture of a portal, again, was too easy. Another task on A6 "Near the entrance to the dance academy, find the Artifact and Lawson in it. You owe the picture" I wrote only 2 days before the start: just passing by, saw the name of the shop, automatically looked at the shop windows and found an empty bottle of William Lawson's whisky. It was impossible not to write about it and, in the end, the bottle was found by going right inside, rather than photographing the window from outside. My respect for completing the assignment like that.
It was probably because of the quests that people were so taken with the anomaly that the anomaly was remembered. They were different, had to do with the game and the environment, and involved both photo and video performances. There was even a code-solving task, but they didn't have time to solve it. I'm attaching a separate document with the tasks for the open cells here, but the unexplored ones will stay with me for now.
15:58. When did I realise the event had failed? Actually, already after the second elimination, after the message that the current score is 48:0. In favour of the Resistance. And I remembered that I had just sent plenty of codes to the Enlightened. Yes, there was still an emotional block on the whole bot thing, but part of me had already accepted that what you had been preparing for for a year and a half had failed miserably.
16:10. A message came back saying that a typo had been found in the bot. The letter E was replaced by R, and all opening codes, of which each cell had two: Resistance and Enlightened, were counted for Resistance. The following is an excerpt from private messages with permission:
Typos :) Whoever opened it counts for Resistance.
The letter R instead of E.
That's it. I can be crucified, I blew it.
Fix it, shish!
D: It is not fixable :( If you send codes from one cell to one team only - then I can with the timings "replay" the whole game.
N: Ok, write in the score channel without points for opening cells
Then we'll add it up.
D: No, I give up.
N: Don't give up on me
D: It's a unfixible mess. Blame it on me.
N: Here's the situation, stop posting to the channel and write that it's all
D: "Due to a buggy programmer, the event is declared a failure"?
N: As it comes.
Mistake #7. If someone is very upset, take everything they say as seriously as when they are in their proper state. Much to my relief, I was immediately shooed away and asked to delete Dreid's post in the channel. I went in, read it, swore off it again and deleted it. Because even if you're super upset, you're still the organiser, and together you're equally responsible for everything that happened. Your mood translates directly into the way the event is run right now, and the feeling of participating agents depends on it. In short, you shouldn't be broadcasting emotions into official channels.
Life after failure
Suddenly, it exists. The way the agents reacted, hardly half of whom came from other regions... I didn't expect that. I can't say that not a single participant expressed anything negative at all: when asked by an agent who had just arrived from Isalek "what should I say to those I invited along", I mechanically replied "technical problems" and immediately mentally cursed myself, as this was literally the worst possible answer. And yet there was no negativity at all. I was about to call out to everyone, to start explaining what had happened, although there was no thought of what I wanted to tell them at all. But I was immediately pulled away from everyone, probably so as not to spoil the not yet fully consolidated positive perception of what had happened, reinforced by the story about the one-letter typo.
That was LonelyShadow4x4, who herself has been involved in organising DOSAAF trophy-raids cups (jeeps ride off-road in mud for several days, but these are actually elaborate routes). A lot of the clever thoughts here came precisely from my conversation with her after the anomaly. We had sort of planned to get together a couple of days after the event was over, but it turned out like this. At the same time as trying to perceive and remember the conversation, I realised that without 1-2 points, I was doing everything I said with enough purpose to object: wait, I did it here and here. The third part of my brain remarked that you didn't do it very well, since you're standing here now, so keep quiet and don't interfere with the first one.
Then I was pulled out again to, what struck me again, sign the bio-cards made for the anomaly (mistake #8, if you write "Seat for Seal" on the card, check to see if you have that seal, and if you gave it to someone else a year ago while still alive FS). A little inwardly confused, but with a smile on my face, I did it all, took my picture and, in the company of Linych, whose prizes for winning the anomaly (I even gave her half off on a new wood poker to make them!) were left lying idle, wandered towards the underground.
General photo of the Resistance team
At the last minute, I decided to go to the Resistance after-party, which was the best decision I made all day. Yes, I didn't feel much better on the inside, but the people who were there were certainly able to cheer me up. For example, one dialogue happened:
Me: Hey, can I at least buy you a beer?
Brain: Are you buying me a drink? Then give me a Jägermeister at once, what's the use?
Me: Thanks, I'm not much of a drinker.
(Sounds of increased merriment at the table)
The Resistance also had that triple jackal anomaly map printed on wattan that I posted in the channel. Eventually, signed by everyone present, it went on the wall in a flat in Vladivostok, 9500 kilometres away by car. It's a good thing I didn't let the invitation pass my ears.
An ingenious solution
The results of the Treasure Hunters anomaly
And for those who could stand my moral outpouring, we raised the logs, restored the chronology of events and are ready to report who won the competition after all. Here is the final table of results
- Cells E4 (about the spire) and D5 (about the plaque to Lenin) are recognised as dual, i.e. the tasks were poorly worded, so points are awarded to both teams - 4 each at a premium.
- According to the data raised, it was the Resistance that fell into the Pitfall trap. And in both, so -20 points to them in bonuses.
- Between the 5th and 6th checkpoint, the Enlightened managed to open 2 boxes, but the 6th checkpoint didn't happen, so they just got 8 points for it
In total, the first full-fledged but unsuccessful unofficial Treasure Hunters anomaly is won by Enlightened with a score of 140 to 50.
Final map at the time of the 5th checkpoint. No colour - no team controls half the portals, blue/green controls half, dark blue/green controls all portals in the cell.
Unfortunately, this score reflects little of what such a scoring system can lead to. Not a single artifact chest has been opened, although the Resistance almost managed to do so (no time to answer why they think the portal in the background qualifies as "mystical", although I did not see it in the background there at all). As a consequence, not a single artifact was used / sold, which is a significant addition to the score. Only 5 cutscenes out of 12 were played, which means that by holding many cells, Resistance could easily defeat Enlightenment in the last hour of the game, as you can only open a cell once, but you can hold it as many times as you like.
Charming the magic box to open it
I don't know where else to put it, so here. The artifact with the anomaly's lore page has not been opened, making plans for a logical storyline to future events already in question. An Ingress plot curse, no less.
Feedback from participants
@a1mirr, operator: @NikaKor in spite of what happened, I am very pleased with the event) Overall, the format is fine, the tasks are also excellent, the size of the cells are also as necessary (in the opinion of the operator). I would like to have a better technical and usability from the bot, as well as a slight overhaul of the balance. Rewards for opening to lower or redesign (the farther a cell from the centre, the more: 1,2,3,4 depending on the distance, taking into account the diagonals, for example). More penalties for bruteforcing answers (in some places, it is strongly desirable). Additional reward for controlling a cell several times in a row. To have more motivation to go and think 😬. Overall, I also liked the fact that there were more cells than agents. Closer to the end would have been very interesting.
On a technical note:
- intermediate score after cutoffs
- map posts after cutoffs (with recently captured cells boldly highlighted)
- overall map legend
- an "actual tasks" command (I know I lacked management, but that would be nice too)
- a properly working bot 😬😬😬😬
Yeah, I was bombarded with answers about E1 about the theatrical playbill although the code should have been guessed and entered completely by themselves without my help.
The task "There are green dancing men in the window of a house opposite another sports place. Repeat the pose of one of them in the photo or video" for cell G4
Tiliia: @NikaKor, the event turned out great anyway. Let today show the weaknesses and we'll just be a "test group" to make it even better next time. It was fun:) Test the texts of the assignment on outsiders to understand the assignment. It's based on the sign assignment, where the author intended the players to portray Lenin, but no team understood it. And based on the results of the test, maybe change the wording. But this is such a thing. Not very important, but nice)
Indeed, I was really hoping for a meme video with Lenin on D5, but what came out))
@Procyonic: Plus. Really lacked information on the actual tasks at the current moment in time. And binding actual jobs on the map. Because hell a lot of time to figure out who has already opened what and where to send the group in connection with what is not yet open. Also support the comments about the "picture of Lenin. The tasks are awesome, but the wording is lame in some places. So, ask people not involved in the game in advance how they understand what needs to be done in the task - not a bad idea. On the general impression of the event elegant. Like "What? Where? When?" (A TV programme with intelligent questions) only in motion).
"There is a dachshund bench in the cage. Find another one in the anomaly zone and take a picture of the three of us on it with a sheet of paper with a dachshund drawn on it and cell D2 written on it."
By the way, I couldn't have imagined that so many donations would eventually come in, both on cards and live, and even on Boosty (Russian Patreon). Once again, thank you all very much. It's good motivation too, no matter what anyone says)
@fwhisper, captain: Overall, it was interesting and tense, the operator and I presumptuously ordered food in the cafe, which we didn't manage to finish 😅. Maybe next time we should do something simpler, as a lot of players couldn't figure out the rules right away and were guided by the situation.
LonelyShadow4x4: I thought this morning I'd write the standard "the routes are so-so, the organizers are as usual. When's the next event?" But it's probably off topic now. Thanks to all involved in organisation. Thanks to the cameramen. A lot of work has been done, a lot of interesting tasks have been thought out, prepared and written. It's a big job and whoever is doing it is doing a great job. It will only get better in the future.
Koshka_Vdk: @NikaKor thanks again) now it's easier to be sad)
AlHeret: Thank you all for the FS and my, albeit unofficial, first anomaly, it was very cool and nice to meet everyone) It was especially cool to know that there are fellow countrymen😅
Plus a lot more was said in person at the Resistance after-party)
As a result of the work we've done, we can conclude that:
- Many agents of all ages and levels want and can participate in the organisation and the following events, which means we can start planning the following anomalies
- The possibility of holding live events in the Russian-speaking Ingress community has been proven as early as this month.
- The great need for live events shown by the large number of agents coming from all over the country not for a medal, but simply because something out of the ordinary is happening -- is proven
And when agents take part in something not for a medal, then it's worked out. And you could hardly make an event more memorable than an epic fail!
Start photo of the Enlightened team
Support the running of the events:
- Boosty (Russian Patreon)
- Tinkoff 4377 7237 4116 0661
- Sberbank 2202 2015 5199 7246