:: frequently asked questions
so, it's essentially a scavenger hunt, right?
No, actually, it isn't. But if you want to think of it as a scavenger hunt, imagine that the items you collect are actually clues and instead of running around picking up stuff, you solve puzzles to get those clues. If it's anything, it's more of a team puzzle hunt. Combine that with the fact that there's always some story or narrative you have to figure out in the process and it's a team mystery & puzzle hunt.
i want to participate! but are the puzzles really hard? do i have to be really smart to play?
The puzzles are of various difficulty levels. Some are fiendishly simple and others make you want to smash your head against the wall.. so it's a mixed bag. Given that the hunt no longer allows the use of computers and/or the Internet, they're designed to be done with minimal research (a trip to the bookstore might help but usually it's not needed). And what's more, you'll be teamed up with three others so it's not like you'll be going at it alone. But for those of you out there that fear the head-smashies, you've no need to worry. Aside from assistance in the form of Hints and Nudges, the Challenge system was specifically designed for those who don't think puzzle-solving is their forte and want to engage in a slightly different albeit parallel activity. Furthermore, bennies awarded from completing Challenges make the puzzles easier to solve. Why smash your head against the wall if you can save up to purchase a free answer?
i'm interested in participating but don't have enough people gathered together to form a team. can i still play?
You sure can! Many people attend the hunt as spares and either are picked up by a team that needs a couple more people to round them out or start their own team and recruit other spares. Grunt hunters are friendly people, after all.
this sounds awesome! how do i sign up? what do i need to do?
Awesome! Let someone on staff know that you're interested in participating. Then, when the event comes around, show up! It's really rather simple.
i'm a complete first-timer to the grunt hunt. is it okay if i bring a group comprised of all first-timers with me?
While it's absolutely encouraged to introduce new people to the hunt, it is not suggested that there be a team made up solely of newbies. It is to their advantage, really, to have a veteran of at least one hunt on the team if only to ensure that the way the hunt operates is understood insomuch as rules and expectations are concerned.
what is a 'run-around'? or a 'pre-multiplier'? is this even english?
If some of the terms used in the hunt baffle you, check out the glossary of terms section of the site. That should shed some light on what people are talking about.
how long does it take to design the hunt and put the whole thing together?
Depending on how one defines the period of time it takes to plan and design (are we talking as far back as brainstorming initial ideas or something more concrete like writing up outlines and plans?), the hunt takes about a month to a month and a half of solid work. Thinking up the overall structure, theme, and mechanisms predominates the first couple weeks and then it's puzzle design and production from there on out. This is, of course, happening at the same time as earning a living and, well, ya know, living.
who develops the puzzles? and how do they do it?
Miller does. It's pretty much a one-man operation when it comes to the puzzle design and production. Anthony took a stab at some puzzlecrafting for gh4 (that long division puzzle? that was all him, ladies and gentlemen) but beyond that it's just Miller. If you want to know how he does it, buy him a guinness and he'll try to tell you all about it. Now, however, there is an official grunt hunt staff to help ensure the smooth operation of things.
have you heard of the MIT Mystery Hunt?
are you ever going to have online hunts again?
Possibly. The thing about online hunts is that they have to be made more challenging if only to offset the wealth of information readily available by simply being on a computer. There is a threshold that has to be observed when designing much harder, far more complicated puzzles - if you don't put enough into it, a webapplication or an online solver will do all the work the team should be doing.. but if you put too much into it, it gets frustrating to complete and no longer fun to do. Then there's the whole issue about producing something tangible that's absolutely lost when things go digitial..
what do other people have to say about the hunt?
Click on any of these links to see for yourself!
you must have way too much free time on your hands, huh?
Not at all. Miller just has a brain that's just so constantly churning out random ideas that he needs some way to burn out all the creative energy it produces. Being able to do so as well as put together an event for friends to enjoy is really pretty fulfilling.
how often do you run the hunt?
The Grunt Hunt is an annual event, running on a Saturday in April. It had been a semi-annual event (running in the spring and the autumn) up until recently.
why is the event invite-only?
Given that it is a one-man operation for the most part, there's a lot to coordinate. Least of which are the puzzles and the veracity of their solutions. Sometimes errata is generated (not a great thing to admit, but it's a truth). Friends tend to be more forgiving than strangers.
when will the hunt be made open to the public?
Miller hopes to one day make the hunt a public event. This is all part of his plan to make the hunt big. At this time, there are no immediate steps being taken to open it up in that fashion. He has, however, set a benchmark for himself in stating that he will make the hunt public after it has amassed as many as ten teams for a single competition.
why have the hunts been taking place at shopping mall foodcourts?
Running the hunt at shopping mall foodcourts has actually been a godsend. Where else can you find a place that has tables and chairs, that can host a variable amount of people for 5 or more hours, that is surrounded by foody places and places like bookstores for potential research needs, but also be absolutely free? Provided the hunt gets large enough, renting out a hall in a major metropolitan area may be the next bet but then the hunt would require a fee or something.
do you do this for money? have you considered it?
Honestly, no. The hunt is designed and implemented for the sheer joy that it brings to the participants. No, really. The first hunt (gh1&2), however, had a $5 fee attached to each registered participant. Given that Miller was unemployed at the time, costs needed to be covered. Later on, it just felt wrong to be charging friends money for their good time so a suggested donation of $5 per person went into effect. Surprisingly enough, people honor that request. In terms of making the hunt into a profit-making venture, the consideration is there. It's all part of the aforementioned plan to make the hunt big.
i would like to make some sort of donation for all the effort involved. is that okay?
Absolutely! As stated above, the suggested minimum donation is $5 per person. You can feel free to pay this at the actual event or make a donation at any time by way of paypal. Additionally, feel free to purchase merchandise at the grunt hunt online store to support this event.
are you available to design puzzle hunts for other events? how about for educational materials? this stuff would be great for kids!
The possibilty is certainly out there. Miller has been offered invitations to design hunts for the annual Gathering of Friends (a boardgaming convention hosted in Ohio), AnimeBoston, and possibly GenCon Indiana and California. Additionally, his background in teaching makes him a big dork when it comes to encouraging the learning process. Feel free to drop him a line.
i'm impressed with the production quality of the hunt. are you available for other creative projects besides puzzle hunts?
Always a possibility. Send Miller a message and ask him yourself.
have you considered putting together a guide on how to design/run puzzle hunt events?
What a strange thing to ask! Though the idea would be intriguing, what would stop someone from learning all the steps, run their own event and steal the loyal participants from the grunt hunt?! Perhaps in the future this might be a cool idea. Right now, it just sounds like yet another project to lose sleep over.
i think this is really great and i'd like to offer my assistance in any way i can. can i help?
Sure! Just let us know of your desire to help out or simply check the contact page for any immediate needs we may be experiencing.
why are there penalties for wrong answer submissions?
The main reason there is a mechanism in place for points to be deducted is to provide some variation in scores from team to team. Also, given the whole one-man operation of things as mentioned before, a reason for not getting inundated with dealing with people is a good reason.
what's the difference between a hint and a nudge?
See the glossary and the gameplay rules descriptions for that one.
why is it absolutely essential for the team captain to be the one who submits answers, requests hints or expends bennies?
There are a couple reasons why this ruling is enforced and all of them are in the better interest of the team. Having a chain of command and a singular point of contact with the team assures that at least more than one team member (presumably all of them) is aware of an action being committed that affects a team's points. If any team member can submit answers, for example, there is no controlled decision as it pertains to the possible risks being taken. Additionally, having the same person being the agent for all actions that could alter point totals eliminates the possibility of an opponent pretending to be a team member, purposefully submitting wrong answers to rack penalties.
what happens if no teams are near solving the entire hunt by the time 5pm (the end) rolls around?
If everyone agrees to go into overtime, the hunt will continue. The longest the hunt has run is 8 hours because noone wanted to throw in the towel just yet.
how come you guys won't tell us what team is in the lead (so that we can throw a near-infinite number of penalties at them)?
Well, first of all, that isn't a very nice thing to do. You're welcome to penalize whomever you want with whatever bennies you managed to earn to but we'll not help you target someone based on their performance. What's more, we honestly do not know what the point totals are for the teams until the hunt is over. The calculation is too involved to constantly redo any time a point increase or deduction takes place. Also, teams keep their scoresheets. Staff just has the answers.
oh my god! i want a souvenir from the event. do you guys have an online store or something?
Why, yes, we do! Click here to visit the grunt hunt official online store. There is also a specific cafepress store for gh5.
do you mind if i link to the grunt hunt website on my website/blog/online whatever?
Heck, no! Just let us know beforehand and we'll revel in the ensuing flattery.
how do i sign up to be on the mailing list?
Visit the contact page for information on that or simply request to be put on it while you're at the hunt.
simply being on the mailing list isn't enough! what other way is there to find out what's going on with the hunt?
If you are a registered user of livejournal, you can be a part of the grunt hunt livejournal community. There, you can come across all manner of unofficial announcements, rules, discussions and other behind-the-scenes stuff. Who knows.. there may even be occasional puzzles posted there as well. Additionally, there's always this website..
i noticed that this site is located on gruntwerk.com. what is gruntwerk?
gruntwerk is the creative services company owned by Miller. The grunt hunt is its biggest successful endeavor yet.
who are those people in the header images and on the front page?
The front page features the winning team of the last grunt hunt. The other photos would be the participants of various hunts.
all other questions
dude, what's with all the turtles?
Miller likes turtles. Don't ask.
did you sleep at all last night?
If you're asking Miller this the day of the hunt, you can pretty much guess the answer just by how he stares back at you blankly.