CacheCrazy.Com: Do You Know WHERIGO? - - - - The Series - Part I

Monday, February 27, 2012

Do You Know WHERIGO? - - - - The Series - Part I

What is Wherigo? Wherigo is a GPS-based adventure that overlays a game, tour, puzzle, interactive fiction, or some combination of each onto a real, physical location. Users download a file, called a “cartridge” and load it into a Wherigo player on their device of choice. It was created by Groundspeak, parent company of Geocaching.com around 2001, and you can sign in to Wherigo.com with your Geocaching.com username and password. It initially seemed to have some momentum going, garnering support from both Groundspeak and Garmin, but then both companies put it on the back burner. While Wherigo applications and cartridges are still available, neither company has done much in the past few years to advance it.

However, an active community of Wherigo developers and players still exists. Groundspeak maintains several forums dedicated to development and playing, and both have active participants and moderators willing to provide help, support, and advice. Though Groundspeak is no longer creating Wherigo applications for newer devices (their last officially supported device is PocketPC,) open source communities have popped up and created OpenWIG, a Wherigo application for other platforms that can play Groundspeak Wherigo cartridges. This is the core of the Android WhereYouGo application as well as several other platforms. Another company developed a Wherigo app for iOS, originally called PiGo, which was purchased by Groundspeak and renamed Wherigo (iTunes Store) though they oddly make no mention of this at Wherigo.com and the Wherigo FAQ still says you can’t use an iPhone to play.

While related to geocaching, Wherigo cartridges may or may not be related to one or more specific geocaches or even to geocaching at all! They can stand alone for self-guided tours of an area, puzzles or games, telling a story, or something else completely. Most Wherigo cartridges are location-specific: you need to be in a certain place on Earth to play them. Some, though, are “Play Anywhere” which means you can start playing it at your current location and the game will play out relative to your starting position. Often you will see requirements for these, such as “You’ll need an area 300 feet north by 200 feet east of your starting location to play.”


My first foray into Wherigo development has resulted in Wherigo: Excavation in Sellersville. I won’t give the ending away, but it is a combination of interactive fiction and some puzzle solving to virtually dig up James Memorial Park in Sellersville,Pennsylvania, USA. I have set it up so that you, the Player, follow a (mostly) paved trail through the park, picking up virtual items in one area, using them in another area, and uncovering secrets. Ultimately you will uncover the last item which tells you the final coordinates to the geocache somewhere in the park. You generally won’t need to backtrack unless you miss something or use something the wrong way. If you get it mostly right, you’ll end up walking about a mile round-trip.

Wherigo Player Tutorial
Groundspeak also has a list of Play Anywhere cartridges on Wherigo.com, can be started anywhere given certain starting criteria (often a specified size of open space.) A nice, short starter cartridge is the  Wherigo Player Tutorial, which will only take you about 15 minutes to complete and is a great introduction to experiencing Wherigo cartridges. Another fun one is PA Slides and Ladders (PA for Play Anywhere, not Pennsylvania,) which lets as many people who want (and each have a Wherigo-capable device) to play a real-life version of Chutes and Ladders on a real field. Each person takes their “turn” and the cartridge tells them what number they rolled, where to go, and if that spot contains a chute or ladder that moves them further up or down the board. The first person to get to the end wins. Of course, a casual observer would wonder why these people are wandering around a field in a grid, looking at their phones, but that’s just part of the fun.

For those who are interested, my cartridge is open source (creative commons) and anyone is allowed to download, review, and modify the source code for any non-commercial use. With the number of zones I have (10) it really wouldn’t work out as a Play Anywhere cartridge, but it should be pretty easy for someone to remap the zones to some other place, change the title screen and final coordinates, and be good to go with their own Wherigo cartridge. Of course, some will be more interested in creating their own from scratch, but this may be a helpful interim step.

The next post in this series will tackle why I decided to create a Wherigo cartridge, what tools and resources are available to people who want to start and create their own Wherigo cartridge, and the process I followed getting from start to finish and some bumps I faced along the way. Having done one, I also have ideas for more and have already begun development on my second cartridge.

                                              



Meet the author: George aka ggggeo2 - He's a geocacher and Wherigo extraordinaire from Southeast, Pennsylvania USA. He came to us through our Be A Guest Blogger link and he and I hit it off right away in email. He's got a couple of great kids and he still enjoys playing just like the rest of us. I look forward to the continuation of  the "Do You Know Wherigo?" series as we all learn a different way to play our game. Thanks George!
Bloodhounded 



                                                                                                                
Go Right to Part II HERE

1 comments:

BLOODHOUNDED said...

I am so interested in Wherigo's and how they work. What a great job of explaining this part of our game that I really never knew anything about. I'm going to give this a try! Thanks George, nice work!

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