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

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

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

So now you know what Wherigo is (if you forget, see the first post in this series) and hopefully you’ve even had a chance to play one (or more.) But let’s say you want to create your own. After all, they have to come from somewhere, right? They don’t just pop in to existence (though that might be nice.) So how do you go from having an idea to having a playable Wherigo cartridge on Wherigo.com and maybe a cross-listed geocache on Geocaching.com?

The best place to start to answer that question is (unsurprisingly) Wherigo.com. In addition to having resources for people who want to play Wherigo cartridges, it also has a bunch of resources for those who want to design and build them. You can get started by clicking ‘Build’ at the top of the Wherigo home page. 

Wherigo.com
From there you’ll want to download the Wherigo Builder, a Windows-based application. Packaged with  the Wherigo Builder is an emulator which will let you play and test your cartridge from your computer without having to walk or drive all over. This is an incredibly useful tool as it lets you test your creation and working bugs and other issues without having to physically be there. It is important to note, however, that many Wherigo authors add code to their cartridge to disable playing it in the emulator so that Players are forced to physically be at the cache site to play. 

Groundspeak’s Wherigo Emulator 
We Don’t Need No Education….Or Do We?
The next step is to go through the Wherigo Tutorial. This is a set of instructions to follow along with a Zip file of all the image, script and configuration files you will need to build your first cartridge. Technically, you will just be compiling a cartridge someone else has designed, but many people learn best by seeing what someone else has done instead of trying to create something from scratch the first time.

Wherigo Tutorial 
The tutorial has three levels, and each one has a series of Flash-based screen casts that show you how to use and interact with the Builder using examples from the provided zip file. Level 1 is the basics: Zones, Characters, Tasks, and Media. Level 2 adds Conditions and Commands to let the Player interact with the cartridge. Level 3 builds on that and adds Inputs and Variables, getting information from the Player and storing that and other info for later.

You will also want to check out the Groundspeak Wherigo discussion forums. This is the place that you can go to get technical or programming help, to figure out if your ideas are viable, what challenges you might face running your cartridge on Android vs. iPhone vs. Garmin, and how to resolve them. There several very helpful moderators and posters who hang out here to help other Wherigo developers. They also have several forums that are more specific to people who are looking to play Wherigo cartridges, rather than create their own.

So Many Builders…So Many Choices!
So now you are at a decision point: which Builder tool should you use? The main (only?) three builders of which I am aware are Groundspeak’s Wherigo Builder (aka the “Official” builder), Urwigo, and Earwigo. Groundspeak and Urwigo are both Windows-based programs; Earwigo is web-based and more platform independent (though would be very difficult trying to use it on a phone.) To download the Groundspeak builder, you’ll need a Groundspeak username and password (your Geocaching.com login info will work here.) Urwigo and Earwigo access information can be found in the in Table 1.
Below is a table with some key features and issues to consider when deciding which builder will work best for you. At this time, I recommend Urwigo as a good starter tool, but your mileage may vary. You can also see the comparison thread over at Groundspeak’s discussion forums.



Groundspeak Builder
Urwigo
Earwigo
Application Platform
Windows-based
Windows-based


Web-based

Primary Design Interface
Drop-down



Drag and drop
Drop-down
Edit GPS Coordinates
Manual (enter numbers)
Drag and drop on map


Drag and drop on map

Emulator Use
Automatic, from menu
Automatic, from menu (Need Groundspeak Builder installed)

Manually download and run in emulator

Access to Cartridges
Local
Local


Anywhere

Cartridge Sharing
(for co-development)
Manual (Send file)
Manual (Send file)
Yes



Script Editor
Basic
Basic


Syntax Highlighting

Encrypt Strings
No
Yes


Yes

Cartridge Limit
No limit
No limit


5 cartridges

Copy & Paste Code
No
Yes



No


How to Access
Download and Install
Download and Install



Request Account (Instructions)

User Interface
(my rating)
Just OK
User Friendly
Just OK (Programming experience helpful)

George's Ranking
Third
First
Second


Here is a quick comparison of the same cartridge, the Zooventure Tutorial Level Three, loaded in all three applications to see how it appears in each Wherigo builder.

Groundspeak Builder 
Urwigo Builder 
Earwigo Builder 
Each tool has different options, benefits and tradeoffs. I installed all three, poked around and ultimately decided I would use Earwigo as my primary cartridge development environment, while still using the emulator bundled with the Groundspeak builder to test and iron out the wrinkles in my cartridge. For the next cartridge I am developing I have been using Urwigo, and I really like it so far as well. I doubt I’ll try out the Groundspeak builder to develop anything, though I have used it through the tutorials and feel that Urwigo is a better local alternative. I still recommend having Groundspeak’s builder installed so that you have quick access to an emulator.

Additional Resources:
                Wherigo
                                Wherigo Development Wiki
                                Additional Groundspeak Builder Tutorial
                Earwigo
                                Earwigo Google Groups forum
                                Earwigo Wiki
                Urwigo
                                Urwigo Tutorial

Lua (The programming language Wherigo is built on)
                                Lua 5.1 Reference Manual
                                Note: You do not need to know any Lua code to write Wherigo cartridges. Lua knowledge can, however, help to set up more complex actions and cartridge features.

Wrapping it up
That wraps up the Wherigo development tool part of this series; stay tuned next time for how to plan out the Zones (geographical areas) Items, Characters, and Commands you will need to think through when planning out your own Wherigo cartridge. And of course, I am happy to share mine, so if anyone wants to take one of mine, remap it to their location, and maintain their own geocache at the end give me a shout, I’ll be happy to help!



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. 







3 comments:

Kim@Snug Harbor said...

I haven't done a Wherigo yet. But the tutorial here is a great help. Thanks!

BLOODHOUNDED said...

I've already talked with George and we are going to do a road trip down his way to do his first cartridge and maybe another. I'm talking names and can't wait to go! I think just after Memorial Day! Who's in?

BLOODHOUNDED said...

I have to do this! I can see how you could start an obsession with this from many levels beyond the player, developer and creator of a Wherigo. Great job on the post George. You are now CacheCrazy.Com's official Wherigo Expert. Congratulations and thanks for bringing this to us! Awesome!

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