Stuff about, you know, puzzles

Is the BANG dead? (No really!)

I think I mentioned somewhere (apparently not here) that the Burninators' 2011 run of BANG 28 was so good, it pretty much killed the Bay Area Night Game.  Originally, this was my way of paying compliment to all the hard work and incredible design the Burninators had put into their BANG, and that it would be hard, if not impossible, to top.  It was not intended as a prediction of things to (not) come.

Since then, however, only one BANG has been run:  BANG 33.  Considering its scope and purpose, it really deserved to be an event in its own right… which is has gone on to do, to much success.  If one takes BANG 33 as really Elevate Tutoring Puzzle Hunt 1, it's easy to see that there hasn't been a BANG in two and a half years,  Heck, the website hasn't been updated in over a year, and the oldest announcement for an upcoming hunt is over three years old.  It certainly feels like the BANG is dead.  Is it really?

Of course not.  At any given time, some team with the gumption could put together several puzzles, find locations to put them at, announce it, and there's the next BANG.  The problem is one of demand.  The Bay Area now has several regular events that puzzle hunters can participate in:  

  • The Different Area Same Hunt (DASH) has become an annual opening to the spring season of hunts.  BTW, DASH 6 is coming up in a hundred days or so!
  • Shinteki Decathlon can always be counted on for a great solving time.
  • Bob Schaffer's Elevate Tutoring Puzzle Hunt has run several times in the past couple years and is still available online.
  • Palantir has been running their hunt annually for the past three years.
  • SCRAP has almost at any given moment their puzzle-huntish escape game to play, including the ever-popular, but least-solved Escape from the Mysterious Room, and its sequel, Escape from the Time Travel Lab.
  • The Berkley Mystery Hunt is in its fourth year and going strong.
  • Full-length Games have been popular recently, with five having been run in the past couple years (if you count the Bay Area Recast), including one that by all accounts was the greatest Game ever run (much to the disappointment of those of us unable to make it).  I'm not sure that any are coming soon, but five in two years?  Awesome!

This is not to mention the various online hunts (Order of the Octothorpean – a hunt that teaches how to play in puzzle hunts – or Ghost Patrol Reconstructed, or a rumored Puzzle Boat 2, etc.) or live hunts that can be played remotely (e.g. MIT Mystery Hunt, CiSRA, SUMS, etc.).  There's so much going on that my friend and regular teammate Jonathan, puzzle hunt addict, has said that he is almost saturated.  Seeing as his level for saturation is pretty high, maybe the highest, that's saying something.

So the BANG may not be dead and I look forward to playing new ones in the future, but right now it looks like the four reserved BANGs are going to stay in reserve.

  • Yossi_Fendel

    A variety of events enriches the community. Within that variety, I think there is definitely a place for BANGs, and I miss these events. What I specifically miss about them are:

    1. Hunting around on foot, rather than driving or remaining largely stationary. (Though DASH and ETPH also do that.)
    2. The 3 hour time-frame. (SCRAP does short events, but nearly everything else out there runs longer.)
    3. The low, low price.

    Of course I like other puzzle events too, but I share your longing for a BANG revival.

    • Dale_Neal

      BANG hasn’t been a 3-hour time-frame in a long long time, and I think this is one of the things that killed it. There are only so many teams with the interest and follow-through to run a 10-12 hour game.

    • gotskott

      Apart from the 3 hour time-frame, the Palantir hunt certainly gave me a BANG-like feeling, making me remember how much I miss it. Can’t beat the price of free!

  • So… who could we talk into running a BANG?

    • Dang it, I didn’t mean _me_.

      • Odds are it was going to be somebody in this thread. ¬†Should have had a pool going :)

  • blah


  • egnor

    What I miss about classic BANG isn’t anything about the format, but the fact that it was a mixed group of people trying their hand at making a fun experience, with relatively low stakes. That meant there was a lot of variation, different “puzzle voices” showing up, different ideas of what to focus on in a game.

    It’s not that I’m tired of DASH or Decathlon or SCRAP or any of the other stalwarts, but I do miss the “hey, we can do this too!” days of puzzle hunts.

    Once upon a time, I dreamed of running a quick experimental hunt once a month or something. (“Dan Runs A Game”, it would be called.) A different theme every time, some interesting twist, 2-3 hours, minimal logistics. But of course that is completely implausible.

    I wonder how many teams have been through Octothorpean at this point? (For some arbitrary definition of “been through”.)

  • gdebeer

    I’m not really ready to announce, or pre-announce, or even commit to anything, but just talking amongst friends, there are some people looking into this problem…