Best Practices for Running a Hosted ClueKeeper Hunt

So you want to run a hunt?

This document can help guide you through the process of setting up and running a basic hosted hunt. If you want to write an advanced hosted hunt, or a public self-guided hunt, this document may also be helpful as a starting point.

Note: for public self-guided hunts, you should also check out our hunt review guidelines page.

Hunt Timeline/Essentials

1. Planning

Decide on your hunt structure, locations, and clues well in advance, before you invite players if possible.

Here are some things to consider:

  1. Will the hunt be linear (all teams play in a set order, solving one clue to unlock the next) or will it be a scramble (all clues open at once, teams decide what to solve first)?
  2. How long will the hunt be? Decide on the number of clues and/or mini-clues and locations, and add together your guess for solving time plus travel time.
  3. How many people or teams will play? Consider whether any of your clues or locations have a limit to the number of people that can be there at once. Then limit your team size or total number of teams accordingly.
  4. If you know when your hunt will be, let us know in advance! This isn't strictly necessary, but if we know about your plans, we can be sure not to make any major changes to the system while your hunt is in progress, and we can also be sure someone is ready during that time in case you have any time-sensitive tech support needs.
  5. If your hunt is going to be open to the public, let us know that too! We can list it on our website to help people find you, and we might even be able to help get the word out on social media.

2. Writing

Write the clues, create the draft version of your hunt, and fill out all the web forms. Don't publish yet!

Some creators prefer to write the text for the entire hunt in advance, while others fill in each page or clue on the ClueKeeper website as they go. For the first draft of your hunt, its title should include the word Playtest, to distinguish it from your later final version. If you would like to see a sample hunt spreadsheet, check out this document. This spreadsheet is a great tool for collaborating with multiple authors while writing your hunt.

3. Verifying

Test the hunt using a test registration on the mobile app to verify that it works as you expect and looks good.

Each hunt includes two free test registrations to use before publishing. These registrations will have their results hidden on the leaderboard and have a few extra features that players don't have. For example, from the options menu, you can reset the hunt at any time, erasing all scores and starting over. You can also temporarily disable GPS location checking from a test registration. If you make a change on the website while testing, simply choose Sync now from the options menu to see your update appear in your test version immediately.

To create a test registration, visit the Test Hunt page for your hunt, click "Create Test Registration", fill in the team name and email address if desired, and then click "Register". This will generate the hunt code that you can then use to test your hunt in the ClueKeeper mobile app.

4. Invitations

Invite players or teams for the actual hunt date and also invite at least one playtester.

Once you are confident that your hunt will run the way you want, and you know about how long it will take, where it will start and how big the teams should be, send out the invitations! Make sure to tell players that the event will use the ClueKeeper app. You should also line up at least one playtest person or team who doesn't know how the clues work, so they can playtest your event in advance. Playtesting about 1-2 weeks before the real hunt date is best, so that you have ample time to make changes and re-test as needed. For both the playtest team and any registered teams, include information about ClueKeeper, similar to this sample text:

My Hunt will play on ClueKeeper!

The ClueKeeper platform delivers hunt information, hints, answer verification, scoring and more. Each team will use ClueKeeper on their own phone(s) or tablet(s).

Here are the steps you need to take in order to play My Hunt

  • Install ClueKeeper on at least one Android or iOS device (installing on more is also fine). Make sure to bring a charger for that device.
  • If you'd like to have a record of your participation in My Hunt and see your team's results afterward, each team member should create a ClueKeeper player account using the mobile app or at cluekeeper.com.
  • If you like, you can play the tutorial in ClueKeeper to learn how the app works. Use hunt code WELCOME to download the tutorial. All team members can do this independently.
  • A few days before the hunt, you will receive an email from ClueKeeper, sent to the address with which you register your team. The mail will contain a hunt code for My Hunt. One team member should enter that code to download the hunt, and then once the hunt is downloaded, that team member can add all team members with ClueKeeper accounts.

5. Playtesting

Playtest your event on at least one player or team in event conditions, if possible.

Make sure the word Playtest is in the title of your hunt. Register your playtest teams and publish your playtest hunt. DO NOT use test registrations for your playtest; instead register them as real teams so they will have the correct player features in their app. Tell your playtest teams the same event details that you will tell the real teams, and ask them to play as though it were the real thing (for example, don't stop part way through or skip going to the real locations). Remind the playtesters that they should not share or post information about the hunt clues or locations. Get feedback from the playtesters immediately after they finish the hunt. Take the feedback with a grain of salt, but be willing to change things if needed. From the website leaderboard, you can look at the ClueKeeper logs for the playtest teams to see specific timing details, what hints were viewed and what guesses were made.

6. Editing

Duplicate your playtest hunt and then make any edits on the final hunt.

From the Create tab, choose "Duplicate Existing Hunt" for your playtest hunt and rename it to be the real hunt. Make any necessary changes or edits based on information from the playtest run. After you make changes, don't publish yet! Create a new test registration for yourself and verify that everything still looks the way you want it to.

7. Publishing

A few days before the actual hunt date, it's time to publish.

When the event is edited and ready, register the teams, publish the hunt, send hunt codes and contact the teams with any final details. The final details should include the information about ClueKeeper again (see 4. Invitations), in case teams have not set it up yet.

8. Launching the Hunt

On the day of the hunt, verify that each team is ready to use the ClueKeeper app.

Check in with each team before launching the hunt, to make sure they have downloaded the hunt and know how to use the ClueKeeper app. You may want to hand out something like the sample flyer below, or make a copy of our handout template and edit as needed. In either case, be sure to update your contact phone number and the Scoring section to suit your event. Once all the teams are ready, announce the hunt start code and off they go!

Welcome to ClueKeeper!

Here are some tips to help you enjoy the hunt. If you have any trouble at all with the device or the software, please call Game Control at (123) 456-7890.

GETTING SET UP
Master

One of your team members should have received an email with instructions to install the ClueKeeper app and enter your team's hunt code. We call this person's device the master. It is the only device that will be able to enter start codes, enter answers, or buy hints during the hunt.

Teammates

Select "Add team member" from the options menu on the main hunt page of the master to add teammates with ClueKeeper accounts. They'll get credit for playing and have access to the results afterwards too! Note: added teammates will be in read-only mode, so they'll see all of the info from the master but won't be able to submit answers.

PLAYING IN THE HUNT
Launch

At the launch, the hunt organizers will announce the event's start code. Enter the code when prompted to unlock information about the first clue. Every time you solve a clue, the next clue will unlock in your device.

Clues

When you arrive at each clue location, you will receive the start code for that clue. Immediately enter the start code so that the clue timer begins for any hints that may become free.

Internet

Your master device only needs connectivity to download the hunt and again at the end (or if you need to reboot). But if it is connected, it will update the server any time you submit an answer, view a hint, and so forth.

*Protip: To get a read-only device up to speed with the master, choose "Sync now" from the options menu.

Scoring

There are #___ clues in this hunt, and you can score up to #___ points on each.

Hints

Tap the Hints button in the lower left of the master device to buy hints for the current clue. Hint costs decrease with time, and every hint will eventually become free. ClueKeeper will notify you when that happens.

*Protip: Don't wait if you're running late! Definitely purchase hints if you're not on pace to finish the hunt.

Solve

Tap the Solve button in the lower middle to enter a solution. ClueKeeper will ignore all spaces and punctuation.

*Protip: Some clues give partial credit for intermediate answers, so be sure to enter anything you discover!

Skip

Tap the Skip button in the lower right to skip over a clue and proceed to the next one. Note that you will still receive any partial-credit points that you had earned on the skipped clue (if any) up to that point.

RUNNING OUT OF POWER?

If your master device is low on power, switch the master designation to another device that has more available charge. Navigate to the main hunt page on the master and select "Release master" from the options menu. Then hit "Become master" from the main hunt page options menu on the new device and puzzle on!

AFTER THE HUNT
Results

Go to www.cluekeeper.com and log in to see your team's results! You'll be able to see the full rundown of how your team did on the clues, as well as compare your results to other teams in today's hunt. Hooray!

More!

Want more? So do we! Check out the ClueKeeper website, where you'll find hunts near you that can be played at any time, with more being added regularly. If there aren't enough hunts in your area yet, why not create one yourself? With the power of ClueKeeper, it's never been easier to set up the hunt or tour that you've always wanted!

9. During the Hunt

During the hunt, keep an eye on all the teams using the ClueKeeper website.

You (and any co-owners, co-authors, or managers you have set up) can monitor teams' progress from the website by clicking on the Results tab. You can also display a public-view version of the leaderboard at the finish if you like. When a team finishes the hunt, check to make sure their data has been uploaded to the leaderboard. If it is not complete, ask them to go to the options menu on their master device and choose "Sync now."

10. Final Scores

After the hunt, check your data and make any changes before closing the hunt.

Check the leaderboard on the ClueKeeper website to make sure all data looks correct. You can edit or adjust the final leaderboard if you need to. Once it's all correct, close the hunt. The players will be able to view the final leaderboard even after the hunt is closed. ClueKeeper will also generate a public link to the leaderboard in case you wish to link to it from your own website or give it to non-registered players.

11. Follow Up

Check in with the teams one last time for any final information.

If desired, follow up with teams via email and remind them that they can view results online. You can also ask them to share pictures or stories from the hunt. Here is some sample text about viewing results from ClueKeeper:

Dear team captain,
Thanks again for playing My Hunt! Please pass this information along to your teammates.

As you probably already know, the results for all teams are available on www.cluekeeper.com for anyone who linked a player account to their team. Or you can view a public version of the leaderboard here: [your public link, generated when you close the hunt]