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Hint currency is a way of providing a limited number of hints to solvers throughout a hunt. This is done by giving them some sort of token or an amount of points that can be exchanged for hints.
Hunt Application[edit | edit source]
Hint currencies are an easy way for hunt writers to limit hint usage without having to make case-by case decisions based on the number of hint requests they get. These currencies can come in a couple of different forms.
The most common form of currency is a token. Tokens can be exchanged 1:1 with hints: for every token a team has, they can get an equal number of hints requests (although with Custom Hints they may be able to use followups to get more). These are common for a reason: they require very little thought from the solvers to use, and can usually be meted out at a steady rate, like two per day. Alternatively, they may be used as a reward for exploring certain spaces, solving certain puzzles, or attending events.
Another way a hunt may approach hints is via a fractional currency. Fractional hint currencies are much rarer than hint tokens, as they can't usually be used immediately upon getting them. Instead, solvers will get some amount of a fractional currency (say, 10 of something) by solving a puzzle. This is nice, but a hunt may have a shop of some sort, allowing them to buy hints at 100 of that currency a pop, therefore requiring 10 solves to earn a hint. In larger-scale hunts, this can be effective, allowing for solvers to earn a large amount of the currency over time. Additionally, hunts may provide other services in exchange for other values of the same currency. While a hint in a hypothetical 'store' may cost 100 of the currency, a free unlock may only cost 50, and a free answer may cost 500. This multi-purpose method is much less effective in smaller hunts, where exploration is less a factor and teams are less likely to have the time or bandwidth to both earn a large amount of currency and find it worth it to spend it on unlocks.
Of course, hint currencies can be reflavored in any way in order to match the story or aesthetic for a hunt. A fairy-tale themed hunt may use tokens reskinned as 'wishes', or a video game themed one might use a fractional currency reskinned as 'points'. The way the method of unlocking hints is presented is usually entirely cosmetic, and has no impact on the puzzles themselves, but can be a nice way to assist in immersing solvers into the hunt's world.
Notable Examples[edit | edit source]
- Puzzle Boats 2-8 (web) - All editions of Puzzle Boat outside of the original use a form of hint currency in conjunction with Canned Hints of various levels. In the non-linear Puzzle Boats, hints could often be found in place of regular puzzles, granting solvers a preset amount of gold, silver, or bronze hint tokens.
- MIT Mystery Hunt 2017 (web) - Fitting in with the Dungeons and Dragons theme of the hunt, solvers could earn gold from certain 'Quest' puzzles (in addition to artifacts used in one of the final puzzles). This gold could be exchanged for yes/no style hints at a rate of 100 gold per hint.
- Galactic Puzzle Hunt 2019 (web) - In addition to releasing two hint tokens (called 'advicebergs') to teams every 24 hours starting 72 hours after the hunt started, Galactic also gave out a total of five 'answerbergs' to each team, over the course of three days starting 48 hours after the advicebergs went out. These tokens gave teams the ability to simply solve a puzzle automatically, no questions asked.