Frequently Asked Questions

UPDATE! Application deadline extended through 12/16/2011.

We have received applications from more teams than we can accommodate for one run of the game, but not enough for the two runs we initially planned. Therefore, we are extending the deadline for accepting applications to play.

If your team applies, we encourage you to select the “scientist” or “journalist” roles (see below for an explanation of roles). This would balance out the applicants so far who have mainly selected the other two roles.

If you are unable to attend either game weekend, we also need one or two more teams for our full playtest on February 11 and 12, 2011.

Email questions to

What’s going on?!

The Game, or something like it.

Tell me more.

The out-of-character title for this Game is “Back to Doctor When’s Excellent Adventure” (or “Doctor When” for short). It will look like a traditional Game in many respects, while deviating in a few.

What “deviations” will there be from a traditional Game?

Most significantly, we’re trying to make this event very plot-oriented. Players will participate in a story into which puzzles and the solving of those puzzles will be fully integrated. To further enhance this sense of story, there will be theatrical scenes and elements. Think of it as a Game with some theater and live action role-playing pieces mixed in, or, to coin a phrase, as an “interactive, puzzley adventure.”

Theater and live action role-playing?! Do I have to be a great actor or whack other players with foam-rubber swords? How zany is this going to be?

You don’t have to be a thespian (not that there’s anything wrong with that) or have any swordplay skills. Whatever your prior acting experience, we invite you to immerse yourself in the story, engage with us “in character”, and have fun.

(If that’s not your favorite thing, you’ll still get lots of great puzzles. However, if you really don’t like having your puzzle-solving momentum interrupted by bits of theater and story, this may not be the ideal Game for you.)

Each team will play one of four roles: government officials, investors, journalists, or scientists - these are the four categories of participants Doctor When is inviting to his Grand Unveiling. All members of a team will be of the same type (representing the same organization, such as a media company, a government agency, etc.). There may be some elements of the Game experience that involve a team’s role.

So what’s the goal?

Fun! At least, that’s what we hope you’ll get out of it. We’ll be thrilled if you engage with our story, enjoy solving our puzzles, and look back on the event as a memorable experience. Note that this Game will be “non-competitive”; see the question below regarding scoring.

Okay, I’m interested. Give me some details: when will this Game take place?

Doctor When will run twice, during the consecutive weekends of March 24-25, 2012 and March 31-April 1, 2012. Each run will begin at 9am Saturday morning and end by mid-afternoon Sunday.

Is there any difference between the two weekends?

There are no intended structural differences between the two weekends. (The “live performance” aspect will, of course, mean that the two runs will not be identical.)

Where does it start, and what geography will it cover?

Doctor When will start in San Mateo and will range between San Francisco and San Jose. This is a driving Game, but there may be less driving in Doctor When than in many previous traditional Games.

Will you feed us?

A little bit - there will be some orange juice, bagels, etc. when you arrive Saturday morning, and perhaps something similar at a few other points during the game. In general, however, teams will be responsible for feeding themselves. We will try to arrange times & locations such that there are reasonable eating options (e.g., nearby restaurants or cafes) at appropriate times.

Will we get to sleep?

We aren’t scheduling large blocks of time for players to sleep. (Of course, sleeping in shifts in a team vehicle is always possible.)

What can you tell us about scoring?

Doctor When will not include any formal scoring system. “Order of finish” may not be relevant, either. Teams that solve puzzles and complete challenges more quickly may get to experience additional, optional challenges. We intend for Doctor When to be an experience rather than a competition.

How much does it cost?

$600 per team which will be due by January 7, 2012.

How many teams can participate?

Because of the theatrical and interactive nature of Doctor When, we intend to limit each weekend to 20 teams.

Are there guidelines regarding team size?

There are no hard constraints regarding the number of players on a team (but an ideal size would be something like 4-5 members).

Tell me about the application process.

See the Grand Unveiling page for the “in-character” description of the application. We are asking each team to prepare three things:

Each team will then present their mad science project to us in character. Each presentation should take roughly 3-4 minutes. We prefer in-person presentations (with as many team members present as possible), though we are happy to receive presentations via Skype for teams not located in the San Francisco Bay Area. We won’t judge players on acting ability; we’re looking for enthusiasm and a willingness to “get into the story,” since that’s a significant component of the Doctor When experience. We will keep the tabletop presentation afterward.

A few notes about the mad science project and the application as a whole: we’re not looking for high production values. Markers on poster boards are perfectly fine. We do not want teams to labor for days preparing their applications. Creativity and enthusiasm are encouraged, and, most of all, we would like you to have fun with the application.

Applications are due on December 1, 2011 December 16, 2011; please email the two documents described above to Once we have received those documents, we will contact you to schedule a time for you to present your mad science project. These presentations will occur in the first half of December; we will announce participants before Christmas.

How will you choose which teams get in?

We will rigorously and thoroughly analyze the merits of each application using a proprietary objective scoring metric developed by a team of analysts in Zurich. The resulting 17-dimensional ratings will then be collapsed into a sortable key. Finally, we will factor in any blatant sucking up and/or bribery included with the application.

Additionally, we will try to have a balanced number of the four different types of teams (government officials, investors, journalists, or scientists) playing each weekend.

What should teams bring?

Typical puzzlehunt tools will probably be useful - codebooks, scissors, tape, colored pencils, flashlights, rulers, and so on. Teams will need a vehicle. A cassette tape player will add to a team’s enjoyment, but is not necessary. In addition, a laptop with a wireless connection and effective audio output is essential, for both research and…other purposes—make sure your entire team will be able to see and hear a video on the laptop together. Teams should have a mobile smartphone with good speakerphone capability. Snacks and water or other beverages are always helpful, and money for meals is advised.

Are there any pre-clues on the Doctor When website?

This website, much like Game Control, has no clue.

Who is Game Control?

Doctor When is brought to you by a motley crew of puzzlehunt enthusiasts from a large number of different teams. Game Control members include the following:

Acorn Pooley
Alex Cave
Allen Cohn
Ben Hansen
Bill Jonesi
Catherine Wood
Chris Lopez
Christian Hoobyar
Dan Kurtz
Dave Shukan
David Greenspan
DeeAnn Sole
Doug Banks
Dwight Freund
Ellen Juhlin
Eric Lindstrom
Erik Stuart
Justin Graham
Ken Chaney
Kristina Kenney
Lisa Long
Melissa Wilson
Randy Neubert
Rigel Stuhmiller
Sarah Kling
Sean Gugler
Trisha Lantznester
Wei-Hwa Huang

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