The Tip.It Times

Issue 17699gp

A View Inside the Madhouse (You May Know it as Team Penguin)

Written by and edited by Jaffy1

This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while. As some of you might know, I’m a rank in the World 60 Penguin chats, an experience that has changed the game for me and is one that I’ve always wanted to share. Most you will probably only know this from one side - view this as an attempt to give you some insight on how it works “Behind the scenes.”

If you’re not familiar with penguins at all, here’s a short summary: every week, ten penguins in disguises spawn across Gielinor and roam around freely. If you find them and spy on them, you will get points that can be exchanged for experience or money. There are a few groups available to help speed up penguin hunting, Team Penguin (on world 60) being the one I work with.

So, where do I start? Maybe I’ll just begin with the point where it begins for us every week – reset. The appearance of a new set of penguins. Even the simple “When?” almost proves to be a topic of its own.

When penguins were first released, reset time wasn’t fixed and could vary up to 8 hours. Only around 4 months later was it was fixed to its current time. In short, you would say it happens at midnight from Tuesday to Wednesday in the GMT time zone. However, to explain it like that omits several details and can cause confusion. During summer, daylight savings will put clocks one hour forward, causing the reset time to shift an hour because it doesn’t change to reflect daylight savings. It stays at midnight GMT/UTC but in British time it shifts to 1 am. Even more confusing can be what happens when daylight savings starts in America, but not in Europe, as is currently the case.

Even if you remember all that, it’s hard or maybe even impossible to predict when exactly penguins will be reset. It can be up to one hour late, and the best method to predict this is currently only a rough indicator that only works during a week with an update. The current method is to check how many minutes after the full hour the update has taken place. Different worlds reset at different times during the one-hour-frame, but for World 60, if an update has happened shortly after the full hour, it means an early reset, while a late reset usually happens if the update happened a longer time after the full hour.

So, we’ve covered *when* reset happens. Now for *how* it works. The obvious goal is to locate all penguins as quickly as possible. When penguins were first released this could take several hours. Only over a long period of time was this able to change. The first step was to determine spawn points. It turned out all spawns were fixed spots that didn’t change. Once all spawns were found out, this narrowed down the possible locations that had to be checked after reset. Then, around v28 (vXX referring to the thread version at that time, which is similar although not completely identical with the number of weeks that penguins have been around), there was a major breakthrough when those who had a look at the sequence of penguins appearing found the pattern that determined the location.

For almost two years, it was possible to predict the exact locations before the reset actually happened. This of course changed reset quite radically and it was then wholly focused on coordinating the efforts to get the information out to all four friend’s chats as quickly as possible. From my personal experience (I joined around v50) this was quite disillusioning, but nevertheless a lot of fun. The second radical change happened at v118, and the cause of this was RuneFest, where one of the ranks of Team Penguin got to talk to Mod Nancy, the developer of Penguin Hide&Seek. She was quite surprised to hear that the pattern had been cracked, something which she had not anticipated. Due to that encounter, an update in December 2010 was accompanied with a nice little “in other news” section that announced that “The penguin spies have decided to mix things up and have hence become a little less predictable. They are also scoping out a couple of new areas...”

The pattern had been changed and to this day it’s not cracked fully, though the predictions have become quite accurate. You can check out the progress on cracking the pattern on this RSOF thread (QFC: 75-76-967-61996450), and if you want to witness how reset works for us personally, you can come to the meeting 30 minutes before reset upstairs at the house north of Edgeville bank.

You could join one of our tour buses a while after the reset, where Tour guides will lead you to the locations of penguins. It will take longer than getting the penguins yourself, but it’s a relaxed atmosphere and all you have to do is to follow the Tour Guide. Throughout the following week, locations have to kept updated both in the chats and the corresponding thread, and the chat should retain a friendly and efficient atmosphere. To achieve that, there is a team of ranks and an open group of helpers.

Ideally, everyone using the chat will at least call out the locations of the penguins they spy, but that’s not the case and it wouldn’t be viable to try and enforce that. To counter that, we have a big group of players helping out, both unranked and ranked, who dedicate their time to it, often far more than they spend on actually hunting penguins themselves.

We’re also trying to remain as open as possible to really encourage everyone to feel like part of the team and to get them to help out as well, within the bounds they are comfortable with. Of course, there are some issues that only a rank - or more specifically, a rank with kicking rights - can resolve, such as spam attacks or offworld reports. Bbut in general anyone has the ability to help tremendously, and there are a bunch of different ways to do that.

Answering questions and repeating locations in the chat is one thing. Another could be going around and confirming locations or finding them again if they have escaped. If you feel up to it, you could also hold the penguin at a spot or even try to herd it to a specific trap. (Author’s note: if you are interested in the specifics of herding, please indicate your interest on the discussion thread. I will be writing an article focused on herding if it is wanted.) All of this can help a lot, but more importantly, it can be a load of fun. In the end, the ultimate goal is to make penguin hunting as enjoyable as possible for everyone. It definitely did the job for me, as penguins are the main reason I still play and enjoy Runescape. And who knows, maybe they'll do the same to you - Never underestimate penguins!

Do you have any thoughts or comments about this week's articles? Want to discuss these articles with your fellow RuneScapers? We invite you to discuss them in this forum topic.

Tags: Community Game Mechanics

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