What is Wherigo?
Wherigo is a free interactive, location-based experience on your GPSr. You can interact with characters, manipulate items, accomplish tasks set before you, and answer questions. The Wherigo Player, which provides these experiences, is a small program installed onto Wherigo-capable GPS-equipped devices (we'll cover devices in another section).
The experiences you have playing Wherigo differ greatly. You could be on a walking tour in an historic section of town, with Wherigo point out places of interest, providing a history lesson along the way. Next time, Wherigo could have you running errands for characters--and rushing back to give little Suzy that ice cream cone before it melts! And later on, you could play the part of a detective, visiting real world locations to examine the evidence, hidden like a geocache, for yourself--and, when you're ready, try to apprehend the suspect. As you can see, the experiences you can have with Wherigo are varied and entertaining!
All these experiences are created by the Wherigo community and almost all involve geocaching. Usually, you play through the experience and, at the end, find a geocache. With Wherigo, though, it's about the experience and entertainment you have along the way.
Each of these experiences exist as a downloadable file on the Wherigo web site. You can swap these files in and out of any Wherigo Player-equipped device just as you would a cartridge on a video game console. Thus, these files are called "cartridges". You don't need special cables or adapters to play these cartridges. Loading a cartridge is as simple as connecting your Wherigo-equipped GPS receiver to your computer and downloading a cartridge file from the Wherigo.com site. You can load as many cartridges as you like onto a GPS receiver at one time.
While most cartridges are strictly based on one location, there are a few the can be played anywhere in the world (here's the list). The name we use for this type of cartridge is "Play Anywhere". You will need some space to play these cartridges, so look at their descriptions and see what is recommended. The Wherigo Tutorial cartridge that comes preloaded on all Wherigo-equipped devices is a Play Anywhere cartridge. It can be played in a back yard or a small park.
Which Devices Are Wherigo-Equipped?
A device must have the Wherigo Player installed in order to play cartridges. The Garmin Colorado and Oregon are two such devices. Thanks to matejcik in the Wherigo Hardware forum, many location-aware cell phones can now play Wherigo cartridges. Please search that forum to see if your phone is compatible.
I'd Like to Play; What Do I Do?
First, find a Wherigo cartridge in your area. Usually, your country or state is enough. If you're already logged into the Wherigo.com site (if you have a geocaching.com or waymarking.com user name, you can use it here; if not, it's free to sign up), you can view the cartridges closest to you.
Scroll through the list, find one that looks appealing, and click it. Read through the cartridge's description and see if you'd like to play it. If you have a Garmin GPS receiver, hook it up to your computer. Next, click the big blue "Download" button on the left, select which GPS receiver you have (for mobile phones, choose "Pocket PC Device"), and click "Download Now". When your browser asks where you'd like to save the cartridge file, click through to your GPS receiver, and place it in the "Wherigo" folder. The cartridge will then download to your GPS receiver. When it is complete, you may unplug the device.
Before leaving your computer, please turn your device on and make sure the cartridge shows up on the Player's list. For Garmin GPS receivers, if it's not in the main menu, it'll be in the "Others" menu--just look for the blue, circular Wherigo icon. When you launch the Player, it'll show you a list of cartridges you downloaded to it.
I've Downloaded A Cartridge; What Next?
Drive, walk, canoe, or ride the metro to the cartridge's starting location the same way you would a geocache (the coordinates are on the cartridge's description page). Just get with a hundred feet or so. Now, pull up the Wherigo Player on your device. The cartridge should show up in your list just under the Play Anywhere cartridges (if you have any loaded). Click on the cartridge, then click again to confirm. You are now playing a Wherigo cartridge!
Playing Wherigo: Locations, Characters, Items, and Tasks
All Wherigo cartridges have the same main screen, divided into four sections. The first one covers locations, or where you can go. Another term for locations, used both when you're building cartridges and in the forums, is "zones". Clicking on the location list will show you all the places you can visit as well as their distances and bearings (a map is not available within the Wherigo Player, and will not be displayed on the GPS receiver's map were you to exit both the cartridge and Player). As you play a cartridge and the story progresses, more destinations will pop up. On many Garmin GPS receivers, you may have to "zero out" (get it so the GPS receivers reports you're zero feet or meters away) for it to recognize you've arrived.
The second section of the Wherigo Player covers the characters you see. If you see someone, try clicking on the character and interacting with him or her. You could receive things to do or hints on what to do.
The third section covers what you have--your inventory. In some cartridges, you can pick up items and either give them to characters (e.g. money, groceries, etc.) or use them (e.g. water to douse a fire, a sword to slay a dragon, flowers to put on a grave, etc.).
The final section lists tasks. This is a checklist of things you can do in a cartridge. Typically, this is a good hint of what you need to do.
Typically, cartridges can be completed by finishing all tasks, solving the mystery in the story, or getting a high score. It differs by cartridge. When a cartridge is complete, it is typically referred to as "unlocked". You can then save the cartridge and upload it to the Wherigo web site (via that "Unlock" button in the description). Unlocking cartridges may lead to virtual rewards, such as trophies, on later revisions of the web site (this is unconfirmed).
The Wherigo Forum: A Great Resource
If you have any questions about Wherigo, from the most basic to the more advanced, please feel free to browse the forum and ask. It's a great community and we welcome any and all interested in playing and building Wherigo cartridges. If you need help getting started, don't hesitate to ask for help. Want to build your own cartridge? This community is a wealth of knowledge. Don't forget to search the forum before you ask (there's a search link to the right on the blue bar at the top of the page); someone may have had your same question and the answer could already be out there.
I welcome everyone's opinions and suggestions on this thread's content. Did this help? Was it clear? Should anything else be added? Please post your feedback to the New to Wherigo thread. I will edit this introduction post accordingly.
This post has been edited by Ranger Fox: 05 February 2010 - 06:17 AM