In the 1980's Nessie Hunt was voted the best new product at the British International Toy Fair, but it was never distributed worldwide because of the lack of a marketing budget and the production costs being too high. Producing this game today would cost in the order of £30 (to produce, not its retail price). In the shops the retail price would be likely to be in the order of £100 and although families will pay that sort of money for a computer games console, they would not consider it for a board game.
The only reason we can sell the game so inexpensively on this site is that they are the last of the original ten thousand production run from 1987. If you want one, don't delay, they are in limited supply and when they are gone, they are gone forever.
Our challenge had long been to produce a Computer version of Nessie Hunt and after one aborted attempt, when an IT company tried to turn it into a "shoot-em-up" game, we tried to do it ourselves using computer training system called quest. We got it to the point where everything worked, but it was boring to play. The whole project then got put on the back-burner until I discovered Second Life in October 2007. Our aim was to create something similar to where many users could come online and play. We wanted it to be enjoyable as well as interesting.
My first project within Second Life was to stage a Loch Ness Exhibition which provided the facts with comment, but not hiding anything from the visitor. That exhibition is free in Second Life and can be enjoyed at anyone's leisure.
However, Second Life is more of a networking site and although the exhibition received high praise from those who visited it, there were not enough visitors to make it viable on donations alone. By this point, however, I was part through staging a second exhibition on the site on the Story of Scotland's History from prehistory to present day. Same result - those who saw it thought it was terrific, but there were far too few visitors.
During December I scouted Second Life to find out what was attractive enough to bring in larger numbers. Games were popular and games which could be shared were very popular. The addition of a social aspect to the playing of a game seemed to add that certain "je ne sais quoi".
Bringing Nessie Hunt to Second Life could be the mechanism to create traffic within my Virtual Scottish Highlands Simulation. That traffic would encourage retailers, advertisers and sponsors and the whole thing became viable.
I was not a programmer other than a little html, asp, C and C+, but none of it was really similar to the language used in Second Life known as LSL. A quest began to find a partner who would write the programs to make Nessie Hunt work while I provided the environment, the rules and the content of the game. That quest failed entirely. Programmers in Second Life, known as "scripters", didn't reply to contact, offered to provide quotes, offered to look at the project, but only one of them Masakazu Kojima, offered any real help, and that would only be to answer specific questions. She did not have the time to do the scripting for me.
So began a very steep learning curve in LSL. One of my biggest headaches was that Second Life provided no way of storing information long term, such as game scores and games in progress so I had to learn how to use the LSL language to interact with an httpdb database outside Second Life.
Gradually I managed to get one or two eye witnesses to interact with players and with Masakazu's help I was able to write and read to an external database. I then spent over a month experimenting with how to introduce more sophisticated ways of collecting evidence.
As my LSL skills improved I was able to create the same categories that we had in the original board game and avatars playing Nessie Hunt can now use cameras, sonar machines, biological equipment, underwater cameras and, of course, the cage!
But collecting points is only half of the game. I created a currency called Nessie Dollars which is provided to players by a game sponsor at the beginning of the game. Along the way, using more sophisticated equipment costs an increasing amount of money. The HQ tent contains a paymaster who pays you so much during each phase of the game, but this is not enough to keep you going.
We added extra financial bite by including Logistic "HELP" cubes which you click for assistance. They tend to be fairly neutral in the early game, but become increasingly aggravating as your points increase.
Also, in order to make the game as realistic as possible we have introduced panels of experts to whom you have to present your evidence. Sometimes they will improve it for you adding more points, but occasionally they will criticise it or strip it from you causing you serious problems. Computer enhancement, for instance, can be applied to photographs. You have to pay for the privilege and the results are unpredictable. Sometimes the image will turn out to be faked and you lose the original points, other times it might be shown to be even better than you thought and a huge points bonus is obtained. Dare you take the chance?
At the end of the game you return to your cage to discover whether you have caught the Loch Ness monster or have an empty or damaged cage. These points can be critical to winning or losing.
Within the virtual Loch Ness environment there is a very accurately and professionally produced Loch Ness exhibition in which you will find clues as to how to get the best results in the game.
Click Nessie Hunt Rules to see how the game works. Also click on "2nd Loch Ness" in the top index for some more details.