"I'm 31 and I can't go to haunted houses."
March 29, 2013 9:25 AM   Subscribe

"'It Sucked': Legends of the Hidden Temple, as remembered by a former contestant." A follow-up to an article we talked about previously.
posted by invitapriore (32 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
hey, Busch Gardens isn't that bad.
posted by k5.user at 9:29 AM on March 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


SB Nation really wants me to befriend Big Mac on Facebook. I don't have the heart to tell them that being friends with a hamburger is stupid.
posted by item at 9:31 AM on March 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


I also love Busch Gardens!

Actually when watching this show as a kid I always wanted to be on it but I knew I never could because I have ALWAYS been terrified of things jumping out at me.
posted by chainsofreedom at 9:38 AM on March 29, 2013


Rembert Browne just covered LOTHT for Grantland.

THE RED CHIPMUNKS OR WHATEVER ARE GETTING STUCK WITH A CARTON OF PARTING-GIFT CHOCOLATE MILK.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:45 AM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm not big on theme parks in general, but Busch Gardens crushes DisneyWorld ten times out of ten.

Also, I have no memory of this show, despite the fact that I was squarely in its target demographic and I used to watch Nickelodeon all the time. This must have been when I was in my adolescent "too cool for kids' stuff anymore" phase. Now I'm kind of sad I missed it. It looks like Double Dare with history lessons, which sounds awesome.
posted by Rangeboy at 9:55 AM on March 29, 2013


Rangeboy: Fake history lessons. I doubt if there was more than 10% fact mixed into the stories and "legends" that the show was based around.
posted by lostburner at 9:58 AM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Eh, it's not like 13-year-old me would have known the difference.
posted by Rangeboy at 9:59 AM on March 29, 2013


Despite being the prime age for this show when it was on, we didn't have cable at home so I had never heard of it until a kid I went to middle school with was on it. We watched his episode during math class for some reason. It was a double whammy of feeling left out because a) the show looked awesome and I hadn't seen it before and b) the kid was an idiot and I could have done so much better on the show than he did.
posted by zsazsa at 10:01 AM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rembert Browne just covered LOTHT for Grantland.

Every time I start a Rembert Browne article, I'm convinced that this will be the one where his shtick suffocates itself and my brain will finally allow itself to hate his writing.

Nope. This wasn't that one either.
posted by Etrigan at 10:03 AM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


The thing is, zsazsa, all the kids on Nickelodeon game shows were idiots. Between this and Nick Arcade I always sounded like an 80 year old man watching sports. "AWWW COME ON! I COULD DO IT BETTER THAN THAT! NO, YOU IDIOT, NOT THAT WAY!"
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:12 AM on March 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


I remember this show as well as all of the after school programming around this time on Nick and elsewhere. But I remember watching it with distinct neutrality. Not like "Wow, how cool" but more like "This is on now. It's less boring than C-SPAN."
posted by bleep at 10:27 AM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I watched that show- not because I liked it, just because it was on. I don't think I ever saw anybody make it through the temple to win the prize.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:29 AM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Growing up in Tampa, Busch Gardens was pretty awesome. I have great memories of huddling in the train stations after being caught in a torrential downpour.

"I thought we were pretty much dead in the water on the Steps of Knowledge because my partner was an abject idiot."

This was clearly obvious to everyone watching.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:31 AM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I watched this religiously as a kid, and yeah...I'm pretty sure that I've been cocksure about a few "history" trivia bits over the years that were actually bad information from this show... :)

I would still kill for a piece of the Crag, though.
posted by rollbiz at 10:31 AM on March 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Show must have done something right w/r/t me, though, because I found it endlessly entertaining. Still do. I would watch re-runs in a heartbeat. It was by far the best thing on Nick, except maybe the Crag.
posted by likeatoaster at 10:31 AM on March 29, 2013


"I don't have the heart to tell them that being friends with a hamburger is stupid."

I know it might sound stupid but hey have you met my friend this bong?
posted by A god with hooves, a god with horns at 10:43 AM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I had a friend in university who won a piece of The Crag on Guts. Every year for Halloween into his late 20s he went as a Guts champion with a Guts shirt and Agrocrag medal. We once got in a fight because I said he should dress up as Scot Stap from Creed as they had the same hair cut. Things got pretty rough after that.
posted by Telf at 11:34 AM on March 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


The thing is, zsazsa, all the kids on Nickelodeon game shows were idiots. Between this and Nick Arcade I always sounded like an 80 year old man watching sports. "AWWW COME ON! I COULD DO IT BETTER THAN THAT! NO, YOU IDIOT, NOT THAT WAY!"

For some reason, this stuck in my memory. Watching Family Double Dare (or whatever it was called) and they asked "What country is Stonehenge in?" and not one single person got the right answer. I know the producers of those types of shows don't want someone too smart or too dumb (from an interview with the one who did Who Wants to be a Millionaire at the time) but this was depressing. Then watching them do the physical challenge, and that was just as depressing. It made me wonder where they got those people.
posted by usagizero at 12:19 PM on March 29, 2013


Thinking about it like a game designer:
A problem with the prize game on Legends of the Hidden Temple is that there's substantial hidden information the players have no access too.

As Olmec says at the beginning, you might do all these things. Yeah, and there might be a temple guard in any of those rooms; the players have no information on where they might be, making it effectively a die roll to them whether that's a good decision or not. Three guards in 11 rooms (according to Wikipedia, the goal room never has a guard). Sometimes, like in this run (warning: facepalm worthy), a guard's in the first room.

To remind: there are three guards in certain rooms. In the earlier rounds, players earn "pendants of life," and at the prize game could have one, one-and-a-half, or two of them. If you have one, the first player gets it; if you have 1 1/2, the second player gets the half; if you have two, each gets one. If you run into a guard during the game, you can hand him a full pendant, if you have one, and keep going. If you don't, you're out of the game and the second player has a go. If the team has a half-pendant, the other half will be somewhere in the temple.

Now. Assuming entering a guard room is the trigger for a guard, the chances of running into all three guards is slim, but the chances of running into two is relatively high, and has a poisonous effect on your run. Not only does your teammate have to go into the temple from the start and make his way through (although with the advantage of any puzzles you've solved), but he's been watching the run from the side and don't have a good view of what you've done, which leads a lot of kids to make decisions that appear, to us watching at home, stupid. It's been a long time since I watched the show, but I seem to remember most runs falling apart once the second team member enters the picture. (Plus don't forget: a team probably picked their most athletic member to go in first, as the chances are best that way.)

The second problem: Although the difficulties from the guards are great, the timer is the real problem. At three minutes it's long for this kind of show, but its still not enough considering the wide variety of tasks players have to perform: climbing ropes and walls, assembling monkey pieces, breaking pots, putting shaped objects into slots, piecing things together, and opening doors. An obstacle course is difficult enough, but this is an obstacle course presented as a big navigation task with dead-ends and red herrings. And when you see the temple map in the corner has the goal dot placed at the far end of the map instead of in the middle, as in the above-linked video, well, it doesn't bode well for the kids' chances. And to get the grand prize you have to get out with the artifact as well. All the doors are open and the guards are gone, but it's still a convoluted obstacle course, and you're probably almost out of time. I can only assume they put the artifact at the far side of the temple when they have it in for the kids for some reason.

Which leads us to the third problem, which is of game shows in general: when you see a show where there's a very low win rate, it's probably because they made it like that on purpose to reduce the show's prize budget. What matters to the producers is the drama of the game, not necessarily how fair it is. Game show designers aren't stupid, and they know exactly how hard their game is. You can bet this game was tested extensively in pre-production and they knew exactly how likely it was for a kid to win with the artifact placed in the middle or the far end of the temple. Having a fairly low win rate, to some degree, is good for a game show anyway; it gives it a reputation for difficulty and keeps viewers guessing if this will be one of the episodes they'll win.

It's good for the producers and for ratings, but it's not fair to the players. Of course, you wouldn't expect kids, either playing or watching, to know that.
posted by JHarris at 12:42 PM on March 29, 2013 [18 favorites]


Reading the article: offering a different grand prize on reruns seems unethical, like a way to gain money from new advertisers without actually have to offer new prizes. If that's accurate, it doesn't speak well for Nickelodeon/Viacom.
posted by JHarris at 12:50 PM on March 29, 2013


I read Galax-Arena when I was 9 near the end of Legends of The Hidden Temple's run and what can I say, it made that show horrifying.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 1:27 PM on March 29, 2013


Having a fairly low win rate, to some degree, is good for a game show anyway; it gives it a reputation for difficulty and keeps viewers guessing if this will be one of the episodes they'll win.

See also Ninja Warrior. I don't think I've ever seen a winning episode of that.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:41 PM on March 29, 2013


I saw people win on Ninja Warrior, definitely. Not every time but it didn't seem that rare.
posted by bleep at 3:13 PM on March 29, 2013


Reading the article: offering a different grand prize on reruns seems unethical, like a way to gain money from new advertisers without actually have to offer new prizes. If that's accurate, it doesn't speak well for Nickelodeon/Viacom.

"If the Blue Barracudas escape the Temple with the Amulet of Lightfootedness, they'll EACH receive a BRAND NEW iPhone 5!"

*blink*
posted by disillusioned at 3:14 PM on March 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I would like to add that I'm not necessarily opposed to completely hidden information. The design purpose of the guards is to add a penalty for exploration. The problem is there's already a huge penalty for exploration, a time limit. The guards are overkill.
posted by JHarris at 6:19 PM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hidden state can add depth to a game, but the problem here is that the temple guards are essentially a 'fake' hidden state because there's no way to gain information about them other than to trigger them. That is, you could replace the pre-placed (but hidden) guards with a die roll on entering each new room (probability of guard = (TOTAL_GUARDS - GUARDS_SEEN) / (TOTAL_ROOMS - ROOMS_SEEN)). Broadly speaking, this type of high-stakes randomization doesn't make for good games. Now, if the players got some kind of warning that an adjacent room had a guard...
posted by Pyry at 7:10 PM on March 29, 2013


The thing is, Pyry, because there are a set number of guards, and as you explore rooms and trigger guards the probabilities change. Once you've triggered three you know they're not an issue anymore; if you've explored half the temple and you haven't see any yet you know the changes of encountering them in the future are much greater, and so should try to travel through previously-explored rooms as much as possible. So, there is a little strategy involved, although all it really does here is give an additional benefit to covering known ground. There's already a strong benefit to doing that though; when you solve a puzzle it remains solved.

I like your solution of having some indication of guard proximity.
posted by JHarris at 7:33 PM on March 29, 2013


The thing is, Pyry, because there are a set number of guards, and as you explore rooms and trigger guards the probabilities change.

Ah! But you see, the equation takes that into account already. If TOTAL_GUARDS = 3 and GUARDS_SEEN = 3, then P(guard) = 0. Likewise, if there are only three rooms left (TOTAL_ROOMS - ROOMS_SEEN = 3) and three guards left, then P(guard) = 1. Basically, for a player all the hidden guard state collapses down into just two variables: how many guards have I seen, and how many rooms have I seen.
posted by Pyry at 8:00 PM on March 29, 2013


Right, I noticed that yes. But it does have an affect on strategy though, is what I'm saying.
posted by JHarris at 8:11 PM on March 29, 2013


Interesting article. I am an only child and had cable so I watched a lot of Nickelodeon. This show was not one of my favorites but I recall watching it quite a bit, since there weren't really any other options besides Nick.

I also really appreciate the fact that several MeFites are analyzing this game from a math/probability/information access standpoint.
posted by radioamy at 9:26 PM on March 29, 2013


I got sucked into watching the entire episode. I feel most sorry for the losers at the first round, who go home with the amazing prize of: canned tuna.

All kids dream of raiding temples, solving puzzles, and winning canned tuna.
posted by meese at 4:35 PM on March 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Guess what's for lunch!"

"Not tuna salad sandwiches again!"

"Well maybe you should have known the capitol of South Dakota!"
posted by JHarris at 5:56 PM on March 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


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