"Today, one of these two players could win a fortune in cash and prizes worth over $25,000! These are the chests that are holding that fortune, as our players search for..


OBJECTIVE: Two players compete. The object is to gain more time than your opponent, then use that time to find the Buried Treasure and win a $25,000 cash prize.

ROUND 1

A typical Round 1 boardAt the beginning of the game, both players are given 15 seconds for free. To accumulate more time, though, the players must answer questions. A total of 100 seconds are available in the first round, with questions ranging in value from 5 to 20 seconds of time. Questions of the same value are also of the same category, and the more valuable a category is, the fewer questions are in that category. The highest-valued question of each round is known as the "Grab Bag" question, and has no category attached to it. Players can buzz in to answer while a question is read, but doing so and then answering incorrectly will incur a 5-second penalty. Upon a correct answer, that player gets to choose the next question to be asked.

Which treasure chest holds our prize for today?After the first round, the leader then has the opportunity to open one of four treasure chests. One chest contains a prize worth $750-$1000, another chest adds time to the player's score, one does both, and one is empty. The leader can open one chest at the cost of 20 seconds from his or her score. If he/she refuses, the host can then sweeten the pot by offering cash, making the cost of playing less than the amount of bonus time available (meaning he/she can come out ahead if he/she picks a chest with bonus time), or even reducing the number of treasure chests in the bonus round. If there's a tie for the lead, the players auction for the right to open a chest.

ROUND 2

A typical round 2 boardThe second round plays similarly to the first. This time, there are six questions, worth 10, 20, or 30 seconds. Again, the 30-second question is a Grab Bag. Jumping the gun and answering incorrectly costs a player 10 seconds in this round. At the end of this round, if one player is ahead by 50 seconds or more, s/he wins automatically. If the round ends in a tie, one 5-second questions is asked to break that tie.

At this point, the final round (also known as the "Catch-Up Round") is played. The number of chances each player has to catch up depends on how far apart they are in the scores.

Beginning with the player who's behind, the host asks a question. If correct, that player moves into the lead by 5 seconds and forces his/her opponent to play. If not, the scores stay the same. Play continues until one player runs out of chances to catch up, at which point the leader is crowned as the champion. The winner receives a prize worth $2000-$3000, and advances to the bonus round.

BONUS ROUND

Now it's time for our champion to try for the $25,000 grand prize. The contestant receives as much time as he/she earned in the front game (in the case on the left, 110 seconds) to try to find the buried treasure. The round starts as the player calls out his/her first chest, and the host starts reading questions.

One down, two to go...There are a total 12 treasure chests (or 11, if the player was offered one less chest to go for the bonus prize above). Nine of them are empty, while three of them are filled with buried treasure. When the player answers a question correctly, the chest they selected opens, and he/she is allowed to pick another one. The contestant can pass on any question, but may not move to another window until they open the one that they originally picked.

The player here has won $1300For every empty chest the player is able to open, he/she wins $100. If the contestant manages to open one chest that has buried treasure, he/she wins an extra $1000. In the case on the left, the player has opened three empty chests and one with buried treasure, for a total of $1300.

This player has won $3500The second chest with buried treasure that the contestant is able to find and open wins him/her another $2000. Opening two chests with treasure and five that are empty, like in the example on the right, wins the player $3500.

This contestant has just won $25,000!If a player manages to find and open all three chests with buried treasure, though, he/she wins the grand prize of $25,000. If time runs out after a player has answered correctly, the chest opens anyway, so a contestant can win the big money after the buzzer. A contestant remains on the show for up to three days, or until he/she wins the bonus round.

THE EVOLUTION OF BURIED TREASURE

Buried Treasure originally began as "The Time Bomb" back when I was in high school. There were a few differences between the format you see here and the original rules, particularly in the front game, which had players answering questions in four categories for 5 seconds each, and a 10 second bonus for getting three out of five in a category. The endgame required the player to "defuse" the three live segments of the Time Bomb for the big money, although the player didn't know which sections were live until time ran out, at which point the player could take home $100 for each section defused, or risk it for the big money in the hopes that all three live sections were chosen (if you didn't have all three, tough noogies). The feedback I got on this was relatively positive, except for the fact that people thought that the gimmick of a time bomb might have been a little too negative to work.

About a year later, while taking a bath (don't all epiphanies occur while we're in the bathroom?), I changed the name of the show to "Magic Windows," and made the tweaks in the front game that are now there today. I also made the endgame a little easier to win. The general response to these changes were quite positive, but it wasn't until only recently that I spotted probably the most obvious flaw a game show could have: a faulty title. Most game show names employ commonly-used phrases (Let's Make a Deal), alliteration (Family Feud), or other literary devices. "Magic Windows" had none of this. As a result, I changed the name again to "Buried Treasure" (which makes at least some sense outside of the title - when was the last time you heard someone use the phrase "Magic Windows" in a conversation?) and the color scheme was darkened from vibrant reds, oranges and cyans to a reliance on greens and golds. WHO WOULD I HIRE? (If I couldn't pick myself)

Host: My first pick for host would be Peter Tomarken. He's a good, solid veteran, recognizable from his work on Press Your Luck. And having been on PYL, he's developed a good sense of pacing for fast-paced games like this one. If he's still around and in the biz, Jim Perry might make a nice host. Certainly the temptation game after the first round would be right up his alley, after hosting Sale of the Century for six years. If neither was available, I'd go with Bob Eubanks, another great and personable host. Q&A games are not really his forte, though.

Announcer: Even though he seems to be plenty busy with the Pearson shows, I wouldn't mind seeing Burton Richardson doing the voice-overs. I could just hear him giving the emphasis on the "$25,000!" in the intro.

Set: As mentioned above, this show will have a lot of green to it. The contestant podiums will stand camera left, the host's podium camera right, with a video wall upstage center. There will be plenty of chasing lights to keep the set looking flashy, and the show's logo will be above the video wall.

SELLING POINTS

One of the things I really like about this game is the relation between front game performance and bonus round difficulty. The better you do at the start, the better your chances to win the money. I also like the buzzer-battle element, as that's one gimmick that gets little use in the genre. (Most Q&A shows in recent years have required players to wait for the full question before buzzing in.) The format of the endgame, as well, incorporates some luck into the fold. A player could hypothetically win after opening only 3 chests, or lose despite opening 11. And of course, the tension of the clock ticking down (right in the center of the board, no less) as you search for the buried treasure adds some great drama

CONS

Perhaps the most difficult thing in making this show work will be finding the right range of difficulty for the questions. A good bonus round should have between 100-120 seconds at the player's disposal, which requires the leader to have between 80-100 seconds going into the Catch-Up round. With 15 seconds spotted to both players at the outset, that essentially requires the players to earn about 150 seconds out of a possible 200 in the first two rounds. If the questions are too easy, we'll see people enter the bonus round with three minutes to work with, and winning the big money will be pretty much a foregone conclusion in that case. If they get too difficult, players will only have 60 seconds to play the endgame, and winning $25,000 will be awfully difficult to pull off.

FRUITION RATING (1-10): 10

LOOGAROO PRODUCTION PRIORITY: 2nd

Questions, comments, cares or concerns? Use the link on the left to E-mail me and tell me what you think!


The Buried Treasure theme song. (C) 1997 Tim Connolly

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