MacSurvivor: Castillo

Nov 2004 - Feb 2006

The MacSurvivor:Castillo contest was a grueling battle for survivor in a virtual island environment known as Castillo Island. We started with 14 spots on the island, broken down into two tribes of 7 castaways each. The MacSurvivor:Castillo contest lasted for 16 months, requiring energy, stamina, Mac knowledge and patience from all the would-be survivors. Not all of them would make it to the final 4, and only one would make it to the end!

Congratulations to John for outwitting, outplaying and outlasting the 13 other survivors. For a list of all Castillo contestants and the prizes they won, check out the
Mac Guild prize list. For a complete list of the original 14 survivors and all the happenings on Castillo Island, visit the MacSurvivor: Castillo web site.

Click picture to enlarge

The Final Four:

Click here to see all the prizes claimed
Place Prizes Claimed
John Gebhardt
O'Reilly t-shirt, Apple Keychain, Apple ballpoint pen, Your Mac Life archive (9 months), Membership upgrade (12 Mac Guild points), Apple Travel Mug, Dymo 330 Labelwriter, Apress Foundation Mac OS X Web Development, TLA Dragthing, Softworks Fetch 5, Apple mouse pad, Samurai Sword Letter Opener, Apple 20GB iPod, Total Training Photoshop Tricks & Tips, Office:Mac 2004 Pro, Photoshop CS One on One, The Mouse Aluminum, Applescript The Definitive Guide, Classic Photoshop Effects, Apple Mouse pad - Light blue w/white Apple logo, Kitchen Magnet, PodPerch iPod Holder, Pocket Highlighter (Pink), Apple Mouse pad - White w/gray Apple logo, Super Get Info 1.2
Diane Love
Take Control eBook, Apple Been There Done That t-shirt, (2) Apple Keychains, Apple ballpoint pen, Your Mac Life archive (9 months), Membership upgrade (12 Mac Guild points), Age of Mythology, (2) Apple mouse pads, Apple pad of paper, InDesign CS2 Hands-On Training book, Up to speed photoshop CS2 book, Apple Keychain ornament, Apress Micro-ISV: From Vision to Reality, TLA Dragthing, Softworks Fetch 5, Samurai Sword Letter Opener, Dymo Labelwriter 330 Pro
Mark Pickett
Apple pad, Apple Keychain, Apple ballpoint pen, Your Mac Life archive (9 months), Hammer SCSI drive, MacPlay No One Lives Forever 2, Membership upgrade (12 Mac Guild points), Apple Tiger t-shirt, VirtualPC water jug, Apress The Complete Guide to Podcasting, TLA Dragthing, Take Control of Your Airport Network, Apple mouse pad, FileMaker Pro 7, Final Cut Express 1.0.1, Home Theatre Hacks book, Office 2004: Missing Manual book, DigitalMovie DVD-R 3-pack
Jim Melton
iMac t-shirt, Apple Keychain, Apple ballpoint pen, Your Mac Life archive (9 months), Membership upgrade (12 Mac Guild points), VirtualPC Water Jug, TLA Dragthing, Take Control of Your Wi-Fi Security, Bare Bones BBEdit 8, Apple Writing Tablet, Apple Nickel Travel Mug, Apple pad


In the beginning:
On 8/10/04, the Mac Guild kicked off its annual User Group contest. This contest theme returns to the MacSurvivor theme, an epic "Survival"-style Apple User Group contest. We received 16 entrants from the Mac Guild membership, and 14 qualified for the contest. The 14 contestants were split into two teams of 7, and stranded on opposite shores of the virtual island of Castillo. These two tribes, iofthetiger and maclion, will engage in challenge after challenge, each battling to become the sole survivor.

Shark Attacks: As would-be survivors began to recognize that this contest was the real deal, many found themselves without the time necessary to compete. The start of the contest lent itself to several "island accidents", most of them shark attacks, where tribes would lose players, and new players would come in to take their place. The MacLions lost Patty Maloney who was replaced with Mark Pickett (who, by chance, made it to the final three). The iofthetigers was hardest hit, losing Susan Pate, Narinder Dogra, Alex Levinson and Bruce Giancola, who were replaced with Scott Travis, Hazel Valera, James Satterfield, and John Gebhardt (John went on to win the contest).

The Big Con: The first challenge of the contest not only set the tone of ingenuity, but probably also generated the most dramatic impact (effects of which would last to the very end, haunting the Final Tribal council vote). The two tribes needed to create a mailing list post that would generate responses from Mac Guild members without explicitly asking for responses.
The MacLions tempted Mac Guild members to respond by talking about ficticious features of Apple's next OS to follow Tiger, dubbed Lion. The iOfTheTiger tribe provided a non-working URL for their tribe in hopes to encourage responses regarding the broken link. Mac Guild members were the first victims of the con, as some became quite anxious about the false OS X rumors. However, the biggest victim, perhaps was the iofthetiger tribe. During the course of this event, the maclion tribe deviously created a working URL for the once broken iofthetiger URL. The announced URL, instead of giving a page not found error, redirected visitors to the maclion home page.

The very fact that domains were being purchased for gaining an edge foretold the tremendous effort that these contestants would put forth as they fought for the sole survivorship. Many have wondered about the devious minds behind the big web site scandal. Thanks to Jim Melton, secrets have been revealed!

MacLions: Behind the Scenes

Judd set the tone: "Anyways, I guess we have a lot of work to do to get this show on the road. I had a fun time the last time we had this Mac Survivor Contest. So this should be a great time too. If I read this letter correctly, we must come up with a Name and post it on the Guild website. I guess the big thing to remember is Kobe-ashi Maru, hence, break all the rules."

"We are rocking ahead! And being first, is pretty darned important. We need to keep the pressure on them. The harder they have to work, the better chance they will mess up and produce inferior products, hence that name, IOFTHETIGER."

A little bit later, Judd announces:
" - Guess what! I just bought it!!!!! What should it say? The MacLions Rule?"

Which arouses concern with Diane: "Yikes. I'm wondering if we ought to defend our own name from cybersquatters before they hit us back."

Judd pounds in the final nail: "The NEW website is up!!!! Under new management!!!!! Ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!! Take a Look! They will be in shock and awe! Lane, I added your email link. Also, I blatently said, who would send you to a phoney website.  Well, we fixed their wagon!!!!!"

The MacLion tribe won this pivotal first challenge 2 responses to zero. Did this leave a lasting impression with the iofthetiger tribe? The final two just happened to be one castaway from the original MacLion tribe (Diane), and one castaway from the original iOftheTiger tribe (John). Let's take a look at the two ex-iofthetiger jury members during their final tribal vote:

  • Moe voted for John, noting, "I still harbor just the teensiest bit of hard feelings over the hijack of the iofthetigers website!"
  • Scott voted for John and said, "And, admittedly, I still harbor ill feelings towards the cybersquatting of the iofthetigers web site, so when Diane boasted about it recently, it was not a good way to win my vote."

Tribes on the Web: The second immunity challenge had the two teams create web sites for their tribes from scratch, and both teams come up with some very original designs. The
MacLion tribe borrowed from Apple's theme, with a crisp layout, and even a contest. The iofthetiger tribe designed a stylish Tiger-themed layout with some nice graphics. In the end, the MacLion tribes web site was voted the best, and so for the second time, the iofthetiger tribe had to vote another member off the island.

Sailing to Victory: Perhaps the most intense challenge that these two tribes fought in was the
Island Rush task, which was also the 3rd immunity challenge. Both tribes set sail from Castillo island in their virtual ships of the Venator de Leo (Lion Hunter) and the Pride of the MacLions. The teams had to navigate through a scatter of uncharted islands, mapping their findings along the way (they started without any map). From island to island, they bartered resources for other resources, using up fuel, food and water on the way. Their goal was to be the first to purchase a Mac system and deliver it to the secret province of Bagara located on an unknown island. Along the way, they conversed with island mayors to gather clues. To some, this was an opportunity to show off navigational skills and resource management; to others, it was nothing short of a navigational nightmare and resource drain. During the adventure, the tribes would engage in gaming activity on Sabbia Island as well as a battle of vessels at the island of Pinot. In the end, both tribes did fairly well, neither team running out of vital resources, albeit the Pride of the MacLions did have to take an awful long detour to make up for resource mis-management. They were able to regain nautical miles when the Venator paused on several occasions. However, it was Captain John and the Venator that reach Bagara first with the Mac system, and so for the first time, the iofthetiger tribe won immunity.

Cybernauts: After the 3rd immunity challenge, the two tribes merged into a single tribe named the Cybernauts. From that point on, all award and immunity challenges would be individual challenges (although some of the tasks started out with makeshift teams). This team of 7 castaways made up what would eventually be the 5 jury members, and the final two survivors. But which two would it be? One by one, members were booted from the tribe. After the
5th immunity challenge, the tribe had dwindled down to just four castaways. The 6th immunity challenge, dubbed "Banner Year", split the 4 into teams of 2, with the goal of creating Cybernaut web sites that were reflective of the MacSurvivor: Castillo experience, including references to fallen castaways. The team of Jim and Mark provided some excellent content, but the style of their web site fell flat. The team of Diane and John not only produced some awesome content, but a fantastic and mood-setting theme that blew the other web site design out of the water. With a clear victor, John and Diane then had to decide who would walk away with immunity. In this tribe of 4, John was clearly at a council disadvantage being the only remaining iofthetiger amidst 3 MacLions. "The Donald", who occasionally would have to hold board room meetings to settle problems on the island, flew into the island to help determine who should win the immunity necklace. There would either be competition between John and Diane, or if they were to agree which of the two would get immunity, the other would be awarded a prize. Diane opted for the prize, giving John a much needed immunity.

Jury Joins the Castaways in Mystic City: Down to just three castaways, the final immunity challenge, dubbed "
The Gate", brought back all the castaways that were currently in the jury to partake with John, Diane and Mark in a role playing game. This challenge utilized a bulletin board web form where all participants entered textual commands. Each command would be critical to what action takes place on Castillo, and in the hidden town of Mystic City where all the participants would eventually spend the remainder of the challenge. This challenge was filled with multitudes of sub-challenges throughout, including mapping, communication, book reviews, card playing, and most important, constistent and persistent participation. The jury members were given roles of their own, and had tips to hand out to the three players. The tips could be bargained for in a number of ways, including purchasing (using Castillo zapatti). The first one who solved the puzzle of the lighthouse and got into a boat back to tribal council would win immunity. For the third immunity challenge in a row, John won the challenge, and would have to select either Diane or Mark to go with him to the final tribal council.

The Last Tribal Council: For the
final Tribal Council, the jury of 5 fallen castaways would return for one last vote. The big difference is that they would be voting for the winner. Each jury member ask questions of both finalists, John and Diane. John and Diane responded to the questions, and made final statements in hopes of winning the vote.


After everyone spoke their piece, the votes were cast.

Moe voted for... John
Judd voted for... Diane
Scott voted for... John
Mark voted for... Diane

The tie-breaking vote belongs to Jim, an ex-MacLion. Would he vote out of allegiance to his old tribe, or vote for the one who he thought deserved to win?

Jim voted for... John

Final Words

John Gebhardt

Without question this has been the most concentrated involvement in Mac related activities in my experience. Only dedicated Mac users would even consider being involved in such an event (and an even more dedicated user creating and managing such a thing). Can you imagine a "PC Survivor 2006"?? What would they do, try to figure out how to make Windoze interesting? I have been exposed to a group of exceptional Mac users in the course of Survivor Castillo and have learned a great as well. I think that anyone who had the fortitude to engage in this contest is to be commended.

I joined the contest as a replacement for a less fortunate (or, perhaps, wiser player) and expected to be involved for a few weeks to a couple of months. A year and a half later I found myself one of the final survivors of Castillo. Throughout the contest I was challenged and impressed by the skills and cunning of all of the players. I was also amazed by Bill's dedication and creativity to keep the contest interesting and progressive. I learned a great deal and developed new friendships during my stay on the Island (though I have yet to meet any of the other castaways in person). My family was very surprised at the final outcome and also very glad to have me back and away from the Mac again.

Diane Love

We've come a long way together. We started out as names on email postings and now many of us are friends. We started out as two tribes then had to team with our former enemies and battle our former team-mates. Through all of this your company and friendship, your achievements and your appreciation for my achievements have been my best rewards.

Undoubtedly Bill has worked hardest on this for the duration of the contest, and we all owe him our thanks for the efforts he has made to challenge and reward us. He isn't going to win any prizes at the end of all of this, but his reward is surely the creation of a stunning team of Mac Guild contributors who have demonstrated that both individually and together we can do whatever we set our minds to.

The Rest of the Cybernauts...

Judd was the first jury member - this Floridian was caught off guard when he got the boot. His last words:

I'm shocked and dismayed that I was voted off when I was! Alas... in fact I feel ganged up upon... hmmm.... Maybe they were voting for the Judd on the TV Survivor Program... That must be it. My time on the island felt like a long arduous journey into the nether-realm, other than that it was A O.K.!

Moe was the next to go. Another Floridian, she enjoyed the ride despite the conflicts the game had with her personal commitments.

Scott was the next to go, a victim of circumstance that was beyond his control. His parting words:

Being part of the contest was great. There was a lot of hard work, but I had a lot of fun. The game certainly became a lot more exciting when it accelerated in the last couple of months. I'm definitely looking forward to participating in the next contest!

Jim made it into the final four, but then fell victim to tribal vote and became the 4th member of the jury. His final words:

To all my fellow former castaways: Survivor is about outlasting all the other contestants. I'm surprised I lasted this long! Bill has once again put together an insane contest to challenge our wits and stretch our abilities. To the three who have outlasted me I say: Congratulations. To get this far is amazing, and you are deserving of whatever prizes you walk away with. The thing I like best about these contests is getting to virtually meet and get to know other Guild members from around the world. It has truly been a pleasure to compete with you.

Mark went down to the wire against John and Diane, but misgivings at Mystic City left him out of the final two, and so he became the 5th and final member of the jury. His parting words:

I really enjoyed playing MacSurvivor. It went on much longer than I expected, but that was alright. I started to have trouble finding time to play the last challenge though. I started a new position at work that took a lot more of my time. I tried to balance the remaining time between family and survivor, but I must say that they they were getting irritated by all the time I was spending on the computer. Thanks again for a great game!

Copyright © 2006, Bill M Catambay