Why, yes! Casual vs. Hard Core is the same everywhere (and I am still part of a group that is smaller than usual, intends first and foremost to have fun, pretty much all get my feminism jokes, enjoys excessive challenges and does better than one would expect given our size and level-of-taking-it-seriously but is never at the very forefront of raid progression.)
Some of it is also clearly different puzzling styles. There were more puzzles that required coding this year, or pulling up signal processing software instead of trying to manually force them. On my team I'm one of the worse coders so we didn't have a problem with, say, the fractal word search (iteration 169 was important at one point). Some people who are Puzzlers don't want to have to use outside tools or scripts to solve things, and I can understand that, but many of their puzzles become trivial if people do and then the hunt ends on Saturday.
I mean, some of the puzzles *were* excessively hard and enormous and there *should* probably have been half as many puzzles. But unlike many people, I didn't miss the 2/3rds of puzzles that just feel like busywork. I suspect the right way to do it is have the first half of the hunt be fun and accessible and then have a runaround followed by another 50 puzzles that are wicked hard and you have to solve to win.
Edited at 2013-01-26 05:12 pm (UTC)