0. I know how to drive
And I have a Costa Rican driver's license. But, strictly speaking, it's not legal for me to use it after 3 months of entering Spanish territory. Luckily, the Spanish government has an agreement with mine in which I can trade the Costa Rican license for a Spanish one in a DGT* office.
The problem: getting an appointment in Barcelona is impossible. So I did what many people recommended: schedule an appointment in a random city and use that as an excuse to travel. And, after two failed attempts I did: on a Thursday in a city 6 hours away. Had to cancel it.
Since Spanish geography was never my forte in school†, this system is basically a roulette to me. 50 unknown provinces, 3 attempts per day, 1 winner.
*Dirección General de Tránsito
† Fun fact: my Costa Rican high school taught Spanish geography, history, and literature.
1. I love games and going places with my friends
Sometimes, traveling with others is more fun and cheaper than traveling alone. Even so, it presents some challenges such as accommodating the whole group’s schedule and budget. Luckily, we all have a very low budget and similar availability. Thus, we agreed on a long weekend trip.
With these constraints, we all agreed that traveling more than 4 hours for a couple of days away is not reasonable. So, pick closer places? Not exactly.
In Spain, some places have access to high-speed trains that can get you to the furthest places faster. Which places? I had no idea. And I wasn’t gonna Google each of the provinces to find out, so I thought of an algorithm/game to do this research efficiently.
2. The game
The first rule of any successful elimination game (at least in manga and webtoons) is finding a way to disqualify a sizeable portion of the contestants in the first round.
Sourcing a list of AVE stations became a great criterion for the first round because it eliminated more than half of the contestants. The next rounds were planned in order of difficulty for me to execute. In other words, the more time-consuming tasks were left for the latter rounds because it’s better to execute them with fewer contestants.
I am aware that, with my first elimination criteria, I may weed out good, cost-effective places with regular trains. But the goal here is not perfection, it’s efficiency. This is a loss that I was willing to take.
3. It moves
The tiled cartogram of Spain is the base of the whole project. Thus, it made sense to visualize the changes and game progression in a dynamic way.
So I planned an animation with this cartogram as the central feature and each round’s specific elimination criteria as supporting visuals in each scene.
As eliminations were done hierarchically, it also made sense to animate the changes in the bar charts.
The chosen scenes are each of the game’s rounds:
Round 1: High-speed rails
Round 2: Time
Round 3: DGT Office
Round 4: Price
Reasons for elimination:
Huesca: No DGT Headquarters.
Madrid: Probably as impossible to get as in Barcelona.
Calatayud: Not the closest station to the Zaragoza DGT office.
Guadalajara & Menorca: Impossible to get there comfortably using public transportation.
4. In the end...
1. Train travel is not as cheap as I thought. Driving is (almost) always cheaper.
2. The 3 winning provinces are inside Catalunya. In fact, we might not even need to stay overnight because all winning cities are less than 2 hours away.
3. It's cheaper to fly to Ibiza than to travel by train to anywhere outside Catalunya.
Regardless of this, I'm still a fan of public transportation. And at least now I know how to pursue this efficiently. Now I just have to get the appointment, gather the crew, and pack my bags.
I haven't done it though, my license is way beyond its expiration date. 😅
Project advised by Gemma Busquets