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Posts posted by Moonrise


    What is this and why is it here?

    This is a retrospective on helping run the 2023 MIT Mystery Hunt from a member of this year’s organizing team, teammate. It is in these forums because in a way, my personal puzzle journey was catalyzed here (I won’t go into that story here though). 

    I don’t expect this sort of post to be a frequent occurrence, if ever again, so please forgive me your confusion if you stumbled in by chance. It’s mostly intended for folks on these forums who already know me and/or about puzzlehunts, and for me to send this link to friends who’ve been wondering why I disappeared for a year... But considering where I am posting this I’ll begin with an intro.

    Some context:  What is a puzzlehunt? What is the Mystery Hunt?

    A puzzlehunt is a collection of puzzles often connected by an overarching story. Solve some puzzles, unlock more puzzles, save the day. In a puzzle you receive some information and have to extract an answer out of it, which is almost always an English word or phrase. Puzzles come in many different forms and on any topic imaginable. The only commonality is a lack of instructions on how to solve it, that’s up to you to find out. Here is a more exhaustive description.

    The annual Mystery Hunt is the largest puzzle hunt of its kind. MITMH runs annually during MLK weekend, this year in person for the first time since 2020. The first team to find the “coin” hidden at the end of the hunt wins. By tradition the previous year's winning team writes the next MH. It is an honor, and a responsibility. A promise, and an opportunity. 

    I describe it to my bemused non-puzzle friends and colleagues as organizing a (free-to-attend) research conference. Except instead of inviting speakers you make all 160 presentations yourself, including performing the disparate research for each and often with minimal experience in the topics. Among other things. In one year.

    The mystery hunt is a culmination of the organizing team’s endless volunteer time, love, and creativity into this crazy hobby that brings us together. This year was no different. 

    On to the hunt itself and the writing process:

    Disclaimer: These comments center around my own interests and contributions in the hunt. I am only one person in a team of more than 60 so there was a lot more happening behind the scenes.

    Another disclaimer: Spoilers ahead.

    Final note: Original websites were on interestingthings.museum and puzzlefactory.place. They are now archived here.

    Usually Hunt lasts for just a weekend. You have fun solving some puzzles with friends, then move on with life. 

    When teammate won MH22, to me it felt like that hunt never ended. We finished on Sunday 16 Jan 2022. On Monday our leaders met with the departing team’s exec for the hand off. On Wednesday I joined our Discord writing server. We had the theme of MH23 chosen by the end of that month and the writing process was continuous since then. By the end of 2022 I couldn't make small talk without something puzzley entering the conversation. We ran our hunt in Jan 2023. So only now as far as I am concerned is MH22 finally over. 

    The theme this year opened up as a museum with puzzling exhibits written by an AI: MATE (Act 1). It quickly became evident that something was wrong and teams “illicitly” gained access to the Puzzle Factory operated by MATE (Act 2). MATE was overworked by teammate and needed your help along with the help of four rejected AIs to fix the factory and fix Mystery Hunt (Act 3). 

    However the original theme proposal left room for interpretation and flexibility, probably too much. Discussions about hunt structure and story worldbuilding lasted for months afterwards. I didn’t feel well versed enough in MH traditions or storytelling to offer useful insights so I mostly stayed out of these. I do love a good story (don't we all on these forums...) but writing is a different matter. I did lurk hard in the story and hunt structure channels and used it as inspo for some concept art. (See if you can id the connections between these and the final product!) This period of development was incredibly important, though it perhaps delayed puzzle writing. I’ve read from previous years’ writing teams that requiring too much from theme proposals pre-selection led to an “arms race” of ideas that caused tension and significant wasted effort. I assume our rush to select a theme was an attempt to avoid that. It caused its own problems so maybe there is a sweet spot. 

    Puzzle writing began with the Act 2 metas in March. Act 1 metapuzzle writing was opened in April. Act 3 metapuzzle brainstorming started sometime concurrently but writing lasted well beyond the other two. I was involved in one of each of these. I remember finalizing the Act 1 metapuzzle during a layover in London at the end of May, memorable mostly because I realized my charge adapter was in my checked bag (I would think I learned the first time, but this happened twice during hunt writing). 

    By this point I was itching to move full time to writing feeder puzzles, but metapuzzles are priority so that was my focus. The Act 2 metapuzzle I was involved in finished its final testsolve mid-June. 

    Puzzles I worked on:

    Going in I was hesitant about the number of puzzles I could contribute to. I am not a prolific author. My decent ideas are few and far in between. Good puzzles tend to come from in sync collaborations and I wasn’t hopeful for many of those since I was 6-9 timezones away from most teammates. In our writing interest form I believe I answered “5(?)” on the “how many puzzles can you contribute to” question. 

    To my surprise I underestimated it a bit :) I am happy with most of the core ideas here, though in hindsight I would definitely change things. Ah well, that's how we learn. The writing process of each of these puzzles has a story behind it. I have notes about each but won’t include those here for the sake of brevity unless someone really wants to know. But tl;dw (too long; didn’t write): it was an adventure... 

    Here is the list of puzzles and the round they appear in.

    Bridge Building (Science)
    Formula Deluxe (Natural History)
    A Conspiracy Network (World History meta)
    The Junk Pile (Basement meta)
    Alloy of Words (Office)
    Sliced Up (Factory Floor)
    Error: File "txtadv.py" not found (Wyrm)
    Endless Knots (Wyrm)

    I am also credited on The Devil's in the Details (Wyrm), Period of Wyrm (Wyrm metameta), The Scheme (Wyrm meta), and Reactivation (Act 2 capstone meta) though my role in these ranged minor to “I think they forgot to remove me”. 

    I am credited as the artist in Tissues (Factory Floor) and The Blueprint (Factory Floor meta). The latter of these took up 70% of my time in the months before Hunt which I'll talk about in the next section.

    I didn’t testsolve many puzzles (mostly due to timezones again) but individual ones I enjoyed were Kubernetes, Think Fast, and (snake emoji) . Also Dispel the Bees is a great one and I am particularly fond of Cute Cats (yes, my cats made it on there). 

    Art contributed:

    Puzzles are the beating heart of any puzzlehunt. But teammate is also a very tech, story, and art happy team. We have trouble saying “no” in the face of crazy visions. Additionally, MH is a place to set a spectacle. This led to serious scope creep across the board (i.e. “hey let’s make a point and click game with animations and parallax, that sounds cool!”). 

    I wanted to contribute a bit, so I joined the art team. I’m fairly new to digital art but I always wanted to give it a try in a larger scope… well, be careful what you wish for. 

    I ended up on the Factory art team (there were also Museum and AI teams). Our work included everything in Act 2.

    The process was a huge challenge.

    — Factory Architecture: 

    A large part of the hunt theme was the "puzzle factory," the place where puzzles are made. A graphical story presentation meant that we had to design one to our requirements. This meant I suddenly had to become an architect.

    We wanted the factory building architecture to be somewhat believable (#iamnotanarchitectbutohwell). The design had to accommodate the factory rounds, unlock ordering(!), and meta constraints(!!, looking at you Blueprint;) ). There also had to be a monitor bank somewhere to tie all the hunt rounds together. I remember conversations about whether the factory is one or multiple buildings, where the front door should be (what do solvers see first after entering the factory?), which direction do floors unlock, how do areas connect inside, etc. I also wanted to stay realistic to my art abilities and the perceived time commitment compared to puzzles (haha).

    Oddly enough, putting all this together was like solving a wacked logic puzzle. It was fun! It also took a lot of time. 

    — Tech: 

    We scope-crept our way into making the factory as immersive as possible. This translated to point and click game UI (i.e. puzzles are objects you find in rooms (small thing, but I am proud of suggesting custom mouse cursors (did I just use multiple parenthesis? oh yes))), machinery animations, wide scrolling scenes for a sense of exploration, and a parallaxing background for depth. We took heavy inspiration for these elements from Machinarium. I also ended up playing several games of Deponia, nominally for inspiration but mostly as a break from hunt work. 

    I was not on the tech team and can't imagine how crazy this all was to implement. I can't emphasize enough that all the tech folks are real wizards to make this happen, nothing would be possible without them <3 

    — Art Style: 

    Canonically the factory represents “the real world” whereas all non-factory rounds are “normal puzzlehunt pages.” Therefore we wanted the art style in stark contrast with Museum and AI rounds, but also important we did not want to not distract from them. The Portal games provided heavy inspiration for the mood. 

    I did some art style tests and more concept art, but In the end the art style was partly determined on what could be comfortably produced in large quantities. That ended up being the correct direction as we got closer to the deadline and the work increased. I chose to use a lot of hard edges, occasional outlines, soft shading, and some minor textures. 

    In summary, my art contributions were the monitor bank/factory floor, office, front door, and the factory building scenes. The animations and basement scene were done by amazing teammates Jacqui and Tracy respectively <3 We had guest contributions of various assets all around too <3 And I really really suggest to browse around the rest of the hunt website(s) too! 

    Some fun facts:

    • What would eventually become the final factory building, and thus dictate the internal layout logic, was ideated in a physical sketchbook during some particularly boring conference sessions late August. Sometimes my own priorities in life scare me.
    • Between the factory floor, basement, and office rounds I estimate around 500 individual assets, possibly more.
    • There are 9 cats roaming the factory. 8 are cameos, 7 are clickable so you can learn their names. I meant to add more but ran out of time. 
    • The best brush I found for drawing the stainless steel texture I wanted coincidentally turned out to be a “cat hair brush”. So, you could say the entire factory is covered in cat hair. Hope you’re not allergic.
    • I ended up drawing random assets right up until the night before hunt (that tiling default gear background for example… and before you yell at me for procrastinating, trust me other stuff was a higher priority).
    • The first asset that was ever drawn for the factory... is the cat in the office with a swinging tail. I drew it as a joke, but then realized I could actually include it.

    Overall I am very happy we managed to pull off the final result. Frankly I was not 100% qualified for this, but I loved the process of learning for it and I like to think I improved by the end. Journey before destination, right? But now, I am tired of drawing stainless steel and look forward to trying something else. The Ascent round is one amazing inspiration :) 

    Hunt weekend:

    I will not address the elephant in the room regarding hunt difficulty. (The elephant is getting self conscious and other blog posts cover it enough. I support the difficult decisions taken by our exec team and thank them wholeheartedly for their leadership <3)

    This post is a bit longer than I thought so here I will be brief.

    Running Hunt was wild. It was one of the craziest things I’ve done (and I like doing fun things like skiing on an active volcano with a plume of smoke rising behind me). It was also my first time at the event in person.  

    The week leading up to hunt was a blur, the weekend more so. I spent it answering hints, carrying stuff, running events, visiting teams, running Think Fast and midpoint (playing the villain is fun!) interactions, building columns for kickoff, painting plywood gears late into the night for the final interaction, and not sleeping much. By wrap up we were very very sleep deprived. When I started puzzlehunting a few years back I never imagined it would lead here. But I knew that if the unlikely chance comes to contribute to Mystery Hunt, I would accept it.

    But by far, the best part of Hunt was meeting the people along the way. Both on teammate, and some others... Thank you all, it meant the world to me. 

    (Edit 9 May 2023: Updated links to the archive website and fixed minor wording things)


  2. Hello @TimyHids ! This Shardhunt is officially archived though you are welcome to try to solve the puzzles anyway. We are writing the next Shardhunt but don't have a date for it yet. The link for Shardhunt 1 puzzles is in the previous post and all puzzles are still solvable (except Entangled of which only the first half is solvable). Feel free to poke around with them, or read solutions if you just want to know how it works. 

    If you like what you see, there is a big puzzle event coming up this weekend, starting tomorrow actually, that we are fielding a team for. Contact @Ookla the Meta if you are interested to join.


  3. 3 hours ago, ookla the quantificational said:

    how do team members communicate? Discord?

    Yes, we have a team discord for the upcoming Mystery Hunt. We are composed of a small group of folk from these forums along with friends of friends and people we virtually met from around the hunt community. 

    15 minutes ago, Elf said:

    I'm interested. When is this starting? Then I will say whether I can join or not. 

    This happens over MLK weekend. It starts at noon on Friday, 14 January and goes until that Sunday or Monday. A lot of people take a day or two off work (whistles innocently) but that is totally not necessary! People pop in over the weekend as they are able to. 


    I discovered puzzlehunting on my own, but I owe it to this team for helping me continue with it. Turns out team activities are fun, who would have thought. Here's a thread about an old hunt we did, and I recommend you browse the puzzles/solutions of this one to get a sense of what it is. 

  4. You can be as active as you want/can! We would try to match you with a team if you don't have one. The goal is to have fun with other sharders. Whether that is helping your team on one puzzle or five is up to you! Some people have the most fun working with the whole team, some like to solo puzzles. Some puzzles may take no more than 10 min to solve if figure out what to do, some might take longer and need help from team members so it hard to predict how long things take. 

    Whenever you decide, feel free to join the discord server and we'll take it from there!


  5. @The Awakened Salad not a problem, the next one is over MLK weekend in mid-Jan. If you would like, you can join our discord server to get the latest news on which hunts we are doing. I promise the chat is otherwise pretty quiet, but let me know and I'll send you an invite. Same offer to @HoidWasTaken of course. 

    We'll probably post again on the forum closer to the date about it, but we could as likely forget.

  6. 8 hours ago, The Awakened Salad said:

    How time-intensive would you say this will be? I’d love to participate (and I have a decent amount of random Pokemon trivia stored away in my brain), but I don’t have a lot of time on my hands right now. 

    I would say it is as time intensive as you want it to be! I go into nearly every hunt saying "well, I probably won't have much time for this" and proceed to lose more sleep than I care to admit (but in a fun way!).

    Hunts are anywhere between 1-10 days long, but as a small casual team we don't really plan to working around the clock. The upcoming one on Nov 14 is open for 32 hours (I doubt we need that long to finish). The one in Jan is over the course of MLK weekend. It is the yearly highlight of the puzzlehunt community and I am most definitely losing sleep for it. 

    There are usually only a few hunts per year, although because of covid there have been more because folk got bored perhaps.


    8 hours ago, Danex said:

    What sort of puzzles are the Pokemon ones? Like is it game mechanics? trivia from the shows? The tcg? Just pokemon in general? I assume game mechanics from what you said, but is it basic game mechanics or is it more technical stuff like EVs and IVs? Consider my interest piqued.

    Pokemon stuff is really well documented in Bulbapedia so literally anything on there is fair game and it's a popular dataset for puzzles. Most hunts usually have at least one Pokemon puzzle with the exception of Smogon Puzzle Hunt, which since it is written by folks from the Smogon pokemon forums has a decent bit more. 

    I've seen puzzles with id's, Pokemon evolutions, their skill sets... There was one in Smogon that you had to recognize was based on pokerap (which is apparently a thing??). Needless to say we did not get it and backsolved it. I also know of one which was a mashup of Pokemon and physics, and one which was a mashup of Pokemon and monopoly of all things. 


    So, still interested? :P Or have I discouraged either of you? Pokemon or not, I learn a lot of random trivia because of puzzles so that's always entertaining.

  7. profile_picture_victory.png.c65a29a37c45109bed4832ea306daa4f.png

    For most of this last week of October, myself, @MetaTerminal, @Exalted Dungeon Master, and @Snipexe participated in the teammate puzzlehunt, an online competition of the nerdiest proportions.

    If you’ve never heard of puzzlehunts before, here’s a very brief summary: In a typical puzzle, you receive some information and have to extract an answer out of it, which is almost always an English word or phrase. Puzzles can come in many different forms; the only real commonality is that you usually receive no direct instructions, so it’s up to you to figure out how to make sense of the information you’re given. To name a few, information can be hidden in crosswords, images, videos, or logics. Think of it as an online scavenger hunt. 

    The theme of the recent teammate hunt featured Matt and Emma, personas created by the organizing team, who are celebrating their sixth birthdays. As we progressed through the 38 puzzles, we explored the magical land Matt and Emma were transported to on their birthday. Despite the difficulty level of the hunt we are happy to say we placed on the leaderboard with 5 hours to spare and that it was an overall blast :) 

    My personal favorite puzzles were:

    Do check them out along with the solutions! 

    So what's the gist of this thread?

    We are now looking for more teammates to join our team for the next hunt on Nov 14 hosted by Puzzlehunt CMU and beyond in mid-Jan! Can never have too many teammates. Plus our mascot is a Nightblood wielding M-Bot.

    Do I need experience?

    Nope! Believe it or not, any topic can come up in a puzzle from university level physics/math to Pokemon evolutions. So whatever your knowledge base (or google-fu prowess) we would love to have you join us. 

    So... what do you do again?

    For puzzle solving our team has collectively learned ciphers, played pictionary, programmed stuff, and confused our poor browser histories with all kinds of searches from Norse mythology to My Little Pony to chemical reaction synthesis. In the most recent hunt we even had to make a storming 4D hypercube

    For the record, here is mine. Talk about a learning experience...


    That looks insane... Are all hunts insane like that? 

    It honestly depends on the hunt, but usually hunt organizers go out of their way to make the hunt approachable for both new and experienced teams. Plus you'll be working with teammates and it's a lot of fun :) 

    I recommend looking at Puzzle Potluck, DP Puzzlehunt, and Colby's Curious Cookoff if you have never seen this style of puzzling before. 

    Our captain MetaTerminal has also written Sanderson themed puzzlehunts in times long past so check them out! There are rumours that a 17th Shard puzzlehunt will one day (soon) come back... 


    So, that's all I have. If you are interested in showing off your spreadsheet magic, some niche topic of expertise, or mad sudoku skills reply to the thread. 

    We will also try to keep this thread updated with our future puzzle hunt adventures. 

    (I also have no idea where to put this post. It can arguably go in STEM or Forum Games so as a compromise I put it in General)

  8. I digitized some letters, for fun. In summary there are 19/26 letters identified. The missing ones are FGJPQXZ, if they even exist. In any case I do not feel comfortable guessing their shapes since the patterns are not always consistent. 

    Thank you Pagerunner for the close up photos. It feels great to not squint at blurry squiggles! 


  9. There is a higher resolution file of the endpages.


    I am certain some of the lines read:

    ---- --- B?Y?



    --- ----- -

    Which gives us some new letters to play with (R,N). I suspect the organization of symbols has to deal with dots/short slashes that are being lost in the calligraphic style of the book cover. 

    I attempted to organize the characters by the number of dot/slashes they have, in a similar manner to SpikeMe's post. I think logically it could be a 4x6 table, but there is not enough to say for certain of course. I also added B and a different looking Y because I do not know what other two letter word can precede a name using letters not already assigned. Maybe those two slashes on Y are simplified into a vertical? Maybe a dash on top is sometimes turned horizontal giving us the railroad spike looking letters? I could be totally wrong. I'm afraid the simplification of characters went too far here.



  10. Recently started listening to choice episodes of Shardcast. And the one relating to the orders of Stonewards, Willshapers, and Bondsmiths eventually led to me to this thread to see what is known about Cohesion and Tension. I see I am not the first.

    On 4/30/2019 at 9:58 AM, Jofwu said:

    That said, Argent was at JordanCon last weekend and, prompted by this Shardcast episode, asked Peter if there was any word on that potential revision. Peter confirmed that it should now be out on ebooks. Nobody seems to have that update yet for whatever reason, but it DOES strongly affirm the WoP Calderis cited. :)

    I'm really itching to know what the exact revision was.

    I am curious to know the revision too. I figured that if a revision was made in the ebook, it might have also been reflected in the MMP (released earlier this month). It is about time for a re-read anyway. However after a quick glance through Ch. 38, I can confirm that the text of the MMP in that part is still of the original hardback release, in case anyone was interested. 

    I also found another reference of the Stormfather referring to the Stonewards Surge, and it is consistent to Ch. 38 and therefore feels like descriptions of Cohesion rather than Tension. In essence, still confusing. 

    OB Ch. 50:


    "And my other Surge?" Dalinar said. "That Radiant in the vision made stone warp and ripple."

    You are not ready. Besides, that Surge is different for you than it is for a Stoneward. 

    (Also sorry for the necro... seemed like the only relevant place for it)

  11. Thanks for the comments! I happily had a chance to finish the full tutorial. What I rather liked about it was the step by step method to learning the powers (just like any mistborn, there is a learning curve). Two places where the progression was not immediately intuitive was how to hover by the cube, and how to pewter jump up the wall crevice. Did not realize at first how to do that despite the prompt.

    Actually, I have no issues with the default keybinds. Yes there are quite a few functions, but I just assumed that not having enough fingers is normal--I do not play pc games all that frequently to give productive comments there. But perhaps instead of a text-heavy help overlay could you show a colorcoded picture of the relevant keyboard section? Images are easier to read than words. 

  12. Wow your work into this is simply incredible! I only had a little chance to mess around with it but I really enjoyed what I saw.

    I did find the controls a bit hard to grasp (using mouse and keyboard). Seems that every time I open the simulator there is some downtime before I coax some form of coordination into my movements. There is just a lot going on, and understandably so. I had a thought that maybe you could add a way to deselect all pushes at once? For example when jumping from anchor(s) I would like to mass deselect them without the R-E combo (or is it  R-Q for pushes? I get them mixed up). Zinc peripheral does help with that, but I do not have enough fingers for everything :P

    Either way, thank you for distributing your game and sharing your progress!!


  13. 18 hours ago, Wyndlerunner said:

    I started EoTW in April, and just finished AMoL.

    Kudos to you, took me 6 years and I am a relatively fast reader. The slog was too much. Needed a break every ~2 books. 

    Mostly enjoyable read, but I wouldn't do it again :P 

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