: New: Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, even Cambridge/California Part II: Electric Boogaloo

This weekend, I once again joined up with team Left Out to play in the MIT Mystery Hunt. It was a lot of fun! Once again I played with the California contingent of this distributed team. Beforehand, I prepped by reading my blog post from last year, the first time I played. There, I'd left reminders to myself about things to do differently next (i.e., this) time:

This year, I slept great on Friday night. Following my note-to-self from last year, I got out and walked a bit before turning in, letting some exercise wear me out a bit & letting endorphins knock me out of puzzling frenzy. Also, though I hadn't noted it down last year, I remembered while packing: bring earplugs this time.

This all backfired: I went to bed on Friday night so that I'd be refreshed and a big help to the team on Saturday morning. But by the time I woke up, the rest of the team had solved all the metapuzzles; there wasn't much point to solving more puzzles. Most of the California crew had gone home, leaving just the solve-every-puzzle-even-if-unnecessary diehards. (I am not such a diehard.) If I'd stayed up a few more hours, I would have been only bleary half-conscious help… but at least I would have been some help. I can't even blame Game Control for my mistake: The hunt's web site made it pretty clear that we were 80+% done when I went to bed. But I "knew" that there would of course be a "surprise" twist in the game that revealed a whole 'nother hunt section… ahem But that didn't happen.

I brought ginger snaps. A few people brought ginger snaps. Also: this year, most of the team played in Cambridge, not in California. We had a lot of people in California, but not as many as before. But I think we kinda shopped for the old # of people. And some people brought home-made treats because home-made treats are awesome. And… And the resulting snack:puzzler ratio was very high at California HQ. I ended up lugging most of my ginger snaps back home with me. (And you're wondering "Hey why not leave those extra cookies behind as a thank you to the charming California Left Out hosts?" And I'm telling you: there were a lot of leftover snacks. We were definitely getting up into "Don't do me any favors" territory.)

Note to self for 2018: ignore notes to self from 2016, derp.

I worked on a puzzle with Stribs. This experience was properly humbling. We were slowly slogging through a bunch of internet TV trivia research, hunting down some show episode titles. We'd found a bunch, and were obviously going to need a lot of time to find the rest. Stribs was able to look at a few out-of-order letters and a bunch of blanks and wheel-of-fortune his way to the answer. It was kind of stunning to witness. Stribs and Jessen, accustomed to playing The Game-style overnight puzzlehunts as a two-man team, liked to measure their effectiveness via the ratio puzzles solved/puzzler. Later on, when we heard that we'd been bested by bigger teams, we could take this measurement as a consolation.

Saturday morning, it's not like there was nothing to do: we had a video-chat set up between California and Cambridge. When Game Control came to visit our room in Cambridge, us remote folks still got to watch. Even better: for the final run-around, Linda Holman carried her phone with her the whole way. Thus, us remote folks got to see an honest-to-goodness MIT runaround accompanied by Linda's commentary. (It turns out that MIT campus cops are rather blasé about a bunch of nerds walking around with a guy in a wizard outfit; who knew?)

My memories of individual puzzles are pretty hazy. I'd forgotten about the puzzle Net Work until I read about it in someone's (devjoe's?) writeup. And when I remembered it, I thought maybe it was my favorite puzzle from this hunt. I do remember the Dancing Girls puzzle, but for a kinda embarrassing reason: I remembered the relevant literary key to the puzzle while I was sitting on the toilet taking a break from staring at the puzzle slack-jawed… so I had to tamp down my instinct (to leap to my feet), force myself to finish my business, remember to zip up, wash my hands… and only then scurry back to the table of nerds to say omigawsh, it's the [redacted].

I got home Saturday afternoon. Though I'd slept plenty the night before, I still ended up taking a big nap. It's like my body has expectations about how a big puzzling event is supposed to work: afterwards, I will be exhausted, whether it makes sense or no.

Tags: mysteryhunt

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