Hunt a Killer – A Massive Multi-Player Intimate Haunted Game?

I’ve had a haunt-style game idea kicking around in my head for a while. A small team of players would be let loose on a large piece of land out in the woods somewhere. They’d have several hours to explore the area, search for clues, and try to solve the mystery. Maybe they’d first stumble upon a dead body and retrieve a map of the property. Maybe there would be a central cabin the players would need to gain access to. They would probably need to split up at some point to complete an objective, communicating via walkie-talkie (and certainly something…

Website Redesign

Welcome to the long-needed redesign of Clavis Cryptica! Let me give you the grand tour.   New Host CC now runs on WPEngine, a dedicated WordPress host. Constantly fending off the endless brute force attacks and malicious file uploads that come with the WordPress territory was stressing me out. Since WordPress is all they do, WPEngine knows how to keep my site safer and deals with any security issues that do pop up, free of charge. I’m in low-maintenance blog heaven.   New Theme I used to compulsively redesign all of my websites at least once a year, so I’m…

On Starting a Company

  I had just picked up two of my teammates from SFO for Shinteki Decathlon 9 in late May of last year. Our fourth and final teammate was flying in a few hours later, so we all headed to a coffee shop to hang out, solve some puzzles, and catch up. At one point, the conversation turned to ideas for haunted houses and other immersive experiences. We talked about making a game where motion-activated sound domes concealed in the ceiling would let players encounter ghostly whispers as they explored a series of rooms. We talked about a game where players…

Jeff Hull TED Talk – Variability & Play in the Civic Realm


I like hearing about The Jejune Institute, and enjoyed this older TED Talk by its creator, Jeff Hull, about “the third place” and making public spaces more player-friendly. I think about this sometimes when I read about pervasive games that involve running through the streets at night or wearing masks in public, or when I’m planning a puzzle hunt for 300 people and I can’t get a park permit for the kickoff. I have a deeply-ingrained fear of breaking the rules or getting in trouble, so these sorts of things make me nervous. The video also got me thinking about games…

MIT Mystery Hunt 2015 Recap – Part 5


Alright, let’s wrap this up. Here are my Thoughts and Feelings about MIT Mystery Hunt 2015. Things I particularly liked about this year’s Mystery Hunt: Smoothness – From a player’s perspective, everything in this year’s hunt was executed flawlessly. Puzzle Presentation – I really liked the format of the World Map, which was a single webpage that got longer and longer as we discovered more puzzles. It was a perfect visual representation of our progress throughout the hunt, and it was fun to wonder what was coming up next or to see the beginning of a new round of puzzles appear. Visual Design…

MIT Mystery Hunt 2015 Recap – Part 4


  Our runaround began with a guide from Atlantis taking us across campus to meet the Kraken. We explained to the Kraken that we wanted some nautilodestones, and she went on to tell us all the reasons we weren’t worthy of taking anything from the sea, which was full of creatures way more awesome than us. In particular, the Kraken felt we were lacking in communication, perception, knowledge, friendship, and teamwork. If we could prove ourselves in each of these areas, we might be allowed to have a nautilodestone.

MIT Mystery Hunt 2015 Recap – Part 3


  Treasure Chest! This box was so exciting, the GC that delivered it to us stuck around because they wanted to see what was inside. The box was secured with some chain and a bunch of different locks, but GC said we could open it however we wanted. Someone quickly produced a screwdriver and removed the hinges for the lid, then slid the lid right out from under the chain! I was impressed.

MIT Mystery Hunt 2015 Recap – Part 2

Boston in the morning

  Friday On Friday morning, I got up early to continue what is now my tradition of helping prep our team headquarters for the hunt. I met Dan at the Kendall and we talked escape games for a bit before we drove over to MIT with a carload of snacks and supplies that Dan had bought the day before. (I also got a sneak peek at a fun surprise — Dan had made awesome custom buttons for everyone on the team to use as name tags!) Mike, Ben, and Will were the other early birds in the room, and I…

MIT Mystery Hunt 2015 Recap – Part 1


It’s been a week since the 2015 MIT Mystery Hunt ended, so now it’s recap time! Wednesday This year’s Hunt trip started on Wednesday for me. I had been wanting to play 5 Wits Adventures out in Foxboro since I heard about it a few years ago, but it’s far enough out from the Boston/Cambridge area that I’d have to get a rental car to make it out to play. Luckily, I’ve been working on developing a company (which doesn’t quite merit its own blog post yet) over the past year with a couple of puzzling friends and Mystery Hunt teammates, Summer…

The Genius: Black Garnet, Coming Soon!


  I’m breaking my long bout of blogging laziness to bring you important news: The Genius is coming back for Season 3 on October 1st. That’s next week! The subtitle for this season is “Black Garnet,” which conjures up all sorts of thoughts about potential betrayal and trickery. Will there be some new type of garnet introduced that has a negative effect, so players will be trying to get rid of it? Could it be some sort of hot potato for Death Match candidates? I’m glad the mechanic of the black garnet (assuming there will be one) hasn’t been revealed…