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 yet, and I’m looking forward to finding out what it is.

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Skirmos: Open Source Laser Tag

I was Googling “laser tag” the other day, trying to find somewhere local to play, and the link for something called Skirmos: Open Source Laser Tag came up in the results.  It turned out to be a Kickstarter-funded, Arduino-based laser tag gun, and it looks pretty sweet!


The gun has lots of cool features, including:

  • Glowing LED lights inside
  • LCD screen that shows important info and stats
  • Rumble vibration
  • MP3/Wave sound card

And the open source part means that you can program the guns however you like, making your own play modes, setting certain constraints, and probably a whole bunch of other stuff. I don’t know much about Arduino, but I would assume that the options are pretty much limitless for creative gameplay incorporating other Arduino devices. This photo on the Skirmos Flickr stream of a player capturing an objective from an object in the environment seems to confirm that idea.

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MIT Mystery Hunt 2014 Recap – Part 4

At long (LONG) last, here is the final installment of my 2014 MIT Mystery Hunt Recap. Keeping in mind that I only have the 2013 hunt to compare to, let me list some of my pros/cons about 2014.

Things I particularly liked about this year’s Mystery Hunt:

  • Smoothness – Everything seemed to be run extremely smoothly. The event started promptly (almost too promptly!), and there seemed to be very few hiccups.
  • Quality of Puzzles – I’m not the best judge of puzzle quality, but they seemed pretty darned good.
  • Funny Puzzles – I was crying laughing as we worked through The Most Dangerous Night.
  • Go-sees – There were so many puzzles that sent us around campus doing things. I did as many as possible and had a great time. For events like this, I’m of the opinion that the more stuff there is that requires you to be there in person, the better.
  • Pre-Kickoff – I never experienced kickoff in Lobby 7, so I’m free from all nostalgia bias. I really liked the atmosphere in the auditorium before the kickoff started. It was nice that there seemed to be plenty of space outside the auditorium to mingle with friends from other teams, and the music playing in the auditorium made it feel exciting somehow.
  • Pretty much everything!

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MIT Mystery Hunt 2014 Recap – Part 3

I woke up from my One Big Sleep at around 6pm on Saturday evening. I saw that I had missed a call from Todd, but a quick look through the Hangout chat seemed to indicate that I hadn’t missed out on anything too important (like, say, a Runaround). I got cleaned up, and used Hangout again (so convenient!) to check on the dinner situation, then headed back over to campus.

I’m reminded as I write this that when I had left for the hotel that morning, it had been pouring down rain. (My socks and shoes were soaked by the time I got to our hotel room.) When I headed back to campus that evening, I saw that the rain had changed over to snow and left an inch or so while I had slept. That was kind of fun, and sure made it seem like I had slept longer!

I got back to headquarters and found everyone pretty occupied by their current puzzles. Todd said he had called to tell me there was a puzzle about Japanese bands. I took a quick glance at it, but it seemed like the West coast had made most of the progress on it already. I kind of floundered around for a bit, trying to find something else to work on, but I was having trouble jumping into anything. Eventually, I ended up back on that Japanese puzzle, called 1! 2! 3! 4! 4649!

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MIT Mystery Hunt 2014 Recap – Part 2

In my last recap post, I had spent most of my Mystery Hunt so far running around campus investigating strange images, verifying data, and solving location-based clues. As Friday night became Saturday morning, my work got a bit more puzzle-centric.

It’s hard to remember exactly what happened when during those long hours of the night. We tackled a lot of different puzzles, and I’m mostly just referencing our Team Log to see what was released and when we solved it.

Solving Common Bonds opened up a few new puzzles, including one called Monster Potatoes. We figured out the first a-ha and started collecting data, but that was about as far as we got. (Little did we know that this would end up being the last puzzle our team would solve in the entire Hunt!)

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MIT Mystery Hunt 2014 Recap – Part 1

It’s that time of the year again, time for my multi-part MIT Mystery Hunt Recap Extravaganza!  I was thinking it wouldn’t be as long this year, but since this was a much more action-packed Hunt, it will probably be just as long, or longer than last year.  As usual, this is a play-by-play account of my personal hunt experience, meant more for my own future reference than any sort of reporting or entertainment.



I was really looking forward to returning to Boston this year with all of the knowledge I had gained from last year.  This included being more familiar with the structure of the Hunt, as well as being more comfortable with my teammates.  I was even more excited when I found out that two more people I knew would be joining the team — Phil Dasler and Summer Stevens.  I worked closely with Phil over the course of the Famine Game creation process and got to play with his team for Wartron Boston, and Summer was a part of my favorite Famine Game team, The Hunger Dames.  More friends means more fun!

I didn’t feel the need to do as much preparation this year, but I did skim over our team’s internal documents on roles/responsibilities and using our in-house puzzle cataloging system.

When we first started getting flavory e-mails from [atlas shrugged], I started to get a little bit nervous.  The theme was some sort of science conference, with lots of unfamiliar terms technical jargon.  I felt mostly sure that the “joke” was that it was all incomprehensible, but I did worry that maybe it was just going over my head.

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Puzzle Break #1: Escape from Studio D

I was pretty excited to hear that Seattle was getting its own live action escape-the-room game, called Puzzle Break, in November.  We decided to give them a few weeks to work the kinks out, and after hearing lots of rave reviews from fellow puzzlers, Nick and I bought our tickets for last Saturday.  We invited a friend whose puzzling experience was limited to one Puzzled Pint.

We picked up our friend on Saturday and found street parking about a block away from the studio where the game was being held.  Our friend told us this was a pretty hip part of town, and a good location for this type of event, in his opinion (lots of young people in Capitol Hill, and people who live downtown tend not to like to leave their neighborhood to go do stuff).

There wasn’t any signage for the event outside, and there were a lot of Studio D’s on that block.  Luckily, Nick had read an e-mail at work that said to be sure to enter the door with the right street number above it, and at that door we found a hand-written sign to wait in the lobby for Puzzle Break.  We were the first of our 12-person team to get there, but the others started to arrive pretty soon.

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Tuesday Round-Up

Lots of little bits of news floating about lately…  In particular, Seattle is flush with escape-style games!


NEW:  Puzzle Break Seattle 
There is a new escape game in town, and it’s called Puzzle Break.  Games started in late November and ticketing is available through the end of January so far.  Word on the street is that it’s really fun and well-run.  I’ll be playing this Saturday with Mr. Cryptica and a non-puzzling friend.


REG: Escape from the Werewolf Village to run in Seattle
And if you want even more escaping action, Real Escape Game has you covered with their Seattle debut in January!  Escape from the Werewolf Village was REG’s first US/San Francisco Game, which has since appeared in Los Angeles and will now make a brief run in Seattle on January 18th and 19th.  (Unfortunately for me, this is MIT Mystery Hunt weekend and I’ll be out of town.  But hopefully this is good news for the future!)


Puzzled Pint Now in London
First it was DASH, now London is the proud host of Puzzled Pint!  Londoners can now enjoy puzzling in pubs every second Tuesday of each month.  What city will join in next?


New 5 Wits Location Opening Soon
5 Wits makes cool interactive adventure games/shows that I haven’t gotten to enjoy yet, but maybe you can now that they’re opening a new location at Destiny USA in Syracruse, NY.  They’ll be opening new versions of their TOMB and Espionage games, along with two new games later in 2014.


Open Call from Ravenchase Adventures
Ravenchase Adventures is looking for new staff and interns with creative minds and adventurous spirits.  Check their Facebook page for more info.


Interactive Murder Mystery Film: Contradiction
Here is a Kickstarter for a film slash game that lets you control a cinematic murder mystery story.  Seems neat!


Are You Watching The Genius Yet?  Why Not?  Season 2 Just Started, And It’s Really The Best
Seriously, get on that.


The Genius: Rules of the Game


The Genius: Rules of the Game is a South Korean reality TV game show that pits players against each other in various games of wits and strategy.  The show debuted in April of this year, so it’s still super fresh, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is into smart TV.

The game starts off with 13 players, some are fairly well-known celebrities, others are simply bright minds, but all are selected for their particular talents and skills which might be useful in the game.  Each episode focuses on a different game, in a segment called the Main Match.  Many of these games focus on logic, reasoning, chance, and game theory, but all of them eventually boil down to effective cooperation and collusion with other players.  The end of each Main Match game results one player being marked for elimination.  This player gets to choose their opponent from the remaining players, and the two compete in the Death Match to determine who gets eliminated.

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Friday Round-Up

Seems like there are a lot of relevant bits of news and such going on right now.  Also, Puzzle Pile is taking a short hiatus, so I might try to do this type of newsy post a bit more often in the meantime (sorry though, no crossword tournament updates from me!).


Scary Music Playlist
Need some scary music for your Halloween party this weekend?  Or maybe a soundtrack for your Betrayal at House on the Hill games?  I put together a short playlist of scary instrumental tunes (which is made up entirely of tracks from The Ring soundtrack) that should be suitable.  Watch out, it gets a little intense at times!  I’d like to expand this playlist a bit more, and make a “just spooky” version that isn’t so intense, so give me your song recommendations in the comments!


Online Halloween Puzzle Hunt – Ghost Patrol: Reconstructed
I’m pretty excited about this one, it’s a print-and-play puzzle hunt being run on Halloween!  This is part of the Ghost Patrol universe (which had a Game and a BANG) and sounds like it will be some spooky fun.  You can play anytime you want, but if you want to be ranked against other teams, you need to register and play between 3pm and 3am on Halloween (this Thursday).


Wise Guys Developing Augmented Reality Detective Game for L.A.
Want to play an immersive augmented reality detective game around downtown Los Angeles?  The seasoned game designers from Wise Guys Events are trying to make that happen.  The game will include custom-made artifacts hidden at locations around downtown as well as high quality video footage to supplement your detective experience.  If that sounds like something you want to play, head on over to their Kickstarter.  They’ve got some pretty sweet games-as-incentives at the higher tiers!  But be quick, there are only a few days left in the campaign!


Presentation and chat with Real Escape Game on October 29
So the people at The Go Game have started this thing called ADVENTURE DESIGN GROUP which they describe as ‘a free monthly speaker series featuring the best and brightest in interactive experience design’ and which I think is the coolest thing ever.  This month, they’re speaking with Kazuya Iwata, the guy in charge of Real Escape Game in the US (I met that guy!).  It will probably be an interesting talk, so go check it out if you’re in the Bay Area (and make sure somebody films it and posts it online!).


Octothorpean Order Hunt Opens November 16
Larry Hosken‘s much-anticipated The Octothorpean Order online puzzle hunt will open on November 16, and that is coming right up!  Gather up your team, it’s sure to be a good time.


Obduction – Upcoming Spiritual Successor to Myst by Cyan
Wow, so the creators of Myst are planning a new game called Obduction and they’ve launched a Kickstarter to fund it.  This is interesting, and I’ll probably play, but I wonder if I would be more excited if The Witness wasn’t a thing.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how Jonathan Blow modernizes the Myst-style adventure game, and it will be very interesting to compare it to what the fathers of the genre do with Obduction.  Just a few days in, the Kickstarter is about halfway to its goal of $1.1 million.


Interactive Fiction DEVICE 6 is Available on iOS
This game, DEVICE 6, looks pretty neat!  Seems to be a little puzzley and mysterious and artsy.  iOS only, so I won’t be playing it, but maybe you can!  Here is an article on the game, and here is the game itself.  $3.99.


That’s all for now.  Enjoy your last week of October, the best month of the year!