Black Letter Game – Winding Down

We’re halfway through June now (can you believe it?), which means we’re on Artifact #4 out of 5 in the Black Letter Game.  Let’s take a look at our journey so far!

Artifact #1 — We were so excited!  We stayed up til midnight and opened our box, describing the contents to our teammate over the phone.  I don’t think we got an answer that first night, but we made some good progress and had the WHO by the next day or so.  This artifact had a few tricky parts that got us frustrated at ourselves (mostly for trying to make things too complicated on the WHERE), and one part that was flat-out annoying (WHEN), but we had a good time and had it mastered by the end of the week.  Go team!

Artifact #2 — An interesting one that presented us with quite a bit of data (relatively speaking).  Some fun a-ha moments for this artifact, along with at least one we’re-dumb moment (SIG).  One puzzle nearly stumped us (1st/3rd), but we somehow managed to cobble ourselves an answer out of bits and pieces we had sort of solved.  We beat our previous time by just a few hours.

Artifact #3 — I was determined that we would solve this artifact in under 6 days.  How cute.  My naive hope was only encouraged when we managed to focus, make progress, and knock out our first puzzle in just two hours (WHAT, and ours amazingly remains the best time).  From there, it was another 6 days before we found our next answer (WHERE, quite enjoyable once we understood what to do).  Much beating of heads against walls ensued, and the artifact followed us to Florida for vacation where, after many hints and the solution (which we did not look at) were received, we finally wrapped it up, exhausted and annoyed.  So many variables, so much data, and such a tedious and error-prone process to solve one particularly thorny puzzle (WHO, OMG).  Loved this one starting out, but hated it by the end (16 days later).

And that brings us to Artifact #4, started 9 days ago and with 37 points on the board (I suppose technically we’re doing a little better than last time!).  This one has been a little strange because it is extremely data-heavy and our partner has the copy of the artifact this time.  We ordered one for ourselves a week ago today, but it hasn’t arrived yet.  I think Nick and I have been hesitating to help much until we have our copy, which has left the brunt of the work on our partner (who also happens to be  much busier than either of us, what with filming in progress every weekend for the amazing indie film THAT HE WROTE.  Go check it out.) Still, he’s managed to make some great progress and do some data crunching that got us our first answer after 6 days (SIG), along with a few points on the WHAT and a big lead on WHEN.  Despite having so much data, this artifact feels a bit more promising than #3 (I think maybe the IAP people mentioned it was a little easier).  Looking forward to having our artifact arrive, not only to help more with the puzzles, but just to have it since it’s a fun one.  Maybe put it on the shelf, use it in public places, recommend it to friends.  Just after we hang #3 on the fridge.  =)

I’m not sure about other teams, and I can’t really speak for the rest of my team, but I feel like the sense of urgency we felt with the first two artifacts was pretty much destroyed by the end of #3.  It was fun to get that first answer so fast, but after that it was a matter of puzzle tenacity, and no amount of concentrated work was going to make us solve that thing faster.  Going into #4, I definitely felt like the leaderboard was essentially irrelevant (for us anyway).  Unfortunately, this relaxed pace means I’m not really keeping up.  We were sent our first batch of hints, and before I got around to reading them another set of hints had been sent.  It’s just become really easy to put off working on the puzzles, which kind of starts to put the BLG into the same category as all the other puzzles and puzzle games I can’t seem to make time for.  It’s hanging in this weird limbo where there is a set deadline and some vague incentives along the way (wanting to avoid hints, get good scores, be high on leaderboard), but no real sense of urgency and a certain kind of apathetic aftertaste left by the end of Artifact #3.

Hopefully our copy of the artifact arrives today or tomorrow and we can start knocking out some of the puzzles that we’ve made some headway on.  It’s been a fun journey, I’ve enjoyed looking forward to getting  a new artifact each month and still looking forward to what’s in store for #5, but I think I’m about ready to be done.

6 comments on Black Letter Game – Winding Down

  • tabstop

    And now a day later you’re almost there! Those last 13 points are a killer, though. In a month you’ll get to hear the hilarious story of how I didn’t solve it!

    IMO this one had less polish on it than the others — a lot of changed minds on whether a given entry was “good” or not, and some “very well spotted, but in fact that’s just a coincidence”. Maybe I should let someone else be the early adopter next time and I can see the puzzles after the kinks have been smoothed out.

    Oh, who am I kidding.

    • clavicarius (author)

      All credit goes to our diligent teammate, Matt! We chipped in here and there, but he did the bulk of the work on all the puzzles. Just managed to finish up the last few today.

      Agreed that the answers and their responses seemed a little off this time, but the artifact overall seemed more elegant than #3. Kind of wish we had had more time to commit to this one before getting the hints, as it seems like there were some fun a-ha moments to be had. Though your story might prove me wrong there =) Can’t wait to read it!

  • Todd

    Grats on finishing #4. Something I was curious about… I’ve seen you referring to points, but I’ve never seen any mention of those. How do points play in to the scoring?

    • clavicarius (author)

      Thanks. If you look on each artifact page, there is a leaderboard at the bottom that lists each team along with that team’s rank, score, and time spent on the artifact. The score is the part that keeps track of your points. For each artifact, every answer is worth a certain number of points (undisclosed until you’ve earned them), adding up to a total of 100.

      On the first artifact, each answer was worth 20 points, but as some puzzles have been dissected into several parts, those parts have been worth varying point amounts.

      I’m not sure if points have ever been mentioned officially.. they’re basically just a way to keep track of your progress.

      • clavicarius (author)

        (and as far as I know, the only element involved in the actual leaderboard standings, after you have mastered the artifact, is your time)

      • Todd

        Ah, gotcha. I’ve only been looking at the times, but I could see how points would let you know how close you were to finishing. And I guess it would also serve as a tiebreaker for teams that weren’t able to complete the artifact. Thanks!

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