Corin Anderson (magellanic) wrote,
Corin Anderson

Puzzles I worked on

The puzzles I worked on. Includes SPOILERS:

Mario 1-1: Karaoke Night. A long audio track made up of clips of karaoke versions of many songs. Each song is maybe 12 seconds long, give or take, but the length isn't important. Given also are time ranges. Identify the song (from the karaoke version), find the matching lyrics (either by matching the music or by using the time range -- both would work). Lyrics from adjacent songs often have a word in common -- YELLOW or APPLE. Count how many adjacent songs have that word in common, index into that word, and those letters spell the answer.

Mario 1-1: Squared Key. I wasn't there for the solve, only the first part, but I liked it. It's a word search without a list of words. Find some words and the unused letters spell a "keep going" message. The words found are things like SATURN and FLEUR DE LIS. The insight is that each of these words describes a Unicode symbol. The code point for each symbol is used as an (x,y) index into the grid.

Mario 1-3: Photo Album. Photos show a Blue Angel or Batman holding a can of Moxie. Doug had the insight: "Moxie Crimefighter" is the name of Penn Jillette's child. All the photos are wacky names of celebrity children. Enter the last names in the fill-ins on the puzzle and the boxed letters spell the answer.

Mario 1-3: Hammer Time. I didn't really work on the puzzle itself much but did a fair bit of backsolving. We had the Mario 1-3 meta, we knew we were looking for an answer that had a substring that's the name of a star with certain properties, so I just looked through a long list of stars and constellations for possibilities. In the end I did see the star that was the answer (Ankaa) but I discounted it because it seemed too unlikely. Oh, well.

Mega Man Bio Man: Pesky Bugs. Presented as an audio file, it sounds like some bugs flying about. I got so far as to identify six unique bugs but didn't have a notion. Reading the solution it was a cute and straightforward puzzle with a fun decoding step. I don't know that I could have solved it even if I did know the insight.

Mega Man Stagecraft Man: Pointillisme. Argh! I can see now that we were basically with the puzzle, we just hadn't read the answer from our map. We found the 10 locations in Paris by brute force -- using the Invaders site would have made that much easier. We got that they looked at other points on the map, but I was hung up on the idea that they formed a single path. Letter shapes never occurred to me.

Mega Man Craps Man: Good Vibrations. I groaned at learning the solution here. I shoulda gotten this one, too, because I've heard of the store Good Vibrations, and I'd even seen their site in Google when I was searching for the Beach Boy's song. I thought at the time, "ha ha, nope, that's not the Good Vibrations I want for this puzzle."

Mega Man Blackberry Man: Redundant Obsolescence. Fun puzzle: we were given six physical objects, each an obsolete media. 5 1/4" floppy, VHS tape, microcassette tape, B&W film, Zip disk, Sony minidisc. Our room had a VHS player in it so we quickly got the message from that media. We sent someone to CVS to get the film processed (not so obsolete after all, eh?) and an hour later we had another message. Our two messages were three letters each and they overlapped. I guessed all the messages would overlap and that the answer would be 8 letters long, but nothing fit that pattern in my grepping. Two hours later John on the team had found a Zip drive but without drivers and without a computer to connect it to (SCSI? Now that's obsolete...). But at that moment I tried a new theory for the puzzle: cyclic redundancy, 6 letters long. Yep, that worked. Reading the solutions now it wasn't actually cyclic -- the two ends were only two letters long. I'm glad that the less-obsolete media were both easier to decode and gave most of the letters I needed. Cute that most of the encodings used systems that, themselves, are mostly obsolete.

Mega Man Bio Man: Stuff Nerd People Like. A bunch of blog entries about stuff nerds like. Each blog also refers to other things that nerds like that are the topics in this blog (nerds like self-referential things, too). The "N nerds like this" is the out-degree of each entry. Find the in-degree of each entry and use it as an index. Cute. I spent a bunch of time reading the blog entries but I didn't get anywhere on it. There was a lot of text in this puzzle, way more than seemed needed to make the other-references.

Zelda Dungeon 1: Making the Possible Impossible. Sunshine and I spent a lot of time on this one but I can see we were pretty far from solutions. We had a map and collected a lot of data but we hadn't made the key insights (Wumpus hunting and how to do the phone freaking). I feel a little bad because I *should* have had those insights. And, trying to do the phreaking would have been fun. Oh, well. I think this puzzle would have benefited from someone else me explaining to someone else everything about it. (I was on the other end of that interchange a few times: Mike and Todd explained to me the bridge puzzle they were stuck on, and in doing so they realized their hitch point.)

Civ Alchemy: Amateur Hour. Identify a bunch of amateur videos of real music videos, given only the amateur video without audio. Sound track is MST3K-style commentary and asks a question on each video. Answer that question about the original artist's music video and take the first letters. Fun to identify the videos but I knew only the ones I knew from previous experience. Searching for them given only the video is pretty darn hard.

Civ Legal System: cheaters never prosper. Arg, another puzzle we were so close on! Video shows a bunch of athletes committing faults in sporting events. The end of the video shows a list of names. I IDs the faults pretty well and found that the names were athletes who earned Olympic medals in each of those sports. Line everything up and you have a short table of a lot of columns of data. We tried indexing into things with gold = 1 and silver = 2 but we apparently never tried indexing into the name of the fault. Or, maybe we did. We didn't have all the letters right, and we never tried the correct ordering. I thought the order from the video was important, but it was just alpha for the sporting event names (if you called track and field "athletics"). The proper order, reverse chronological by Olympics year, was sort of remote to me. Oh, well.

Civ Stoneware: Painted Potsherds. A fast and very fun solve. Given are simple drawings of things and a fill-in with boxed letters. Key insight is that the drawings depict famous quotes from movies: never start a land war in Asia or We're going to need a bigger boat. Write in the movies in the fill-in and the answer is from the boxed letters. We solved this puzzle in a scrum in about 35 minutes just as the Civ round opened up. We really tried to get this in under 30 minutes to earn the "Holding down B" achievement but stalled with too many missing movies for a while. (Left Out did later earn that achievement.)

Small Katamari: Small: Charges. A fun puzzle. Given were a bunch of descriptions of things in blazon -- the descriptive language of heraldic crests. What was actually described were corporate logos -- Melinda had that insight. Identify the logo ( was very useful) and index by the number given in each description.

Metas. I spent more time this hunt than in all previous years working on metas. Todd's great at looking at metas and it was fun to join him. The metas this year were especially good -- many were pure metas (meaning, the puzzle could be solved exclusively with the feeder answers, not using a shell puzzle) which meant just a lot of looking at words in a spreadsheet and thinking up connections.

Events. Marnie and I attended the Coffee event this morning, and took first place. w00t! Task was part Iron Chef (secret ingredient), part Top Chef (rounds of elimination). Secret ingredient was coffee. We competed in three rounds, took top points each round. We were given ground coffee, a French press, and a table of ingredients and equipment, and 15 minutes. We were judged, in round one by other players, round two by eliminated players, and round three by GC, in three categories: Creativity (5 points), Presentation (5 points), and Taste (10 points). First beverage was: vanilla ice cream with coffee, covered with whipped cream and a vanilla wafer. Round two: same, but better coffee (more cream blended in) and we made whipped cream wafer sandwiches (vanilla and espresso cream). Round three: coffee chocolate malt, beignet soaked in scotch(!), topped with whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles, and cocoa powder. Round three was us head-to-head with only one team, all other people (about 30) watching us. Scores were tied in the end, but GC gave it to us because ours was the one they wanted to take home with them. (Second place, Mayhem, made a cranberry tea + Koolaid drink -- very red, very, well, red). Advancing through each round was worth 20 coins, so through three rounds was +60 coins for the event.
Tags: puzzling
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