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2008 Mystery Hunt: Some Scares and the Brady meta. - devjoe [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
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2008 Mystery Hunt: Some Scares and the Brady meta. [Jan. 22nd, 2008|09:12 pm]
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It was in April that we decided on the theme of a murder mystery in which an actual Dr. Awkward character gets killed. By Memorial Day weekend we had at least the basic concepts for all the meta puzzles and the actual Hunt structure (which was a bit more complicated than what we ended up using). It was during attempts to test-solve these meta puzzles that weekend that we realized more cluing was needed for some of the puzzles to work, and probably also to give the witness groups, and it was suggested that we could do this through addresses and phone numbers in the Little Black Book. It was at this point that I scrapped whatever rather lame meta I had initially constructed for the Brady Bunch, and figured to use the addresses to turn answers into Sudoku givens, exactly as this puzzle ended up working. This was actually my first idea for this meta, but until we decided that there would be extra cluing information available from the addresses, I didn't know how I was going to associate letters with specific Sudoku cells.

10 teams solved the Brady Bunch meta puzzle, the first of them being Codex Bodley and Evil Midnight Bombers, both at 4:17 AM Saturday, and the last being Metaphysical Plant at 5:32 PM Sunday.

The nine members of the Witness group have the same first names as the Brady Bunch (including Alice), and last names of some actor or actress who played that character in either the TV series or one or more of the movies. Arrange them in the order of the familiar grid from the opening of the show:
Marcia Carol Greg
Jan Alice Peter
Cindy Mike Bobby
Do the same for their answers, and note that the house numbers in their addresses have the same lengths as these answers:
APRIL 32846 PLAID 67984 TIRE 4269
DELI 3189 DIAL 6482 LAGER 51684
TIED 1298 EARL 4186 GILD 7432
It's quite possible you can see exactly what to do here. There was an extra cluing mechanism which I don't know if any teams actually got. The rest of the street, and the city/state/country of the address for each of these characters contained 6 words and/or numbers. If you read the first letter of the first word of each of these addresses in the order of the Brady grid, then the first letter of each Second word and so on, it spells SEED EVERY 3BY3 BOX OF A SUDOKU AT CELLS THAT STREET NUM INDICATES.

In any case, you get
.PA....I.
I.LD.PT.R
.R.LIA.G.
E.D.L.A..
...I.DRLG
.LI.A..E.
TI.A...DL
...E.LI..
.DE.R.G..

This is more than enough givens to solve this as a Sudoku. It can probably be solved with any two whole answers missing, or perhaps more.

GPARTELID
IELDGPTAR
DRTLIAPGE
EGDPLRATI
ATPIEDRLG
RLIGATDEP
TIRAPGEDL
PAGEDLIRT
LDETRIGPA
The diagonals, which have no givens, spell GET PETER A LARGER PAD. Then you had to come down to headquarters and build a house of cards, since actual construction of a house was deemed too costly and time-consuming. :-)

Due to the way this metapuzzle worked, it was possible to replace any answer with any of its anagrams at any time. EDIT got replaced with TIED rather late, and REGAL got replaced with LAGER for the beer puzzle. The rest of these were my original choices.

My original thought for the answer TIRE was to write a puzzle that came down to the final clue POPULATION OF STRONGBADIA, but the combination of having had a Homestar Runner puzzle in a past hunt combined with not having any good ideas for a new one led to something else entirely getting entered here.

In late June we got our first scare, of sorts. A major new set of game content in the Kingdom of Loathing was released at that time, and the creators (who attended the 2007 Hunt) had seen fit to include a Dr. Awkward character -- who you got to kill. A nice tribute; Foggy Brume (who created the Kingdom of Loathing-based puzzle in that Hunt) got a custom item, but we got an NPC with a quest! But it was scary that they had decided to do the same thing we did -- to kill Dr. Awkward. It was too late to change the theme, even if we cared to do so, though I joked that Project Electric Mayhem would be especially suspect, particularly if they came each wearing a Mega Gem.

One of the things I liked about the Brady Bunch meta was that it was a set with a very obvious ordering and yet one that I had never seen used in a puzzle. Until September. Within the course of a week, I test-solved a Microsoft puzzle hunt which included a puzzle based on the Bradys and a small puzzle contest within Kingdom of Loathing that also had a Brady-ordering mechanism.

The Microsoft puzzle had nine pairs of flags in the positions for semaphore letters; the semaphore letters spelled FIRST NAME. The flags were adorned with photos of various actors and actresses, with a number of repetitions. Their first names were the same as the 8 Bradys (not including Alice), and if you re-read each pair of flags, using the directions the Bradys of those names were located in around the familiar square instead of the ways the flags were actually oriented, it spelled the answer.

The Kingdom of Loathing puzzle was a word search split into nine pieces; each participant received one of the pieces, along with a clue to a name of a celebrity with the same first name as one of the Bradys. You had to trade pieces with other participants to collect the whole set, and use the Bradys to assemble the pieces in the correct pattern. Then you had to find names of objects from the Kingdom of Loathing in the grid, and the unused letters spelled instructions to complete the contest.

Once again, it was too late (now FAR too late) to change the meta puzzle.

Finally, the last scare came on the morning the Hunt began, when we discovered that the coin was supposed to be hidden in one of the teams' headquarters. A few of our team members took some time to partially rewrite the runaround so that it led to a location that was not in or close to any team's headquarters, by placing it a few floors above our own headquarters.
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Comments:
From: tigupine
2008-01-23 09:35 am (UTC)
That was my Brady puzzle in the MS Hunt. It was intentionally lightweight, and it was only superficially similar to your Brady meta, which I absolutely loved (I thought it was easily the best of this year's metas.) I know the feeling of "crap, will someone use my puzzle idea first?", but I only had vague thoughts about my own Brady puzzle while looking at yours.
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From: tigupine
2008-01-23 09:42 am (UTC)
Also, we solved it with three sets (the entire right third) missing. I plugged what we had into this wonderful solver and happily watched numbers appear. It wasn't quite enough information for the solver to finish, but we figured out what the diagonals were supposed to be saying and quickly filled in the gaps.
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[User Picture]From: oxeador
2008-01-24 09:11 pm (UTC)
This was my favourite puzzle of the entire hunt. Thank you.

By the way, we solved it with only five answers. More specifically, we backsolved the four missing answers given the constraints we had and given that they had to be real words, and then solved the grid.

Also, I never noticed the subtle instruction of what to do. In fact, I think the puzzle is more elegant without it.

For your reference, I am a Manic Sage.
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