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2018 MIT Mystery Hunt

My third MIT Mystery Hunt with ✈✈✈ Galactic Trendsetters ✈✈✈ (also see: 2017 and 2016, writing with Random in 2015). It was a good hunt with a fun theme, solid puzzles, and extraordinary production quality, marred only by a fickle unlock structure and a handful of unnecessarily involved extractions.

Since we had been told the hunt would be smaller than past years’ (now a controversial statement since the coin was not found particularly early) and we didn’t particularly want to win (yet), part of our team temporarily split off this year to hunt as Teammate. Based on our Discord channel, ✈✈✈ Galactic Trendsetters ✈✈✈ had 75 people this year, including remote solvers and people who dropped in and out.

A short description of the hunt structure: This year’s hunt theme was Inside Out, the Disney movie about anthropomorphized emotions. This was revealed through a kickoff that demonstrated the hunt’s extraordinary production quality, in which we watched the unveiling of the Health & Safety hunt, first directly, then in the Control Room with the emotions of a distraught hunter (Miss Terry Hunter) and a lot of beautiful memory orbs and scenery. After Terry’s emotions became overwhelmed in response to the theme, we had to help her emotions to allow her to complete the Health & Safety hunt. The intro round took place in the Control Room; we had to solve 34 regular puzzles and five metapuzzles (somewhat overlapping, with some regular puzzles belonging to more than one metapuzzle) to help each of the five emotions get back to the Control Room. The rest of the hunt consisted of recovering memory orbs from each of four Islands of Personality, each of which had its own theme and meta structure, and which we could choose the unlock order of.

I guess January is puzzles month

And it’s not even January any more.

(Thing negative two: Thing zero, which is at the bottom of this post, contains two puzzles by me. Skip there if that sounds interesting and text walls don’t.)

Thing negative one: I abandoned this blog (again). The last month has been a mess and much of it is political stuff of the sort that I’m the worst/slowest at writing about.


Thing one: I was on-site for a second MIT Mystery Hunt.

whoosh

I finally did it.

I was on-site for the 2016 MIT Mystery Hunt. I even solved a metapuzzle. This year I hunted with ✈✈✈ Galactic Trendsetters ✈✈✈, the team primarily but not overwhelmingly formed from floorpi, my dorm floor. (Perhaps somewhat regrettably, I didn’t contribute to any events or runarounds or things given to HQ, unless you count attending a “recitation” for Student Simulator (round King Arthur, second from left).)

(Also, I made this post. Has it been two weeks already? Okay, that’s not an unusual timeframe.)

But wow, I got to touch so many puzzles.

Non-spoilery comments on particularly memorable puzzles I did, which are disproportionately programming-related, if anybody wants to look at them (I am describing how to get to the puzzle from the round instead of linking because I’m lazy and links might rot but the instructions will hopefully survive archival (although turns out there’s actually a table of contents so I don’t know what I’m doing)):

Anticron

Unfortunately, I did not get this successfully testsolved, although, for whatever comfort it may provide, I did engage in several interactive rounds of nerfing it.

As usual, you can check your answers here. Text above this horizontal rule is not part of the puzzle.

Solvers:

A Signature Puzzle

As usual, there had to be something here. In fact, this year, there are several somethings. Hype! This is based on an idea by chaotic_iak. You can check your answers here. Text above this horizontal rule is not part of the puzzle. ETA 11/17 16:15 UTC−5: Adjusted spacing between the bottom numbers after feedback. The puzzle is otherwise the same, and solving should not be significantly impacted. Solvers (in my local UTC−5 because I’m lazy):

Throwback Thursday Puzzles!

Wow, there are so many cool things in my old folder. I could probably create and schedule enough filler posts to make my streak last through my week-long trip and back. I guess I won’t, though, because I don’t want to dilute my textwall-draft brand more than necessary and there are a few text posts that I fully intend to post before leaving. Or at least one. Although on second thought, it’s possible they might actually not be as interesting as posts like this one about the adorable me from the past. As Pablo Picasso once said, “Youth has no age.” (Yes, I totally just went on BrainyQuote and searched for “youth”. Forgive me, please.) Oh well.

Today’s throwback theme is old puzzles! Particularly picture ones! In reverse chronological order by last modified time, because I said so! All the image puzzles are puzzlehunty in the sense that you’re supposed to end up with a single word or short phrase as your final answer.

art/hidd3n/p06pre2.png (2010/10/31)

p06pre2 A straightforward one to start. I have no idea what’s with the filename, though.

haxxor/purity2/logic.html (2010/10/10?)

My file hierarchy is really weird. I don’t think this time stamp is when I wrote the puzzle because it was part of a silly static site setup I created (but never actually put anywhere), and I probably edited and regenerated stuff like the breadcrumbs many times, but it’ll have to do.

This is also funny because the title of the HTML file is “Logic Puzzles” and the description starts, “These puzzles were made when I was really bored…”, but there’s only one puzzle.

Mortality

(Faux-philosophical blog content, posted as part of a daily posting streak I have openly committed to; standard disclaimers apply)

This is a hard essay to write because (1) it’s very irrational and I should (and I do) know better — death by car accident is much more likely than death by an airplane crash, but the latter is scarier because it’s more vivid and we have less control over it, and (2) people don’t like talking about it. When I tried writing it, though, I realized I already burned through most of the down-to-earth worries in the posts I made between April and August of 2010. They still coherently and accurately sum up my current thoughts surprisingly well. And most of the irrational, overly philosophical fears appeared in Thoughts at Midnight. So there used to be a lot of fluff here like this, which was inducing procrastination because I don’t know what to include and what to cut, but now that I have a daily deadline, I cut most of it. Here’s what’s left.

One, xkcd:

2015 MIT Mystery Hunt

Well, it’s been over a week, which is a long time for blog posts to be delayed after the event they’re documenting in probably all of the world except my blog. So.

I guess this post should start with a bit of background. I’ve been puzzlehunting for… wow, three and a half years now. I was introduced to puzzlehunts from AoPS, when some fellow members got together a team for CiSRA 2011, and I think I’ve participated to some degree in every known internet Australian puzzlehunt since.