I knew going in that I wasn't going to dive into the MIT Mystery Hunt
as wholeheartedly this year as I usually do. For one thing, I was remote. A lot of the appeal of Hunt for me lies in the camaraderie of it, the knowledge that everyone else in the room is also excited and driven enough about the event to forget about sleep and food and the outside world, and that energy just doesn't translate through Skype. For another thing, I just spent four years straight on winning or constructing teams, and I kind of needed a break.
So I wasn't expecting to devote my weekend entirely to Hunt in the first place, and then I got sick right before it started and ended up spending the weekend wrapped up in blankets on the couch with a box of tissues, which did not do much at all for my mental acuity. Still, I enjoyed myself, and I had a reasonably good remote solving experience (thanks in large part to the efforts of canadianpuzzler
, who was our official remote wrangler).
The Hunt theme this year, as everyone still reading this probably already knows, was video games. The intro skit (YouTube video here
) was fantastic, and dealt with the sound issue beautifully, although unfortunately not in a way helpful to future constructing teams. The Hunt was structured around five video game worlds, each containing separate rounds, which led to some entertaining discussion of "metametametas." The coin
(for some Huntspace-specific definition of the word "coin") was a wooden Weighted Companion Cube with characters from each world on the sides. The thematic wrapup video
was completely adorable.
I admit I was rooting for II&F to win this year. I spent some time in their HQ during the History Hunt last year, and was incredibly impressed by their organization and morale. (And I'm not just saying that because they dressed me up in the honorary-Dan-Katz duct tape sash and fed me.) Any team capable of winning a Hunt is probably capable of turning out Hunt-quality puzzles, but not every team has their shit together enough to handle editing and testsolving and logistics and communication and all the other work that goes into putting on a successful Hunt. However, Metaphysical Plant did a fantastic job on all that from what I can tell, and there's no reason to assume Codex won't.
Some scattered thoughts:
-The Achievements page was, IMO, the best new idea Plant implemented this year. I really hope some form of it is used in future Hunts.
-I'm disappointed to have missed out on the Events, which looked great. I would have liked to go to Insult Swordfighting, in particular.
-I had a giant gigglefit when my teammates decided that one of the answers had to be BACKSOLVE_ but couldn't work out the last letter, so they backsolved it.
is a puzzle that I tried to write for the '08 Hunt, but ended up scrapping because it would be too hard for non-jugglers to determine siteswap heights. Seriously, that exact idea: I was going to present it as a video of a person doing siteswap patterns with different objects, and use the objects along with numbers on the screen for answer extraction. I definitely would have done the extraction mechanism differently, though. (ALLINCLAPC? The hell
was extremely amusing. I was surprised by the number I knew off the top of my head. I've, uh, read a lot
of Savage Love.
-I described The Baddest Man
to my older brother, who, like me, grew up reading the books. His immediate reaction was, "WHAT? They SPOILED THEM? Why would they do that?" (I got a similar complaint from a team in '08 about my puzzle Hack Writer
-They got Randall Munroe to write an xkcd strip
for Unlikely Situations
. *sigh* I'll always have Trudeau.
Here's our quote board, as far as I can tell (thanks to ertchin
for clarifying some of the words I couldn't make out):
"This isn't Vegas--you can't be drunk by 10am."
"I can't have Dancing Spear Guy and Blooper Nanny adjacent."
"That's the answer to everything--lick it."
"What's the potato doing?"
"Oh! That's a canonical Grawlix?"
"Just type 'bowtied dork' into Google and see what comes up."
"In the sociology Hunt, you only get credit for solving the hipster meta if no one else has solved it first."
"Fancy a spot of death?"
"Finally I made a quote which wasn't fraught with sexual innuendo."
"They were eaten by a female obstacle."
"Or perhaps The Knack's ode to Nikoli: 'My Shikaku'."
"Projectyl's working on it--it's practically solved."
"It's all right... I'm not naked."
"No one wants to know about your love snake."
"I need a stuffed animal biologist."
"BING? What is this crap? I'm changing it."
"If you want to win my heart and earn my monogrammed handkerchief or whatever the fuck, solve this puzzle for me."
(on hearing all of our spaceship explanations) "Well... yeah..."
"The next time you chuckleheads open twenty puzzles at once, I quit." (Note: This was said by Dart, which makes the quote exponentially funnier if you know Dart and can picture him saying the word "chucklehead.")
"Do you know what you have been thwacked with?" "The Corn of Grammatical Justice."