Monday, March 24, 2014

Toot Toot! Puzzle Boat!

This weekend I went on a bit of an adventure. I played board games at Sky's place on Saturday (fun, but not much of an adventure) but instead of going home I hitched a ride with Pounder and spent the night at his place. Then all day Sunday (where all day started at 2pm because Arizona sucks) we hung out in Snuggles' basement working on Puzzle Boat 2.

A Puzzle Boat is essentially a large bundle of puzzles that you solve by yourself or in a team of whatever size you want. You start off with a couple of presumably easy puzzles and each time you complete a puzzle you get a password to enter into the website which unlocks more puzzles! There are some 'meta' puzzles that use the answers to the base puzzles and then one big main puzzle that puts everything together. The ultimate goal is to solve that big puzzle first. There are over 100 individual puzzles and our team of 7 people solved 13 in 10 hours so it's not exactly a quick endeavour!

We have 13 more puzzles currently unlocked that are in various states of completion and like 80 or 90 more still to unlock after that. We have another day to puzzle away (next Saturday I think) but finishing it then seems pretty out there too. So we've decided we're allowed to work on the 13 we have now but not unlock any new ones until we meet up again which seems like a pretty fair way to do things when we're not trying to win. That way we won't meet back with all the really fun stuff done and a bunch of cryptic crosswords still to do. Not that there's anything wrong with cryptic crosswords... But the one that we unlocked so far had the cryptic crossword part completely ignored.

Winning seems like the sort of thing that could have been plausible in an alternate universe but it would have involved a larger team, with people who have done this before, and who didn't mostly have to work Monday morning. As far as I can tell no one is even close to being done yet so a team that could work continuously for a couple days in a row is a really important piece it seems. That isn't our team, and that's fine, because you don't have to play for first place every time. You can play for fun, and yesterday was tons of fun. Lots of little 'a-ha' moments that really make the person who saw the trick feel good without the people who were stuck feeling bad because we're all on the same team and there are SO MANY of those moments to go around. And while a bigger team would have a better chance of winning it also means each person gets to touch fewer puzzles and that's not necessarily more fun. One of the 13 we solved just sat there having people rotate in to look at it forever until Lino finally made the right leap of logic to get the ball rolling again so you do want a fair number of people, but not too many. One room of people seemed like a pretty good number, though I probably should have brought my laptop since I kept needing to borrow others.

What's also cool about this sort of thing is when you have 100+ puzzles there gets to be a little bit of everything. Some sudokus, a cryptic crossword, a diagramless crossword, anagrams, ciphers, some image lookups, maybe there'll be a book code at some point. Browser games! Song recognition! All kinds of logic puzzles! Woo!

It was a bit of an adventure getting back to Toronto this morning and I never sleep well away from home but it was all worthwhile. All aboard the puzzle boat! TOOT TOOT!

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