Solution: Make Your Own Puzzlehunt
Author: Benji Nguyen
Dev: Violet Xiao
In this puzzle, solvers must make the following observations:
- When generating a hunt, the ten forum commenters each correspond to a puzzlehunt that happened in 2020-2021.
- The set of puzzlehunts the posters draw from is enumerated in the conspicuous free space, which claims that the hunt generated was included in a specific 2021 Huntinality wrap-up graph. One can find this graph by going through last year's wrapup page. This graph contains all 10 hunts used in this puzzle, and one can use the various mannerisms of each poster to deduce the relationships.
- If one generates a hunt that matches enough of the parameters for a commenter's hunt, the commenter will make a reference to a favorite puzzle. The way they describe this puzzle clues an actual puzzle in their respective hunt. One may also observe that the posters are ordered by the alphabetical order of the puzzle titles.
- Each commenter is affiliated with a "team" whose name references an actual team that participated in the hunt. This team always performs near the top of the hunt's leaderboard and the rank is used for an index into the commenter's favorite puzzle. (As a note, the CMU Spring leaderboard can be found by accessing their wrap-up, contained in a linked Youtube video on the hunt page.)
- Correctly matching parameters for a given hunt will yield exactly one horizontal or vertical bingo that can be used to order the hunts for final extraction.
There are a couple of additional "meta" clues from the bingo that guide the puzzler towards solving the puzzle, namely to a) not use diagonal bingos, implying others are important, and b) matching only one puzzle type is necessary to satisfy commenters, further implying that doing so is important to the puzzle.
Indexing the clued team’s rank into the clued puzzle from the hunt gets you the phrase STORK EIGHT which clues the final answer, ADJUTANT.
Poster and Hunt information:
|Final Order||Puzzle Title Order||Hunt||Puzzle Title||Team||Team Rank (Index)||Index|
|Row 1||5||Teammate 2020||Island Metric||LOL Solution Confirmation Is Frozen||2||S|
|Row 2||7||DaroCaro||Recette du Succes||Per the totality of established maxims of cartooning||5||T|
|Row 3||6||UMD 2021||Mortal Snake||Weary Pupils Fighting Sleep Deprivation||2||O|
|Row 4||8||Puzzle Potluck 3||Secret Places||Magical Swirl||4||R|
|Row 5||1||DP Puzzle Hunt||A Fork in the Road||Right Down Downright Parking||5||K|
|Col 1||3||Puzzles Are Magic||Cross-Eyed||Horse Petters of a Subreddit Devoted to Images||6||E|
|Col 2||4||CRUMS 2020||Disoriented||Figure out the Answer However ASAP||6||I|
|Col 3||2||REDDOT 2020||Arrowing Work||distant arithMETiciAns||8||G|
|Col 4||9||CMU Spring '21||Ship Battle||Interstellar Trailblazers||2||H|
|Col 5||10||Huntinality||Wah-shington Post||You ever consider transforming into a prized groom?||9||T|
|Parameter||DP Puzzle Hunt||REDDOT 2020||Puzzles Are Magic||CRUMS 2020||Teammate 2020||UMD 2021||DaroCaro||Puzzle Potluck 3||CMU Spring '21||Huntinality|
|What's your puzzlehunt writing experience like?||first||third||first||first||first||longer||first||third||longer||first|
|How will you make the website?||gph-site||other||other||other||gph-site||gph-site||github pages||gph-site||other||gph-site|
|How will you name the hunt?||other||other||other||other||based on MITMH team||university||my name||other||other||based on MITMH team|
|Number of authors||large||mid||small||small||large||large (11)||small||mid||large||mid|
|Number of total puzzles||21-30 (25)||21-30 (21)||11-20 (16)||1-10 (8)||41+ (45)||21-30 (25)||11-20 (20)||21-30 (27)||21-30 (22)||21-30 (22)|
|Number of metapuzzles||2||3||3||2||5||2||1||3||4||3|
|Max team size||4||4||none||6||6||6||none||none||6||6|
|Will you include casual and expert tracks?||no||no||no||no||no||no||yes||yes||no||yes|
|When will the hunt start?||Friday||Saturday||Saturday||Saturday||Friday||Saturday||Friday||Saturday||Saturday||Saturday|
|What's the ostensible theme of the hunt?||birthday||business||animated media||board game||birthday||other||animated media||board game||other||business|
|Number of feeder puzzles in Round 1||6||8||6||6||8||7||other||6||other||6|
|Can puzzles be worth different amounts of points?||yes||yes||yes||yes||no||no||no||yes||no||no|
|How will you handle hints?||pre-written||pre-written||pre-written||pre-written||custom||custom||pre-written||pre-written||custom||custom|
|What should your logo or favicon be?||bird||circle||puzzle piece||none||none||none||puzzle piece||puzzle piece||puzzle piece||bird|
|How long will this hunt take for the winning team?||0-3 hrs||12-24 hrs||3-6 hrs||6-12 hrs||over 24 hrs||12-24 hrs||0-3 hrs||3-6 hrs||0-3 hrs||3-6 hrs|
|How will you describe hunt difficulty?||Potluck||other||Potluck||other||Potluck||Potluck||other||Potluck||other||Potluck|
|How will you adorn team names on the leaderboard?||highlighting||other||animals||medals/trophy||medals/trophy||animals||medals/trophy||medals/trophy||other||medals/trophy|
|You'll definitely have these kinds of puzzles (select up to 3):||flags, web||escape||endgame, card game||flags, web||dating sim, web, card game||escape, web||card game||endgame||flags, card game||dating sim|
|You'll definitely include these things in wrap-up:||awards, digression, timeline, future, guesses||awards, memes, future||digression, timeline, future||none||awards, digression, timeline, future, memes, guesses||awards, digression, timeline, future, guesses||awards, digression, timeline, future, guesses||digression, timeline, future, memes||none||awards, digression, timeline, future, memes, guesses|
|You'll definitely include these things in the story:||round text||round text||prologue, round text||excerpts||updates||updates||clickthrough||clickthrough, epilogue||prologue||prologue, excerpts, updates|
This puzzle idea came to me as I was brainstorming ways to use the meta constraints. The concept presented an interesting challenge in that I still wanted the puzzle to be fair to teams that weren’t as experienced in puzzlehunts. My hope was that the content of the "free space" in the bingo grid was conspicuous enough to help everyone constrain the search space and that most things would be intuitive from there with enough exploration and effort.
I’m admittedly not the biggest fan of the identify-sort-index-sort paradigm, but I thought it would be fun to try to work that into a cute shell. I was initially worried about this puzzle being overly sloggy, but it seemed that playtesters and a lot of solvers had fun nonetheless. My biggest regret is that there are too many things that could plausibly fit an 8-letter stork. I tried to guide people to look for traditional crossword answers to the clue "Stork (8)", but we did notice a lot of teams still taking a while on that step.
I’m curious as to how many teams tried creating a hunt with 0 puzzles. This ends up making the community really angry because the hunt is impossible.