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 OrderPuzzle Title OrderHuntPuzzle TitleTeamTeam Rank (Index)Index
Row 15Teammate 2020Island MetricLOL Solution Confirmation Is Frozen2S
Row 27DaroCaroRecette du SuccesPer the totality of established maxims of cartooning5T
Row 36UMD 2021Mortal SnakeWeary Pupils Fighting Sleep Deprivation2O
Row 48Puzzle Potluck 3Secret PlacesMagical Swirl4R
Row 51DP Puzzle HuntA Fork in the RoadRight Down Downright Parking5K
Col 13Puzzles Are MagicCross-EyedHorse Petters of a Subreddit Devoted to Images6E
Col 24CRUMS 2020DisorientedFigure out the Answer However ASAP6I
Col 32REDDOT 2020Arrowing Workdistant arithMETiciAns8G
Col 49CMU Spring '21Ship BattleInterstellar Trailblazers2H
Col 510HuntinalityWah-shington PostYou ever consider transforming into a prized groom?9T

Parameter matching:

ParameterDP Puzzle HuntREDDOT 2020Puzzles Are MagicCRUMS 2020Teammate 2020UMD 2021DaroCaroPuzzle Potluck 3CMU Spring '21Huntinality
What's your puzzlehunt writing experience like?firstthirdfirstfirstfirstlongerfirstthirdlongerfirst
How will you make the website?gph-siteotherotherothergph-sitegph-sitegithub pagesgph-siteothergph-site
How will you name the hunt?otherotherotherotherbased on MITMH teamuniversitymy nameotherotherbased on MITMH team
Number of authorslargemidsmallsmalllargelarge (11)smallmidlargemid
Number of total puzzles21-30 (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 metapuzzles2332521343
Max team size44none666nonenone66
Will you include casual and expert tracks?nonononononoyesyesnoyes
When will the hunt start?FridaySaturdaySaturdaySaturdayFridaySaturdayFridaySaturdaySaturdaySaturday
What's the ostensible theme of the hunt?birthdaybusinessanimated mediaboard gamebirthdayotheranimated mediaboard gameotherbusiness
Number of feeder puzzles in Round 1686687other6other6
Can puzzles be worth different amounts of points?yesyesyesyesnononoyesnono
How will you handle hints?pre-writtenpre-writtenpre-writtenpre-writtencustomcustompre-writtenpre-writtencustomcustom
What should your logo or favicon be?birdcirclepuzzle piecenonenonenonepuzzle piecepuzzle piecepuzzle piecebird
How long will this hunt take for the winning team?0-3 hrs12-24 hrs3-6 hrs6-12 hrsover 24 hrs12-24 hrs0-3 hrs3-6 hrs0-3 hrs3-6 hrs
How will you describe hunt difficulty?PotluckotherPotluckotherPotluckPotluckotherPotluckotherPotluck
How will you adorn team names on the leaderboard?highlightingotheranimalsmedals/trophymedals/trophyanimalsmedals/trophymedals/trophyothermedals/trophy
You'll definitely have these kinds of puzzles (select up to 3):flags, webescapeendgame, card gameflags, webdating sim, web, card gameescape, webcard gameendgameflags, card gamedating sim
You'll definitely include these things in wrap-up:awards, digression, timeline, future, guessesawards, memes, futuredigression, timeline, futurenoneawards, digression, timeline, future, memes, guessesawards, digression, timeline, future, guessesawards, digression, timeline, future, guessesdigression, timeline, future, memesnoneawards, digression, timeline, future, memes, guesses
You'll definitely include these things in the story:round textround textprologue, round textexcerptsupdatesupdatesclickthroughclickthrough, epilogueprologueprologue, excerpts, updates

Author’s Notes

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.