Comments: I went to the Mystery Hunt and it was fine

Hear, hear.

A few other notable puzzles:

A Sudden Downpour was also relatively easy and elegant, I thought. (And one of the few that I solved myself.) A word search grid (with no word list, of course) where you find a bunch of dog breeds; there are then 100 letters left over, which you rewrite into a 10x10 grid and then find a bunch of cat breeds (and the remaining letters then give the clue to the answer word). This insight wasn't that big a leap, since two of the cats were acrosses, thus noticeable in the original grid's unused letters.

The Jeweled Fowl, a Scrabble-themed puzzle, could have been a lot of fun except for one basic problem: the clues sucked. And without all the clues properly solved, you could never figure out the grid you needed to construct. Once you got to that point, you had to reconstruct the grid based on the words' scores and then ... something, I dunno, I'd lost interest after the sucky clues.

Oh, and take a look at The Property of Ones, in the round we never got to. Sure, put the puzzle you and I would have *really* enjoyed somewhere we won't reach it.

Posted by Trip at January 21, 2004 10:25 AM

I think you have a lot of good points (I want to personally apologize for the people in the call center who were getting attitudes with the hunters - that was totally uncalled for). This year's hunt had plenty of issues to go along with its good points. I think it's ironic, though, that you pointed out the similarities between puzzles as a problem, particularly Mud-Soled Lubber vs WIK Eschatology. I wrote Mud-Soled Lubber, and I hadn't even seen Eschatology. I *was*, however, inspired by a puzzle from the 2000 Hunt, An Exercise in Futility. Did you guys realize you had one similar to that? I think you just have to expect a few similar puzzles here and there, particularly when you're dealing with 100+ puzzle hunts.

Posted by Brandy Evans at January 21, 2004 12:49 PM

I completely agree that, well, there are only so many ways to write a puzzle; rearranged words is one of them. I didn't have a problem with "Mud-Soled" vs. "Eschatology" (the latter didn't have missing words; in that respect, the former was much more like the Treehouse of Horror puzzle from the 2001 Hunt). And there were some cases where the puzzle wasn't a ripoff, it was a clear tribute: a crocheting puzzle that gave you befunge, as opposed to a knitting puzzle that gave you perl, for example. And, heck, the "come bring us food" puzzle, we were hoping would be borrowed into future Hunts.

There were some similarities between this year and last year, but I think they tended to be more structural than puzzle-specific.

Posted by Lance at January 21, 2004 03:16 PM

Upon reflection, it's unfair of me to characterize the new hunt as a mere copy of the previous hunt, but that feeling, justified or not, certainly affected me in the course of working on solving it. I let someone else work on the subway puzzle because I felt like -- dude, I looked at way too many subway maps last year, I don't want to look at *any more*.

Eschatology and the other puzzles mentioned from previous Hunts did have similarities, now that you mention it, but I also didn't really notice them in the course of writing Eschatology, which was built around its answer phrase ("the last shall be first"). Obviously, though, it's a puzzle idea which is easy to come up with independently. Mud-Soled Lubber felt more similar to Eschatology in its solving method, except harder, because Bibles are searchable online and Harry Potter books aren't (at least, not until someone installs a file sharing program and downloads .txt files of all the books, which I wish we had thought of doing sooner).

I was, I must admit, predisposed to feel unfavorably toward puzzles which reminded me of the ones I'd seen for months on end while working on the Matrix hunt; I'm sure the details of those puzzles were much more memorable to me than to someone who had only seen those puzzles over the course of a weekend. Whenever I ran across one, I felt like, dude, this Hunt is long enough -- if you took out all the puzzles reminiscent of last year, you'd still have plenty of puzzles left for a Hunt and it would seem more original, because there were plenty of great puzzle ideas in there (like, someone just told me about the hidden set of metapuzzles that was discarded due to the length of the hunt -- a great idea, very innovative, but sadly done in by the puzzle avalanche).

Posted by Francis at January 21, 2004 10:01 PM

Little did Brandy know that when I wrote An Exercise In Futility, I'd recently returned from the future where I ripped off Eschatology.

I have to agree with Trip; A Sudden Downpour was one of the most elegant puzzles in the hunt. I also thought Nagano was very nice, although the final clue was a bit inaccurate/racist.

I liked Property of Ones, except it prevented me from writing a very specific Homestar Runner puzzle next year which would have also required knowledge of David Byrne, Twin Peaks, and professional wrestling.

Posted by Dan at January 22, 2004 01:54 AM