Rules and Tips

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OrganizationAbout the PuzzlesStructure — Tips for Solving and for Collaborating.

Errata and updates: (let me know if you find some bug!)
July 24th, 22:55 UTC. Puzzle 2.1: corrected typo in word length of definition 12.
July 23rd, 18:45 UTC. Epilogue Puzzle: improved presentation.
July 23rd, 18:10 UTC. Puzzle 2.1: improvement of some clues (2,4,22,26,29,31).
July 22nd. Chapter 2 (6 new puzzles!) and Epilogue (1 final puzzle) are now live!

Organization
  • This game is a private event that has been created for the conference “FPSAC 2020 online” participants. Some puzzles have references to FPSAC, to algebraic combinatorics, or to math in general.
  • The game (Chapter 1) started off during the FPSAC Welcome Receptions on Sunday, July 5th 2020 (see details on the dedicated FPSAC webpage), where participants were split into small teams (in breakout rooms), so that each team could work on the puzzles independently. Chapter 2 was played the same way during the Closing Reception on Friday, July 24th 2020. The game is now still playable on the website (ask me for the password if you haven’t played yet and were a participant in the conference FPSAC 2020).
  • If you were a participant, please don’t share the password with non-participants. You may share individual puzzles with friends and colleagues, as long as it’s not on a public forum and provided you ask me beforehand, thanks!
  • It is recommended to play as a team of 2-5 people (more fun and efficient!), although it is possible to play alone (but harder!).
  • Please don’t reveal the answers to people who haven’t played yet.
  • It is not necessary to print the puzzles (but feel free to do so if you prefer working with pen and paper!). If you print, use the option “fit to printable area”. If you don’t print, it is useful for some puzzles to have a way to annotate or draw on the pdf electronically.
  • This game is free for all FPSAC participants (but please read the Credits page and fill the Feedback Form after playing, thanks!).
  • There is no prize for the teams that finish the hunt, except the satisfaction and the fun you get from solving puzzles 🙂 . The solving times for each team are collected (using the Google Forms results): see Leaderboard.
About the Puzzles
  • The puzzles in this game are not math puzzles. They are in puzzle-hunt style: they come with no, or minimal, instructions. The first step is to figure out what to do, and use the information or data to extract some meaning. They often require one intuitive leap in thinking (or aha-moment) to solve.
  • The goal is to find the answer to each puzzle. The answer is always an English word, or a sequence of English words.
  • Each answer must be entered in a specific field (in an integrated Google Form) just below the corresponding puzzle in each chapter. The form will validate if and only if this is the correct answer. You should write the answer in lowercase, and without spaces. Submitting your answer in the form also enters your team into the “leaderboard” for each puzzle.
  • To access the final puzzle of each Chapter (“metapuzzle”) you need to enter all five puzzle answers again in a new Google Form.
  • Each puzzle is entirely contained in a pdf file. You don’t need to do technical things to the pdf (nothing hidden in the metadata or concealed by steganography!). There are no clues on this website outside the pdf files. In particular, you don’t need to look at the source code.
  • You may use the internet to search for information (some of the puzzles are impossible to solve without looking things up).
Structure
  • There is a (light) story integrating the puzzles, with two chapters.
  • Chapter 1 has 5 puzzles and 1 metapuzzle. (the webpage for Chapter 1 is password-protected, if you are a FPSAC participants you can request the password by email)
  • To access the metapuzzle, you first need to solve the 5 first puzzles.
  • Solving the Chapter 1 metapuzzle gives you access to Chapter 2: at the end of the Google Form corresponding to Chapter 1 metapuzzle, you will be given the password for the webpage of Chapter 2.
  • Chapter 2 has 5 puzzles and 1 metapuzzle.
  • The answer for Chapter 2 metapuzzle gives you access to the Epilogue (end of the story + a final puzzle)
Tips for solving

(what to do if you are stuck)

  • If you are confident in your answer, but the form does not accept it, check that you typed it correctly (lowercase, without spaces), and that you indeed have the complete answer (in some puzzles there may be an indication of the word length(s) of the answer).
  • Re-read the title and the introductory textcarefully. They may contain clues.
  • Consider what information you haven’t used yet.
  • Thoroughly check the work that you’ve already done.
  • Google things you don’t know. Google things you know.
  • Take a break, look at another puzzle, ask a friend.
  • Look up a hint (Hints for Chapter 1, Hints for Chapter 2 and Epilogue) or ask for a hint by email.
  • More tips on puzzle solving here (much more than what is needed in this hunt!) : https://www.mit.edu/~puzzle/resources.html
Tips for collaborating

(if you are solving as a team during a videoconference)

  • Use a shared folder (e.g. in Google Drive) and share notes in documents or worksheets among your team.
  • One team member can share their screen with the puzzle on it, so that everyone can annotate the screen.
  • Use the virtual whiteboard in the videoconference software.
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