Twice a year me and Fredrik create The Dreamhack Game (DHG), at the Dreamhack computer festival. Earlier this summer we got an email from the Multiplay staff, who arrange UK’s largest LAN parties, inviting us over to create what is now the i-Hunt. Apparently they knew of what we do in Sweden, and liked it enough to fly us over to their own event. Quite cool indeed, and of course we made the most out of it. I’d say my first international “business” trip was a success.
The game is advertised as a “contest of intellect, lateral thinking and logical skill”. No special skills or knowledge are required, only the ability to figure out what to do and how to obtain necessary and relevant information. The tasks usually include elements of code breaking, alternate reality gaming, geocaching, deciphering, treasure hunting and various puzzles. Advanced Google skills are fundamental to solving the game, and so are endurance and thoroughness. Once a problem is solved, you move on to the next level. You usually compete in teams, but you can never know the current position of your competitors. This makes it a competition of intelligence cloaked in mystery and with a touch of psycological warfare.
There were a few tasks we made for this event that I’m a little extra proud of. I’ll explain them here, as they give a very good picture of what The Game is really about. But if the reader feels like giving the game – and these problems in particular – a try, then head over to the i-Hunt website (which will be up until November 09), and register to play. An answer sheet is also available if you get stuck and just want to try the next problem.
Stage 1, problem 5 — The Shameful One
There are two clues here – the haiku poem and the maze image. Both can give the answer on their own, but also in combination with another. The line that is traced through the maze when solved, can be identified by the hunter as the south coast of Spain, and part of Portugal. This is what is referred to in the poem as “An outbound coast”. Furthermore, the location of the square dot indicates “The city, Hamilton’s (NZ) antipode” – which is the city of Córdoba in Spain. An antipode is a complete opposite geographical location, a rare property that Córdoba and Hamilton in New Zealand share. Córdoba is thus the password.
Stage 2, problem 3 — Who’s coming to visit today?
Have you been paying attention to the local tv-station?
In this problem, the contestants had to realize that “the local tv-station” referred to the event-specific daily Youtube broadcasts, mainly the Saturday one found here. The careful watcher will notice the announcement of a new sponsor – Tentacle Technology. However, this company is not to be found on the internet, nor did they actually show up at the venue. Instead, if the URL http://tentacletechnology.com was thought of and followed, a really fancy website was found. The password “puppet” could be found if downloading the latest press release.
Smell something fishy here? That’s because me and Fredrik made it all up; in two hours we had set up the company website, got fake sponsorship deals, marketed ourselves, staged a 31 year old corporate history, stolen product descriptions from IBM and even put together a catchy mission statement. This kind of ARG-inspired problem is one of my favourites.
Stage 2, problem 5 — Think inside the box
In this last problem, the first realization to make is that the cards are actually not part of some unspecified card game. Instead it’s a sudoku, and when solved the numbers revealed in order are 174143214192. For a hunter, this is immediately identified as the IP address 188.8.131.52, and one of the first things to do with an IP is to HTTP it. When done so, a simple website containing the following image was found:
Again, the experienced contenstant would identified the erect and fallen cans as morse code. When deciphered, the final password was “wey“.
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At Dreamhack we attract ~600 players, and at the i-Hunt we managed to get 200 registered players which should be considered good, since it was the first game in the UK for us. However, it looks like I’ll be going back there soon, as I’ll probably be arranging the i-Hunt three times a year in total – which feels great! I’m looking forward to get to know Britain more, as well as to work with creating and further evolving The Game.