It's my first time playing in a puzzle hunt. Any tips?
Google has plenty of sofas and couches spread around, but they don't
supply pillows and blankets, so you might want to bring those if
you're planning on spending the night.
If you're sending someone to an external location, make sure they
have a way to communicate back with the folks at base, and vice
versa. You might find yourself needing something that you won't want
to trek back to get.
Some puzzles have a clear gather-the-data first step (e.g., solving
crossword-style clues, filling in a grid, etc.). This is a great thing
to do first, obviously, but it may be useful to think about the next
step as you're doing the first. For instance, once the grid is filled
in, what are you going to do with all those letters? Coming up with
the next step early can often save you a lot of time, especially since
it might allow you to shortcut the first step.
Sometimes puzzles will decode to locations or phone
numbers. Usually this fact is indicated in some way so that you don't
call up some random schmuck at 3 in the morning. If you're not sure if
you should dial a particular number or visit some location, you can
check with GC first and we'll tell you if it's a bad idea. (Puzzle
hunt slang: "GC" stands for Game Control, the people organizing the
It's a good idea to have everyone on your team taking a look at
every puzzle. It'll be more fun for everyone and you never know who
may make the key insight to crack a puzzle. This is especially
important when a puzzle requires some specialized knowledge (e.g.,
"those are host cities for the Winter Olympics") or skills ("this is
French - I can read that").
We've found that all too often the correct idea is mentioned by
someone pretty early, but then isn't tried. Sometimes this is because
someone pooh-poohs the idea, or because it was tried "for a few
letters" and the letters "didn't look promising." It's not
inconceivable that the puzzle designer has set up a trap along these
lines; try not to let it catch your team!
Google HQ has a lot of office supplies but not everything. Some of
the non-standard office supplies that we've found useful in the past:
tracing paper, graph paper, X-acto knife, wet-erase markers, permanent
markers, good erasers, compass, ruler, colored Post-its. (This is not
to say that all of these will be necessary in the Googol Conglomerate,
but some definitely will be useful!)
Software tools like Microsoft Excel and Google Spreadsheets can be
good for collecting and exchanging data and trying out ideas
quickly. Many of our puzzles will be provided electronically as PDFs;
Acrobat Reader is useful not just for printing but also for
cutting-and-pasting data to other applications and for zooming in on
During the course of the game we will be contacting you
periodically to check in on how you're doing. We'll probably be doing
this for every team.
Different teams tend to have different philosophies on asking for
help. Some teams are very "hardcore" and refuse to ever ask for help;
other teams will ask for help as soon as they get stuck. We've found
that new teams often aren't sure when to ask for help. Here's some
guidance that we hope helps:
The point of the event is to have fun. We don't know for sure what
you find fun, but not making progress on a puzzle isn't usually fun
for us — consider asking for help when that happens.
Although every individual puzzle can be solved without help, we
expect nearly every team to be stuck at some point or another; there's
no embarrassment in dropping us a line.
You don't have to wait until you're stuck to contact us. For
instance, if you're about to try an idea that will be tedious and
time-consuming, drop us a line and we'll be happy to let you know if
you're on the right track or heading down a dead-end.
There's no reward at the end of the game for having never spoken
with GC. We're your friends, we're here to help.
If you find yourself really not enjoying a certain part of the
puzzle, feel free to ask us to skip it. Usually we'll cooperate,
although sometimes we might be reluctant because it'll mean you'll
miss a fun "aha!" moment.
We will happily confirm partial progress or analyzed data from
individual puzzles. Just ask (usually via email is best).
If you go to a location and find several identical things, take
only one. If you go to a location and find several non-identical
things, don't take any. Feel free to contact GC if you're not sure.
Hacking puzzles is not in the spirit of the hunt and is strictly
prohibited. This includes: hacking into any computer system to find
the answer; modifying something needed by other teams to solve the
puzzle (e.g., moving an object referenced in a puzzle); giving false
information to another team; or trying to purloin answers from another
team. Colluding with other teams is also prohibited. Writing a
computer program to solve a puzzle is fine.
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