FAQs

How do I solve these puzzles?

If you’ve never heard of puzzlehunts before, here’s a very brief summary: in a typical puzzle, you receive some information and have to extract an answer out of it, which is almost always an English word or phrase. Puzzles can come in many different forms; the only real commonality is that you usually receive no direct instructions, so it’s up to you to figure out how to make sense of the information you’re given.

If you are new to puzzles and are interested in seeing some examples, or if you’re looking for some practice, we recommend looking at puzzles from other online hunts such as MUMS, SUMS, or mezzacotta.

Do I need to have a 10-person team?

No, we actually recommend having a team of 4-6 people, as we think that provides the best solving experience. It’s fine to have more, but we certainly did not design this hunt for large teams.

Who are you guys?

We are ✈✈✈ Galactic Trendsetters ✈✈✈, an MIT Mystery Hunt team loosely affiliated with Floor Pi, a hall in the East Campus dormitory.

Is this hunt affiliated with MIT?

No, we are not officially related to MIT in any capacity.

Are there any prizes?

No.

Is there a physical component to the hunt? Will I ever need to be in a particular location to solve a puzzle?

No.

Why do you only allow 50 answer attempts per daily puzzle set?

We do this to prevent teams from brute-forcing any specific puzzle.

Is there a registration deadline?

No.

What’s up with the complicated tie-breaking system? It’s a little different from all the other puzzlehunts.

It's an attempt to solve the problems we felt existed within scoring systems for similar hunts.

In other puzzlehunts, we found it frustrating when a puzzle that we were stuck on continued to decrease in value as more hints were released. We wanted a puzzle to be worth the same number of points regardless of when a team solved it.

A consequence of this is the need for a tie-breaking scheme, since (hopefully) many teams will have solved all the puzzles by the end of the hunt. We considered both last-solve time and average-solve time as tie-breakers and found neither one fully satisfactory: last-solve time puts too much pressure on the final day, when some teams might be busy, while average solve time hurts teams that can’t work on puzzles immediately upon release, whether that’s because of living in a different time zone or other work/life responsibilities.

Instead, we settled on a tiered tie-breaking system, where if you solve a puzzle within the first 24 hours of release, the amount of time you take doesn’t matter. After 24 hours, you’re on the clock, but you should be able to use hints strategically to get unstuck.

Finally, this system still has the potential of having multiple teams solve all puzzles within 24 hours and then tie, so as a final measure we break ties by last-solve time.

What’s up with the complicated hint system? It’s a little different from all the other puzzlehunts.

Once again, it's an attempt to solve the problems we felt existed within hint systems for similar hunts.

In other puzzlehunts, we were often frustrated when a released hint referred to a part of the puzzle we’d already solved, or was too cryptic in nature to be of use. We wanted hints to be customized to the team they were being given to.

Inspired by the 2015 and 2017 MIT Mystery Hunts, we decided on an “oracular” hint system, in which teams are allowed to ask any yes-or-no question of their choice.

However, in combination with our tie-breaking scheme, this led to a wrinkle: what if one team receives a response to their hint much earlier than another team simply because of inefficiencies on our end? To account for this, we decided that the time that teams spent waiting for a hint should not add to their “adjusted solve time” for that puzzle. In practice, we hope to be able to answer hint requests fast enough that this is very rarely an issue.