Monday, January 21, 2008

Evil Midnight Bombers What Bombed Again

Whew. I'm back (more or less) to the real world after an exhausting marathon weekend thanks to The MIT Mystery Hunt. And I'm happy to report that The Evil Midnight Bombers What Bomb At Midnight found the coin at 8:28 pm on Sunday January 20, 2008. Indeed, we have secured a repeat victory!

This year's hunt was especially grueling—maybe because it felt like there were very few "easy" puzzles. Every one was draining, difficult, esoteric, and sometimes just plain tedious. When we were constructing for the 2007 hunt, someone on our team said that the constructing team's job is to make the hunt like Disney World. Fun is the most important goal. I'm not saying that I didn't have fun this year, but it wasn't always clear that fun was the central priority for the hunt. Sometimes, other goals seemed paramount: like difficulty, cleverness, or impossible-to-Google-ness. I spent entirely too many hours searching for photo identifications (including a particularly pesky cartoon weasel).

That's not to say that there weren't some real highlights. I spent hours mapping out a Zork-like maze of twisty passages. When finally drawn, the map spelled out the letters to the answer. And the Where's Waldo? meta was especially fun. And there was a great tag-team run-around where we had to split into two teams and feed information to each other via cellphones. Very cool. The story and structure of the hunt never really hit home for me, but there were certainly plenty of puzzles to keep us going through the night(s).

The final run-around was well done... we got to the final location only to discover that Dr. Awkward dropped the coin on his way to there. So, we had to follow the run-around in reverse. It was maybe an hour longer than I would have liked, but I love our team and it was a neat opportunity to "group solve" with lots of teammates.

So... yay! We won!! I'm impressed every year by the genius, patience, and graciousness of my teammates, our competitors, and the constructors. It's an honor just to be mentioned in the same breath with some of these folks. So, here's to great friends and smart, fun people! And to another 12 months of building the best mystery hunt ever for 2009.

Edit: Check out the final chart of all the teams' solving progress. (We're the red line on top!) You can see some photos from the weekend on my Flikr page.