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Friday August 24, 2007 // By Sandy

Mystery of the Poisoned Picnic, part 4

When we last visited our heroes, they were scampering through River Park, hunting for clues. Let’s continue, shall we?

Puzzle #6: Movie quotes

The inspiration for this puzzle came from Filmspotting, one of my favorite podcasts. They have a weekly contest called Massacre Theatre, where the two hosts “act” out a scene from a classic movie. I loved the construct of the game, and wanted to find a way to incorporate it into the hunt.

The answer presented itself when we tried to come up with a way for Syd to participate. He’s had a lot of surgery lately, and didn’t feel up for treking around with a team. So instead we built this puzzle around him. Teams would come in to our house, find Sarah and her father sitting on the couch, and try to guess which four movies they were acting out. If they got the movie on the first quote, they got five points. Second try, three points. Third try, one point, and if they coudln’t get it after three quotes, they were banned from watching movies ever again.

Here are the four five-point quotes, if you’re interested in giving it a go:

Do you know why this night is happening?
Because it has to happen.

Hey, you did it, Grandpa.
Ohhhh… ohhhh, I think I hit an air pocket.
You can fly to the moon this way.
Let’s just fly south for the winter.
Why not? I’m a bird!
I’m a plane!

You’re that smart?
Let me put it this way. Have you ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates?

I dreamt a dream tonight.
And so did I.
And what was yours?
That dreamers often lie.

Post-game analysis: I ended up really liking this puzzle, mainly because I got to watch it happen. I lamented later that as fun as it was to build the game, I wish I could have watched it happen. This puzzle offered that. Also, our quote selection must have been pretty good; it resulted in a nice distribution of scores. No team got them all right on the first try, nor did any team need three quotes for more than one movie.
Grade: A

Puzzle #7: Text message

This was the puzzle I was proudest of, because I made it up out of whole cloth, from concept to execution. Teams were shown a picture of a cellphone screen with a text message on it, sent by Anakin Skywalker (one of the suspects), and they were told the location was simply “Outside Titania.” The message read as follows:

“Die not aping herb that’s newt. Um… Pope-map-x!”

Several teams hunted around our building, searching for some kind of physical object that matched up with this cryptic message. They didn’t find anything; the crucial hint is part of the picture on the page, namely, that the message came through on a cell phone. I won’t spoil it here. You won’t need anything other than the message and maybe a cell phone to figure it out.

Post-game analysis: Got a lot of positive feedback about this one. Teams struggled with it, but they all eventually got it, which counts. Only criticism I can think of is that teams didn’t understand that the location only became important after the puzzle was solved, and wasn’t a clue to solving it. That could have been clarified.
Grade: A


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