Cluechaser: The Best Interactive Puzzle Contest on the Web

Game 1, Puzzle 6: Pictogram

I must admit that sometimes I amaze even myself with what I can create. Game 1 was played back in early 2008, over 3 years ago now. Some of the puzzles, this one in particular, haven’t been looked at by me since then. Due to the complexity of it’s design I never posted it on the website as a puzzle for anyone to solve. As I look at it now in preparation for this review I wonder how it was that I came up with it. As it turns out, with the third quickest solve time of 1 hour and 31 minutes, it wasn’t a difficult puzzle but the sheer variety of puzzle types I used to create this leads me to believe that I must have been in a particularly creative mood when I designed it.

Truthfully, I’ve haven’t been looking forward to this review. Its kind of like when you had a party the evening before and left all the cleanup for the next day. You wake up in the morning, crawl out of bed and as you head toward the living room (ground zero) you have this feeling of dread wash over you. You wished you would have just stayed up later to clean because now everything has been sitting out all night and things have been broken and you’re not sure how to fix them. You survey the room, see the extent of the cleanup job, and suddenly have the inexplicable urge to turn and just run out the door and never look back. This puzzle is like that in the sense that it has many pieces and most of them weren’t kept together after the game ended so it has taken a lot of work to gather it all up again.

Unfortunately this is only the first of 3 or 4 puzzles between this game, The Missing Mr. E, and Game 2: Puzzle PiEces that I have this anxiety over. Fortunately though, I seem to have anticipated this a bit and left myself good enough notes that I should be able to stumble through this without too much pain. I have yet to look at the others to see if they will fair the same.

So lets jump in and get this started. I believe this puzzle was accessed by clicking on the “A is for Apple” pic on the wall above the bookshelf in the office which, after the successful completion of the previous puzzle, was now active.

At this point in the game I had some important information related to the storyline that I had to disseminate to the players in some way. This puzzle became the avenue to accomplish that. It is actually 5 puzzles in one, each type of puzzle representing a sentence.

I believe this puzzle, or at least the first part, is a type of rebus. At the time I created it I thought it was a pictogram or pictograph puzzle. I remember doing these kinds of puzzles when I was a kid and always enjoyed them. When creating it I found that it was difficult to put together. Sometimes the picture you need just isn’t easy to find.

Each picture or series of pictures represents a word. So in this first picture you have 4 words. It should be pretty easy to figure out what they are (you can click on it to see it larger). I wanted to use a picture for everything so I had some trouble finding a picture for the word “The”. The pic I used has actually been modified. I erased whatever word was on the knuckles and added my own letters. I mean really, who tattoos “the” on their knuckles?

The next series of pictures requires a little more work. You start with the first picture, a tea bag. Next the “+” sign indicates you should add the next pic, “MDX” to it. Next is the minus sign followed by a bag. So if you remove “bag” you find that so far you have “teamdx”. The next pic indicates you should remove “dx”. Then add the underlined word in the next pic, “coed” and finally remove the “co” leaving you with the word “teamed”.

The next pic is all by itself. Pretty self explanatory…”up”. This is followed by “panda” which becomes “and” after you follow the next pic and remove the “AP”. I suppose it might cause some confusion if you weren’t sure which “a” to remove. But once you realize taking out the first one gives you “nda” and the second gives you “and” it seems pretty logical which one is correct.

Up to this point you have the following message: “The US and China teamed up and”.

Continuing on with the next series of pictures gives you:

“Green Acres” minus “green” plus “Ted Koppel” minus “apple” (at this point you have “crestedko”) minus “osk” (now “creted”) plus “A” equals “created”.
“ABC” minus “BC” equals “A”.
“rest area” plus “chick chat” minus “at-at” minus “chick” equals “resreach”. I figured the players would realize the word is a bit scrambled and should really be “research”.

This is followed by:

“gold” minus “old” plus (“trout” minus “tt”) plus “P” equals “group”.
“last call” plus “superman” plus “p” minus “last supper” (so far you have “callman”) minus (“coleman” minus “cole”) plus “deed” minus “ed” equals “called”.

And you finish off the first sentence with:

“green light project” minus “green light” equals “project”.
“Coca Cola” – “COCA” plus “b” (the hand is representing the letter B in American Sign Language) equals “Colab”.

“The US and China teamed up and created a research group called Project CoLab.”

My original plan was to do the entire message like this. However, you can probably imagine how long it took me to put that one together. And I had 4 more sentences to go! I knew then that I had to figure out something different. That was when I decided to code each sentence in a different type of puzzle.

I really have no idea how I came up with the next one, but I like it. It’s just so simple yet not obvious. At least not right away. I imagine the players looking at it and saying “what the….?” But after you look at it for a few minutes I think the solution starts to become clear.

There are 3 parts. The first part is solved by following the roman numerals. I thought using roman numerals looked better than regular numbers and added a bit of difficulty to the puzzle. Following them gives you the words, “There were”.
The next part is obvious, “18″
The third part is a litttle trickier. Again you have to follow the numbers but it might take a little time to figure out which direction the word goes. It’s solution reads, “First three letters of scissors plus dentists minus first letter”. In other words, “sci” plus “entists” which equals “scientists”

“There were 18 scientists.”

Seeing a need to speed this up even more I looked for ways to code the remaining sentences faster. I decided to use semaphore for the third, American Sign Language for the fourth and morse code for the fifth sentence.

So the third sentence translates to:

“Their misson was secret.”

The fourth to:

“Once completed they were all killed.”

And the 5th to:

“Go to www.cluechaser.com/playarea/game2/exletter to learn more. E”

That URL no longer leads anywhere. It was only active during the game and it led to the next puzzle. Once there the players learned the next number in the sequence which was 4.

I don’t have much else to say about this puzzle. I don’t have any strong feelings about it. It served its purpose which was to communicate important background information from E to the players. I was able to deliver it in a variety of unique and interesting ways although none of them proved to be very difficult to solve. The same thing goes for the next puzzle, Doctor Letter. It was also quickly solved by the players but it also included a hidden clue that I’m positive was overlooked by every single player. It was pretty subtle. Read about that one in the next review.

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