I wrote the puzzles listed below in the Dog Show round of the 2016 Mystery hunt. Note that, in general, the Dog Show puzzles were not intended to be as difficult or complex as puzzles in the following rounds, though there certainly were a few puzzles which did not end up adhering to this very closely.
Gaming the System – This puzzle, with a theme of video game Easter eggs, was one of the first puzzles I wrote for the 2016 hunt. Because the idea for the puzzle dictated quite a bit about the form it would take, but not very much about the content, I had a fair amount of freedom in regards to what the questions were. I did pick a question with a Cambridge tie-in for the first question, and referenced Contra (the game in which the necessary-to-solve-the-puzzle Konami Code originated) in the very first answer.
This puzzle is one of the two or three most playful I wrote or co-wrote for this hunt. In addition to the subject matter and some of the answers (“Contra Band” and “Grand Theft Audio” are not actual music-based video games, for example, though perhaps they should be…), this puzzle also has an Easter egg, which one of the puzzle’s testers did find during testing. I don’t imagine that many solvers, if any, would have noticed it during hunt, but you are certainly welcome to see if you can find it now after the fact.
You Complete Me – The idea behind this puzzle was relatively straightforward by hunt standards: Use completing the square to generate sets of numbers between 1 and 26. Convert those numbers into letter in the standard way, then complete the square with those letters by adding a letter which allows those letters to be arranged into the name of one of Boston/Cambridge/etc.’s prominent squares. And it was straightforward to our testers, but with a catch: testers were able to identify the numbers and then complete the names of the squares but did not actually understand what the first step was supposed to be. So we kept tweaking flavortext and re-testing until we were more or less through every available tester. I think that the version that we eventually ran with made it relatively evident to the solvers for whom the method mattered, but there’s a part of me that still wonders whether there was some superior mode of presentation for this that we simply missed.
Mad Dogs – This puzzle was brought over from what I informally refer to as “The Lost Puzzles of Seqquel.” Let me pause and explain what I mean when I refer to Seqquel.
Seqquel was the one-time proposed sequel to the Sekkrets puzzle hunt originally prepared for members of The Grey Labyrinth puzzle forum. The Plugh team and offshoots which have an extensive history of participation in Australian puzzle hunts originated as a team of solvers who were the first to solve this puzzle hunt, and my original connection to Team Luck is through mutual membership on the Plugh team dating back to Sekkrets. Any work on Seqquel by members of Plugh was set aside when Team Luck won its first hunt 2009 and the people who were writing Seqquel turned their attention to writing a hunt with a larger scope and more urgent deadline. As Seqquel is unlikely to be completed in the near future, Team Luck has occasionally adapted puzzles from it for use in the mystery hunt.
Mad Dogs was originally the Coach Z puzzle from the Homestar Runner round, and pretty much worked exactly as it did here, though the title and flavortext used for hunt was different, of course. It was a fortunate thing for this puzzle that there was an answer of appropriate length which fit the puzzle’s requirements (no letters later in the alphabet than O) which was also a nickname, and I think this puzzle came off rather nicely, in general. Some post-hunt commentators have made the valid point that there are quite a few different numbers which could be potential fodder for answer extraction. I do think that the puzzle did use the number of most significance to the puzzle’s subject matter (the March Madness tournament), but I can see how having so much possible data to use could make it much more difficult to actually identify which data is actually relevant.
Lastly, I should mention that the athlete without a nickname given did not have a nickname because the team went without a team nickname in the year in question, even though the team had a nickname both before and after that year.