One of my favorite moments in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail is when the Bridgekeeper asks King Arthur, “what is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?” The film never answers that question, although more than a few resourceful folks have put forward their best estimates. Before the end of this article, I fear I may be asking an equally esoteric question about the noble European swallow: the only difference? I expect you to figure out the answer, because I’m flummoxed.
I received a package in the mail today containing a postcard with the picture of a bird on it, along with a Sony IC Recorder that contained a file named 50-112-251-215.mp3 with the sound of birds chirping for 18 seconds, with a picture of bird watcher Jonathon Jongsma as the featured image. On the back of the postcard was the following message:
Greetings from Innsbruck, Michael.
Spied this fellow building his nest unusually high in a tree. I believe that means the snow will be better here this year. Including a recording of his lovely little song for your enjoyment.
Do with it what you will.
I suspect the bird pictured is a European swallow, since the barn swallow is Austria’s national bird, and bears a striking resemblance to our fine feathered friend. What secret message is hidden within this bird’s idle tweets, and what did “J” hear that made him send the recording in the first place?
Be sure to check the Unfiction forums for the discussion of what has been uncovered so far, and check back soon for updates on the story as it unfolds.
EDITED 10/16 to add: those of you nervous about visiting the website at the end of the initial puzzle might want to try this link instead.
Last month, I presented you with a deceptively complex puzzle Stitch Media used to challenge ARGFest attendees. To date, only six puzzlers have managed to walk away with the solution. If you still want to attempt to join their ranks, stop reading here, because I’m finally going to reveal the solution below.
ARGFest is a yearly gathering of transmedia players, designers, and enthusiasts that has been going on for almost ten years. And while the gathering is now dominated by the series of panels and presentation that make up the conference, every year offers ample opportunities for attendees to settle down and tackle perplexing puzzles as a group. Often, the most challenging part is finding the puzzles in the first place.
Stitch Media hid the following puzzle in the ARGFest program, leaving attendees perplexed under an ever-increasing stack of annotated programs. After receiving a number of hints from Evan Jones at Stitch Media, a few players managed to break the code and make their way into the Winner’s Circle. Do you have what it takes to do the same? We’ll release the full explanation for the solution after ARGFest coverage is completed . . . until then, see if you can figure it out yourself!
This came in three weeks ago from the fine folks at Assault on 13th Labour, a movement dedicated to solving Perplex City card #251 :
Perplex City, an Alternate Reality Game based around puzzle cards and storytelling, features one card that has yet to be cracked: an RC-64 encrypted plaintext. We’ve created a distributed client and are looking for people with spare cycles to lend a hand. The program requires .NET or Mono (it works on Linux and OS X, as well as XP). Prizes are on offer for the first solve!
Word on the street is that this looks to be as tough a puzzle as the Alternate Reality Gaming community has come across, and hopefully, with a few more volunteers, the card can finally be solved. Perhaps a little history will be made along the way.
For those of you who want to get in on the ground floor of a new and exciting gaming experience, this might just be the thing you need. Thanks to a tip, ARGN has learned of an “online role-playing game” called Stranger Adventures that will launch on Sunday, February 19th with a pilot series that will last a week. Shortly after the pilot series concludes, the Stranger Adventures series will continue it’s first “season” in 10 installments, to be offered bi-weekly. For players in the United States, there is an added bonus to playing the game in the form of a cash prize for those lucky enough to crack a 10-digit code central to the story.
According to the tip we received, “The weeklong pilot, as well as the following series, will unfold Sunday through Saturday. Each episode will feature its own central character (the “Stranger”) and clues to a 10-digit code that the Stranger needs the players’ help to identify. The clues will not require any specialized expertise and will piece together like a puzzle. The first player to crack the code will win the grand prize of $25,000; the second prize of $10,000 will be divided among every viewer who breaks the code before time runs out. The value of the prizes will progress weekly as the audience grows.”
Deaddrop today has announced its Best Alternate Reality Game Puzzle contest. The best puzzle will be used in an upcoming ARG, and the winner will also be invited to participate behind the scenes in that ARG.
Deaddrop will accept submissions for this puzzle contest through the end of January. The winner will be announced on Deaddrop, but you won’t see the puzzle until it shows up in a game.
For rules and submission procedures, refer to the post on the Deaddrop site.