Never give Dr. Algernop Krieger access administrative access to your website. Last year, the not-so-good doctor used a website for his side business to host screencaps of tentacle porn loosely based around his coworkers, livestreams from cameras hidden in public restrooms, and hacked cell phone pictures featuring coworkers in compromising positions. And those same coworkers just put Krieger in charge of managing the website for their new private investigations agency, The Figgis Agency. That’s right, the Emmy Award winning scavenger hunt for FX’s animated series Archer has returned with a vengeance.
The Algersoft Incident
During Archer season 6, curious fans noticed that the dossier on CIA agent Conway Stern had a serial number in hexadecimal code that briefly appeared onscreen during the season’s second episode. The hex code drove to a video with a hidden message in the audio spectrogram, providing the key to an encrypted url featured in the season’s seventh episode, leading to an anonymous Craigslist posting looking for volunteer test subjects, which in turn led to a Reddit post by Krieger in Reddit’s /r/cyborgs subreddit, before finally leading people to the Algersoft.net website and the season’s main puzzle. Confused? Don’t worry, the scavenger hunt’s creators released a flowchart after the final puzzle was solved.
Without delving too much into the details, the primary goal of the scavenger hunt was to break into Krieger’s “Insurance.zip” file. Not because someone said it was important…just because it was there, and if Krieger protected and labeled something as insurance it had to be juicy. To do so, Archer fans needed to beat a flash game on hard mode to unlock the web app [email protected] to bruteforce an encrypted message that eventually led to a previously unnoticed easter egg from Archer season 5 where the pool balls in an episode spelled out “CHOKE ME” after converting the numbers to text. Convert that phrase back into hexadecimal, and Insurance.zip unlocks to reveal…
…this picture of a muffin. Text under the shadow of the muffin spelled out, “Congraturation! You have proven worthy of the Krieger Army – and a prize even greater! Email [email protected] with the subject “ENLIST ME” for details. Note: there can be only one winner – time is of the essence!” And Krieger wasn’t lying – replying to the email resulted in a link to an even bigger picture of a blueberry muffin, ending the Algersoft scavenger hunt. As hunt creator Mark Paterson explains in his flowchart, the ending is “a callback to an old Adam Reed joke used in Frisky Dingo (and later, Archer) where a briefcase would contain nothing but a blueberry muffin.”
For a show that finds its humor as much through its obscure pop culture references as its physical comedy, this was the perfect scavenger hunt. Rather than focusing on major reveals or telling a side narrative, the Archer Scavenger Hunt focused on a disjointed series of puzzles designed to revel in the show’s own cleverness through the flavor text and dead ends. When Krieger created a Reddit account designed to lead fans to his website, he used the username “TT0077269”, the IMDB code for the film Boys from Brazil, since a running joke on the show is that he might be a clone of Adolf Hitler. The screencaps from Fisherman’s Daughter, the Archer themed hentai? An anime short on the season 4 DVD release. As much as breaking into the Insurance.zip file was the scavenger hunt’s endgame, the most satisfying part of the game was just rifling through the characters’ personal business and recognizing the obscure references to the show’s surprisingly deep lore.
The scavenger hunt was well received, taking home the Emmy for Outstanding Creative Achievement In Interactive Media – Multiplatform Storytelling last year, and receiving popular acclaim for the show’s next-level take on easter eggs hidden in television shows. With hunt architects Mark Paterson and Tim Farrell working directly for the show, Archer‘s unique voice was able to pull through to the experience and shine. And now, Archer is back for another season.
The Figgis Agency
It’s a new season, and the cast of Archer now nominally work for Cyril Figgis, the nominal lead of their private investigation agency. And while it took over a month for fans to be led to the hunt’s Algersoft.net hub last year, the discovery of The Figgis Agency site was much more straightforward: during the first episode, a dossier on Veronica Deane pointed fans to its online counterpart at figgis.agency/deane. A post-it note even gives away Krieger’s login credentials, allowing more casual fans a relatively easy opportunity to explore Krieger’s new online home, and the first level of the new hunt. Additional characters mimic Krieger’s login credentials, with new profiles to explore every week. Cyril’s account is a relatively professional collection of dossiers for cases, while Pam’s is dedicated to conceptual sketches and flyers of The Figgis Agency’s unofficial mascot, Furlock Bones.
One of the earliest puzzles on the Figgis Agency site can be found in the game Milton: Toast to Toast, an Archer themed homage to the notoriously boring game Desert Bus. In Desert Bus, you play a bus driver making the trek from Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada in a bus that veers slightly to the right. For eight hours, without stopping. The game is so monotonous, it inspired a yearly charity event where people donate to force a rotating cast of drivers to keep playing the game. Milton: Toast to Toast is even more punishing, asking players to drive Milton the combination toaster and copy-machine through the desert for 237 miles, at a painstaking crawl of just under 2 miles per hour. As with Desert Bus, you can’t just weigh down the gas and walk away – poor Milton veers slightly to the left, and will crash if left unattended. Luckily Milton dies of dysentery after the first four hours, so players don’t have to play for the full 146 hours to complete the game. There’s a message hidden on the billboards along the way, but players have yet to figure out what to do with the extracted letters.
The prevailing theory is that many of the puzzles will result in 22×22 grids intended to fit into a special “Socket” page on The Figgis Agency website. If that’s the case, fans might want to hunker down for the long haul. The Socket page has room for 16 different grids. One of those grids came from Krieger’s Kastle, a multi-user dungeon running off of Telnet. Another was hidden in a magic eye puzzle. It’s hard to say why Krieger set up this particular web of puzzles…but then, that was never really the point of the hunt last year, either.
With less than half of the season gone, the second annual Archer scavenger hunt is only beginning to heat up, whether you’re just looking to dip your toes in the water and peruse employee intranet files or go all in and start extracting puzzle grids. To get in on the action, head over to the ArcherFX subreddit to get up to speed, and get to work investigating the investigators at figgis.agency.
Update 6/16/2016: The season 7 Archer Scavenger Hunt was solved on June 15th, and the full walkthrough can be found at figgis.agency/walkthrough. The reward this year is a 3D printable model of the “Pirate Virus” from season 2 of the show. Here’s an hour-long loop of the digital pirate, so you can truly experience him.