Leaving you hanging after part 2, not knowing whether or not we were off to see Professor Goto or not, it’s about time I continued our journey. A short drive from the gallery, and we were in the middle of a housing estate. The somewhat familiar sign of a Wartron helper skulking around on the street let us know we were at the right location, and after parking the van we had a quick chat with the helper. After giving some suggestions for the ‘Words with Friends’ game he was playing we headed to the front door of the house where Professor Goto quickly ushered us inside.
We had a very quick conversation with the Professor, where she seemed rather antsy, and quite worried that someone was out to get here. Clearly something is wrong, and BigMac is misbehaving. Telling her that BigMac is going to start Global Thermonuclear war, she tells us it shouldn’t be possible and that we have to help her to stop it. Almost as quickly as we arrived, we’re ushered out the front door, with a card in our hands and the keyword for the next puzzle location. Back to BUGMe, and entering the keyword ‘LOOK’ once we’re back in the van we get the next clue:
Hoping that there were no local police tracking what appeared to be a rather clandestine meeting leading to a rest stop, we proceeded out along the I-495 towards the rest stop with Brian Navigating, since adding a GPS point wasn’t going to be easy.
Once safely at the rest stop, we proceeded to the public phone to find another team crowded around, so we patiently waited, while watching closely what they were doing. Once they’d decided they had all they needed, we crowded around the phone ourselves, and found a convenient QR code to scan. Doing that led us to a website with an mp3 of some DMTF tones. Thinking initially that we had to use this to place a call, given the last clue, we tried with no success to play this sequence back into the phone before accepting that it wasn’t going to work and setting up on one of the nearby picnic tables to solve this puzzle.
We had a few ideas as to how to proceed, and all of them involved figuring out what the numbers were in the DMTF sequence. In true meme style, a quick search on the app store and “There’s an app for that”.
If you want to try this one out for yourself, then head to this link and have a listen.
With one phone to play the tones, and another with the app to decode them, we quickly had a string of numbers, and the appropriate pauses marked between tones, to allow us to start trying to find a signal among the noise. Initially thinking we had to make words out of the keys pressed, we explored that for a few minutes until we realised that there is no letter assigned to ‘1’ on the keypad, so ruling that out we looked for other codes.
B.I.T.E. had a reference for frequency codes in it, so we had a quick look there to see if we could assign the tones to notes on a scale, however the DTMF tones don’t map nicely, and we ruled that out too.
Around this time, one of the other teams wandered over to us, and asked if we’d left a bag sitting. We hadn’t but we became the custodians of a lost bag. Phoning in to Game Control, we let them know we had the bag, and carried it with us for a few puzzles until we could re-unite it with its owner.
Back to the puzzle, and we were making some progress decoding the numbers and distilling them down to a phone number ‘5082031736’. How we got there is Left As An Exercise For The Reader. Entering this as a keyword into the BUGMe system we had the next clue:
Not very helpful, but at least it was confirmation that we had the right number before phoning some poor stranger at 2am!
Calling the number we reached Professor Goto’s voicemail and were told that to shut BigMac down we’d have to visit him in person. Apparently she’s entered his location into the BUGMe system, and entering the keyword ‘ANALOG’ will give us the information we need.
Another puzzle solved, and we’re on the road again. Off to a private club in the middle of the night to reboot BigMac. Surely it can’t be that easy?
Heading to the new location we comment about the fact that the road is becoming gradually more and more narrow, and we really seem to be out in the middle of nowhere. Glad that we’d decided to fill the car with petrol a couple of puzzles back we know we’re on the right track when we turn onto a short road with a barrier and there’s a couple of cars sitting waiting to be allowed through, and a familiar WarTron helper braving the mosquitoes to see us on the right track.
After 10 minutes or so it’s our turn to enter, and we make our way down the dirt road to a rather secluded area, where quite a few of the teams are already in their cars presumably working on whatever puzzle we’re about to encounter.
Following a very energetic helper as she runs ahead of us while we remain in our car, we park next to a barn and get out. We need to use our B.I.T.E. to hack into the BigMac computer, and reboot him. are presented with a laptop at a Windows login screen and the USB cable is presented to us to plug-in our B.I.T.E.
Plugging in, the B.I.T.E start flashing, and makes some interesting sounds. Our guide comments that this isn’t supposed to happen. “What have you done, it’s not hacking into BigMac! You’re being drawn into the computer!”.
At this, some lights turn on around the barn, and we’re guided into the machine. It was a really fun way to recreate a scene from Tron, and once inside the cosplay continues. We’re greeted by a program who asks us for our identity discs.
Letting the program know that we didn’t have ID discs, he asks if we’re users. Of course we play along and confirm that we are. He hands us glow strings to disguise ourselves while we’re inside the computer and also hands us our own identity disc. The whole scene was well done, including the ‘program’ trying to give a glow string to empty space, having not realsied that we had all been given one already.
Exiting the barn our car had been moved for us, and we climbed back in to solve the puzzle encoded on the ID disc. Not quite sure how the car was transported inside the computer for us, but we’ll go with it.
Inside the car, we found that we now had some new listening material in the form of a CD, and having parked we started to look at what the next puzzle contained.
Contained on the back of the disc were three rings containing a ring of lines, a ring of words and another ring of lines. Some of the lines ended with a dot, and a number of the words were in bold. After a few minutes of rotating the rings, we had an alignment which allowed all words in bold to match the dots, and we could read from one dot, following a line to the end dot, creating an interesting phonetic string as we did so.
Ben who was tracing the path was reading out the words to the team as we took note of them. Brett was attempting to get a quick nap in since he was driving, but both he and I had our ears prick up as we hear Ran-Dumass-Is-Meme-Ore-Eye and Bonnie-You-Man-Are-Key-Tech-Sure. With this under our belt, it wasn’t long until we’d phonetically found all the computer related terms and instructed the younger members of the team what a Von Neumann Architecture was.
Each of the phrases pointed us to find the track name for one of the tracks on the CD we were listening to, and thanks to Shazam we find out we’re listening to Arena by Daft Punk. Entering ‘ARENA’ into BUGMe we get the next clue, and almost to the second the B.I.T.E. starts flashing and beeping at us.
At this point we really start to investigate whether there’s some sort of wireless interface inside the device as we can’t believe that within seconds of us entering the keyword the device has been triggered. As it turns out it wasn’t that clever, merely a timer set when we’d plugged the B.I.T.E. into the laptop and us solving the puzzle exactly within the time expected!
After a quick bathroom break at the nearby portapotty, we were heading back out of this area, and leaving a good number of the teams still in their cars puzzling over the disc. We were pretty happy with our result, and felt that we’d solved the puzzle really quickly.
Arriving at our new destination, I’m sure we were all like kids in a candy shop again as we see a circular area set out with red EL wire, and three bikes also wrapped in EL wire. Looks like it’s time to ride the light cycles!
Sadly one of the three bikes is broken (a flat tyre) and as such one of us is going to have to run rather than cycle. I guess even inside the machine a light cycle can end up with a flat! Brett, Ben and Clayton start cycling (while Clayton Runs) around the circuit, while Brian and I are left to direct the action from the sidelines. We have a scoreboard which reads ‘001’, and we’re told we’ll get a point when it reads ‘111’.
This is a simple game of ‘Mastermind’ played with light cycles, and we quickly solve all three rounds by moving Clayton back and forth in relation to the two cyclists. For each round we ‘win’ we’re given a glow stick as a reward. Unfortunately, we have to hand them back at the end.
Having completed the challenge, we’re given the keyword ‘QUANTUMDECRYPTER’ which leads to the next clue from BUGMe:
Liking the sound of heading to the theater for a special feature, we get back in the van just as the next team arrives, and head for the cinema.
Heading towards the theater we spot a familiar face, and noting that in-keeping with the idea that we’re inside the machine, the helper waiting to greet us also has her light string round her neck. Over the weekend there were a number of little touches like this which really helped to make the event.
Entering the theater, we’re directed to the concessions stand to pick up a bag of popcorn, and then take our seat for the movie. Not a traditional viewing experience, but certainly a clever puzzle hidden in here. Again Brett decided to rest his eyes for a few minutes while the rest of us worked on the puzzle, and I’m sure he’d have been happier if we’d taken longer but it seems we were quick on the uptake with this one.
What we’re presented with is a mesmerizing cycle of colours with a couple of reference spots to stop us from going cross eyed while trying to resolve the patterns. The key here was to map the transitions across the colour wheel between each colour shown, with black being the end of a code. I mapped out around 3 minutes of colour transitions into my book, and then started to look for meaning, while Ben, Brian Clayton continued to watch the pattern. We all realised around the same time what the goal was, and independently confirmed that mapping the points gave us letters which spelled out the a phrase pointing us to the movie Jeff Bridges won an oscar for. Entering ‘CRAZY HEART’ into BUGMe and we’re on our way again.
Not liking the idea of being de-rez’ed, we follow instructions, and quietly make our way to the hall as directed once we’ve parked the van at the new location. When we enter, we’re told that there’s milk and cookies waiting inside and we’re handed an envelope and told that the WarTron team would like to see what a Bit would look like.
Knowing that we’d been told to bring scissors and tape with us, we suspected they may come in handy here!
As it turned out cutting wasn’t required, which is probably just as well given that using sharp objects at 3am when you’ve been up since 8am the previous morning may not be the best idea ever.
We quickly start folding the sheets we were given using one pre-folded piece as a reference, and before too long we have a lot of folded pieces. Given that some of the words printed on the sheet are inside the final shape, I suggested that we record everything as I had a good idea it would be needed, and constantly folding and unfolding the pieces was going to be tiresome.
We did just that, and thanks to the reference we then had, assembling the shape became a simple job of finding the right pieces. But how to know the correct order. Each of the pieces had words on the flaps which were visible, and words hidden inside the shape. Using common phrases like “Skeleton in the Closet” we put the flap with the word Skeleton inside the pocket with ‘Closet’. As we built up the shape, we had a number of points where two sections (or more) came together and we were able to verify that we had the right configuration. This proved useful as there were a few duplicate words in there which had more than one way they could be assembled, so the double check was useful.
With the Bit assembled each point of the star had a number, and by following the sequence, and reading round the star, we found five elements which were related, and some bold letters within each set. The sets were like “Policeman, Indian, Cowboy” etc which gave us the Village People. By calculating the offset of the bold letter in each set, we had an index into the set name, and from that another clue to the keyword was quick to follow. This time it was Bit related, and “The answer a horse gives” told us the keyword was ‘NEIGH’
Entering ‘NEIGH’ into BUGMe and we have the next clue to shutting down BigMac. Seems like he’s taunting us!
(Ed. If you’d like to make your own papercraft bit, let me know. The WarTron team are happy to pass on this puzzle …)
And if you’re wondering what happened to the lost bag, it was re-united with its owner here!
It’s starting to get light outside now, and it looks like our Chess skills are going to be tested. I’ll pick up the chase again when we get to the game store, but for now, I’m going to rest my eyes for a few minutes. Doubt I’ll get much sleep, but a cat nap can do the world of good.