We just picked our kids up from three weeks at summer camp. For me, summer camp was a hugely formative experience, where I learned magic, performed in the circus, explored graphic design, and most importantly, got my first taste in designing games. I was part of the Evening Activity team, a group of counselors and campers who designed and ran games for the whole camp to experience. I still have some of my notes from that time (copied long ago from 3.25" floppies that I carried with me across several moves), which I look over from time to time. The genesis of the Mystery League can be traced directly back to those summer nights.
I can also clearly remember the delight in receiving mail at camp — proof that my family hadn't forgotten about me. So I made a point of sending my own kids some mail during these last few weeks, and of course that meant it had to be a puzzle. When we picked the kids up on Friday, I asked my son if he'd gotten his package.
Son: “Yeah, but I don’t understand why you sent me an old Hardy Boys book that wasn’t even the first in the series. And the note was on a library card? And it had all this weird text I didn’t understand.”
Me: “Yes, son, it was a puzzle. That I made for you.”
So, a thought: any interest in seeing how I constructed the puzzle so you can create one for your own camp-bound loved ones? I'll probably recommend including a note that says THIS IS A PUZZLE.
Mystery #4: My So-Called Friends
While traveling in French-speaking Quebec last month, I was re-reading one of my favorite books, Douglas Hofstadter's Metamagical Themas. The first section in the book takes on the joys and paradoxes of self-referential sentences. Several of his examples play with translation, whereby referencing the translation can warp the sentence's meaning, your mind, or both. (e.g. This sentence spent a month last year in Hungarian before being translated into Mandarin.) I love this shit, and it got me wondering if I could make a puzzle around it. The answer is apparently not yet — but stay tuned for a puzzle about self-referential sentences some day! But thinking about language and languages inspired me to write My So-Called Friends, the next Mystery, which is linked below. (NB: none of the above is spoilery, or really even that helpful.)
As always, if you'd like a hint for any puzzle, reply to this email, or DM me on Twitter, or find me on Discord (Sandy#2642). Good luck!
Paper Labyrinth puzzle books
From the Kickstarter: “The Paper Labyrinth books had a very simple format; solve a puzzle and the solution to that puzzle will send you somewhere else in the book. Usually either a page number or a part of a larger puzzle you are already working on.”
These look really neat, though I haven't played them yet so I can't address the quality or difficulty of the puzzles. But since this is the fourth book the creator has done, clearly they're popular. The campaign ends in 5 days.