August 9, 2022

August 9, 2022
Today's #promptmanteau challenge

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.” ‍
Son: “Ohhhhhhhhhh.”
Me: 🤦🏻‍♂️

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.)

My So-Called Friends
My friends play Two Truths and A Lie.

Meanwhile, the solutions are up for Beneath the Earth and Off the Wall, and I've added more clues to Spoonfuls of Sugar.

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.

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