Perplex City: Season 1, Cards #021 - #024

Continuing my Perplex City solutations. Spoilers!

  • #021 - Divide By Three: This only took me a few minutes of dri... thinking (ROFFLE. SEE WHAT I DID THERE? HOoOOoO BooYYY!) Each of the three persons gets 2 full glasses and Person A gets the extra remaining full glass. That leaves 7 half glasses. We'll give Person B two half-glasses (he now has 3 "full" glasses), and do the same for Person C, which leaves us with 3 half-glasses left. Each person receives one of those remaining half glasses. There are a number of other possibilities.
  • #022 - Cold Fission: The name of the poem is The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. There's some heat-sensitive ink which reveals "The password is YIISTIA" (stick it under a lightbulb or near a candle, as the card picture itself hints at). According to Unfiction, "the password [grants] access to the Wave Three-only pre-order from Firebox on the April 06 release date" when used on Violet's Blog (whose favorite poem this is; the password is now unenterable). The card's title refers to Frost ("Cold") and Robert Oppenheimer ("the father of the atomic bomb" for "Fission").
  • #023 - Pack O' Stars: I listen to an awful lot of music, but I certainly don't pay much attention to anything besides the sound itself. Cards like this, and a number of others that seem musically based (like "identify these guitar frets", forthcoming), will always leave me flummoxed. My best guess without hinting about would be Elvis (the sneer and the "King" of the clue, although he also appears to be carrying a hamburger), Madonna (blonde hair, lipstick, and pointy 5318008) and, oh, I dunno, Boy George (only because it's a male on a Queen of Diamonds). I had thoughts of Iggy Pop too (for "Pop" of "Rock & Pop"), but he doesn't seem to fit on the Jack of Spades, which isn't a King or Queen. Needless to say, I rooted around for help: Elvis and Madonna were right, but the Jack is Michael Jackson (ah, yes, the sparkly glove - that's what that was!), and the Queen of Diamonds is Freddie Mercury, whom I can only just barely recall ever hearing his name.
  • #024 - Double Vision: After what I thought was a studious glance and a proclamation of "TRICKERY!", my first tongue-in-cheek guess was the two Os, the two Ts, and the fact that his signature is on the left hand side. That felt too riddle-y (riddlin'? ritalin!) though. Over the past 23 cards, I've slowly come to the conclusion that the way the solution form is displayed on the Perplex City website gives a grande hint as to exactly how the puzzle should be solved. For this card, first time evah, I scratched it before I knew the solution, ran to the site, and received five text fields with labels "Begins with A", "Begins with B" (twice), "Begins with R", and "Begins with T". It became pretty obvious after this: apple, bird, button (from her dress; though I originally inferred that the hidden part of the tree was a missing branch), ray (from the sun), and tile (from the roof).

I'm now at rank 7825 with 209 Perplex Points, having solved 26 cards.

Perplex City: Season 1, Cards #017 - #020

Continuing my Perplex City solutations. Spoilers!

  • #017 - Easy As...: You're kidding, right?
  • #018 - Natal Name: The mother of my child solved this one a lot faster than if I Googled for it. 1910 is D, 1930 is B, 1970 is A, and 1990 is C. If I had done the Googling, I'd probably have ended up at the Top 10 Baby Names by Decade which concisely reveals the solution. There's dozens of these lists floatin' around.
  • #019 - Magic Numbers: Oh lord - another memory from elementary school, where we'd revel in the magick of showing our mad calculator skills by making it talk to us. I remember 5318008 fondly. The answer is "hello" (0.7734 upside down). Elite.
  • #020 - Barbeque: After thinking on this for a while and noticing a growing interest in Perplex City on #swhack, I broached the topic to Sean B. Palmer who pointed out my mental hurdle. Draw a table with 3 rows and 2 columns. If numbers represent burgers and letters sides of those burgers, place 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 3A, and 3C in each table cell, making sure that no one burger appears twice in a single row. With that visual aid, it becomes quite easy to solve, and a number of possibilities exist. Going by the entry dropdowns on the solution page, I did: Start (A: Top, B: Top, C: Off), After 5 Minutes (A: Bottom, B: Off, C: Top), After 10 Minutes (A: Cooked, B: Bottom, C: Bottom), After 15 Minutes (A: Cooked, B: Cooked, C: Cooked).

Perplex City: Season 1, Cards #013 - #016

Continuing my Perplex City solutations. Spoilers!

  • #013 - Sphinx: I first heard this riddle in elementary school, probably spurred on by an early lust for devious questioning or the inevitable Greek courses taught as part of History. Even without prior knowledge of its origins (or its first solver Oedipus, who answered "Mankind!, The human crawls on all four when it is a baby and at its weakest, when one is an adult one walks on two and when mankind suffers old age, it walks on three - with the help of a cane." -- depending on your source, of course; Perplex City only accepts "man"), a quick hop to Wikipedia's Sphinx gives it away. The card's painting is "Oedipus and the Sphinx" by Jean-Auguste-Dominque Ingres.
  • #014 - Cracked Crackers: Some of these I didn't actually understand at first and had to poke around to determine their meaning (though some I still don't "get" - lemme know!) The correct matchups, helped along by process of elimination, are: "What do you get if you cross a river with a bike?" ("Wet feet"), "When do astronauts eat?" ("At launch time"), "What's ET short for?" ("Because he's only got little legs"), "How does Bob Marley like his doughnuts?" ("Wi' Jammin"), "What goes 'Splish Spolsh' and comes from cows?" ("The Isle of Wight Ferry"; I've read that Cowes is a port of the Isle of Wight), "What do you call a man who has lost his spade?" ("Douglas"), "What's purple and shouts 'Help'?" ("A damson in distress"; being a purple plum), "How do you spell 'hungry horse' with just four letters?" ("M.T.G.G."; GG or 'gigi' is slang for a horse?), "Which bird always succeeds?" ("A budgie with no teeth"; why no teeth?), and "What do you call a reindeer with no eyes?" ("No idea").
  • #015 - Milo: I started with no clue on this one. The three phrases certainly looked and sounded like a crossword puzzle (a 5 letter word for pinnacle being "crest", with enough Google results for "needle crest" to make me believe it was right), but the picture of the cat or the title of the card (Milo of The Adventures of Milo and Otis?; though he was a tabby not Himalayan) left me puzzled. After a few hours of fruitless searching and "not thinking about it", I devolved for a hint: this was a cryptic crossword, something that isn't entirely common in the United States. No wonder -- I was treating the clues too literally! "Cool, teach" is an anagram (or "mixed") of "chocolate", which is a candy. It's not "crest", but "point", also the first letters of each word in that clue. Finally, the answer to "he's a-restin' in the mountains" is "him-a-layin'", or Himalayan. Together, the puzzle's solution is Chocolate Point Himalayan, the breed of cat on the card, whose name is Milo. Milo is owned by Jason Berkovi, who was an answer on card #008.
  • #016 - XXX: This one took all of five seconds - to guarentee a win, Tippy would need to play her next X in either the bottom middle or bottom right squares.

Perplex City: Season 1, Cards #009 - #012

Continuing my Perplex City solutations. Spoilers!

  • #009 - Ishihara: Blatantly easy, much more so because you can find the answer (45) linked from the Wikipedia article that makes up the bulk of the card's text. Of more interest, however, is the hidden number within the text: the sentence "Others feature a circle..." appears to start with the number zero, not the letter O. I've not seen this reported elsewhere.
  • #010 - Spot Anything?: Wow, a pictogram (ideogram? neitherogram?) I actually see without handholding: it's a dalmatian ("dog" is also acceptable) with its hind toward us and its head sloping forward to the ground to sniff something. The name of the card has the obvious clue of "Spot", being a common (if not stereotypical) dog's name, and the drawing, Dog Picture, "illustrates the Gestalt principle of emergence" and was used in Salvador Dali's painting The Hallucinogenic Toreador.
  • #011 - Revelation: Another -gram thingy! Jesus! Yawn.
  • #012 - Alcopoetry: I don't drink beer (I'm a hoity-toity mixed drink drinker), but my initial suspicion was "Rolling Rock" (which is correct), because there aren't any other brand names that were jump on your face obvious (like "Bud" or "Michelob" or "Miller").

This batch of cards was incredibly easy. These first 12 cards, plus the two freebies available on their site (which I'll get to when they come up sequentially), have pushed me into the "less than 10,000 club": I'm now at rank 9759 with 89 Perplex Points, having solved 14 cards. Meagre excelsior.

Perplex City: Season 1, Cards #005 - #008

Continuing my Perplex City solutations. Spoilers!

  • #005 - Out on a Limb: Another pictogram, like #003, but one I couldn't even hazard an intelligent guess. ("The canceled HBO series DEADWOOD?" *splutch* /me respawns.) I seem to suck at pictograms (ideograms? neitherograms?) and my chief failing is I'm not looking hard enough: hidden within the branches of the trees (much like "Jules Verne" in #003) is the phrase "I speak for the trees" which is an (obvious) pointer to Dr. Seuss' The Lorax. I say again: bugger all.
  • #006 - Winning Lines: One of those cards in which babelfishing in the dark works wonders. 1 is Italian ("I would want to kiss to you!"), 2 is Spanish ("We are going to dance?"), 3 is Dutch ("I love my bike - do you love me?" according to some #drupal native speakers, though it appears the last word, "mir", should be "mij"), 4 is French ("One eats Chinese or at home?" Probably along the lines of eating out versus eating at home.), 5 is German ("You wake the tiger in me."). 6 is Swedish and the devs of #drupal say it is literally "what are you sweet", though probably intended as "my, you're cute/sweet!".
  • #007 - Aromarama: MMm, scratch and sniff. Coconut, mint, banana, and chocolate. The colors gave them away really. You can also use the Whipsmart Ice ("Expanding waistlines and IQs since 242") flavor names as well, which are Coconundrum, Benjamint Franklin, Monkey Puzzle, and Choca Bloch.
  • #008 - Mind Candy: The folks of Mind Candy are the brains behind Perplex City, and they rightfully want us to match up their artistic representations with their earthbound photos (Perplex City finds photography passé: "But, looking a bit closer, it seems like you're asking why we use drawings a lot, not photographs ... I asked my sister, and she showed me in some old books and papers that we used to use photos a lot more. So... I think it's a "cool" thing. Like, when photos were pretty new we seemed to use them a lot, and now that they've been around for a while, not so much. I mean, it's not like we need them for ID, and you can get a lot of live feeds with your key so... they're a bit irrelevant." -- The Scarlett Kite). You can find 'em over at their Meet The Team page (save for Sente, of course) though this puzzle is unsolvable without further research: some of the drawn employees no longer appear on the Mind Candy site (like Justin Berkovi). Thankfully, the order in which the names appear in the "tell us your answer" form is actually the solution: A is Dan Hon, B is Michael Smith, C is Adrian Hon, D is Hannah Boraster, E is Justin Berkovi, F is Andrea Phillips, G is Adam Martin, H is Mike Whitaker, I is Fiona Silk, J is Naomi Alderman (unpictured), K is Jack Dixon, L is David Varela, M is Paul McCormick, and N is Jey Biddulph.

Perplex City: Season 1, Cards #001 - #004

Due to a freebie insert in Scrye #100, I've fallen in love with Perplex City, a game I had heard about before (due to regular reading of ARG news sites), but never had time to self-examine until it was shoved in my face ("Ooh, puzzle cards. Wait, Perplex City is about puzzles? SwoOOoon!"). Always loving a good puzzle, I ran off to order a booster box of Perplex City cards (entirely optional of course, but PuzZlzllES!) and set about reading the backstory and solving the free demo cards available on their website. Below I present my solutions but, more importantly, the journey taken on the way. Why? Because I'm a collector and these cards, along with their solutions, are going in a specially marked binder along with all my other paper valuables. Yes, it's worse than you imagine. I'll be starting with card #001 and progressing ever upward -- cards get more difficult the greater the number. You can track my solving progress at

Some introductory notes:

  • Puzzle solving can, and sometimes must, be a team activity. I'd be lying if I said I solved these all by my lonesome, but I tend to be overtly honest and will quite proudly proclaim myself retarded (like, say, on card #003, the third easiest card in Season 1, quote unquote). There's nothing wrong with solving a puzzle with the help of others and, naturally, the folks behind Perplex City encourage this behavior. More players is never a bad thing and, generically, withholding information in ARGs is frowned upon, not rewarded.
  • Spoilers abound. I'll be linking to the Perplex City Card Catalog as a reference point for card images (which are deliberately low DPI per the game's TOS), but you should expect everything in this and future Perplex City entries to contain more than enough to ruin the ending of your most favorite, yet unseen, movie. One of these days I'll make one of those swanky spoiler mouseover hover thingies, but I'm a lazy git. LAZY GIT!

Onward. Per my link dumps and fascination with bullets, four at a time:

  • #001 - Dem Old Bones: Being the first card in the set, this is a simple dinosaur silhouette to dinosaur name process of elimination. 1 is a Tyrannosaurus Rex, 2 is a Triceratops, 3 is a Raptor, 4 is a Pteranodon (think "pterodactyl"), 5 is a Spinosaurus, and 6 is the Stegosaurus.
  • #002 - Designer Flakes: A variation of Dem Old Bones - instead of matching silhouettes to names, you're matching paper snowflakes to the folded and mutiliated paper that generated them. 1 is A, 2 is E, 3 is F, 4 is B, 5 is C, and 6 is D. Took me two tries on this card - I had flake 1 and 4 reversed, erroneously believing that pattern B was slightly bigger than pattern A, and therefore must be related to flake 1. The real truth lies in the patterns surrounding the claw in the center edge.
  • #003 - Earth, Sea and Moon: I asked a couple of people about this one, feeling it must be so blatantly obvious that I was just being retarded, it being the third card and all (to what travesties must be forthcoming if I can't solve #003!) I bounced around the idea of RED PLANET or JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, but gave both up without trying due to their ill relation to the "Sea and Moon" of the card title. I second-guessed myself - the answer is, in fact, (spelling counts) JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH by Jules Verne. Apparently, the raised grooves of the circles spell out "Jules Verne" - after about five minutes of anguished believing, I saw the letters too. Now that I look a second time, the letters seem painfully obvious. Bugger all.
  • #004 - Zoo Zanyism: oOOh, pixel city animal hunt! WheeE! I see a lion (#1), a polar bear (#2), a giraffe (#3), a zebra (#4), an elephant (#5), a snake wrapped around a pole (#6), and zomg, a monkey! (#7) A monkey in a tree! (#7!)

Xbox 360: 2000 Points and Rising

It's been a month since the Xbox 360 arrived and I'm as enamored as I suspected in my original post with achievements, a measurable system of points across all games that represent your skill level and devotion. For me, they're desirable enough to complete games I'd have moved on from long ago (such as NEED FOR SPEED: MOST WANTED). In this past month, I've achieved "aces", obtaining all the achievement points available, for three games: GAUNTLET, JEWEL QUEST, and NEED FOR SPEED: MOST WANTED. I'm in the process of collecting points for a number of Xbox Live Arcade titles, as well PERFECT DARK: ZERO (which I won't be completing as, sometimes, the rewards just aren't worth the difficulty) and CONDEMNED: CRIMINAL ORIGINS. Sony is rumored to be mimicking achievements as "entitlements" in their forthcoming Playstation 3. Glee!


Xbox 360 is GoOOOo!

I picked up an Xbox 360 yesterday and, as per the new sidebar item, my gamertag is Morbus Iff Else -- "Morbus" had already been taken and "Morbus Iff" is irrevocably lost due to idiot Microsoft policies. Granted, this all assumes I actually have time to play the system which, with a two month old child, is laughably inept (hey, maybe for you, but not so much for me).

I had no intention of getting the Xbox 360 -- I had bought the original Xbox because of my lust for the I Love Bees alternate reality game (ARG), which was ultimately a promotion for Halo 2. I played Halo and liked it, but didn't see why it was so great when compared to, say, the original Half-Life. Halo 2 came and went and I wasn't impressed. Nor was I enthralled with any of the other games available, and the console collected dust and dust and dust. I'm a big roleplayer and the lack of quality RPGs (Fable and Sudeki don't count) just couldn't sway me from PS2 dominance.

But the Xbox 360 has actually giving me a reason to want to play other games besides RPGs: achievements. Remember, back in the days of yore, there was something called a "high score"? It's nearly as foreign as the concept of "ante" in a Magic: The Gathering game. (Aaaah, I am an old fogie.) Anyways, every Xbox 360 game has 1000 points of achievements to obtain, or 200 points for Xbox Live Arcade games. These points accumulate and display proudly in your gamercard, as can be seen by my (currently) lackluster 20 in the sidebar there.

This... this pleases me. When arcades walked the Earth, I used to battle for three-letter dominance on the high score charts of arcade games such as Mortal Kombat, Killer Instinct, and pretty much everything else on the literally darker side of the "Hooters Arcave" we had in town. One player constantly signed his name as GOD and I reciprocated with DVL. Every day I'd blow my lunch money and far far more at the arcade, placing my quarters ever so patiently on the reserve glass lip of the game cabinet. The initial salvos in the battle for humanity were joystick driven and Xbox 360 achievements make me feel this same way.

My greatest nemesis, as usual, is time. I don't support cloning for body harvesting or life longevity (though, I do want to be immortal): I support cloning so that I can get more shit done and then tell myself about it. If you're an Xbox 360 player and a reader, be my guest ("put our service to the test", whee!) and befriend me.


Boot Camp and Tomb Raider: Legends

With Boot Camp and Windows XP running fine on my MacBook Pro 2GHz, the next step was testing out a recent game. Before I ran out and dropped some hard-earned money on, say, Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion, I headed over to to look for a demo of something "worthy". I found that in the Tomb Raider: Legend demo - not that I expected it to be a "worthy" play, but because it was new and, presumably, graphically demanding.

Now, realize I am a console gamer (and occasionally OS X) and by no means a mastah of Windows tweakage of any kind. With that said, the Tomb Raider: Legend demo ran jim-dandily under Windows XP on my MBP, defaulting to a resolution of 640x480. Gameplay was fluid, immediate, and didn't "look" bad. The real test was enabling every "gee whiz" graphics feature, increasing the resolution all the way up, and enabling widescreen. I can report that, with a maximum resolution of 1440x900, the game continued to run nicely with a refresh rate of 60hz (the only option available). I have a nagging feeling that 1360x768, the next highest resolution, "feels" better, though I lack the technical terms and know-how to describe it accurately (if I were to try, I'd say that it felt like frames were dropping and that movement didn't seem as "smooth", even though there were no actual hiccups of play).

Satisifed at my little test, I'm heading out today to pick up Oblivion and possibly Dungeon Siege II.

Besides games, some other notes:

  • There is no right click emulation under Windows XP. While you can certainly continue to do everything you need to do, if you'd like to do it faster, you should consider an external mouse. The Logitech USB mouse I use on my primary Mac worked immediately when plugged into Windows.
  • The Delete key on the laptop seems to actually be a Backspace key - thus, you have no ability to Ctrl-Alt-Del (which can be important if you need to login) or to enable Lara Croft's flashlight. The project has already reported on this, and a workaround: ... go to Start: Run. Enter remapkey. A nice GUI utility pops up to let you remap keys on your keyboard. You can use it to remap the delete key. I recommend using the Right Windows key (Right Command on MacBook Pro keyboards). After saving, reboot and you'll be able to use Ctrl-Alt-(Right Command) to do a Ctrl-Alt-Delete and logon to Windows domains and other useful things. I've not actually done this yet.
  • My wireless Airport connection seems flaky - besides not being able to use WEP, it seems to connect for 10 minutes, drop out for a minute or so, reconnect, ad infinitum. This isn't that big of a deal for an offline gaming experience, but not so much if I wanted to play City of Heroes (I do). I haven't tested a regular wired connection. Anyone else seeing this? It doesn't happen when I'm booted into OS X.
  • After Windows XP installation, updates, and the TRL demo, I have 20 GB remaining of my 25 GB partition. Not knowing the regular install sizes of Windows games, should that be alright? I don't expect to be running 30 games at once, but I do expect to be downloading user-created mods and so forth.

More on the Oblivion install later.

World of Warcraft Quest Tracker Updated to 1.1

I've released a new version of my World of Warcraft Quest Tracker today, bringing it to version 1.1:

  • we now keep track of quests available per zone and total.
  • added initial support for Allakhazham's "Special Category" quests.
  • added support for some of the unlisted "Unknown" categories/zones.
  • print current zone to STDERR so we have a progress report.

You can see the latest output for my level 60 Troll Shaman, Morbulin, here. Today's update brings the quest count available to Horde members up to 2128. Unfortunately, due to some oddness in the Allakhazham backend, there are a large number of duplicate quests and, more disconcerting, a large number of unlisted quests (for example, Un-Life's Little Annoyances is in the database, and is even assigned to a zone, but you'd never find it by going through the Quests by Zone list, which the script depends upon.) I don't know how to solve this (how do I list a quest no one knows about?), and I'm attempting to contact Allakhazham's developers to see what I can do to help.

As you can see in the notes above, I've also added support for four or five of Allakhazham's "Unknown" categories. These appear to be categories that have yet to be "properly" inserted into the database, and are usually time-relevant, such as the Ahn'Qiraj War Effort or the Lunar Festival. Others, however, have been assigned to crazy categories (like Unknown (-367)). Regardless, these types of quests seem to have many duplicates and very little information (as evidenced by the ?'s in the latest outputs). It's becoming a bit of a problem, and I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to solve it yet.


Subscribe to RSS - games