What is a puzzlehunt? How do I solve these puzzles?

If you’ve never heard of puzzlehunts before, here’s a very brief summary. In typical puzzles, you receive some information and have to extract an answer out of it, which is almost always an English word or phrase. Puzzles can come in many different forms; the only real commonality is that you usually receive no direct instructions, so it’s up to you to figure out how to make sense of the information you’re given. There are also a few special puzzles called "metapuzzles" that take the answers from puzzles you've solved, and use those to find a new answer.

If you are new to puzzles and are interested in seeing some examples, or if you’re looking for some practice, we recommend looking at puzzles from other online hunts such as Galactic Puzzle Hunt, Teammate Hunt, or Puzzle Potluck.

What am I generally allowed or not allowed to do?

Here are some very basic guidelines:

  • You and the people on your team can use any tools or resources at your disposal, so long as your actions don't interfere with the site and/or other teams.
  • You are generally expected to have access to the rest of the Internet for searching and accessing additional tools, and writing your own programs to approach puzzles is accepted, but you may not attempt to mine data from the website or write code designed to interact with and manipulate the website.
  • You can communicate with your teammates however you wish, but do not stream or otherwise publicize your progress or any puzzles, as it risks spoiling other teams.
  • You can communicate with anyone you believe can help you, so long as they are not on another team, because then what's the point of being different teams? Come on now.
  • More on this can be found in the Rules.

What exactly does "team size of eight" mean here?

While the system is only designed for keeping track of eight names per team, there is nothing technically stopping you from fielding a team of any size you wish... except good sportsmanship, hopefully. While we did design this hunt to be theoretically possible to finish alone, that's not the intent, either. Generally, we expect teams to be 2 or 3 at the minimum, and 8 at the maximum, with those core players being fully engaged in attempting all puzzles.

I’m stuck on a puzzle. What should I do?

Here are some general puzzle tips that might be useful:

  • Thoroughly check the work that you’ve already done. Fixing a small mistake or incorrect assumption can greatly help with getting unstuck.
  • Get fresh eyes on the puzzle, or conversely, take a break and look at something else.
  • Consider what information you haven’t used yet.
  • It can be useful to put everything you have into your favorite search engine.
  • Have you tried...

Remember that once hints are made available, you can also use them to get a nudge in the right direction.

I think there’s a mistake in a puzzle!

Please describe the error in an email to puzzlehq@ona.quest and we’ll either confirm it's correct as-is or issue an erratum visible to all teams with the puzzle open, so everyone potentially affected knows about the mistake.

How many puzzles are gonna be in this thing?

More than 40, less than or equal to 50. Depending on how you count some of them?

What kinds of puzzles are there?

Lots of different types, on lots of different subjects, but nothing that will require specific physical objects or physically travelling to specific locations. Proficiency with coding and spreadsheets are certainly beneficial, but not specifically required.

What are you going to do with my data?

Your email address will receive minimal status updates during the hunt, when the wrap-up goes live and if we do another hunt in the future, as well as being your point of contact for hints and errata reports. Any name data is only for correspondence and leaderboards. Cookies generated on the site are solely for tracking your progress through the hunt. Any materials submitted to us are assumed private, unless the sender grants explicit permission to make them public. No third parties will have or receive access to your data.

Who are you guys, anyway?

We are QoDE, a group of members of Codex, a puzzle hunt team rooted in the MIT Mystery Hunt; our backgrounds and the amount of time we’ve been with the team vary, but we all do other puzzle hunts together in various permutations. We're not affiliated with any university, corporation, company, or other major organization. We just love solving puzzles and writing puzzles, so we made some puzzles for everyone in the community we belong to. No more, no less.

Does participating cost anything?

Heck no, this is all 100% free for anyone who wishes to participate. We've a got a tip jar for things like server costs and general appreciation, but it is completely optional.

Can I win anything doing this?

The satisfaction of overcoming a challenge and a job well done. Maybe some bragging rights, too.

Can I win anything doing this that is of fiscal value?

Not from us.

I have a question that’s not on this list!

Contact us at puzzlehq@ona.quest and we’ll do our best to answer it.