Frequently Asked Questions
What is PuzzleBang?
PuzzleBang is an annual puzzle hunt that's part of the UIUC ACM Reflections|Projections student conference.
PuzzleBang also includes an on-campus escape room experience. This is separate from puzzlebang.com and the puzzle hunt (although run by the same folks). Click here for more information about the escape room.
What is a puzzle hunt?
A puzzle hunt is an event where teams compete to solve a series of puzzles, many of which are tied together via metapuzzles. Puzzle hunt puzzles are usually not accompanied by direct instructions for how to solve them; figuring out the necessary approach is part of the puzzle.
How do I play PuzzleBang?
How many people per team?
There's definitely no hard limit to team sizes, but we generally suggest 2-4 people.
I've never done anything like this before! What do I need to know?
Check out the Tools & Links Page. It's probably a good place to start. Otherwise, more brains will always help (ideally, brains in the heads of other living human beings. Please don't steal brains and stick them in jars. That won't help you as much).
Who's sponsoring this?
ACM. Please peruse our Credits Page for more details.
Help! I'm stuck on a puzzle! I don't know how to solve this!
Find some friends and get a new pair of eyeballs on it. If your team is stuck, contact Game Control and we'll give you hints. Taking hints will not incur time or point penalties. But bear in mind that between Monday through Wednesday, GameControl will be at our normal daytime jobs, so our response times will vary.
So it's ok to ask for hints? Or submit completely wrong answers?
Yep! Especially for those who haven't played puzzle contests before, please don't be afraid to ask for hints, or ask if you're going in the right direction!
There are no penalties for getting things wrong, so don't be afraid to try completely incorrect answers. The system is set up so that certain keywords might reveal the fact that you're on the right track, especially for harder multi-layered, complex puzzle. We do track answer submissions, however, and if you start spamming the server with all the words in the dictionary, we will know and block your team from submitting. (We get email reports of all the answers submitted every hour. Getting a 50-page long list of all the words in the dictionary does not please us.)
Will you ever lie to us?
No. If you're asking for hints, we may opt to be vague or indirect, but we will never intentionally provide incorrect or misleading responses.
Do I need to be on campus to play?
There will likely be one or two puzzles that require you to be on campus. You _might_ be able to solve the metapuzzle without those solutions, but it may be more difficult.
So, how do I win all the goodies?
Be one of the first three teams on campus to solve the metapuzzle and your team will win a prize! You'll also need to come to the PuzzleBang wrap up (or send someone to represent your team).
So, if we're not on campus, we can't win a prize?
That right, sorry, we don't have the budget to ship prizes.
Finally, some things to keep in mind:
- Individual puzzles shouldn't take more than a few hours - please, for the love of all things shiny, ask for hints before then!!!
- We won't be sending you off-campus. If you see something that looks like the GPS coordinates of somewhere, check in with GameControl before you catch a bus / start driving / buy plane tickets. (However, if you want to buy me round trip tickets to Japan, that's definitely ok.)
- If you see the words "Red Herring" (or any variations of this) in your answer, that's not the right answer. Also, we're pretty specific, so if it says "This content is a red herring", we do mean "content" (letters, etc) are misleading, but its delivery method might not be...
- If you're new to this, don't be afraid to try out stupid things. There are no stupid questions.
I have another question! How do I reach GameControl?
For general site related questions and problems, we can be reached at GameControl (AT) puzzlebang.com.
If the site is broken, please direct bug reports (what were you doing, where were you, what did you click, and what did you see) to ben (AT) puzzlebang.com. Screenshots will help a lot.
Lastly, please keep in mind that GameControl is spread across multiple timezones and two countries, so our response times will be slow.