Custom-built Enigmas

Custom Built Puzzles for Augmented Reality Games

Custom Built Puzzles and Enigmas

Custom Built Puzzles for Augmented Reality Games

In 2019, we teamed up with Ryan Creighton of “Nights Around a Table” to write a series of custom puzzles for Niantic. Niantic’s game Ingress is an Augmented Reality game; and is the fore runner to Pokemon Go and Harry Potter Wizards Unite.  In Ingress, two sides contest control over cities by capturing and linking energy ‘portals’.  These portals are real world locations – public art, monuments and public buildings – that are linked together to take control of areas in game.  Every two to three months, Niantic runs big public events in cities around the world where the two sides compete in challenges to unlock new lore.  As part of the October 2019  ‘Nemesis: Umbra’ event, they commissioned a set of challenging puzzles and engimas, to be themed around the cities hosting the events.

Writing the Puzzles

Writing and testing these was an interesting challenge, as each had to be non-trivial, but solvable in about an hour.  We had to have a reasonably low on language complexity for the non-English speaking cities; but still give clear instructions where we could.  The puzzles had to use the city as inspiration.  We gathered ideas from reading a lot of travel guides, wikipedia pages and our own personal knowledge of some of the locations. Ryan and Enigmatic Events were in contact most days comparing ideas, and buidling designs. 

We had to not only write the puzzles, but also testing each others work. Just because a step seems obvious to the writer, it may be far too obscure to the solver.  Or it might  require idiom that’s unique to our own viewpoint. And sometimes though the method to get to the solution method may be clear, but the work involved isn’t actually fun.

9 Custom Puzzles to Sample

We’ve collected all nine puzzles that were co-wrote and released here. Each is a PDF file, and the solution is a word or phrase that associates with the city.  Please feel free to message us or comment below for hints.  Please email us directly if you want to check an answer.  I’ve put a rating on each based on the solve times during the event.  A Level 5-rating took an hour or more to solve, while a Level 1 was under 15 minutes.

As a free hint, you may need to do your own research on the cities to solve some of these puzzles.

Asia Sector

Taoyuan City skyline by Photo by Lisanto 李奕良 on Unsplash

Europe Sector

Antwerp Station by Polly on Unsplash

Americas Sector

Guadalajara Rotonda de los Jaliscienses Ilustres by Roman Lopez on Unsplash

Please contact us at business@enigmaticevents.com for hints, answers, or to talk puzzles with us!

Visions of the Future

A metal telescope for our visions

Company Visions of the Future

When I started Enigmatic Events, I had a vision. I wanted to take my experience of running murder mysteries into something more. I thought there was a powerful way to build interesting courses with the use of game play. I wanted to mix up board games, theatre exercises, and creative problem solving. I still have that belief – but I also have a better understanding of what I am good at. And thus where my visions meets what the world wants to see.

This year, I want to build on the base I’ve grown in the last four years.

A metal telescope for our visions

First, We Collaborate

Natasha and I met in a work situation and quickly realized how much we enjoyed bouncing ideas off one another. We discovered as we built our three fringe shows that there is an innate power in co-operative development; and that we work well together. Understanding how we work together will be a continuous process of improvement, but we’ve built a solid foundation. I know we are both excited to see that develop.

Second, We Create

The next base to build on is new, original creative work. We’ve created a good body of work over four years. These works include original murder mysteries, developed one-act shows, treasure hunts, puzzle sets, card games and role-playing games. Our most popular events by far are the murder mysteries. People love being suspicious of their friends and coworkers!

Our actor-driven mysteries are a form of immersive theatre. It is exciting to write characters and to see how talented actors take them further during a performance. Everyone brings their own ideas to each event. I want to see how we can use this to build new concepts outside of the murder mystery genre. By developing an understanding of what we, our actors, and our audiences enjoy, we can create further thematic events. Our task now is to understand how we engage audiences, and how to get them to have an emotional engagement with the worlds we create.

These explorations will also help us write new murder mysteries with novel twists. Beyond writing for new themes, we will add new concepts that make our events immersive in new ways. If we can engage more people and create more conversations at events between the guests, we have succeeded. We want people to talk, build connections, and foster trust with each other!

Finally, We Puzzle

The final base is building more puzzles. Over the last two years, we have partnered with a puzzle writer in Toronto. Together we have created intricate puzzles for use in Niantic’s game Ingress. The game distributed our work world-wide. Through this collaboration we’ve understood puzzle design better. We understand what people find interesting to solve and what draws players into a puzzle. It was also key to learn how to build many ‘aha’ moments into the solution.

Those latter pieces of fun are key for entertainment. Getting a little brain chemistry surge rewards us humans, making us want to delve further. Feeling a reward helps us get into a flow state, where we can see progress to an end. Entering a flow state during a single activity has shown to have positive effects for the participant beyond the initial action.

So, for me at least, 2020 is a year of growing what I’ve planted already – I don’t want to try all the new things, but get better at things I already do.