Custom Built Puzzles and Enigmas
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.