The San Francisco Connection
PERPLEX CITY, SEASON ONE
- In most literal terms, this is a new link which is to connect Perplex City to Earth; specifically, the link will connect to San Francisco, California, USA.
- In a more pragmatic sense, this will be a live event in San Francisco, and will be similar to the London PCAG event.
- The event took place August 12th, 2006.
- The event was to be a time of celebration for people on both worlds, historically establishing broader relations between Earth and Perplex City.
- The purpose of the link was to expand bandwidth of the link, effectively doubling capacity, while also providing redundancy for security purposes.
- A short time before the event, Von started telling us about himself on his new temporary blog, at 1UP: http://von.1up.com
- He gave us a set of riddles, each one giving a single letter, which cassandra determined to be the jumbled up movie title: DIRTY HARRY
- For other information available pre-event, see: SFCon:pre-event
Observed on http://www.boingboing.net/ was the following advertisement:
Seems pretty nice. However, as animated gifs go, this one's no laughing matter. For less than one second, this cel is seen:
It is braille, and reads: Say goodbye to Perplex City.
The meaning went undetermined, until 10-AUG-06, when all Perplex City related websites were shutdown, and replaced with the following:
It suddenly became deadly apparent what had happened. The Third Power had hijacked the link between our two worlds. Careful inspection showed all third power websites (including those on the Receda Trail) remained up and active. Mind Candy immediately went into a state of urgency. What had been planned as a time of celebration was suddenly a dark moment of panic and emergency. An emergency website was established with information to distribute to all cube hunters who were going to be helping establish the connection.
- Became available after a mass mailing/plea on Friday.
- Became available on Saturday, around 10:45 PDT
As a game, Perplex City has but one rule: Any occassion with more than two cube hunters must involve alcohol. With this is mind, a number of meet-ups and organized gathering of masses were planned, both pre- and post- event. As follows:
- A clearinghouse of event coordination is at the unForums.
Q: Will there be any social activities afterwards?
A: We are currently considering organising something afterwards. We're well aware that players will want to get a drink or meet up somewhere, and so at the closing presentation we will at least let all players know about possible places to go.
- Endgame - map - link
- Gatherings were organized on Friday, pre-event, and on Sunday, Post-event
- Located right around the corner from the 12th Street/City Center BART station (red/yellow lines).
On the Ground
After a debriefing, puzzle sheets were assigned to all teams of players. They consisted of between 3 and 6 puzzles per page. Sample questions might be on the order of:
- Puzzle 481
- Which Western Asian monarch is immortalised somewhere near the Main Library?
- Puzzle 59300
- Movie time: Dirty Harry, 23.53. What kind of shark?
A number of questions are known to have involved watching a movie. Often the movie was Dirty Harry, as suggested by Von's pre-game hint. See the unforum page of collected puzzle sheets for more questions.
Running around the city
Many of the players ran off to all points in the city, to solve sundry puzzles and riddles, such the one sampled above.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch...
Back at home-base, a number of people had settled in for a few puzzles.
- A very large multi-page maze had been presented.
- A set of questions about movies (particularly Dirty Harry) were given, which required people to watch the movie and answer specific questions about exact scenes.
- An RFID tag game was presented. Reportedly, this did not work quite according to plan, but the concept sounds exceptionally cool.
- Other puzzles which required pen & paper were given, which set people to working in teams, churning out answers.
BrianEnigma posted two videos of the event in progress:
- Sente's debriefing at the conclusion of the day, phone calls, and everyone exiting quickly
- A nicely made shaky-cam from after the phone call, discovering the helicopters
"To aid your progress, it would be wise to collaborate with your fellow helpers. In order to do this, you should join the chat room called #pxcsflive on irc.chat-solutions.org. If you don't have an IRC program, you can connect online here by typing "pxcsflive" into the channel box."
That was largely an in-game channel. Meta and spec was intended to take place in #pxcsflivespec also on irc.chat-solutions.org. The intention of these channels were to have a semi-coordinated effort at utilizing existing, centralized resources. Some people complained at the lack of moderation, however the fact is it simply took all participants some time to adjust to the order of the day.
The page http://emergency.perplexcity.com/main/main.php required a large number (250?) of unique website hits before another batch of 'clues' will go active. Seven sets of clues were revealed; and eventually only UNSOLVED clues were shown.
To rapidly generate a greater number of hits to the page, users posted journal entries, blog posts, and (probably most usefully) Diggs and other meta-news locales. By the end of the game, roughly 1,700 unique hits had been generated.
Once the page went active, we were given, on-line, a number of qestions and numbers. Questions were in the fForm of:
- 674303 - Real life web slinger entangles Manhattan with what?
- 676817 - When is Scarlett Kiteway's birthday? (ddmm)
- 688743 - How many millions did ROgers Communications Inc pay for a comma?
Clues were given, and answers were to be typed in on the same page (http://emergency.perplexcity.com/main/clues.html)
Early on (though not early enough, probably), we on IRC adopted a page to keep track of what clues were left:
As anyone solved any question, they were to be REMOVED it from the list.
Then, as we were approaching completion on this list, with just 90% left, the source page changed to a list of remaining clues.
When a correct answer is submitted for the first time, the message given is:
- Congratulations! The answer you entered was correct.
- Your contribution has been added to the group's progress. Keep at it, you are important in reactivating the link.
When a correct answer is submitted the second time onward, the following is given:
- Congratulations! The answer you entered was correct.
- Someone else has managed to solve this before you, but keep going and you should get a first solve soon.
When any incorrect answer is given, this is the result:
- Sorry, your answer was incorrect.
- Please try again, the connection won't open without you!
At the end of the day's events, the link was restored (just in the nick of time, too!), and all Perplex City pages began working properly.
A video of the link being re-established was shown: http://emergency.perplexcity.com/main/announcement.mov (With a copy mirrored on youtube).
And a Summary page was posted.
Sente's Message to us on Earth
People of Earth: Hello.
My name is Sente Kiteway, and I'm the Master of the Perplex City Academy. Congratulations on your achievement in establishing the data link. Once again, your intelligence and sharpness has surpassed all expectations. Well done.
As you may have noticed, the link between our worlds has been disrupted for the past few days. This was immediately a cause of grave concern. But our fears have deepened since discovering the cause of the interference.
Two days ago, an energy surge occurred here in Perplex City, blacking out many city blocks. When power was restored, we found that the surge had briefly created a wormhole, originating here and terminating somewhere in North America.
That surge of power broke the original data link between us. We have no idea who caused it, but in the absence of a culprit, we can only assume that their intentions are hostile.
The game has changed. From this point on, I advise you all to stay alert. There is a new player on the board.
[Interference begins, the signal deteriorating to nothing throughout the next paragraph]
I will endeavour to keep you up to date with developments and discoveries here. For your part, I hope you will redouble your efforts to find the Cube. I sense that time is running short, but I continue to have every confidence in your abilities...
The game has changed. The hunt for the Cube is now a race. Be vigilant, and be quick.
Everyone's Phone Rings, and Helicopters Make an Impression
As this transmission was playing in San Francisco, everyone's phones started to ring, and everyone was rushed outside. At that moment, a Third Power agent called the mobile phones of the Cube Hunters and gave them a warning. Stay away from the Cube, or else.
To emphasize the seriousness of the threat, the agent (and his accomplices) swooped over the crowd of Cube Hunters in a pair of helicopters.
The phone messages have been recorded, and are listenable here:
- http://emergency.perplexcity.com/main/phonemessage1.mp3 - 1st phone message
- http://emergency.perplexcity.com/main/phonemessage2.mp3 - 2nd phone message
It is not known who is doing the speaking. The accent and voice is very unfamiliar.
- After the Blackout of 10-AUG-06, Sente Kiteway and the Academy as a whole were accused of mis-using resources, maligning the city, and wreaking havoc on the citizenry.
- This caused Kiteway to pen an explanation of points, which explicitly mention, among other things, The Third Power.
- Read the explanation: http://pxcacademy.com/office3.html
- This explanation was met with a reaction by City Council member Nathan Earlywine, who is always willing to take a cheap shot, which essentially pins blame directly back on Kiteway. 
- The Perplex City Sentinel
- news in brief, 22-JUN-06 "Academy Mum on New Link"
- article, 13-JUL-06 "Iona Interviews... Adrian Hon" link
- article, 14-AUG-06 "City Loses Power, Data Connection to Earth Lost for 2 Days" link
- article, 21-AUG-06 "Academy Secrecy Harms City, Council Must Intervene Now" link
- article, 28-AUG-06 "Academy Issues Denial of Involvement with Portal, Blackout" link