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Navigation Puzzles are miniature puzzles presented in a physical puzzle hunt (or digital puzzle hunt with a virtual world to explore) that block access to certain feeder puzzles in the hunt until they've been solved. These can range from
Background[edit | edit source]
The first hunt to both use what are now known as Navigation Puzzles and to call them as such was the 2021 MIT Mystery Hunt. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the running team ✈✈✈ Galactic Trendsetters ✈✈✈ was forced to run their hunt entirely online. As a workaround to this, they decided to recreate MIT in a virtual MMORPG-like space, allowing all players to coexist 'on-campus' and participate in things like runarounds and events in the virtual world. This tied into the hunt's theme of a parallel-universe MIT. In addition to this, they also created extra puzzles known as navigation puzzles that had to be understood or solved in order to reach the puzzles the needed to be solved and unlock them for anyone on the team to access. These ranged from solving the portal-esque button-pushing and size-changing puzzles of the ⊥IW.giga round, to simpler code-cracking puzzles like those in the Green Building round, where certain buttons needed to be pressed in the elevator to get it moving upwards.
It could also be said that previous hunts may have used these on a smaller scale, such as the 2017 MIT Mystery Hunt's latter-three class rounds being locked behind puzzle-y tasks that had to be completed on-site before the characters would join the party.
Hunt Application[edit | edit source]
The purpose of a Navigation Puzzle in a hunt is to provide an extra level of entertainment or difficulty to the puzzle-unlocking process. Rather than puzzles just showing up and being added to solvers' lists, they would have to pass a barrier of sorts to even see them. However, they also require a lot of work to implement in the real world, as they would require puzzles to either exist offline (something that doesn't happen very often in the current digital age) or have some kind of trigger that unlocks the puzzles online, which would require a manual check and reset for each team taking part. As a result, Navigation Puzzles are best reserved for hunts that have high interactivity in an online space, or that have high tolerance for in-person interactivity.
The content of Navigation Puzzles should not be more difficult than the puzzles they are guarding. Their role in a hunt is intended to be supplemental, as they tend to not have answers in the same way that the hunt's feeder puzzles do, and therefore cannot be used in the overall meta structure.
Notable Examples[edit | edit source]
- Stata Center (MITMH 2021) (web) - One of many Navigation Puzzles found in the 2021 MITMH, the Stata Center featured several mazes that solvers had to navigate one room at a time based on a clue either in the room at the start (such as someone saying that you need to come to your SENSES in a room with a compass rose on the floor, implying that they need to travel South/East/North/South/East/South), or in the main hub of the Stata Center (such as a map for a map posted on the wall). If done correctly, solvers will find two people bearing puzzles at the end.
- Galactic Puzzle Hunt 2022 (web) - The third and fourth rounds required teams to interact with the first round in a particular way in order to unlock the round.