My Neighbour Errol: Puzzles
So as a celebration of reaching his 1,000th comic (because crazy people make 1,000 comics), Errol decided to make a puzzle hunt on the Debs & Errol website for all those who have stuck with the band through the years.
Now…I am not a stupid person…well, not incredibly so anyway. I play adventure games. I play logic puzzles at lunch.
But you see, Errol is a psycho. A psycho with a love of stirring the pot of human emotions, a computer science background, and the obsessive patience of even the most hardcore of geeks.
Oh yeah, not to mention the fact that he hadn’t finished the prize in time and so made the puzzles as vague as possible in the hopes that he could stall puzzle solvers long enough to finish.
So it stands to reason that these puzzles…might be a challenge.
I made the mistake of starting them at work. Now, normally, work is a place for…work…but I get breaks. And on said break I decided to start the first puzzle. Which I got almost immediately. And so I thought, “Hey, one more puzzle should be fine!”
That was when the madness started.
There was the tetris puzzle which I spent five minutes staring at before I realized I couldn’t actually move the pieces on the picture.
There was the true or false trivia quiz in which I learned far more facts about Debs and Errol than I ever wanted to.
And then there was the binary.
Let me tell you how much I know about binary. I know there are 1’s. I know there are 0’s. I know they appeared on Reboot.
Let me tell you what I don’t know. Everything else.
And there was not one, not two, but THREE puzzles involving binary.
Again, I’m not a stupid person. I could PROBABLY learn and grasp binary and boolean. But I was not really sitting in an environment where I could focus on the overly complex complications wikipedia was giving me. So without any sort of knowledge of WHAT I was looking at, it was impossible to even know how to solve it. It’s like being handed an exam on your first day of class. (edit: Errol’s response: “But it’s open book!”)
Errol’s hints weren’t any more helpful. He attempted to explain Boolean to me:
Errol: Let’s look at this way. If Manda sees a man AND Manda is near a man THEN Manda will squeeze the man.
Errol: So…the operand of AND will allow you to squeeze the man, if and only if both properties of seeing man and being man are true!
Errol: So if Manda is near a man BUT (or) doesn’t see him, then she doesn’t get to squeeze him…get it?
Me: (dripping in sarcasm) Yeah, I get it.
Normally with any puzzle or video game there is a certain progression of challenges: you start with easier puzzles and slowly but surely the designers increase the diffculty level so that while puzzles might be challenging, they follow a logical enough progression that you feel somewhat prepared.
Errol’s pattern was to start you with an easy puzzle, then then an incredibly difficult one. Then the most difficult one. Then a not difficult one. Then he would establish a pattern for the solutions, and change that pattern randomly in the middle for no reason other than “Eh, I need you not to solve it for a while”.
You’d think I would give up in the face of such vagueness. I tried to focus on work. I tried to forget these silly little puzzles. But every time I stared at an expense report all that I could think about was that those puzzles weren’t solved yet, and they were taunting me.
I would have screamed. I would have liked to. But I was in an office, and even on a lunch break screaming and running and weeping around the room would not have been considered good etiquette. And so I sat. Fuming over the 10+ puzzles in my head. For 8 hours.
This was what Errol was greeted with when he met up later.
My only solace, my ONLY solace, was that I was not the only one to feel the frustration. For three days straight Errol was bombarded with questions and threats from various others who encountered the insanity of the Hunt for Vague.
In the end, I finally managed to finish. We all came out the other end of that puzzle hunt tired, weary, somewhat shell shocked, picturing Errol getting torn apart by demons…oh, there was a prize. But we didn’t care. We were survivors now.
But oddly enough…I did have fun as well. Once I figured out how to do the puzzles, whether with help or not, I got a huge rush of joy and satisfaction when finishing each one. And I would be remiss if I didn’t encourage you guys to try it out for yourselves. Because if nothing else, I need people I can vent with.
Plus…Errol is totally planning a second puzzle hunt. And you will need all of the practice you can get. And if you need hints, feel free to ask…actually, no, ask Errol. Because he deserves it. Because he is a crazy genius psycho.