MSIG 2011: Future Energy Institute MSIG 2011: Federal Espionage and Intelligence

Lab Closing Solution

How It Works

Paper Shredder

  • TENT - TNT = E
  • BEADS - BEDS = A
  • SWING - WING = S
  • BEET - BEE = T

So the answer to this minipuzzle is EAST.

Box Packing

The encoding here is Braille.

It's easy to determine that the 16lb stacks must all be full boxes, that's the only way to reach 16 lbs. Similarly, the 8lb stacks must all be empty boxes. In order to differentiate between empty and full boxes in the 10lb and 12lb, teams must realize that the encoding here is Braille. Only certain combinations of empty and full boxes will form valid Braille letters.


Translate the Braille and teams will get the project name of LIAR.

Sample Analysis

The strips have a solid line on the bottom, if they let the strips get wet, the ink will run. Underneath the water soluble ink is morse code written in permanent marker. The morse code reads out the project name of NAIL.

Document Censor

Solved nonogram

The report number 81141095 translates to 8 1 14 10 9 5 = HANJIE. Hanjie is another name for a paint-by-numbers or nonogram. This is a standard Nonogram puzzle, and, when solved, the colored in boxes will form the letters of the project name of RISE. (Note: the words that make up the report are hiding no data.)

Solution Safety

Interns do not need to, and SHOULD NOT eat/drink/smell/taste anything. What they should do is determine the density of the liquids by dropping one of each size wood/bead thing into each of the 12 compartments in their liquids container. In some liquids, 2 of the bead things will float, in some only 1 will float, and in some, 0 will float. If the interns map the density of the liquids, they will get the following grid, which when converted to ternary gives the project name of TIER.

#1 #2 #3 Number Letter
2 0 2 20 T
1 0 0 9 I
0 1 2 5 E
2 0 0 18 R


When teams discover the name of a staff member's secret project, the staff member will show them the secret handshake, which consists of the following moves. The secret handshake involves the moves for the letters of the project name in a random (different every time) order:

  • A – salute
  • E – high five, down low
  • I – nose turkey
  • L – rock, paper, scissors
  • N – normal handshake
  • R – miss mary mack
  • S – fist explode
  • T – 2 hand shake

Once they have all the project names and know the handshakes that are in each one, they can do letter and frequency analysis to determine which handshake maps to each letter.

Final Director

When teams approach the director, the will be asked if they are the scientists for the STARLINE project. If they have solved the other challenges, they will be able to forge the password (handshakes) for this project and talk to the director, who will give them the answer.



Design Notes

This puzzle and Milkman Conspiracy were originally written to be complementary puzzles that both housed major plot points. Jamie and I both had wanted to write what we call a "talking bastard" puzzle, with a number of actors that will only respond to those solving the puzzle in very specific and constrained ways. Since we imagined the two puzzles to be similar, we wanted a way to tie them together, and Jamie had the idea of handshakes. Both puzzles and the plot underwent significant revision before the actual Game, with neither of them ending up as a classic "talking bastard", but the handshakes remained.

And yes, it's possible that we intentionally tried to come up with things that were fairly goofy for our own amusement.

Construction Notes

GC Notes