Illumine Game Recap
Clue 1 Solution: The Preacher
How the Clue Works
The preacher was rather animated while she spread her message of warning; in particular, she used many hand gestures. The trick was for teams to notice that she would occasionally touch her hands together; any word on which this happened was part of the actual message.
Early on, these hand touches were subtle, but as time went on, they became more pronounced, eventually ending up with loud and deliberate clapping on each of the relevant words.
Here is the speech again, this time with relevant words emphasized:
From the preacher's sermon, "Catch bus route 594. Leave from 9th and Stewart. Get off at 10th and Commerce." Additionally, the letter that teams received in the opening packet told them to follow the signs when they got there, and signs from the 10th and Commerce exit directed teams up the stairs to Canned Salmon..
This was the first example of our emphasis this year on timing and keeping teams spread the desired amount. Ordinarily, this isn't difficult to do at the start, when you can stagger the teams' departure times, but this challenge was additionally compounded by this year's bit twist - the "stealing" of the teams' vans.
To attain the desired stagger while avoiding making any teams wait unnecessarily, the decision was made to try and get half of the teams onto the 8:00 a.m. bus and the other half onto the 8:30 a.m. bus. There was some debate as to exactly when we needed teams to notice our preacher in order for this to happen (since it had to be early enough that some teams would get the solution before 8:00, but late enough that not all of them would), and based on some testing and conjecture, 7:45 a.m. became our official start time.
The other goal was the maximize the impact of the missing vans; while we imagined teams figuring something fishy might be happening when we set up a valet stand, our hope was that teams wouldn't realize the vans were gone until they went back to look for them. In order to maximize this, we devised the opening such that ther was no actual opening presentation, such that we wouldn't have to make any statements one way or another about the vans; instead, the teams would simply discover their absence when it came time. This presented a problem, though, in that teams wouldn't have any impetus to get underway at 7:45. This was addressed by the letter in the opening packet, as well as the in-your-face nature of the preacher.
Thus, the opening because a rather delicate set of events that we tried to orchestrate to roll gracefully from missing vans to clue to a naturally staggered departure.
The actual execution of the opening, when it came to having many teams, didn't go quite as smoothly as we'd hoped. Teams didn't all run to find their vans right when 7:45 hit (and we actually don't even know exactly how many teams read their letters at that time), and thus didn't run into our preacher. Seeing the teams waiting dutifully as instructed for our return and not getting up, we sent in one of our staff to ask the teams if they knew where we were, in the hopes of prodding them into action.
Teams then encountered our preacher, but what happened demonstrated how differently things can run in the field than they do in a controlled environment. While in our testing, it took people on average of five to twenty minutes to decipher the preacher's message, in an open space with a large crowd, this proved to be much harder. This was exacerbated by some of the content of the message. In particular, 594 Stewart, if treated as a street address, was not far from where the opening was, and teams anxious to get underway decided that they should head there immediately rather than listen to the rest of the message and decipher the actual message.
This caused a moment of panic for Erik and Nick, who simultaneously realized that the teams hadn't received any phone numbers to call GC for help yet, and decided that plot notwithstanding, something needed to be done. After running out and catching all of the teams, eventually everyone went back, got the true directions from the preacher, and headed on their way on the 8:30 and 9:00 buses.
One amusing anecdote - because of the timing of things, most every team ended up being ready for the 8:30 bus and the sheer size of the crowd perturbed the bus driver, who delayed the bus long enough to call in and make sure that it was OK to take this many people at the first stop. Additionally, several teams jockeyed to be the last team on the bus so that they could be the first team off the bus, a tactic which backfired on at least one team that ended up not making it onto the bus because they waited too long.