It’s been almost fifteen years since Andy Darley entered Wakerley Great Wood in Northamptonshire with his trusty trowel in hand và dug up the Receda Cube, ending the first season of Mind Candy’s alternate reality game Perplex City & claiming the game’s £100,000 prize. While the game’s main narrative was solved with the discovery of the cube, some of the game’s most ardent fans continued lớn chip away at the game’s unsolved puzzles, designed lớn be nigh impossible. And on December 30th, the final puzzle was solved when players got in tương tác with a man based on nothing more than a single phokhổng lồ, and a first name: Satoshi. After over a decade, the puzzle Billion to One has been solved.

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A Brief Perplex City PrimerPerplex City was an alternate reality game that launched in 2005, whose story unfolded through a series of collectible puzzle cards. According to lớn the game’s lore, Violet Kiteway stole an object known as the Receda Cube from the Perplex City Academy Museum. After being teleported to lớn our world, she buried the Cube & posted cryptic messages hinting at its location under the name “Combed Thunderclap”.

Not knowing his own daughter was the thief, Perplex City Academy Master Sente Kiteway partnered with Mind Candy to lớn release a game: Perplex City. The game was designed khổng lồ let people of Earth learn about their world and the theft, with the hopes that Earth’s puzzle-solvers could figure out what their Perplexian counterparts could not. And so, 256 puzzle cards were released inkhổng lồ the world in four separate waves.

Clues on the cards might lead players khổng lồ websites, blogs, emails, and telephone numbers, & a San Francisco live event even had one character escape the scene in a black helicopter…but for many, the heart of the game were puzzle cards themselves: every card had a silver scratch panel hiding a chất lượng code that players could use to lớn track their solves, powering a live leaderboard. Three puzzles were particularly notorious for being unsolved.

A Herculean Task: An Introduction khổng lồ the Unsolved CardsDifficulty levels of the 256 Perplex City puzzle cards were sorted into lớn eight different difficulty levels. From easiest lớn hardest, those levels are: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, Blaông chồng, và Silver. By the time Darley found the Cube, most of the Silver puzzles had already been solved.

Card #238, Riemann, challenged puzzlers lớn prove sầu the Riemann hypothesis, one of the seven Millennium Prize Problems, a series of mathematical problems flagged by the Scientific Advisory Board of the Clay Mathematics Institute as some of the most difficult problems mathematicians were grappling with at the turn of the millennium. The institute offered a $1 million bounty for solving any of these problems. While Riemann remains unsolved, this was the only puzzle in the mix that was designed without a solution in mind.

Card #251, The Thirteenth Labour confronted players with a string of 352 characters encrypted with RC5.64 cipher that was expected at the time khổng lồ take 30K computers running in tandem for several months to lớn solve sầu. Players dubbed their attempt to lớn craông xã the RC5 encryption “Assault on 13th Labour“, although ultimately the user Paraboloid13 who cracked the password in Feburary 2010. While Paraboloid13’s solution was verified as correct, they declined khổng lồ tóm tắt either answer or method of solve publicly, leaving the final mystery of this herculean task preserved.

Card #256, Billion lớn One presented players with a photograph of a man, và the text 私を 見つけなさい – “Find Me”. The Perplex City hint line gave players their only other clue: the phrase “My name is Satoshi.” Players located the photograph’s location of Kaysersberg France, but hit an Alsatian wall for years. Once a player directly contacted Satoshi, he was instructed to lớn provide them with a password in response to lớn successfully solve the puzzle.

The Search for Satoshi: It’s Not So Small a World After AllLong after The Thirteenth Labour was cracked, the story of the Billion lớn One puzzle thẻ kept coming baông xã, reigniting the tìm kiếm for Satoshi. During the early years of the tìm kiếm Chris Warren’s Billion2One.org offered a shareable multi-lingual page lớn help attract more eyeballs lớn the search, while Laura E. Hall’s FindSatoshi.com provided a summary of the hunt, & the community’s progress.

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Word of the tìm kiếm spread through podcasts, YouTube đoạn phim essays, và news coverage, but no additional leads arose. But earlier this year, Inside A Mind’s Jamie Foster released a đoạn phim summarizing the tìm kiếm that received over 1.2 million views along with a companion podcast interviewing Hall about the search that inspired the creation of the r/FindSatoshi subreddit. And that triggered the break in the case.

Tom-Lucas Säger (th0may on Reddit) remembers watching the Inside A Mind video earlier in the year, but put it out of his mind, because he couldn’t believe it was possible. While visiting his parents for Christmas, he remembered the story, noting:

I told about it & later wondered if it was solved. That was when I found out about the subreddit and I thought, “if they are still actively searching maybe give sầu it a try”. I’m currently doing a research project on AI & Design and stumbled upon a backwards image tìm kiếm that uses facial recognition… PimEyes.

After running the card’s picture through the tool, Säger uncovered a 2018 photograph of a man drinking a beer at a summer festival who bore a striking resemblance to lớn Satoshi, và posted it khổng lồ the subreddit. Since the photograph was posted lớn a company website, that led lớn confirmation that his first name matched.

After initial outreach did not generate a response, Säger got in tương tác with Hall, who worked with a friover in Japan to sover a follow-up tin nhắn in English và Japanese, leading lớn confirmation that they found the right Satoshi. Reacting to lớn the news, Perplex City co-creator Adrian Hon tweeted, “I thought would either be solved very quickly (within a year or two) or not at all. To have it solved after 14 years is very special.”

And it’s telling that the solutions khổng lồ The Thirteenth Labour & Billion to lớn One cards benefited from advancing in computing. For The Thirteenth Labour, it was likely an exercise of Moore’s Law in action: . For Billion to lớn One, it’s telling that this was not solved through a victory of the small world phenomenon in action, but one that was supported by facial recognition nuanced enough khổng lồ connect photos of the same man, taken over a decade apart.

The Most Dangerous Game: Knowing It’s Time lớn Stop the HuntSince Billion to lớn One, a number of experiences have sầu toyed with the idea of turning a nationwide manhunt inkhổng lồ a game. In 2009, DARPA deployed ten weather balloons across the United States & awarded the first team to correctly identify every location with a $40K prize. That same year, Wired pitted journadanh sách Evan Ratliff against the internet in a nationwide manhunt, for a $5K prize to lớn the first person to lớn track hyên ổn down. As au3d.vnet’s coverage of The Hunt for Evan Ratliff notes, the practice pre-dates the internet by a considerable margin, with the Westminster Gazette running a manhunt for one of the company’s employees, who assumed the name Lobby Lud for the purposes of the conthử nghiệm.

However, & this should go without saying, manhunts should be handled with care, for the safety of both hunter and hunted. As one article about the Lobby Lud affair by Paul Slade notes, “Lud lookalikes were having a rough time of it…with one man reporting he had been accosted seven times in just trăng tròn minutes – despite the fact that he was nearly a foot taller than the real Lobby.” At least based on currently available information, the Find Satoshi community exercised admirable restraint in limiting outreach to lớn make this final leg of the race minimally intrusive, và that level of respect should extover now that his involvement has conclusively ended.

This warning is particularly relevant since, while Satoshi shares a first name with Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamokhổng lồ, that is where the similarities end: Perplex City‘s Satoshi is not Bitcoin’s Satoshi. Billion to lớn One launched years prior to lớn the release of Nakamoto’s whitepaper, và it is an exceedingly common name in nhật bản. Echoing a sentiment that Hall expresses on the Find Satoshi website, now that the puzzle has been solved and Satoshi’s identity has been revealed, please don’t contact hyên ổn – “his agreement to lớn participate in <Perplex City> was limited khổng lồ this one puzzle, và that is now complete.”

As additional updates khổng lồ the story arise, you can likely find them on FindSatoshi.com, as well as r/FindSatoshi. Congratulations khổng lồ everyone who has chased after the solve over the years, and a hearty thanks to Tom-Lucas Säger (th0may) for closing the chapter on a mystery I never thought I’d see solved.

UPDATED TO ADD: Now that the cat is out of the proverbial bag, puzzle designer Jey Biddulph has started sharing behind the scenes insights about the puzzle creation process on Twitter.

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Disclosure: Michael Andersen (the author of this piece) works for Tiller Press, which will be publishing Laura E. Hall’s book on escape rooms in 2021.

Chuyên mục: Hướng Dẫn