Microsoft Puzzle Hunt Bonus (1/4): EXPLORER by Thomas Snyder

[More comments about the site below; for now, here is the first of four puzzles that I wrote for last year’s Microsoft Puzzle Hunt. Our “Binary Earth” round had paired puzzles that would look similar with a “large thing” and a set of “small things” to look at. This is the easiest puzzle of the set, entitled EXPLORER. Just as at the Microsoft Puzzle Hunt, it is presented solely as a PDF with no specific instructions. I will add hints each day as I also release the other 3 puzzles I wrote for that Hunt this week.]

Puzzle PDF

Author/Opus: This is the 430th puzzle from Thomas Snyder, aka Dr. Sudoku.

Hints (in rot13):
1. What is this puzzle? Gur zrffntr vf qrfpevovat n “Zvarfjrrcre (Cragbzvab)” chmmyr naq gur hahfhny sbeznggvat jvyy or vzcbegnag nsgre fbyivat gung chmmyr (ohg abg orsber).
2. How do I get started? Orpnhfr cragbzvabrf unir znal pbaarpgrq pryyf, fbzr bs gur zbfg xrl pyhrf gb ybbx ng ner gur 1’f va qvssrerag ertvbaf bs gur tevq nf lbh pbafvqre funcrf. Fbzr bs gur cragbzvabrf ng gur gbc ner gur Y, C, naq M juvyr fbzr bs gur cragbzvabrf ng gur obggbz ner gur V, A, naq I.
3. I finished the first part. What now? Rnpu cragbzvab unf n ynory, naq gung zvtug uryc lbh xabj jurer gb ybbx gb svaq bhg jung gb qb ng gur raq.
4. How do I get a final answer? Ernq gur yrggref haqre gur cragbzvab ynoryf gb trg n 12-yrggre vafgehpgvba, gura sbyybj gung vafgehpgvba jvgu gur cragbzvabrf, znxvat ab bgure punatrf, gb erirny gur nafjre.

Solution: PDF

Answer String: Enter the final answer (a word or phrase) in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS without spaces to confirm. There may be intermediate answer phrases that are not the final answer; our answer checker is not able to send the message “Keep going” like the Microsoft Hunt solving software does so if you do not see what you expect, treat it like “Keep going” and potentially send an email to us or watch out for hints.

[Note: I had a very busy weekend, including some mental health care which took me offline completely for 4 days, so have not reformatted the puzzles for this week yet or made the second “Smashing the Sudoku” video either. Amazingly, those busy weekends did not include full completion of the USPC or any participation in the MIT Mystery Hunt so things must be pretty serious for me right now. Reflecting on some of the comments from my post last Thursday, I do not want this site to go completely dark during my sabbatical year, but it may be less predictable when content gets added until we have our other puzzlemasters able to do web tasks more. That said, I also don’t think we need to release more free web puzzles without a new platform that can really grow our audience. Our planning for 2023+ has kicked off in a new GMPuzzles Discord channel that we will open up to authors/top fans soon.]

  • Marred says:

    Very nice puzzle with interesting flow. Great you don’t abandon this fantastic website, I hope you or other authors will post some fresh puzzles

  • Dee says:

    Is the answer checker working for this one? The final hint makes me think the answer I’ve been puzzling over as another clue is actually the final answer.

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