Megahard, Bay Area, September 30-October 1, 2000

On July 30, 2000, Megahard Corporation announced its impending release of "Doors 2000". CEO Gil Bates denied rumors that Doors 2000 was filled with bugs, but as we found out on Game weekend, there were more than a few bugs remaining. Megahard was hosted by Red 5, all two of them.

Team Advil was veterans John Owens, Scott Pegg, and Alex Aravanis as well as newcomers Derek DeBusschere (who drove the WHOLE weekend), Ed Boyden and Mike Malkin. Advil corporate headquarters was kind enough to give us a big box of Advil as well as Advil flags (blurry, on the right). We started on Parking Structure 2 on the Stanford campus, wearing rainbow wigs.

The plot focused on teams as software developers, attempting to fix the various bugs in Doors 2000 before its release. Each clue was accompanied by a floppy disk describing a bug and its patch (which was then applied to our Doors 2000 executable. I had quite a stack of disks by the end of the weekend.

We started with a crossword puzzle in a corporate packet. Some squares needed to be filled in with HOLE (as in HOLEinone), which we then cut out; the paper underneath gave an IP address with a Java-based web clue. We then went to a Menlo Park hardware store, up to Woodside, back down to find a VCR to play our clue, up to the summit again (a cassette tape which was spooled backwards), and back down towards the coast. Alex found a clue in a cave right before the tide came in. We were fully in the dark (and in the main pack) when we got to a semaphore-based rolling-ball puzzle, but as we headed back north again on Highway 9, we started picking up ground.

As dawn broke we were at Vasona Dam in Los Gatos, in a small pack way behind the world-beating Doh Boys. (They had taken to writing their time of arrival on their calling cards, leading to depression in our van.) We went north to the salt ponds in Fremont and east to a train trestle in Niles Canyon, where an etiquette clue blasted us forward. One of my favorite clues was in Pleasanton, a bunch of stamps, sorted in batches by denomination and by year within a batch, with circular postmarks as dots and wavy ones as dots ... certainly one of the most elegant puzzles I've seen in any Game. We continued north from there with an animal-sound cryptogram and a paint-trinary puzzle at Sherwin Williams. Our big score was in Moraga, Derek's hometown, on a country-flags puzzle which we zipped through quickly. We reached the Joaquin Miller Abbey in Oakland a little before the Doh Boys and didn't look back. A Braille clue there and a submerged pipe (bug: "Broken Pipe") at the San Leandro Marina led us to the Krispy Kreme store in Union City. They were DELIGHTED to see us as they had a donut assortment all prepared for us. It led back to Atherton and a first-place finish (and the successful release of Doors 2000).

[ Random pictures from the Game weekend | Mystic Fish's more complete wrapup ]

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