Hm, I could talk about the site itself later I suppose; right now I should constrain myself to the puzzle solution.
Here’s the puzzle again, with all the hints:
The idea is: the bottom part is the maze, and the top part is the rules that tell you how to get through the maze. I did a few things to try to point towards the solution:
- The ^3 inside the maze is the only thing that’s green. So I was hoping it would be clear this was a different thing than everything else.
- I hoped that this would suggest the “arrow, number” pair is meant to indicate a direction and distance to move.
- I wasn’t sure whether to make the .com green as well, but I figured the nature of it made it unique enough.
- I placed the hints for entrance/exit at about their vertical levels, so putting those together shouldn’t have been too bad.
But how to traverse the maze was apparently the difficult part. The top part is the rules, and I should say it’s three rules. Some conjectured it was 12 separate rules, or that it had to do with specific letters, but no. My responses to these would have been: if they are 12 separate rules, I don’t think the arrows make sense for traversing them. And there doesn’t seem to be any good correlation between specific letters in the rules and letters in the maze.
It’s basically this: each letter inside the rule represents a class. For the first two I alternated: items 1 and 3 have the same direction and number. So for the first we see “J” and “B” are down 1, and “f” and “r” are left 1. The most immediate thing that differentiates those letters is upper/lower case.
If we’ve gotten this far in working things out, we know that up 3 in the maze starts us on “s”. That’s a lower, so following the first rule, we go left 1, and land on “S”.
Next rule, “e” and “I” are up 1, “H” and “m” are down 2. In that case it seems to be vowels/consonants. We’re on “S”, so go down 2, and land on red W.
The third rule is the trickiest, because I don’t have any two the same. I was hoping by now you’d be able to build on knowledge of the previous — and anyway you’re standing on a colored letter at this point, and the rule is clearly about colored letters, so that might have helped feel like things are working to this point. I see now that the red samples were vowels and blue samples were consonants, but that would not likely be the thing, because what would you do with a red consonant? Which is what we have here, so the rule must describe it somehow.
In this case it’s: red lowers go down 2, red uppers go right 3, blue lowers go right 1, blue uppers go up 1. We have a red upper, so we go right 3 to “H”.
Then the arrows in the rule loop up back to the first one again, which take us to “a”, “t”, and “.com”.
All of which spells out sswhat.com, which apparently is a new site I’ve created. Hope that’s not too terribly anticlimactic, but there it is.
As I forgot to ask them how I can refer to them publicly, I’ll say that Sam solved it on Friday, so he gets the mug. Cryptique solved it about a half hour later, but I think I’ll send him something else as well, as soon as I figure out what that is.