Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Lostpedia teamwork breaks the puzzle code

Over the past few months, Lostpedia has been closely following the ongoing development of the Official Lost Jigsaw Puzzles, released by TDC Games. The first two were released in July of 2006 and the third in August. At first, no one really had any idea why there was a spoiler warning on the box, as the 1000 piece puzzles appeared to just be your run-of-the-mill puzzles, with Lost-themed designs: The Hatch, The Others, The Numbers and Before the Crash.

It was soon discovered, however, that the backs of the puzzles had secret glow-in-the-dark writing, with a version of the blast door map (pieced from all the puzzles together), and mysterious codes that began with the letter "C". No one really knew how to decode them, but it was theorized by that they stood for chapters, and that there was some book that could be used as a cipher… but to what? Our own Lostpedian, P0pnfresh2002, was very proactive in organizing the effort to figure out and post images of all the puzzles. Maagic of 4815162342.com forums figured out a way to take amazing photos of the backs, after many efforts were made—not an easy task to do, considering the phosfluorescent nature of the ink (clear photos in the dark are difficult without a flash). P0p, along with other Lostpedians, helped further by undertaking the task of transcribing some of the codes, since they are very difficult to read.

The next clue came with Puzzle #4, just released in February. This continued the map and codes pattern. But also written on it was a French line: "Un Vis Classique, Chapitre et Verse". In French, this translates to "A 'Screw' Classic, Chapter and Verse", but there were confusing issues with the literal French translation, due to the form of the word Vis, and other meanings in Old French. The first guess (credited again, to P0p) was the Lost reference, The Turn of the Screw. However, we used this in the wrong way initially (reading it as chapter and word), and moved on to other literary works. Everything from The Count of Monte Cristo to The Mysterious Island to The Divine Comedy were attempted in the same manner, and all found to be dead ends. The subject got more attention after the puzzle article was made Article of the Week on Lostpedia earlier this week, promoting fan interest.

This morning, a new Lostpedia editor named Pamela (Thebrothersworld) was smart enough to try The Turn of the Screw again, but this time, using a different method. She figured out that the cipher was actually pointing to chapter and paragraph/letter (instead of word; see the main article for details). Shortly after this, there was a flurry of activity by various users to decode the string of words on the backs of the puzzles. This translated to (clockwise, from upper left corner):


Whether or not these are truly spoilerish, only time will tell…but it was a fun ride, and it does seem to be enough fodder for theories. Though many are ideas that have been guessed a lot, such as those about sickness and quarantine being fake, and P.R.D., C.V. and D.I.H.G. on the map standing for Periodic Resupply Drop, Cerberus Vent, and DHARMA Initiative Hanso Group, respectively, it's nice to have another source of confirmation. The ramblings about food are silly/strange, but reference various emphasized food items seen on the show (making me wonder if there's yet another layer of code/hidden message), and this is the first we've heard about an emergency escape protocol (Noemis pointed out this is probably the abbreviation E.E.P from the blast door map as well).

A big shout-out to Pamela and the others in our Lostpedia community (special thanks to editors such as Thinker and Jburnson, who did considerable amounts of analysis on the code). Together, they were the first to solve the puzzle on the internet, bringing back fond memories of cooperation during The Lost Experience. It truly was a group effort, with different editors doing everything from taking photographs, to numerical analysis, to literary suggestions, and finally, the tedious legwork of actual decoding. See the chronicle of how the mystery was solved (including the dead ends) on the talk page of the puzzle article

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