Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

What does the name “Geodyssey” mean?

First, it is a portmanteau of the prefix geo- meaning “of or relating to the earth” and the title of the classic Greek play The Odyssey, which tells the tale of the travels of its main character Odysseyus.

Second, it is a play on the word geodesy, which is the scientific discipline that deals with the measurement and representation of the Earth.

Did I solve the puzzle or complete the challenge correctly?

If you found the link and password you needed to move on, you solved the puzzle correctly. If you entered the correct password on the Final Page of the challenge, then you completed the challenge correctly.

Did you finish it like I originally intended when I constructed it? Probably, but not necessarily. Several solvers have found alternate solutions to some of the puzzles that led them to the correct passwords, links, or locations.

If you feel you missed something and want to experience all that Geodyssey has to offer, let me know.

Can you see the attempts to use invalid passwords?

No, this system doesn’t log attempts to use invalid passwords. Which is unfortunate, because I’m sure your guesses range from awfully close to wildly inaccurate to humorously tangential.

Will Geodyssey still remain active even though the contest is over?

Yes. All of the Geodyssey puzzles will remain active for the foreseeable future.

How can I get a copy of “Puzzlecraft” for myself?

The easiest (only?) way is to order it online.

Where can I meet and interact with other fans of Geodyssey?
Now that I’ve solved Geodyssey, what other puzzles do you have?

If you liked Geodyssey, you’d like another very similar challenge I created called Puzzle Solving 101. It’s a series of geocaches, but the puzzles can be solved remotely.

Can I make my own puzzle based upon Geodyssey?

Sure, as long as you follow the terms of the license. You don’t need my permission as long as you (a) give me credit, (b) don’t make money off of it, and (c) distribute your work under the same license terms. If you want to create and distribute a derivative work under any other terms, please contact me – I’m not opposed to making a deal.

Can I make my own geocache based upon Geodyssey?

Sure. The easiest way (but certainly not the only way) is to create a puzzle cache that requires the solver to complete the Remote Challenge. On the Remote Challenge Final Page is a 1,024-character one-time pad (randomly generated using random.org) that can be used to encrypt your own message that leads your solvers to your cache. See my Geodyssey geocache (GC5CJ31) for an example. FYI: Rumkin has an excellent free tool for encrypting and decrypting messages with one-time pads.

Getting Help

Can I get a hint?

Yes. At the bottom of each puzzle page is a section titled “Hints” which contains a link to hints specifically for that puzzle. The hints are protected by spoiler buttons, so you can choose how spoiled you want to be.

Will you check my work?

Yes. Send email to me at info@puzzlehead.org and include the puzzle name or number in the subject line. Or use the Contact form on this site.

However, if you’re asking me to check your work, then it’s very likely that you’ve either made an error that you are able to spot yourself, or you need to do some more thinking about what the puzzle is asking you to do or what you’ve learned about the puzzle so far.

Why doesn’t the password work?

Either you’ve arrived at an incorrect solution to a puzzle, or you haven’t converted that solution into a proper password.

If you’ve got the correct solution, then the method for turning it into a proper password is as follows:

All page passwords consist only of lower-case letters (a-z) and numerical digits (0-9); no spaces or symbols are used. For any potential password you discover here, remove all spaces and symbols, and convert all upper-case letters to lower-case.

How can I find more information about a particular type of puzzle?

Try searching for that type of puzzle on Google. For example, if you’re asked to solve a nurikabe puzzle, search for “nurikabe puzzle” to get lots of great information.

What if I can’t find the answer to my question here?

See if it has been answered on the Starting Line.

Where’s the Starting Line?
What if I can’t find the answer to my question here or on the Starting Line?

Use the contact form to get in touch with me. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can, usually within 24 hours.

You can also ask folks in the Puzzlehead Facebook group.

What should I do if I can’t find the benchmark online?

It’s possible you’ve made a typo in the search box (I did that a bunch while constructing these puzzles). Read the section of the Starting Line on benchmarks and how to locate them again.

If you’re confident you’re looking in the right place, check your puzzle solution. More likely than not, your solution is wrong. For some puzzles, it’s possible to be off by a letter or two. For other puzzles, you may be looking for completely the wrong thing.

If you absolutely know you’ve got the right answer and you absolutely know you’re searching for it properly and you absolutely cannot find a benchmark in the database with the proper designation located in Broward County, Florida, then it is possible (but unlikely) that the Groundspeak database may be broken. In that case, please let me know and I will verify it for you.

Problems

How do I report a problem I found with the construction of a puzzle?

While it is possible that there is an as-yet undiscovered error in a puzzle, it is highly unlikely. All of the puzzles in Geodyssey have been tested extensively by the constructor, by the test solvers, and by the many successful solvers of all three challenges.

If, while solving a puzzle, you encounter a contradiction or a situation that does not reconcile with the given information in the puzzle, chances are that you’ve made an error somewhere along the way. In that case, here’s my advice:

  1. Start over from scratch, assuming nothing and being extremely judicious in making inferences.
  2. Step away from the puzzle for a while, then come back to it later.
  3. Clear your head by solving a completely different type of puzzle.
  4. After the contest is over, ask for a hint.

If you’ve done all those things and still are firmly convinced there’s an error, please let me know via the contact form on this site.

Why do I keep seeing web site errors?

Sometimes when you try to open a page here, you may get a strange error (often with error codes 404, 418, or 500). It usually happens when the load on the web or database server becomes too great (since this site is running on the same server as a lot of other customers of the hosting company I use).

If you see one of those errors, wait a minute or so and try again. You may have to do this a few times before it starts working again.

If you find a link that you absolutely cannot ever seem to open that you believe should work, please send me a note using the Contact form on this site (if it’s up) or to info@puzzlehead.org (if it isn’t).

How do I report problems with this web site?

Use the contact form if the site is up, or send email to info@puzzlehead.org if the site is down.

Local Challenge

Can you tell me more about the Local Challenge?
How many puzzles are in this challenge?

At least seven.

How will I know when I’ve solved the final puzzle of this challenge?

You will have completed this challenge when you use the correct password to open a page whose title says that it’s the final page of the challenge. That page will contain a big congratulatory message on it, the tracking code you’ll need for the travel bug, and other surprises. There’s really no way to miss it – if you’re not certain that you’re done, you’re not done.

What do the Local Challenge Clues look like?

Each Local Challenge Clue is clearly marked with the word “GEODYSSEY” and contains both a link and a keyword. The clues are magnetic and designed to be resistant to the elements. All of the clues have similar size, shape, and form – they only differ in the information they contain. Once you’ve found one, you will know exactly what the rest look like.

What should I do if I think a Local Challenge clue is missing?

It is unlikely but possible that a clue may disappear from its hiding spot. If you are certain that your solution to a puzzle is correct, you are certain that you have identified the correct benchmark, and you are certain that you’ve searched in every possible location where the clue might be, please use the contact form on this site to let me know. Please include:

  • the puzzle number,
  • the designation of the benchmark,
  • a specific list of places you searched (include photos if you can), and
  • whether or not you’ve found any of the other clues.

If you’ve looked in the right spot and I can verify that it has gone missing, I’ll save you a return visit by sending you the information you need to continue.

Remote Challenge

Can you tell me more about the Remote Challenge?
How many puzzles are in this challenge?

At least seven.

How will I know when I’ve solved the final puzzle of this challenge?

You will have completed this challenge when you use the correct password to open a page whose title says that it’s the final page of the challenge. That page will contain a big congratulatory message on it, the tracking code you’ll need for the travel bug, and other surprises. There’s really no way to miss it – if you’re not certain that you’re done, you’re not done.

What does a Remote Challenge Clue look like?

Here’s an example. It’s not an actual clue, just a sample of what one would look like.

What should I do if I think a Remote Challenge clue is missing?

If you can’t find the Remote Challenge clue, then chances are that you’re looking at the wrong benchmark. Remember you’re looking for a log entry posted on National Puzzle Day (Jan 29) 2012 by a user who expresses affection for the Geodyssey Remote Challenge in his or her profile. See the Starting Line for details.

It is possible (but highly unlikely) that Groundspeak has made a change to its benchmark database that broke this puzzle. If you are absolutely certain you’re looking at the correct benchmark page and you absolutely cannot find the linked word in the log entry for 1/29/2012, please let me know.

Hidden Challenge

Can you tell me more about the Hidden Challenge?
How many puzzles are in this challenge?

At least seven.

How will I know when I’ve solved the final puzzle of this challenge?

You will have completed this challenge when you use the correct password to open a page whose title says that it’s the final page of the challenge. That page will contain a big congratulatory message on it, the tracking code you’ll need for the travel bug, and other surprises. There’s really no way to miss it – if you’re not certain that you’re done, you’re not done.

Where is the puzzle for the Hidden Challenge located?

That’s kinda the whole point of the Hidden Challenge.

Benchmarks

What is a benchmark?

A benchmark is a point on the surface of the earth whose position (both location and elevation) is known with a high degree of accuracy. That point is marked in some way, often with a durable metal disk made specifically for that purpose. Each benchmark has a name called its designation, which is usually stamped on the disk. Sometimes the year the benchmark was created or replaced is also stamped on the disk.

More information about benchmarks is available on the Starting Line as well as from the National Geoditic Survey and Groundspeak.

What should I do if I can’t find the benchmark online?

It’s possible you’ve made a typo in the search box (I did that a bunch while constructing these puzzles). Read the section of the Starting Line on benchmarks and how to locate them again.

If you’re confident you’re looking in the right place, check your puzzle solution. More likely than not, your solution is wrong. For some puzzles, it’s possible to be off by a letter or two. For other puzzles, you may be looking for completely the wrong thing.

If you absolutely know you’ve got the right answer and you absolutely know you’re searching for it properly and you absolutely cannot find a benchmark in the database with the proper designation located in Broward County, Florida, then it is possible (but unlikely) that the Groundspeak database may be broken. In that case, please let me know and I will verify it for you.

What should I do if I think a Remote Challenge clue is missing?

If you can’t find the Remote Challenge clue, then chances are that you’re looking at the wrong benchmark. Remember you’re looking for a log entry posted on National Puzzle Day (Jan 29) 2012 by a user who expresses affection for the Geodyssey Remote Challenge in his or her profile. See the Starting Line for details.

It is possible (but highly unlikely) that Groundspeak has made a change to its benchmark database that broke this puzzle. If you are absolutely certain you’re looking at the correct benchmark page and you absolutely cannot find the linked word in the log entry for 1/29/2012, please let me know.

Extras

Do I need to solve the extra puzzles to complete any of the challenges?

Nope. The extra puzzles were released just for standalone fun during the contest period.

Where is the Bonus Puzzle?
Where is the Final Final Puzzle?