Friday, December 27, 2013

The Christmas Investigations - The Adventure Game

Christmas Investigations
Part Two
In our second Christmas Investigation we travel to Arg, the planet featured in the classic BBC game show - The Adventure Game. We'll tackle some multi stage lateral thinking puzzles before we get down to the serious business of money and tackle a mathematical problem with a difference.

Can you decipher the hidden values of the Argond currency?

Starting in 1980, The Adventure Game was a show in which a team of three celebrities would attempt to solve a series of mental challenges. They were immersed into an alien world with it's own customs, languages and culture and tested on their wit and perspicacity.

Typical tests involved finding the correct pathway through an unwalled tile maze, solving complex physical lateral thinking puzzles and answering clever riddles and puns. Many episodes climaxed with the challenging vortex game, where the team had to make their way across a network of nodes avoiding an opposing force, the vortex, which they couldn't see.

Much of the charm of the programme lay in the unique, for the time, way in which the presenters guiding the contestants remained in character as the Argonds throughout the show. Puzzles were not always introduced with explanations, contestants were often told to 'do as you see fit', in lieu of an introduction to a test.

 Of course we viewers were often shown the solutions before the contestants got to see the puzzles. We'll start our exploration of The Adventure Game with a lateral thinking test inspired by the 'escape the room' challenges often featured in the programme.

Weighing in on a Problem

The Argonds have captured you and placed in you in one of their testing cells, you are aware that you are to be kept here indefinitely but are free to escape at any time. You are also aware that this may not be easy. A single bulb hanging from the ceiling illuminates the sparse white room. There is a chair and a table upon which is a teaspoon, a shaker of salt, a metre ruler and a couple of plastic cups.

A shelf to the right holds the bare essentials needed to keep you alive for a while. A litre of synthesised water in jug and a couple packets of 'just add water' food. You strongly suspect it is supposed to be hot water. This is unfortunate since room's thermometer is reading a steady four degrees celsius. Thankfully there are a set of insulated overalls on a wire hanger, and a knitted scarf, hanging on a coat hook on the wall opposite the shelf.

Finally, there is the single point of exit, a door with a most unusual lock. The lock is powered by a switch on the door and a pressure switch in a cylinder, the cylinder is open to allow you to put small objects into it, nothing larger than a small garden pea however. The bottom of the cylinder has tiny perforations which would let any liquid flow out again. The lock only operates when exactly the right weight is added to the cylinder and the switch on the door is pressed correctly.

You know this thanks to a disconcerting sign on the door which reads: Add exactly 5g of material to the cylinder, wait 5 seconds then press the switch 5 times, failure to complete this sequence correctly will result in evaporation. You are quite sure being evaporated will be quite unpleasant. How can you open the lock?

In The Adventure Game teams were often challenged to decipher the complex Argonian currency. The basic unit of currency is the Drogna. These Drogna come in the form of plastic discs showing different designs.

The particular design on a Drogna denotes it's value. These symbols, the circle, crescent, triangle, square and pentagon are all featured heavily in the iconography of Arg. It features in the large tiled floors known as Drogna Games as well as in the general decoration of the planets architecture.

A Drogna Dilema

In this puzzle you need to escape Arg, not by any great strides of lateral thinking, but by handing the correct change to Gandor, who is amongst other things, in charge of selling tickets back to Earth. You have a variety of Drogna about your person, all you have to do is hand over the thirty-three Drogna needed for the ticket.

Gandor however is very deaf and does not have the reading glasses he needs to be able to hear your pleas for guidance.

A blue pentagon is a 25 Drogna piece
25 Drogna Piece
Here is a twenty-five Drogna piece, it is the single highest valued coin on Arg and is consequently quite rare. As you can see it consists of a blue pentagon on a transparent disc. However, neither blue pieces nor pentagonal pieces are particularly uncommon, nor are they necessarily highly valued.

A blue crescent for example is the symbol for a ten Drogna piece. It should be noted at this point that although there are twenty-five distinct varieties of Drogna, there is not a particular Drogna piece to represent every value from one to twenty-five. Indeed some values of Drogna have more than one piece in circulation.
An orange pentagon and a blue crescent have the same value
An example of two Drogna pieces with
the same value but different symbols.
You would think this gets very confusing for the Argonds when they have to do their weekly shop, but it doesn't seem to faze them one bit. The three different Drogna below have a combined value of Twelve Drogna.
A red square, green circle and orange crescent have the same value
The only example of three different Drogna pieces with the same value. 
You should by now have worked out the Argondian counting system and be able to identify any type of Drogna, which is useful really as it's time to pay for your ticket. Which three of the five Drogna below do you need to use to pay exactly thirty-three Drogna?
Make thirty-three Drogna from any three of a blue square, yellow triangle, orange square, red pentagon or a green circle.

So, have a go at that Christmas Investigation if you have spare time from all your Turnabout trials and until next time, Gronda Gronda, and keep puzzling!

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