The prompt behind the Impractical Hacks challenge (or lack of a specific one thereof) left us a lot of creative room to design anything we dreamed up. During our brainstorming process, we discovered we had shared love for riddles, puzzles, and escape rooms, and decided that we wanted to build something that incorporated that. We were also inspired off of delightful childhood activities that we used to do, specifically scavenger hunts. We tried to recreate that feeling of childhood joy and curiosity as we built our project, incorporating any whimsical elements that came to mind on whim. As a result, or finished product is packed with nostalgic and goofy references to classics like A HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
What it does
Absolutely nothing practical :). It is a scavenger hunt to find a Calculator that can answer any question. Clues are spread across multiple web pages that the web developers in our group made, which will ultimately direct you to the final challenge: a discord server where you will be quizzed on random knowledge by the white rabbit, Nivens McTwisp. If you successfully answer all his questions and defeat the Wonderlandian beast, you will be directed to the Calculator. With a need to interpret internet tools to solve the puzzles, and rhymes + confusing wording from Mr. McTwisp, this may be harder than you think!
How we built it
Our two web developers used .html CSS to build the various web pages we hid clues on, and the final page with the calculator. The “clues” are really extensions that lead you to the next page of the challenge. For the second part of the scavenger hunt, our two Java coders coded a Discord bot that would dm the user with riddles, using JavaCord, a library for coding on discord.
Challenges we ran into
Our group was scattered over 3 different time zones, so coordination was tricky, but we were able to overcome this through delegation. Another issue that came up was difficulty merging our coding languages, since collectively we all coded in Java, HTML, and CSS - and none of us were very experienced with merging the coding languages. So, as you can tell we had to get creative by merging a discord bot portion with the webpage portion, forming 2 sections of the puzzle. Also, the seo.html page flashed rainbow colors only on certain computers. We still weren’t sure how to fix this issue, which is why in our video demo the screen appeared white.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We’re proud that we managed to link the webpages cohesively, and after long hours of trial and error, we finally managed to code the Discord bot so that it could send the user DMs! This was a major accomplishment, especially since we were not that experienced with coding. We’re also really proud of the amount of creativity that went into this project, to make it extra impractical: we instituted flashing colors that didn’t show on every screen, created a discord server that can only ever be filled with !help commands to start communicating with Mr. McTwisp, all to reach a calculator that can only give you one answer :). We’re super proud of how we were able to combine all our coding languages into something creative, and we are especially proud of all the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy references.
What we learned
We learned how to code a discord bot to send DMs directly to the user so multiple users could play at once. We also learned how to create animated css effects (though we couldn’t figure out how to make the calculator compatible so we had to leave out the flashing, rotating animated css congratulations page to work with the calculator, so we ultimately had to leave it out of the final project :( ). Team members without web developing experience got to learn some html by reviewing the code for the webpages, and our web-developing team members learned a lot about java by looking through the java discord API to find methods that allowed the bot to open private channels.
What's next for Deep Thought
Our program is very flexible - we can easily add on to this to make it more complex and multi-layered. For next steps, we’re looking to making multiple of these internet scavenger hunts and escape rooms, and then congregating their starting links on a website so that users can choose which scavenger hunt to embark on based on tiers of easy, medium, and hard. The Deep Thought Puzzle can evolve into a platform of fun, nerdy internet games and puzzles for people to have fun and pick up random pieces of knowledge. We’re also going to work to make the whole game more aesthetically pleasing by brushing up on our CSS knowledge, integrating an animated congratulations page with the final calculator, and figuring out how to add swirling color and fun graphics to our webpages.
And for the links below, note that: