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Enigmida: Meet the Characters!

Enigmida: Meet the Characters!
By Matthew Stein • Issue #4 • View online
Happy Pay-A-Compliment Day! Yes, that’s a “real” holiday that was started in 1995 to remind us to give “genuine and soulful compliments.” Wonder takes many forms, and I encourage you to take a moment today to say something nice to someone who inspires you - a family member, friend, tree, partner, neighbor, or maybe even your favorite puzzle designer ;)
Make sure to read to the end for the Puzzle of the Week! 🐻

Escape the Plagues: Character Development
With Escape the Plagues just over 3 weeks away from launching, I’m thrilled to start revealing some more details about the game with you all! First up: the characters.
Puzzle design is interdisciplinary by definition. In addition to implementing specific puzzles, I spend much of my time researching an absurdly wide range of topics, writing story and flavor text, and playtesting everything. Perhaps my favorite part of the process, though, is collaborating with other creators.
For this project, we’re working with Adrian D, a Guatemalan artist who specializes in children’s book illustration. This is actually the first game I’ve worked on which depicts human main characters, and Adrian was instrumental in helping guide us through the process of visually developing each character.
First, we asked: who is each character as a person, beyond the limited-scope role they play on the page? What sort of language do they use when speaking? What does their bedroom look like? What books do they read? How do they communicate with other characters in the group?
As we developed each character from the ground up (well technically, from the head down), Adrian sent us multiple options for expressions, postures, heights, and clothing, transforming our ideas into the characters you see above.
Lastly, and most importantly, some of these characters look like us and others do not. Throughout this entire process, we’ve been talking with people of other identities to ensure we represent each individual character, both in appearance and story, in as nuanced and human a way as possible. Along the way, we’ve learned a ton, and quotes from some of these conversations will appear in the game itself.
Over the next two weeks, we’ll be sharing more about each individual character over on this project’s Instagram: @escapetheplagues. I hope to see you there!
Puzzle of the Week
Something is hidden in the following phrases. If you see the pattern, submit your answer here.
  • WandaVision
  • Vladimir Vinek
  • Commerce Department
This week’s puzzle is a bit tricky, though it may be easier for West Coasters. These were the only three examples I could find.
As a reminder, for every weekly puzzle you solve in February, you’ll be entered in a drawing for a chance to win a custom puzzle of your choice! (This is a slight change from what I wrote last week. Now, each correct answer = 1 entry.)
Solution to last issue’s puzzle:
Rnpu sbbq vgrz pbagnvaf 2+ bppheeraprf bs gur fnzr ibjry, naq ab bgure ibjryf. FNYNQ = N, PURRFR = R, XVJV = V, CBCPBEA = B, SHATHF = H.
Congrats to everyone who submitted a correct answer: Wassamatta U, Ben Rosner, Dan Katz, Yossi Fendel, Matty, Andrew E, Ryan Kannegiesser, Fro, Michael Finley, Sandy Weisz, Theresa!, Ellen, Stijn, Dawn Massie, Anne of Green Gables, Ace and Anna, Michael Andersen, Zach Z, Sean McBride, Merrilee W., Jessi & Daniel, Summer H, Maude, and Andrew
Special shoutouts to the longest submissions: FOOT-LONG HOTDOGS and ALFALFA LASAGNA (and sometimes LYNYRD SKYNYRD SPYNYCH)
Cryptically yours,
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Matthew Stein

I'm an Oakland, CA-based puzzle and alternate reality game designer. I create experiences that guide participants to connect through play and to find wonder in the mundane.

In this newsletter, I share behind-the-scenes content, puzzle design thoughts, project updates, and other miscellaneous whimsy I think puzzle lovers will enjoy.

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