Midnight Madness 2013 was an urban game in Manhattan on the night of October 5-6, 2013. From 6:20pm until 1:30pm, 300 players on thirty teams raced to solve puzzles they found around the city. The project raised $2.9 million for the children’s charity Good Shepherd Services.

Official Finish Times

  • 12:21. Burninators 
  • 12:24. Recovery Lox
  • 12:36. Black Gold
  • 12:38. Dark Pool
  • 12:41. 0xF0000
  • 12:52. Nikao
  • 12:54. Pantome 652
  • 1:00. Optimal Control
  •  1:04. Alphanauts
  • 1:04. Gnomes
  • 1:05. SEquential Collation of Range
Times were reorded based on submission of final codeword.




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Three parallel paths

During MM 2013, teams start with three parallel paths that they can work on simultaneously, rather than three sequential zones. Internally we called the zones “green” “blue” and “red.”


The role of design

Instead of applying an overall identity to all clues, we wanted to be more eclectic in our design choices. Each clue or designed object has its own specific attitude. Despite their eclecticism, all of the clues should feel part of a coherent world, even though that world is a strange pastiche. Keywords guiding us included “mystery”, “past, present, future”, and “Tron Nebraska” (most notably for the MM player app).


Hint eggs

Hint eggs
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Key tokens

Key tokens
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Codewords

Codewords

Player app

Player app
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Finish line

Finish line
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Other themes of the 2013 game included…

Layers of the City

The game starts with a “layers map” puzzle where teams had to figure out what the dots on each layer of a multi-layered map refer to in the real city, and then rotate them so all the layers are properly aligned.

Transportation

There were many modes of transport. A trip through an abandoned subway station, a big-rig truck with CB radio symbols projected onto its windshield, signaling to a boat moored off shore, and racing elevators.

How Things Work

The idea of infrastructure, of “how things work” was definitely there. Clues included a hot dog cart, a gumball machine in a bodega with gumballs teams had to freeze and crack open, a karaoke room, a window in Saks Fifth Avenue with a weird thing that rotates in response to operating a dial across town. There were also knock-sensitive digital tombstones in a real cemetery.




Trucker projection

Trucker projection

Original puzzle mockup




Beat Sheet Breakdown

Beat Sheet Breakdown



Subway art

Subway art
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At game control, we created and used a website to keep careful track of teams’ progress.



We designed 2013.midnight-madness.org to compile the event documenation and information.