Dream Theater Treasure Hunt Walkthrough pt. 2
Hidden by Design
Dream Theater arranged, in collaboration with the fan clubs and fan communities online, a treasure hunt culminating in the reveal of the album title and artwork for the new Dream Theater album “Distance Over Time”, for release in February 2019. See this link for the reveal! This is a series of several articles covering the entire process of solving the treasure hunt as released by Dream Theater and “Team Jacobi”. This is the second article, covering the next couple of puzzles. Stay tuned for more!
On Thursday, July 26, Freddy tweeted a video:
The video shows drummer Mike Mangini in the studio where the band had been recording their new album since Tuesday 17; throughout the video, Mike plays several phrases in odd-time signatures – one of his domains.
At the end of the video, a smiling Mike explains what was just heard:
That was some 3, and 7, and 3, and 11, and 3, and 19.
Thanks to ‘Hyrul’ for sharing the screen-shot.
By means of trial and error, educated guesses, and studying the HTML classes of the characters in the source code of the page (see Puzzle #4 cipher), it’s possible to find the password to be ‘OAWTGSAL’:
The decrypted text is part of the lyrics to “Six degrees of inner turbulence” – the title track of Dream Theater’s sixth studio album. The password, in turn, is an acrostic made up of the initials of the names of the song’s movements.
Two days later, Freddy modified the link on his profile at Dream Theater Forums:
Freddy’s link redirects to one of 71 password-protected entries at Vail Renovations’ site named ‘1’, their URLs ending with the format ‘/1-(number)’.
By inputting OAWTGSAL as password, the puzzle is solved.
On Friday, August 3, Dream Theater tweeted:
The image shows a Digital Audio Workstation of drummer Mike Mangini.
Some of the labels throughout the image are fragments of a URL:
The fragments form https://is.gd/cxSFvd, a short-link of the URL of a password-protected entry at Vail Renovations’ site:
By inputting the short-link as password, the content of the entry –a message by Freddy– is unlocked:
At the bottom of the message, there’s a hidden clickable white dot, which can be seen through a variety of methods, such as studying the source code of the page, or simply highlighting the entry’s content:
The dot redirects to ‘Freddy Jacobi’s Great Quiz #1’:
The quiz consists of 14 lists of up to five Dream Theater-related terms. The task is to determine and input the correct ‘answer to each’ list in its corresponding field.
For instance, the first list is:
The terms are the titles of songs from Dream Theater’s first demo, a cassette tape recorded in 1986 while the band still used its original name Majesty. (The demo was officially re-issued on CD in 2003 as part of The Majesty demos 1985-1986, the first release of YtseJam Records.) Amongst other things, the demo is notable for featuring the only recordings by the band with first singer Chris Collings. Therefore, ‘Chris Collins’ is the correct answer.
As a consequence, this determines that the correct answer to every other list labelled ‘(a)’ is a name.
Through similar reasonings regarding lists labelled ‘(b)’ and ‘(c)’, it’s possible to arrive at the 14 correct answers:
|Answer||Relation to the list’s terms|
|Chris Collins||Name of singer of the songs|
|James LaBrie||Name of author of the songs’ lyrics|
|John Petrucci||Name of author of the songs’ lyrics|
|Kevin Moore||Name of author of the songs’ lyrics|
|Schmedley Wilcox||Title of medley of the songs|
|Parents||Theme of the songs’ lyrics|
|Long Island||Place of birth of the musicians|
|A rite of passage||Title of the only song to include that element|
|Theresa Thomason||Name of guest vocalist on the songs|
|Jay Beckenstein||Name of guest saxophonist on the songs|
|Alcoholism||Theme of the songs’ lyrics|
|John Myung||Name of author of the songs’ lyrics|
|Prix-mo||Name of guest vocalist on the song|
|Doug Pinnick||Name of guest vocalist on the song|
After inputting answers and submitting the quiz, a mark in the form of an upper-case red letter is given for each answer. The marks for the correct answers are:
Re-ordered, these letters spell ‘THEGREATDEBATE’ – the title of a song from Six degrees of inner turbulence, the band’s sixth studio album.
Furthermore: below the last mark, there’s a clickable ‘Well done’ message:
The message redirects to a password-protected entry at Vail Renovations’ site.
By inputting TheGreatDebate as password, the puzzle is solved.
On Friday, August 10, Freddy retweeted the video of drummer Mike Mangini that he had tweeted on Thursday, July 26. (See Puzzle #4.)
Furthermore, Freddy tweeted:
Each tweet is the title of a Dream Theater song. Every ‘p’ in the tweets is upper-case where it should be lower-case, and vice versa. This suggests the relevance of the letter ‘p’ as a next clue.
Indeed, by adding ‘p’ at the end of Mike’s ‘domain’, the URL obtained is that of a new game by Freddy: a 400-cell, square nonogram named ‘Caught in a Web’ – the title of a song from Awake, Dream Theater’s third studio album.
Nonograms were invented at the end of the 1980s by Japanese artist Non Ishida, and first became popular in the Western world at the beginning of the following decade, after British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph started publishing them weekly.
When being left-clicked on, each cell turns either red or black; red cells are ‘incorrect’ and black ones ‘correct’. (Right-clicking allows the player to mark potentially incorrect cells.) The game ends when all correct cells are clicked on, and a ‘game over’ message appears on screen after clicking a fifth incorrect one. (The timer at the end is irrelevant – it’s possible to continue clicking cells after it reaches ‘00:00’.)
For each row and column, the series of bracketed numbers above it or to its left indicates quantities of consecutive correct cells in that field; therefore, rows #6, 11 and 16 and column #10 consist exclusively of incorrect cells.
Of course, many strategies can be applied to the solving of nonograms. For instance, one can start by marking the correct cells from column #5 corresponding to the ‘’ in the first five cells from the top, since that’s the only possibility. (Remember: every cell in rows #6, 11 and 16 are incorrect.)
In any event, the grid with all the correct cells clicked on is:
Like in all nonograms, the grid displays a message formed by the correct cells:
‘ZIP’ suggests the existence of a ZIP folder to be found, and ‘↓’ the direction in which to order the numbers. As for the latter: the fact that they are not letters –as is usually the case with nonograms– suggests that the numbers are ASCII code characters written in a numeral system. Indeed – the numbers spell the following in octal:
‘ACOS’ is an acronym of “A Change Of Seasons” – the title track of Dream Theater’s first EP.
As for ‘\r’ and ‘\n’: they are the characters that represent the commands ‘carriage return’ and ‘newline’ for starting a new line when writing on computers. (In other words: the ‘Enter’ key.) Some operating systems –like Linux– employ one of these characters/commands, but others –like Microsoft Windows– use both, in that order.
When adding ‘acoscarriagereturnnewline.zip’ to the nonogram’s URL, a file with the same name begins downloading.
The content of the folder is a password-protected file named ‘soundfile.mp3’; the password is ‘101 103 117 123 015 012’. (The numbers displayed in the nonogram.)
The file is too ‘small’ to contain any music. This suggests that ‘soundfile’ is actually a text with its extension changed to ‘.mp3’. Indeed – when opening the file in a text editor, the following can be read:
The first URL is that of an ‘unlisted’ video posted by Freddy on YouTube:
The video shows keyboardist Jordan Rudess in the studio where the band had been recording their new album since Tuesday, July 17; throughout the video, Jordan plays a four-note melody in the keys of C major and E♭ major.
Jordan’s computer in the background has a software called ‘WordBuilder’ –developed by music company EastWest– open. The software allows the user to assign text to a keyboard – the text’s syllables are then ‘pronounced’ with a choir-like sound; this is why, for instance, different sounds are heard when Jordan presses the same G key four consecutive times at one point in the video. (Jordan had already shared videos of him using the software, on his Facebook page in June, on Friday 22, Saturday 23, and Sunday 24.)
The keyboard’s male choir timbre is reminiscent of that in the beginning of “Brother, can you hear me?” – a song from The Astonishing, Dream Theater’s thirteenth and latest album. What’s more: the vowels are those of the question ‘can you hear me?’:
/a/ /u/ /e/ /e/
can you hear me?
This suggests that ‘can you hear me?’ is a clue to the puzzle.
The second URL in the ‘soundfile’ text is that of a password-protected entry at Vail Renovations’ site.
By inputting CanYouHearMe as password, the puzzle is solved.
On Friday, August 17, Freddy posted an entry on his WordPress page:
One minute later, Freddy created a post with the same name on his Reddit page:
One minute later, Freddy tweeted:
One minute later, Freddy changed his signature on his Dream Theater Forums profile:
Finally, one minute later, Freddy uploaded a picture to his Imgur page:
The picture consists of a crossword superimposed on a photograph of Dream Theater, publicly seen for the first time on Monday, December 11, 2017, as part of a press-release posted by the band on their official website and social media pages. (Announcing their new contract with InsideOutMusic/Sony Music.)
Photograph by and courtesy of Dream Theater management and Mark Maryanovich – markmaryanovich.com
Put together chronologically, the sixteen lines of digits posted by Freddy on his various sites form the following ‘square’:
The square is made up of 16 rows and columns of two-digit numbers; the crossword on the Imgur image consists of 16 rows and columns as well, which suggests that there’s a relation between it and the square. Indeed: when removing all ‘00’ pairs in the square, the resulting numbers are arranged in the same fashion as the cells to be filled in the crossword.
There’s a total of 22 different two-digit numbers in the crossword, which suggests that the words comprise 22 different letters, each of them represented by a unique number. Since there are no clues about the words to be filled in, educated guesses help solve the game.
For instance: the longest word in the crossword is the 13-letter long horizontal one in the first row. Judging by the numbers, the word’s 3rd and 9th letters are the same, as are the 11th and 12th, and the 6th and 13th. The only Dream Theater-related word with that format is ‘MISUNDERSTOOD’ – the title of a song from Six degrees of inner turbulence, the band’s sixth studio album.
By replacing every ‘77’ with an ‘M’, every ‘47’ with an ‘I’ and so on, ten other words are automatically filled in – all of them being part of Dream Theater song titles. By assuming this fact for all words in the crossword, and applying the same reasoning as many times as necessary, the crosswords can be completed:
Fourteen of the fifteen blue cells are filled with the letters that comprise ‘I Walk Beside You’ – the title of a song from Octavarium, Dream Theater’s eighth studio album. The extra blue cell contains an extra ‘B’.
Each of the two blue cells filled with a ‘B’ has a small ‘mark’ found in its upper left corner; as an example, the one in the first row –in the word ‘BE’– has the mark ‘1’.
In total, there are eleven such marked cells:
|Mark||‘7 (small)’||‘8’||‘9’||‘x’||‘x1 – (1)’||‘x2 (small)’|
(The only one there is.)
Naturally, this suggests the existence of a missing 6-related mark. Indeed: ‘6=2’, which can be found to the right of the word ‘SIX’ by overlaying the crosswords image and the original photograph and studying their differences.
The letters in the cells of marks ‘1’ to ‘5’ spell ‘BITLY’ – the name of a popular URL shortening service. This suggests that the other seven marks indicate the characters with which to form a short-link. Indeed: bit.ly/2vUBFCs.
|Mark||Original letter||Indication||Short-link character|
|‘6=2’||Sixth character is ‘2’||‘2’|
|‘7 (small)’||‘V’||Same letter lower-case||‘v’|
|‘x1 – (1)’||‘D’||Previous letter||‘C’|
|‘x2 (small)’||‘S’||Same letter lower-case||‘s’|
The above is the short-link of http://37311319.com/file.zip, the URL of a ZIP folder download.
The content of the folder is a password-protected file named ‘thatsoundfile.mp3’; the password is ‘I Walk Beside You’. (The letters in the blue cells.)
The mp3 features a fragment of “Fatal tragedy” – a song from Metropolis pt. 2: Scenes from a memory, Dream Theater’s fifth studio album; more precisely: the first 23 seconds of an alternate mix –issued officially in 2003 on The making of Scenes from a Memory, the third release by YtseJam Records– with white noise in the background. (The second half of the file consists of silence.)
From seconds #13 to 18 in the audio, interferences can be heard in the white noise. This suggests that a clue is hidden between these timestamps. Indeed – the Majesty symbol, as well as ‘X_THESILENTMAN’, can be discovered by zooming out the spectrogram during that section. (‘THE SILENT MAN’ is the title of a song on Awake, Dream Theater’s third studio album.)
Image by and courtesy of ‘el_deadache’.
What’s more, a URL can be found when opening ‘thatsoundfile’ in a text editor:
The URL is that of a password-protected entry at Vail Renovations’ site.
By inputting X_THESILENTMAN as password, the puzzle is solved.