Dream Theater Treasure Hunt Walkthrough pt. 3

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 third article, covering the next couple of puzzles. Stay tuned for more!

Puzzle #8

On Friday, August 24, Freddy tweeted:

Freddy then proceeded to reply with either ‘door’ or ‘key’ to each of six messages he had tweeted from the small hours of Thursday 23, to the morning of that day.

‘Door’ puzzle

The first and second tweets to which Freddy replied ‘door’ were:

The tweets are part of the lyrics to “The mirror” and “Strange déjà vu” – songs from Awake and Metropolis pt. 2: Scenes from a memory, Dream Theater’s thirth and fifth studio albums, respectively.

The third tweet to be replied to with ‘door’ was:

The link in the tweet redirects to a video posted by the band on their official Facebook page half an hour before:

The video shows guitarist John Petrucci and bassist John Myung in the studio where the band had been recording their new album since Tuesday, July 17; throughout the video, both Johns give updates on the process up to that point, and mention what they were about to begin working on.

On the table to the left of John Myung, there’s a white paper with a grid on it.

The fourth and last tweet to which Freddy replied with ‘door’ was:

This suggests that the grid in the paper in the video –which is ‘hard to read’– indicates the URL –the ‘location’– where to solve the puzzle.

That day, John Petrucci published a picture on his Instagram page:

Guitar tracking is done!!
@dtimages @dreamtheaterworld @music_man

The picture shows John Petrucci recording a guitar line in the studio.

The computer on the table displays the same grid as the one found in the paper in the band’s Facebook video:

The grid is:

m m i
p n
b T g
u G N

When ‘mirrored’ horizontally, the result is:

i m m
n p
g T b
N G u

If we ‘look in the mirror’, the letters from left to right and top to bottom form:


Of course, this string doesn’t make much sense, which suggests that the string is actually text encrypted through the bifid cipher – ‘bifid’ being an acrostic of ‘backwardation information figuration is desperation’, a phrase which Freddy had tweeted. (See Bifid cipher.)

Indeed – ‘immnpgTbNGu’ decrypts as:


Add a dot here, a slash there, and you get goo.gl/iNmLYk – a short-link created with Google’s soon to be discontinued URL shortening service.

The shortened URL is https://vailrenovations84552723.wordpress.com/1-39, the URL of a password-protected entry at Vail Renovations’ site.

This is the ‘door’.

‘Key’ puzzle

The first tweet to which Freddy replied with ‘key’ was:

The clue for ‘the password puzzle for which you wait in anticipation’ –as Freddy put it in one of his other tweets– was eventually posted the following day as the second tweet replied to with ‘key’:

A few minutes before, Freddy had posted two entries on his WordPress page, titled ‘!’ and ‘?’, and respectively consisting of the following images:

The grid on the left is a ‘square’ arrangement of the first 81 characters in the tweeted string, and the one on the right contains the following 81 characters; the final five characters in the string –‘35647’– appear below the ‘?’ grid.

The first thing to do to solve this puzzle is to ‘divide in style’ the letters from the numbers in the tweeted 167-character string:



Then, arrange them in ‘nine by nine’ fashion; this is, forming ‘squares’ of nine rows with nine characters each:

f C U j F n h l a 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0

i B G d e W D k m 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

x r a D C t q o M 7 0 0 9 0 0 0 6 0

x X r v M N y S P 0 6 0 0 0 0 7 2 0

Z i w l E X Q r y 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0

U b X q H S w k i 0 9 0 0 0 8 0 0 0

k f u c s g g l o 0 1 0 6 0 0 0 0 0

A h t V k J t e V 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5

t v z P q b j p Y 0 0 8 0 0 0 4 0 3

3 5 6 4 7

After that, there’s the need to ‘solve one’: the numbers’ square, which –after removing every ‘0’– is an actual Sudoku, made up of ‘symbols hidden by design’.

7 9 6
6 7 2
9 8
1 6
8 4 3

The most common form of Sudoku is a square grid made up of nine rows and columns, and nine sub-squares of 3 by 3 cells. The goal is to fill the cells so that every row, column and sub-square in the grid contains the digits from 1 to 9. Though French precedents for the game are dated as early as the 19th century, Sudoku as it’s known today first appeared in the 1980s in Japanese newspapers, introduced by publisher Nikoli, Co.; in the Western world, Sudokus became popular in 2004, after Judge Wayne Gould promoted them in British and American media.

For instance, one can start by determining that the only cell available for ‘6’ in the lower-right sub-square is the one above ‘4’, because all the others are part of a row or column which already has ‘6’. By applying the same reasoning, the positions of ‘6’ in the lower-left and upper-left sub-squares can be easily found as well, and so on.

Of course, there’s a variety of techniques and strategies available for the solving of Sudokus. In any event, the solution to Freddy’s Sudoku is:

9 2 3 1 5 6 8 4 7
4 8 6 3 7 2 9 5 1
7 5 1 9 8 4 3 6 2
3 6 5 4 1 9 7 2 8
8 4 7 5 2 3 1 9 6
1 9 2 7 6 8 5 3 4
5 1 4 6 3 7 2 8 9
2 3 9 8 4 1 6 7 5
6 7 8 2 9 5 4 1 3

The idea now is to ‘subtract the extra ponies’ –the last five digits from the string, which didn’t make it into the Sudoku– from the grid:

9 2 1 8
8 2 9 1
1 9 8 2
1 9 2 8
8 2 1 9
1 9 2 8
1 2 8 9
2 9 8 1
8 2 9 1

In the resulting grid, we ‘identify the phonies’: the positions in the letters’ square to be removed.

After doing so, what’s left in the square is:

U F n l a
i G d e k
x r t q o
x X r v y
i w l X y
q H w k i
k u c s g
h k t e V
t v b j Y


On Saturday 25, Freddy tweeted:

After removing ‘those two as well’, and adding ‘akmii’ –the five extra letters below the ‘!’ square– at the end, the remaining letters form:


Freddy’s message also confirms that the text is encrypted through a cipher. Indeed – the Vigenère cipher, hinted in a tweet on Sunday 25. (See Vigenère cipher.)

Using ‘master’ as key (which Freddy’s first tweet had hinted at), the string decrypts as ‘InthePresenceofEnemiesTheHereticandtheDarkMaster’ – the full title of a song from Systematic chaos, Dream Theater’s ninth studio album.

This is the ‘key’.

By opening the ‘door’ https://vailrenovations84552723.wordpress.com/1-39 with the ‘key’ InthePresenceofEnemiesTheHereticandtheDarkMaster, the puzzle is solved.

Puzzle #9

On Friday, August 31, Freddy tweeted a video:

The video, recorded by guitar tech Matthew Schieferstein, shows a couple of Aurora 16s (audio converters developed by the Lynx company), one of them running.

Throughout the video, five pairs of lights on the screen of the converter twinkle with the same pattern, but starting –and therefore finishing– at different moments. (In other words: the display is similar to a canon.) There are two different lengths of time during which lights are ‘on’, as well as two different ones when they are ‘off’.

The following day, Freddy would reply to his video:

As exposed earlier (see Background), ‘Bogie’ is the nick-name and screen-name of Nick Bogovich – longtime Dream Theater fan who gained legendary status within the band’s fan communities after solving a previous challenge involving Morse code in January 2005. This suggests that the lights on the screen represent Morse code.

Indeed – when writing down each short and long ‘on’ status as a dot and hyphen respectively, and each long ‘off’ status as a space, the pattern by the lights is:

— -.-. – .- …- .- .-. .. ..- —

This is Morse code for ‘OCTAVARIUM’ – the name of the title track of Dream Theater’s eighth studio album.

Also, on Friday 31, Freddy posted on his Reddit page:

The following day, Freddy quoted on his own thread in Dream Theater Forums a previous reply (by yours truly 😊):

This suggests that ‘the one that was before’ is the URL to ‘Freddy Jacobi’s Great Quiz #1’ (see Puzzle #5), but that ‘it’s time to repeat’ it replacing the ‘fifth’ letter in the quiz’s name.

Indeed: http://37311319.com/puzzl2.php, the URL of Freddy’s ‘Great Quiz #2’, which –like ‘#1’– consists of 14 fields to be filled in.

Each field from #1 to 13 is preceded by a line in the lyrics to a Dream Theater song; therefore, its correct answer is the title of the song in which those lyrics are found. Field #14 is preceded by an edited version of an early promotional photograph of the band. (Taken by Brad Hitz circa 1992/1993.); the correct answer there is ‘Majesty’.

Answer Album
The ones who help to set the sun When dream and day unite
Under a glass moon Images and words
Scarred Awake
A change of seasons A change of seasons
Anna Lee Falling into infinity
Cover my eyes Cleaning out the closet (fan club exclusive)
Through my words Metropolis pt. 2: Scenes from a memory
Disappear Six degrees of inner turbulence
Endless sacrifice Train of thought
Panic attack Octavarium
Far from heaven A dramatic turn of events
Surrender to reason Dream Theater
Begin again The Astonishing

After submitting the correct answers, a clickable message by Freddy appears below the marks (once again, red, upper-case letters):

The message redirects to a password-protected entry at Vail Renovations’ site, with the URL https://vailrenovations84552723.wordpress.com/1-11.

By inputting Octavarium11 –formed by the Morse code message, and ‘the last two digits’ in the URL– as password, the puzzle is solved.

Puzzle #10

On Sunday, September 9, Freddy tweeted:

Two hours later, Freddy replied to someone who had asked him what the image meant:

This is a reference to former singer Charles Dominici, who designed Dream Theater’s logo –known as ‘the Majesty symbol’, after the original name of the band– based on one of the marks with which Mary Stuart –Queen of Scotland in the 16th century– signed her embroidery work, produced while imprisoned in England in the 1570s and ‘80s.

Mary’s death in 1587 was a consequence of the decryption of letters she exchanged with conspirator Anthony Babington, about a plot against then Queen of England Elizabeth I. Therefore, Freddy’s tweet suggests that his image is text encrypted through the cipher Mary and Anthony used in their correspondence.

Indeed – the symbols in Freddy’s image decrypt as ‘playlist’. (In fact, the image is a screenshot of the encrypted word using the ‘Mary Stuart Code’ tool at dcode.fr.)

That day, Freddy added a string of letters and numbers at the end of his biography on his Twitter account description:

He also changed the color of his Twitter page links and background from purple to green:

Finally, he tweeted another image:

Naturally, all of this suggests the existence of a Dream Theater-related playlist on the streaming service Spotify –whose logo is a green circle– as the next clue.

Indeed: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2dz72sNKJipx6L7UQmqQ1a, the URL of a private playlist created by The Century Media Family – an umbrella of record companies which includes InsideOutMusic. (Dream Theater’s current label.)

The playlist consists of thirteen Dream Theater songs.

The initials of the titles of the songs form the acrostic ‘ENIGMAMACHINE’ – the title of an instrumental piece on Dream Theater’s twelfth and self-titled studio album.

Freddy’s last tweet of the morning was:

Two days later, InsideOut’s official Facebook page –which was linked to in the ‘Listen to Dream Theater now!’ line below the ‘play’ button in the playlist– published:

The second question in the post is related to the story of Metropolis pt. 2: Scenes from a memory, Dream Theater’s first concept album. In the story, the main character goes through past life regression therapy, and witnesses a series of events through the eyes of a young woman named Victoria Page; ‘the year Victoria died’ was 1928.

The short-link in the Facebook post redirects to a password-protected entry at Vail Renovations’ site.

By inputting EnigmaMachine1928 as password, the puzzle is solved.

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