Dream Theater Treasure Hunt Walkthrough pt. 6

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 linkfor 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 bonus section – covering some of the methods used in the games, and a brief history of Dream Theater fan sites and fan communities.

Read the previous chapters:

https://dreamtheater.club/blog/2018/11/03/dream-theater-treasure-hunt-walkthrough-pt-1/

https://dreamtheater.club/blog/2018/11/04/dream-theater-treasure-hunt-walkthrough-pt-2/

https://dreamtheater.club/blog/2018/12/02/dream-theater-treasure-hunt-walkthrough-pt-3/

https://dreamtheater.club/blog/2018/12/05/dream-theater-treasure-hunt-walkthrough-pt-4/

https://dreamtheater.club/blog/2018/12/24/dream-theater-treasure-hunt-walkthrough-pt-5/

 

Ciphers

ROT13 cipher

The ROT13 cipher emerged online in Usenet newsgroups in the 1980s, and is a derivative of the Caesar cipher, named after the famous Roman emperor Julius Caesar; Caesar would encrypt military-related messages by shifting each letter three positions to its right in the Latin alphabet.

Analogously, encrypting text through the ROT13 cipher consists of substituting each letter with the one that’s 13 positions ‘later’ in the alphabet; if the letter to be shifted is after ‘M’, then the alphabet is considered to start again after ‘Z’, as if it were a circle. (Hence the name of the cipher – ‘ROT’ standing for ‘rotate’.)

Since the basic Latin alphabet has 26 letters, decrypting and encrypting through this cipher are identical processes:

When each letter in ‘uggcf’ is shifted 13 positions either clockwise or counterclockwise, the result is ‘https’:

By applying the same shifts to the rest of the letters in the ‘link’ in the memo from Puzzle #1, the correct short-link is obtained.

Gronsfeld cipher

The Gronsfeld cipher is named after its creator Johann Franz Graf von Gronsfeld-Bronckhorst, a 17th century German field marshal. Encrypting text through this cipher is similar to doing so with ROT13. A numeric key is chosen. Its first digit indicates the positions that the first letter in the text is to be shifted; the second digit indicates the shifts corresponding to the second letter, and so on. If the text has more letters than the key’s digits, then the key is repeated as many times as necessary, until all letters have been shifted.

Obviously, decrypting requires knowing the key. Afterwards, all there is to do is repeat the key until there are as many digits as letters in the encrypted text, and shift each letter its corresponding number of positions to the left.

So, with the key ‘84552723’, ‘OpfxuWtl’ becomes ‘GlassPri’:

As for ‘ass’ – the key is extended by adding ‘845’ (its first three digits):

Hence ‘GlassPrison’, the decrypted password for Puzzle #2.

Bifid cipher

The bifid cipher is one of a few ciphers invented at the end of the 19th century by French cryptography aficionado Félix-Marie Delastelle. Delastelle described the cipher in a 90-page book titled New cryptography, assuring the absolute inviolability of correspondence ciphers and first published in 1893; a second book –Elementary treatise on cryptography– appeared posthumously in 1902, only months after the cryptographer’s death. Currently, both publications are in the public domain, and –since May 2014– digitized versions can be consulted and downloaded freely at the Internet Archive, courtesy of the Sainte-Geneviève Library.

In short, encrypting text through the bifid cipher consists of:

  1. Distributing the 26 letters in the basic Latin alphabet so that they form a 5 by 5 square, with two letters occupying the same position.

Example: b n l z f

w i s e o

c y k x u

p q r d t/m

v h g a j

  1. Under each letter in the text to be encrypted, writing the numbers of row and column of the position of the letter in the square.

Example: Camila

354215 (row)

145234 (column)

  1. Choosing a ‘period’ –a natural number, at most as many digits as letters in the text– and separating both lines of numbers accordingly.

Example (Period 3): 354 215 (row)

145 234 (column)

  1. To the right of each separated sequence in the upper line, writing the corresponding sequence from the lower line.

Example (Period 3): 354145 215234

  1. Dividing the sequences into pairs, and –for each pair– writing the second digit under the first.

Example (Period 3): 344 253 (row)

515 124 (column)

  1. Under each vertical pair, write the letter with those coordinates in the square.

Example (Period 3): Upt whz

  1. Joining the sequences of letters obtained.

Example (Period 3): Uptwhz

Thus, the encrypted result depends not only on the chosen square disposition of the alphabet, but also on the period.

Example (Period 4): 3542 15 (row)

1452 34 (column)

35421452 1534

3415 13 (row)

5242 54 (column)

Uqzh fx

Uqzhfx

Example (Period 6): 354215 (row)

145234 (column)

354215145234

341153 (row)

525424 (column)

Uqfzhx

Decrypting consists of the reverse process.

Since Freddy’s tweets in Puzzle #8 don’t give any clue about how the alphabet is arranged or the period used, one path to take for decrypting ‘immnpgTbNGu’ is to work with hypothesis or assumptions; for instance, the ‘simplest’ scenario:

  • That the missing letter is ‘a’.
  • That the other 25 letters are arranged alphabetically.
  • That the period is 11. (i.e., the number of letters in the encrypted text.)

b c d e f

g h i j k

l m n o p

q r s t u

v w x y z

immnpgTbNGu

23333241324 (row)

32235141315 (column)

2332323335214411332145

23323233352 (row)

14411332145 (column)

googliNmLYk

Under these assumptions, the correct short-link is decrypted.

Vigenère cipher

The Vigenère cipher was designed by 16th century Italian cryptologist Giovan Battista Bellaso, and later misattributed to a contemporary, French diplomat Blaise de Vigenère. In his 40s, Vigenère spent time in Rome, and came in contact with cryptologists and books on the subject – one of which probably was The cipher of Mr. Giovan Battista Bellaso, published in 1553; two decades later, Vigenère created a cipher of his own, based on Bellaso’s, but it’s the latter that is known as ‘Vigenère cipher’.

Encrypting text through this cipher makes use of a ‘square’ consisting of the basic, 26-letter Latin alphabet successively shifted one position.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

B B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A

C C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A B

D D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A B C

E E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A B C D

F F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A B C D E

G G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A B C D E F

H H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A B C D E F G

I I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A B C D E F G H

J J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A B C D E F G H I

K K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A B C D E F G H I J

L L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A B C D E F G H I J K

M M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A B C D E F G H I J K L

N N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A B C D E F G H I J K L M

O O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A B C D E F G H I J K L M N

P P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O

Q Q R S T U V W X Y Z A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P

R R S T U V W X Y Z A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q

S S T U V W X Y Z A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R

T T U V W X Y Z A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S

U U V W X Y Z A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T

V V W X Y Z A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U

W W X Y Z A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V

X X Y Z A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W

Y Y Z A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X

Z Z A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y

An alphabetic keyword is chosen, with at most as many letters as the text to be encrypted.

Example: Illumination Theory (text)

Florencia (keyword)

If the text is longer than the keyword, the latter is repeated until the number of letters coincide.

Example: Illumination Theory (text)

FlorenciaFlo Rencia (keyword)

The text is then encrypted by writing down the letters with those ‘coordinates.’ (With either line indicating ‘row’ or ‘column’, since the square is a symmetric matrix.)

Example: Nwzlqvpitnzb Klrqzy (encryption)

In short, each letter in the text is shifted to the ‘right’ as many positions as the corresponding letter in the keyword is shifted from ‘A’. Thus, encrypting through the Vigenère cipher is similar to doing so with the Gronsfeld cipher. (As a matter of fact, the latter is a variant of the former.)

In order to decrypt the text in Puzzle #8, the ‘master’ key –which, according to Freddy, ‘is needed for the final song’– is repeated eight times, so that all letters in the encrypted string are covered:

mastermastermastermastermastermastermastermaster

UnlaiGdekxrtqoxXrvyiwlXyqHwkikucsghkteVtvbYakmii

Since each vertical pair now consists of a coordinate –either row or column– and a position in the square, the next step is writing down the other coordinate of that position; so, for instance, the first one is ‘I’, because that’s the row in which the ‘U’ in column ‘M’ is located.

Thus, the text decrypts as the title of a Dream Theater song:

InthePresenceofEnemiesTheHereticandtheDarkMaster

Puzzle #4

Freddy’s 99-character-long encrypted text is:

By inputting ‘A’, all letters in the encrypted string are shifted one position to the right in the basic, 26-letter Latin alphabet:

Furthermore, ‘Z’ becomes ‘[’, and the grave accent mark becomes ‘a’. In ASCII code, ‘Z’ and the accent are respectively followed by ‘[’ and ‘a’; this suggests that the cipher’s alphabet is part of the ASCII code.

Indeed, there’s a total of 64 different characters in Freddy’s cipher: ASCII code printable characters #64 to 126, plus #32. (The ‘space’.) In other words, the cipher’s alphabet is:

@ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ[\]^_´abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz{|}~

 

By inputting ‘B’ as a second letter in the password, all characters in the string are shifted two positions in the above alphabet, except for characters #1, 9, 17, etc. until 97, which remain the same:

This suggests that each letter in the password shifts and fixes a number of characters in the string. Indeed – ‘B’ shifts and fixes characters #2, 10, 18, etc. until 98, and a third letter ‘C’ does the same thing to characters #3, 11, 19, etc. until 99.

Thus, it’s determined that the password consists of exactly eight letters, each of them ‘in charge’ of shifting and fixing a dozen characters in the string.

 

On Sunday, July 29, Freddy tweeted:

This suggests that the key to solving this puzzle is each character’s class – an HTML attribute, found in the source code of web pages.

All characters in the encrypted text have class ‘2’, but that doesn’t occur to the resulting string when ‘O’ is input as password:

<span class=”1″>H</span>

<span class=”2″>d</span>

<span class=”2″>H</span>

<span class=”2″>G</span>

<span class=”2″>L</span>

<span class=”2″>[</span>

<span class=”2″>x</span>

<span class=”2″>z</span>

Characters #1, 9, 17, etc. until 97 in the resulting string have class ‘1’, which suggests that the password starts with ‘O’, and the decrypted text with ‘H’.

In turn, the latter determines that the second letter in the decrypted text must be a vowel or ‘y’ for the text to start with a word in English. (Ignoring acronyms, abbreviations, and names.) Since the next vowel after ‘d’ –the second letter in the string– is ‘e’, the natural thing to do when approaching the possibilities is start by inputting ‘A’. (Which shifts ‘d’ one position into ‘e’.)

The result of inputting ‘OA’ as password is:

<span class=”1″>H</span>

<span class=”1″>e</span>

<span class=”2″>I</span>

<span class=”2″>H</span>

<span class=”2″>M</span>

<span class=”2″>\</span>

<span class=”2″>y</span>

<span class=”2″>{</span>

Another thirteen characters –#2, 10, 18, etc. until 98– have class ‘1’ as well, which suggests that the password starts with ‘OA’, and the decrypted text with ‘He’.

According to the website of Collins Dictionary, there are only three eight-letter words in the English language starting with ‘Oa’. (‘oafishly’, ‘oarlocks’, and ‘oatcakes.’) When input as password, none of them produce any extra class-1 characters, which suggests that the password is not a word, but an acronym or acrostic.

The only Dream Theater-related candidate is ‘OAWTGSAL’, the acrostic formed by the first letters of the names of the movements in “Six degrees of inner turbulence” – the title track of the band’s sixth studio album:

  1. OVERTURE
  2. ABOUT TO CRASH
  3. WAR INSIDE MY HEAD
  4. THE TEST THAT STUMPED THEM ALL
  5. GOODNIGHT KISS
  6. SOLITARY SHELL
  7. ABOUT TO CRASH (REPRISE)
  8. LOSING TIME / GRAND FINALE

Indeed – when inputting ‘OAWTGSAL’ as password, the text decrypts as part of the lyrics to ‘Solitary shell’ (the song’s sixth movement):

<span class=”1″>H</span>

<span class=”1″>e</span>

<span class=”1″>’</span>

<span class=”1″>s</span>

<span class=”1″> </span>

<span class=”1″>a</span>

<span class=”1″> </span>

<span class=”1″>M</span>

The first eight –and, therefore, all 99– characters in the string have class ‘1’, which proves that the text is correctly decrypted.

Easter Eggs

Puzzle #1

– Vail Renovations’ ‘area of service’ is a reference to a scene in “22 Short Films About Springfield”, the 21st episode in the 7th season of The Simpsons.

– Under the ‘submit’ button in the ‘contact’ form at Vail Renovations’ site, there’s a hidden message by Freddy:

– Freddy’s signature at the end of his When Dream And Day Unite entry was a common way of finishing formal letters in the 18th and 19th centuries, and can be also seen as a reference to the lyrics in the song “Your obedient servant” from the 2015 musical Hamilton, by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Under Freddy’s signature at the end of his When Dream And Day Unite entry, there’s a hidden message:

– Freddy’s profile picture in Dream Theater Forums is that of a sock puppet, and he describes himself as a ‘Pupp Socket’; this is all a play-on-words around the term ‘sockpuppet’, which is used to reference a false identity used online.

Puzzle #2

– The title of Freddy’s entry is an ideogram of Images and Words, the title of Dream Theater’s second studio album.

– The first line in the last paragraph of Freddy’s Images and Words entry can be seen as a reference to “The test that stumped them all” – one of the movements of “Six degrees of inner turbulence”, the title track of Dream Theater’s sixth studio album.

Puzzle #3

– The background music when calling (518) 227-1547 is a fragment of “Finally free”.

– The expression ‘trial of tears’ found in Freddy’s Awake entry is the title of a song from Falling into infinity, Dream Theater’s fourth studio album.

Puzzle #6

Puzzle #7

– Freddy’s lines in his Metropolis pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory entry are allusions to Dream Theater’s album of the same name, and Falling into infinity – the band’s fourth.

Puzzle #8

– The ‘phonies’ in the Sudoku grid are the digits of 1928, a year relevant to the story and concept behind Metropolis pt. 2: Scenes from a memory.

– The two extra letters to remove from the letters’ square are Freddy’s initials.

Puzzle #9

– The ‘WOPR’ label on the converter in the video is a reference to the 1983 science-fiction movie WarGames, directed by John Badham and starring Matthew Broderick.

– The line ‘Another won’ in Freddy’s Train of thought entry is the title of a song from Dream Theater’s first demo, re-issued officially on CD in 2003 as part of The Majesty demos 1985-1986 – the first release by YtseJam Records. (A live version of “Another won” can be found in the Score live DVD and CDs.)

Puzzle #10

– The name of The Century Media Family’s playlist on Spotify is ‘knockofF Jukebox’; the only two upper-case letters in the name are Freddy’s initials.

– The first line on Freddy’s Octavarium entry is part of the lyrics to “Octavarium” – the title track of Dream Theater’s eighth studio album.

Puzzle #11

– The number in the password to the puzzle is possibly a reference to what is popularly known as ‘the number of the beast’. (A term coming from chapter 13 of the Book of Revelation in the New Testament of the Christian Bible.)

Puzzle #12

– When editing the image tweeted by Freddy, it’s possible to discover that four hidden, extra marks on the image where eventually removed or replaced:

Puzzle #13

Puzzle #14

– The notes played by Jordan spell ‘CABBAGE BAGGAGE’ in the English notation system.

Puzzle #15

– The last line on Freddy’s first tweet is the last line in the lyrics to “Octavarium” – the title track of Dream Theater’s eighth studio album.

– Each step of the puzzle is similar in some fashion to previous puzzles:

  • The first, to puzzles #2, 3 and 7. (Hidden content in an image.)
  • The second, to puzzle #9. (Morse code.)
  • The third, to puzzle #6 and 8. (Game involving grids and logic.)
  • The fourth, to puzzle #8. (Removal of letters and numbers from grids.)
  • The fifth, to puzzle #2. (Gronsfeld cipher.)
  • The sixth, to puzzle #1. (ROT13 cipher.)

This can be considered a nod to the many songs and albums from Dream Theater’s discography with recurring musical and lyrical themes.

– At the end of the writing on the notepad in the puzzle piece, there’s ‘’:

This is possibly a reference to a scene in “The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace”, the second episode if the 10th season of The Simpsons.

Puzzle #16

– Several phrases in Freddy’s tweets are allusions, lyrics or titles of Dream Theater songs:

  • ‘A silent man’: “The silent man”.
  • ‘Life’s true intent needs patience’: “Breaking all illusions”.
  • ‘Watch the sparrow fall’: “Pull me under”.
  • ‘Traveling through both space and time…’: “Constant motion”.
  • ‘In a foreign town, far away from home’: “The Count of Tuscany”.
  • ‘I walk beside you’: the title of a song from Octavarium.
  • ‘In this nightmare to remember’: “A nightmare to remember”.
  • ‘Julian’, ‘him gambling all his money’, and ‘to get Home’: “Home”.
  • ‘Train (of thought)’: the title of the band’s seventh studio album.

– This video (thanks, Captain!):

Summary

Treasure

  • Dream Theater’s fourteenth studio album’s title (Distance over time), artwork, teaser, and press release.
  • Poster and dates of the North American leg of the band’s forthcoming tour (The Distance over time tour – Celebrating 20 years of Scenes from a memory), to take place throughout Spring 2019.
  • One-minute video of the band playing live. (Song 10 writing session.)

Finders of the treasure

#dt Discord channel members ‘ktz0r’, ‘el_deadache’, ‘Pax’, ‘Burgersinthesky’ and ‘Xiad Mabsax’.

Date the treasure was found

Friday, November 2, 2018.

Puzzles

# First clue Last clue Title (as per source code)
1 Friday, June 29 Wednesday, July 11 When Dream And Day Unite
2 Wednesday, July 11 Friday, July 13 Images and Words
3 Monday, July 16 Thursday, July 19 Awake
4 Thursday, July 26 Sunday, July 29 A Change of Seasons
5 Friday, August 3 Falling Into Infinity
6 Friday, August 10 Monday, August 13 Falling Into Infinity
7 Friday, August 17 Metropolis pt. 2: Scenes From a Memory
8 Thursday, August 23 Saturday, August 25 Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence
9 Friday, August 31 Saturday, September 1 Train of Thought
10 Sunday, September 9 Tuesday, September 11 Octavarium
11 Friday, September 14 Systematic Chaos
12 Saturday, September 22 Black Clouds & Silver Linings
13 Friday, September 28 A Dramatic Turn of Events
14 Saturday, October 6 Dream Theater
15 Thursday, October 11 Saturday, October 13 The Astonishing
16 Saturday, October 20 Friday, November 2 Distance over time

Concepts / tasks involved

Description Puzzle/s #
Dream Theater-related information 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14
Contacting e-mail 1
Telephone 1, 3
Words Anagrams 2, 5, 7
Acrostics 8, 10
Mirrors 8
Games Quizzes 5, 9
Crosswords (without and with clues) 7, 12
Sudoku 8
Nonogram 6
Hidato 15
Studying files’ content Images 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 15
Audio 7
Video 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 14
Opening files in text editors Images 3
Audios 6, 7
Self-extracting archives 3
Studying pages’ source code 4, 5, 15
Steganography 15
Ordering colors by their hexadecimal codes 12, 13
Solving Kinematics problems 16
Codes/languages ASCII Binary 3
Octal 6
Hexadecimal 13
Morse 9, 15
Webdings 11
Brainfuck 12
Base64 12
Klingon 14
QR 15
Cryptography/ciphers ROT13 1, 15
Gronsfeld 2, 11, 15
RC4 3
Iterated block 4
Bifid 8
Vigènere 8
Mary, Queen of Scotland 10

Bonus tracks

A short history of Dream Theater online fan communities

Internet fan communities actually pre-date Dream Theater’s online presence. The earliest, started in 1993 by Ken Bibb and later managed by Ryan Skadberg, was a mailing list called Ytsejam (after one of the band’s songs). By subscribing, people from all around the world were able to communicate with one another and exchange new—and old—information about the band. Steve Chew, a regular on Ytsejam, created an archive in April 2004 containing most of the mailing list digests since October 1993 (amounting to over 6000.) Other early communities included a Usenet newsgroup (established in 1994), an Internet Relay Chat server (1995), and Metropolis—an additional, heavily moderated mailing list by Bibb and Skadberg (1996).

Ytsejam turned out to be particularly noteworthy for at least two reasons:

  • The Dream Theater FAQ:

Late in 1993, Michael Bahr and Jason Hough compiled—with the help of nine others—all the available data about Dream Theater in a document they called “Dream Theater FAQ”. On December 12, Bahr made the first version of the document public to the mailing list, and the team’s work quickly gained popularity: it was user-friendly, it was an accurate source of information, and it summarised the key news about the band’s forthcoming albums (starting with Awake) at a time when there was no Dream Theater official website or social media. Throughout the decades, the content of the FAQ expanded, and others took over the compiling duties. Credits and a comprehensive history can be found at faq.dtnorway.com, where the document resided from 2007 to 2016.

  • The “A change of seasons” petitions:

In 1993, Dream Theater played “A change of seasons” in its entirety on two occasions: on March 4 in the US, and on April 12 in Germany. Recordings of the performances made their way to bootlegs and, soon, the song became a fan favourite. When “A change of seasons” wasn’t included in the Awake album, members of the mailing list looked for ways to express their interest in the song. In February 1995, Alex Reinelt encouraged others on Ytsejam to write and send him petitions directed to Elektra—Dream Theater’s record label at the time—asking for the band to be allowed to record/release the song; Reinelt compiled the petitions in a folder which he sent to Jim Pitulski (then manager of Dream Theater). Pitulski replied at the end of March thanking everyone at Ytsejam, letting Reinelt know that the petitions had been photocopied and distributed to executives at Elektra, and confirming that—as a consequence—the band had been given the green light to record the song as part of a forthcoming EP.

As the 1990s progressed, several fan clubs around the world were established—some of them, such as Your Majesty, in France, are still going strong. Until October 1999, the English Images and words, ran by Neil Elliott, was the “Dream Theater International Fan Club”. After Elliott stepped down, it was announced that the Dutch Theater of dreams had been offered the honour, which they gladly accepted.

From 1996 to 2004, the DTIFC offered fans many special experiences. Of particular interest were the annual CDs that band and fan clubs produced together as souvenirs for their members. Initially conceived as Christmas gifts (an idea possibly modelled after the seven Christmas flexi-discs The Beatles created for fans in the 1960s), the CDs contained spoken messages, exclusive live recordings, studio out-takes, teasers of new songs, and details about the officially recognized regional fan clubs. Happy Holidays, a digital compilation of 13 live performances released for free on the band’s website on Christmas 2013, is a close relative of those CDs.

Cover artwork for two DTIFC annual CDs, by Steffen Barabasch and Christos Serbezis, respectively. 1999’s Cleaning out the closet compiles B-sides and songs left out from the band’s ‘90s studio albums. 2001’s Four degrees of radio edits presents 5-minute radio edits of songs from the band’s then not-yet-released sixth studio album.

After Theater of dreams shut down in October 2004, the remaining European regional fan clubs (from France, Germany, Italy, Norway and the UK) joined forces to create four more annual exclusive releases—two DVDs and two CDs. Kim Arthur Sakariassen, from DTNorway, supervised the production of the first DVD, titled A walk beside the band.

Sakariassen—an IT consultant known as noxon amongst Dream Theater followers—has been an integral member of the band’s online community since 2000, when he started working as a moderator on the band’s official chat-room. Nowadays, Sakariassen coordinates The Dream Theater World—the band’s current official world-wide fan club, founded by him in January 2016.

Banner at Dream Theater World’s website, by and courtesy of Kim Arthur ‘noxon’ Sakariassen and Darko Böhringer.

According to Sakariassen, DT World was established “to fill the gap left behind by the former regional fan clubs”. The community gathers over 20 regional chapters, including an impressive 7 from South America (a continent Dream Theater has toured regularly since December 2005.) The latest, up-to-date version of the Dream Theater FAQ is hosted in DT World’s website.

There is a wide range of reasons why, throughout the last decade, many regional fan clubs have reduced their activities or ceased to exist altogether. A clear explanation can be found on the Dream Theater Forums in a post created by noxon, where he also outlined the basic premises of what would become DT World two years later.

As for the Dream Theater Forums, the community is a product of the November 2006 shut-down of the message board on Dream Theater’s website. Soon, a new forum emerged, created by and for fans, only to be split into two factions six months later. One of them—focused on keeping discussions respectful and related to the band—moved to a new URL (dreamtheaterforums.org) in May 2007 and, since then, has been administered by bosk1—a fan who was given the opportunity by those close to the band to take the lead in running what had become the biggest Dream Theater online fan community. (As of November 2018, the first two sites listed in the “Links” section on the band’s official website are DT World and DTF.)

What the banner at Dream Theater Forums looked like on April Fool’s 2016.

A Dream Theater subreddit—currently with over 7000 subscribers—was created in July 2009; a Discord server was established in July 2017. There’s no doubt that, as new social networks continue to emerge and become popular in the 21st century, fans find and will keep looking for new venues to interact.

A short history of Dream Theater online

In late 1995, an 18-year-old Chinese-American student at Columbia University called Jeff Chew created a Dream Theater fan page; he named it Lifting Shadows, and shared the news as well as the site’s URL (columbia.edu/~jc309/dreamt.html) in a message dated November 19 on the Ytsejam mailing list.

Six months later, Red Sector A, Inc., a North American web-design company named after a song from Rush’s Grace under pressure album, received authorization from Dream Theater’s management to create the band’s first official website. They approached Chew and joined forces. In June 1996, Lifting Shadows: The Official Dream Theater Home Page and Fan Network was online with a new URL: rsabbs.com/dt.

The menu at rsabbs.com/dt circa June 1997, by Red Sector A, Inc.

The “Jump Station” section of the website included links to over 30 fan pages. One of them, with the URL prognosis.com/dream, was called Under A Cyber Moon, and had been created in 1996 by Rudy van IJzendoorn, who run it for a year. Van IJzendoorn later handed it over to Mark Bredius, a 26-year-old Dutch software engineer whose incarnation of the fan page started in September 1997.

Besides being very organized and user-friendly, Under A Cyber Moon stood out for including comprehensive, chronological archives of news about Dream Theater. Van IJzendoorn’s and Bredius’ fan page quickly became very popular amongst fans. Eventually, Bredius contacted the band, who adopted Under A Cyber Moon as their new official website in late June 1998; the URL changed, and dreamtheater.net was born. (The “Under A Cyber Moon” name would be dropped in April 2001.)

Since then, dreamtheater.net has received a major facelift coinciding with the release date of each of the band’s albums and showcasing their artwork.

The home page at dreamtheater.net circa March 2000, by and courtesy of Mark Bredius.

As social media became a world-wide phenomenon, Dream Theater’s online presence also expanded. In 2007 alone, content was posted for the first time on the band’s MySpace, YouTube and Facebook pages, expertly managed for 8 years by Rai Beardsley (then long-time moderator of Mike Portnoy’s website, known to Dream Theater’s fan base as Weymolith). In August 2010, Dream Theater’s Twitter account was created. In 2011, the band joined Instagram.

A few days before A dramatic turn of events was released in September 2011, Roadrunner Records—the band’s label at the time—took over design duties on the official website, with Bredius retaining his webmaster role for 6 years. The current version of dreamtheater.net is the work of Crystal Spotlight, an English web design company approached by Dream Theater in mid-2017.

One of many trivia at dreamtheater.net, by and courtesy of Dream Theater management and Crystal Spotlight.

Distance over time timeline

June 11: Writing begins.

July 10: Writing ends.

July 17: Drum recording begins.

July 23: Drum recording ends.

July 24: Guitar recording begins.

August 23: Vocal recording begins; bass recording ends.

August 24: Guitar recording ends.

August 26: Keyboard recording begins.

September 5: Keyboard recording ends.

September 13: Guitar overdubbing ends.

September 20: Vocal recording ends.

2019 anniversaries

  • January 18:

20 years since Jordan joined the band.

  • March 6:

30 years since the release of When dream and day unite.

  • June 23:

10 years since the release of Black clouds and silver linings.

  • July 11:

10 years since the band debuted at #6 on the Billboard 200 chart.

  • October 4:

25 years since the release of Awake.

  • October 26:

20 years since the release of Metropolis pt. 2: Scenes from a memory.

Sources and resources

On Dream Theater

(Archived versions since December 1998.)

On cryptography and steganography

Information and online decrypting tools:

On codes

Information and online decoding/converting tools:

On Klingon

On HTML/hexadecimal color code

Information and online tools:

On games

On the production of this document

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