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Convention Coverage: GenCon 1999 -- Wrapup
Dates:Thursday, August 5th through Sunday, August 8th
Location: Midwest Express Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Event Management: Wizards of the Coast
Required System:Your feet and a willingness to have some fun.
Author:Michael Ahlf      Date: August 15th1999
Page: 1

Preview #6: The Stone

Publisher: Abject Modernity Internet Creations

Welcome to something different. REALLY different. Far from the normal game, The Stone is a first in several regards. It is the only game that has a real-world component -- this nifty pendant with the symbols for your password -- to it. It is the only game currently available with NO installation requirement, only IE4/Netscape 4 or later. It also gives players the option to find their playing partner -- or "stonemate", the person with their same stone combination (six symbols, with 10 choices for each symbol, make a LOT of combinations) as well as talk with other players via message boards to solve puzzles. The price for all this? A one-time fee of $20, which buys the stone.

So how does it work? Players log in at the website (www.thestone.net) and enter their password. Once that is done, the immediate goal is to solve puzzles, selected from a grid. 30 puzzles are online right now, with many to come. The puzzles, however, aren't the ordinary type: they range from simple riddles to massively complex beasts that take days to solve. Once they are solved, they reveal a clue to the big question: What exactly is the mystery of the Stone? That's right -- riddles within riddles abound.

A good example? Finnegan's Wake, a puzzle demoed at Gen Con (it's online now as well). The puzzle's first clue is a line of text: "They are discovering the nature of nature". Upon closer inspection, players see that certain letters are underlined, spelling out "tevatron". At this point, they can use a search engine to find out about the tevatron, or go elsewhere. Having seen that, they discover that the tevatron is a particle accelerator -- used to analyze subatomic particles like Quarks.
Now comes the tricky part: there is a rotating die on the bottom of the puzzle, with the words "top, bottom, up, down, ???, ???" corresponding to the six sides. Armed with this information, the player learns the question: fill in the other two types of Quarks (those nifty subatomic particles) to solve the puzzle.

Sound complex? It is. And that's the point -- the Stone is a true brain-teaser, requiring time and patience to solve as well as good research skills, personal skills if you want to use others as sounding boards or to help with decoding the puzzles to find out the question. The community is large and interacts well, and even the thirty puzzles that are there now ought to keep most people busy for some time to come. One suggestion made is to keep a list on your computer of the puzzles you have solved and the solutions, so that you can look back at the big mystery later with a minimum of trouble.

In Short: For $20, you get an incredibly challenging mental puzzle. Recommended for ANYONE, and it's a great gift for the people who've never shown an interest in your normal video games but sit there doing the sunday paper's crossword puzzle instead.



Back to the main wrapup page.

Gencon '99


Added:  Sunday, August 15, 1999
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf

Page: 10/10

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