The riddle that won’t be solved until 2113 under the Eiffel Tower

A riddle hidden in the video game Trials Evolution has led to an international search for clues and a staggering response, perplexing not only gamers but cultural scholars as well.

It was a completely new challenge. And fans of the Trials video game series knew that its creators would make the obstacle course as difficult as possible.

They also knew they were on the lookout for “easter eggs” – hidden clues or external references to other games, movies, people, etc.

In the previous game, Trials HD, they had found clues to a magnificent puzzle that took years to solve. What they didn’t expect is that the enigma of Trials Evolution would lead them to explore mystical and scientific themes, to the point of leaving the house in search of material clues to solve the great mystery.

And they also never imagined that with all their efforts, they would end up finding all the pieces needed to solve the puzzle…after none of them are alive anymore.

This episode is legendary among gamers. And, among scholars of culture, it is an invitation to reflection. What might seem like irrelevant entertainment brought to mind some of the deepest questions about the human condition, they said.

But let’s start by telling what happened to the epic puzzle of the Trials Evolution game.

Available for Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows, ‘Trials Evolution’ game was developed by RedLynx company and published by Microsoft Studios

Image: Ubisoft

the tour

For guidance, we turned to superfan Brad Hill, who, under the pseudonym Professor FatShady, posted a scavenger hunt digest on the Kotaku website when the gaming community came to the conclusion that it was possible for now.

The details are complex, but overall the story was as follows:

Shortly after the release of Trials Evolution on the Xbox Live Arcade game download service in April 2012, players began discovering a series of wooden signs that, when joined together, formed a coded message.

With a lot of effort and a little luck, they deciphered the message: it was instructions for performing a secret trick in the game that unlocked a song. The song began by saying:

“Wake up and listen / The secrets are hidden / In the brightest tones / Your ears may miss them / Maybe you need to turn them into visible form…”

And so they did. A spectral analysis viewing program revealed a Morse code message. And that message led to a website that contained encrypted images, updated daily since 2013.

Players noticed that the images referenced scientists. And with their names they formed the 26 letters of the alphabet. He was another riddle.

Your answer? “Big Freeze Without a Complete End”, a theory about the end of the Universe.

This fix led to another website that provided coordinates and clues to find four objects scattered across the real world! One of them was in San Francisco, USA; the second, in Sydney, Australia; and the third in Bath, UK.

They were small hidden safes, where keys and metal tags were found with the beginning of a sentence: “It seemed like an eternity.”

Players discovered that the phrase was from the book Blame it on the stars, by the American writer John Green. The full quote was:

“It felt like an eternity, as if we had lived a short but infinite eternity. Some infinities are longer than others.”

The fourth safe was found in the capital of Finland, Helsinki, which is the hometown of the RedLynx company, creators of Trials.

One of the fans who ventured to look for him went to the address indicated on the site. There he was handed some 300-year-old seemingly real documents relating to the sale of land from a French estate in the 18th century.

There was also a map to a graveyard where the fifth and final crypt was. And it contained another key and various items, including an antique pocket watch from 1916.

The images form the alphabet with the names of the scientists: Ampère, Bohr, Curie (il

The images form the alphabet with the names of the scientists: Ampère, Bohr, Curie (the “D” is still a mystery), Einstein, Fermat, Galileo, Huygens, Ioffe, Joliot-Curie, Kendall, Lagrange…

Image: playback

On the back of the metal plate was an engraved message:

“Noon of the year 2113. First Saturday in August. One of the five keys will open the box under the Eiffel Tower.”

And so the riddle was solved. After so long, fans had reached the last leg of their global treasure hunt.

The long sought resolution was in the future. But most of the wishes of the creator of the riddle had already been fulfilled.

the mind

Everything was meticulously planned by Antti Ilvessuo, who together with his brother Atte was one of the founders of RedLynx in 2000.

As the gaming community explored scientific theories, spectral analysis, end-of-the-universe ideas, cryptography, neolithic tablets, and shared their knowledge to solve the puzzle collaboratively, Ilvessuo watched with satisfaction that everything was developing as planned.

“The riddle is really important to me because it brought people together who wanted to solve it,” she explained in an interview with British writer Matthew Syed for BBC Radio 4’s Sideways programme.

“I believe that the effort to make something lasting only works if people work together for the common good, without fearing the worst or creating conflicts…” says Ilvessuo. “You just have to be curious and take advantage of the knowledge.”

He smiles often, not clarifying the unfamiliar details of the riddle. But he suggests that, even 10 years later, he’s still moved by what happened.

“For me it was very significant. I’ve always said that you have to know how to trust people, that people are intelligent and curious”, continues Ilvessuo. “And the right way to solve the problems in the world we live in is with people working together.”

Old Key - Getty Images - Getty Images
Image: Getty Images

“In this conundrum, I had faith that people would trust it and it happened. And it keeps happening,” she says.

This vote of confidence has paid off. While it took so many decades to open the latest vault, for superfan Professor FatShady and many of the attendees, the conclusion is far from disappointing.

“You go after something like this because you want to see closure, you want to get to the end, you want to achieve the goal,” the superfan told Sideways. “What’s interesting is that the conclusion was not a conclusion, but the beginning of another 100-year journey to get to something else. This is the best way to end it: by giving us something in the future.”

An offering to what is to come… an inheritance, which forces us to project ourselves towards a tomorrow in which we will not be there.

Or, as social psychologist Philip Cozzolino, of the University of Essex, UK, points out, thinking about something we normally avoid: death.

what’s in between

The act of reflecting on death is now seen as a powerful psychological tool, very different from simply planning for the future.

Cozzolino has analyzed the psychological effects on people having near-death experiences or receiving a terminal diagnosis, but indicates that we don’t need to go through trauma to gain the clarity that comes from thinking about death. It is necessary to confront some inviolable truths.

“There’s a song by the band Pearl Jam (i’m mineor “I am mine”, in free translation), which says: ‘I know I was born and I know I will die, what is in between is mine'”, says the psychologist. “Only when you really assume both extremes – birth and death – what’s in between is yours.”

Cozzolino notes that his research confirms what he says. Many who incorporate the inevitability of death into their outlook on life experience powerful positive changes.

“In many cases, they tell the researchers, ‘I feel like I’ve finally taken control. Why am I doing this particular job? It doesn’t make me happy. Why do we have this relationship?'” he says.

Open wooden safe - Getty Images - Getty Images
Image: Getty Images

The naked truth is that we have only a short period of existence between two eternities of oblivion. And it’s not just psychologists who argue that appreciating this reality can help us live more meaningful lives.

Great existentialist philosophers of the 20th century, such as Heidegger and Kirkegaard, have already defended this point. And Jean-Paul Sartre, in his book Being and Nothingargues that appreciating mortality can add excitement to life.

Every hour becomes precious

Antti Ilvessuo at E3 Gaming Conference 2016 when he was Creative Director of Ubisoft RedLynx - Getty Images - Getty Images

Antti Ilvessuo at E3 Games Conference 2016 while he was Creative Director of Ubisoft RedLynx

Image: Getty Images

Antti Ilvessuo has chosen not to be present when his riddle is solved.

“I’m not trying to leave a legacy,” she says. “The legacy is of the people who worked together to solve the puzzle and of those who will pass on the keys to future generations. In other words, it’s a common legacy, a legacy of many people’s work.”

What he guarantees is that he has left concrete agreements so that, on that summer Saturday in Paris, France, whoever attends the meeting under the Eiffel Tower at noon will find the last piece of the puzzle.

And if you want to know what the fifth key mentioned on the license plate is, it’s a digital key unlocked by the game’s pattern, Evidence merger.

Plant growing between concrete - Getty Images - Getty Images
Image: Getty Images

Listen to the episode “The riddle“, from the program BBC Radio 4 sidewayswhich gave rise to this report (in English), on the website Sounds of the BBC.

*This text was originally published on BBC News Brazil

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