Project E(ngagement)

2 years ago yesterday I got down on one knee and asked my wife to marry me. Of course, I wanted it to be special, so I made her an app and designed a full day urban game experience for this occasion (as you would). It was probably the most fun project I made!

Stage 1 - Home

I woke her up in the morning with a parcel from a suspicious looking individual. It had her name on it, and no return address. Inside was a letter, a small chest, and a puzzle box.

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You have been chosen. The chest you just received contains a treasure that will change your life. It is an item of great power, and we cannot allow it to fall into the wrong hands, so we have hidden the key in a safe place. You will need to prove your worth and solve a series of puzzles to find it. Hurry, you have until 18:00


The Agency

The puzzle box contained two pieces of paper. One contained a string of numbers, the other one a QR code. She scanned the QR code which opened a download link to a mobile app called GerwazyAI. She installed what turned out to be a state of the art AI assistant who would guide and support her on her mission. To get things started he asked her to enter the code she just received. 

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Then, he presented her with a puzzle:

Though its power is vast, it needs a human touch.

Swift as an arrow, it doesn't flee much.

Though it lacks legs, it can move around.

In shopping and trips, it's always unbound.

The next screen in the app expected input in the HH:MM format, which left her confused. She was missing something, so she needed to focus on the puzzle first. She figured out the answer was “car” and went outside to investigate the parents’ car. She found another puzzle box in there!

After figuring out how to open the box, she discovered a strange looking code and another note. This time it was a mathematical puzzle with a time result. This one took some time (wink wink), but she managed to solve it (with some good old brute-force approach) which unblocked the next screen in the app.

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Stage 2 - Cracow

You have completed the first stage of the mission. The agency is pleased. For the next clue, go to the place where the laboratory stood in the former school of magic and sorcery.

The only option was to press the button ‘Understood, I’m on my way’ to which Gerwazy said he was waiting at said location. Where was it? 

We involved the whole family in figuring out where this mysterious school of magic and sorcery could be. This required some knowledge of Cracow legends but they managed to figure out the most likely place was Zakrzowek Park and Reservoir - a beautiful green oasis in the centre of Cracow. At that point Wiktoria was stunned as, for whatever reason, she expected this life-threatening mission to be limited to the house only, but she agreed to set out on a trip. Thank god I happened to have a packed bag with me ;)

Once we reached the park, Gerwazy seemed very pleased with the surroundings. He said such a beautiful place would most likely serve as an artistic inspiration to many. He asked who else could agree with this statement? Wiktoria knew straight away who he was talking about. After all, we just walked past the Elvis’ statue, and headed towards Elvis’ avenue. She typed in the answer and was presented with geographical coordinates. 

We checked Google Maps for the coordinates which turned out to point to somewhere near the main square. This was turning into quite a trip. We called an Uber and moved to our next destination, checking out some old churches and monuments on the way. Once there, we needed to figure out which place was our point of interest. We were in the city centre, and there were plenty of bars, restaurants, and shops. After a while of standing right in front of it, Wiktoria noticed a tiny locker room. The purpose of the previously found code finally became clear! 

She typed the code onto the screen and a locker popped open. What was inside? Another two puzzle boxes! One required a 6 letter code, and the other one seemed to be a maze puzzle, requiring a specific combination of moves to get it open. We decided it was time for lunch, and found a cosy cafe to tackle the next tasks. The maze box contained a note explaining the rules to a small puzzle game Gerwazy presented her with in the app. She needed to find a route on a map, by following specific rules. 

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Stage 3 - Hotel

Some coffee and cake later we managed to get through the puzzle, and impress Gerwazy. Here is what he had to say next: 

You're quite near, don't you see,

But Kraków is a vast spree.

To find your next mission well,

Seek out Dietla Józefa's spell.

Then head straight to the place,

Where with some proper grace,

You'll get the next clue to face,

And be treated like a queen in this space.

Your chosen one's name,

Holds a magic flame,

Share it at the goal,

To enjoy a night, whole.

Thankfully, Wiktoria knew Cracow well enough to know J. Dietla is the name of one of the streets in the city centre. But what was the place she needed to find? The ‘Hotel Boutique Queen’ seemed like a good bet. Could that be what Gerwazy had in mind? It seemed very likely, but walking into an expensive hotel and asking about a reservation without 100% certainty felt embarrassing. Standing in front of this hotel thinking about this was probably even more awkward though, so we decided to head in. Wiktoria asked if there was a reservation in my name, and the man behind the counter jumped up and smiled knowingly. Of course there was. He gave her the key and our room number.

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Once in the room, Gerwazy seemed to expect a passphrase. His previous puzzle mentioned we would get a clue in this place, but where was it? She looked around the room, checked all the puzzles we had completed and found nothing. Finally she realised the key sleeve had a handwritten note on it. “This is only the beginning”. Could this be it? Yes! However, Gerwazy needed to absolutely make sure she was in the right place. He gave her a list of famous buildings in Cracow and asked to confirm the ones she was seeing from the balcony. 

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Finally, he seemed pleased. He disappeared and showed us 6 letters A Y S E S Y. A code! We needed it to open one of the boxes from the locker. Wiktoria entered the letters and here it was, a small key. The thing we were looking for all this time. She took it out and used it to open the treasure chest. Inside it was a small pouch. I tapped the screen of the app and the letters shuffled to form a big SAY YES. I took the pouch, went down on one knee and opened it with a question. 

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She did say yes. And thank god we made it just in time for a tasting dinner ;)

Some screenshots from the app: