Key & Compass presents:
The hat metapuzzle of IF Comp 2011
by Michael D. Hilborn, Kevin Jackson-Mead, Doug Orleans, and Andrew Plotkin

The hat metapuzzle of IF Comp 2011 is a multiple-game interactive fiction metapuzzle written with Inform 7 and is © 2011 by Michael D. Hilborn, Kevin Jackson-Mead, Doug Orleans, and Andrew Plotkin. At the 2011 XYZZY Awards, the four games shared the win for Best Individual Puzzle for the hat metapuzzle.

This metapuzzle was hidden in four games entered in IF Comp 2011: Cold Iron by Andrew Plotkin, Last Day of Summer by Doug Orleans, The Life (and Deaths) of Doctor M by Michael D. Hilborn, and Playing Games by Kevin Jackson-Mead. The player was meant to notice a recurring character, a man in a strange hat in all four games, and deduce that this was intentional and that the games had a secret puzzle between them.

This solution is by David Welbourn.

SPOILERS AHEAD. Reading a walkthrough prematurely can sometimes diminish one's enjoyment of an interactive fiction metapuzzle. Please make an honest effort to play the metapuzzle before reading this walkthrough.


Part 1: Cold Iron

Play the entire game of Cold Iron normally the first time; see my walkthrough for Cold Iron for how to do that.

For the purposes of this metapuzzle, note that this game does several things that will be echoed elsewhere in the other games:

Part 2: Last Day of Summer

Play Last Day of Summer until you get to the Garden, paying close attention to the greengrocer's story in the chapel, and the behaviour of the sundial in the garden:

River Crossing

> w.


> take knife. e. e.


> enter boat. cut rope. (+1)

You travel the rest of the way without incident.


> n. e.


> x greengrocer. x altar.

The greengrocer notices you and asks you to sit with him.

> sit.

The greengrocer tells you one of the Preacher's stories, about the treasure of time. The thief must reunite the two pieces and replace the treasure on the altar he stole it from. While this story seems irrelevant in the context of this game, it's actually a clue about what you need to do in another game, Cold Iron.

> stand. n.


> x sundial. (Brass rod's shadow points to a time in the early afternoon; the exact time can vary based on the turn count.)

> pull rod. (+1; it's a key.)

> put knife in sundial.

> x sundial. (The knife's shadow points to 9:37 am?)

This is rather puzzling behaviour, especially since the time 9:37 isn't useful elsewhere in this game. That's because 9:37 is useful in other games.

> take knife. n. (A bird pecks your uncovered head.)

> s. w.

Building Site

A man in a hat wants to trade his hat for your knife.

> x man. x hat.

Let's continue with the next game.

Part 3: The Life (and Deaths) of Doctor M

Windy Meadow (several locations)

> x me. x coat. look in pocket. take locket.

> x locket. open it. (Can't without a tool for the teeny hole.)

To reach the inn, alternate between examining the signpost and going the direction indicated by the "TO THERE" arrow. The signpost spins to a new randomized direction with every step, so re-examining the signpost each time is required.

> x signpost. go THERE-DIRECTION.

> x signpost. go THERE-DIRECTION.

> x signpost. go THERE-DIRECTION.

Outside Inn

> open door. in. n.


A gentleman greets you when you enter, and tells you that he lost his hat here, emphasizing the word "HERE", which as you may remember from the signposts is the opposite direction from "THERE".

> ask man about himself. (He likes fairy tales.)

> ask man about tales. (There might be some in the library.)

> search books. (The game advises you to LOOK UP something more specific.)

> look up fairy tales. (You find some.)

> x fairy tales. (You read about the Treasure of Time which ends with the observation that the two parts of time's treasure need to be reunited.)

> s. u.


The four paintings represent four locations, one each from the four games participating in the hat metapuzzle:

> x paintings. (which?)

> x top left. (Garden in "Last Day of Summer".)

> x top right. (Fallen Oak in "Cold Iron".)

> x bottom left. (Ruined Building in "Playing Games".)

> x bottom right. (Windy Meadow in "Doctor M".)

When you examine this last painting for the first time, the gentleman from the library arrives briefly to tell you that he lost his hat in that meadow.

> d. out. s.

Window Meadow

To find the hat, go to HERE, the opposite direction from THERE. This won't work unless you met the gentleman earlier.

> x signpost. go HERE-DIRECTION.

> take hat. x it. take pin.

> x signpost. go THERE-DIRECTION.

Outside Inn

> in. u.


> put pin in locket. (It opens, revealing a clock.)

> x clock. (It's set to 10:32 pm.)

You remember the knife-in-the-sundial time from Last Day of Summer, I trust?

> set watch to 9:37. (You get a tiny scroll.)

> x scroll. ("REGLEOTIS")

> regleotis. (The paintings each flash once.)

You should probably now give the hat back to the gent in the library, but instead, continue to the next game.

Part 4: Playing Games

Play Playing Games up to the point where you give the watch to the man, then find a way to follow him:

Darkness / Forest Clearing

> remove blindfold. n.

Ruined Building

> x stone. x glint. take watch.

> x watch. open it. push stem. (Its time is 10 to 5.)

> s. e.

Forest Path

> x man. x hat.

> give watch to man. (Looks like his, but he lost it at noon.)

> set time to noon.

> give watch to man. (He gives you a moonstone and dashes north.)

> n. (The man blocks you from entering the gap.)

There is a way to follow him, using the wet holly wreath trick you learned from playing Cold Iron.

> e.

End of Path

The bushes aren't obviously holly at first glance.

> x bushes. take bushes. x branches. (They're holly.)

> weave holly. (You now have a holly wreath.)

> w. w. w.

Road to Town

> wash wreath in river. (It's now suitably wet.)

> e. e.

Forest Path

> wear wreath. (You vanish.)

> n.

You are now spying on the man in a clearing with an oak tree. He whispers a word from a scrap of paper, then he knocks on a knot of the oak three times. A hollow forms in the tree, and the man puts his watch into it. Unsettled, you retreat back to the path.

Remember what you saw the man do.

Part 5: Cold Iron, again but differently

Start Cold Iron again from the beginning, but now use the knowledge that you gained from the other games:

Your Front Room

> take book. w. s. s. s.

Fallen Oak

Don't give the bead away this time!

> x oak. take bead.

Now do what you saw the man in Playing Games do, using the magic word that you found in Doctor M's locket:

> regleotis. (You whisper it to the oak.)

> knock oak. g. g.

The fallen oak opens, revealing a gold pocket-watch. You are also now the Reverend.

> take watch. x watch.

> open watch. (It's 12:00 am, but not running.)

Again, use the time you learned from Last Day of Summer:

> set watch to 9:37. (The compartment opens, but it's empty.)

> put bead in compartment. close watch.

Now that you're the Reverend, any direction from here goes directly to the Chapel Green, bypassing all the intermediate puzzles normally in the game.

> s.

Chapel Green

> n.


The bead must be inside the watch for this to work.

> put watch on altar.

The watch does its version of a fanfare, and the man returns, briefly, to pay his respects, only to lose his hat once more.

*** You have won the four games of Hat, Pin, Jewel, and Watch ***




Items from Last Day of Summer
Items from Doctor M
Items from Playing Games
Items from Cold Iron


The magic word regleotis is introduced by the tiny scroll in Doctor M.

For what it's worth, I note that regleotis is an anagram of sortilege, an obscure word for a type of magic or witchcraft, divination by casting lots.

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