Solution: Now I Know...
Written by betaveros
This is a visual depiction of the ABC song (at least, the best known variant, especially in the United States) — each note or word is depicted as a circle, with W specially denoted by a long rounded rectangle because it's three times as many syllables as every other word/letter. The title is a nod to the second-to-last line of the song.
Extract the letters corresponding to the numbered circles to spell the answer, RAVENOUS.
We had a long discussion about what order to release our round 1 puzzles in, particularly which puzzle to put first, with no clear consensus. In my very first draft of the puzzle ordering, I slotted this puzzle first because I thought it was both easy and great at encapsulating what I considered to be the essence of a puzzlehunt puzzle: being instructionless and requiring you to recognize an unexpected representation of something you were familiar with. However, after one of our testsolvers got stuck on it, I started to consider that perhaps it was harder than I expected, and moved it to 5th.
We weren't trying too hard to order the puzzles by difficulty, but we were concerned about people becoming demotivated from trying to solve the first puzzle and making no progress, which might lead them to give up because they assumed all the later puzzles would be harder. However, we had a long discussion where we discussed the other puzzles in Round 1 and reasons they might not be suited to be first either:
- Bottom Lines was a puzzle that our testsolvers also got stuck on. The puzzle was somewhat long in order to make the cluephrase unambiguous, and some letters were actually quite tricky. We wanted our first puzzle to be shorter.
- Top-Down Processing, though easy, felt like a much less interesting puzzle due to not really having any interesting realizations for solvers to make. I didn't want it to be the first puzzle people saw in our hunt.
- Petal Path was, we think, quite accessible, but substantially longer than the other puzzles.
- Cipher Salad, we were afraid, would be less accessible to people who were new to puzzlehunts and had never seen the ciphers before. We also didn't want to overemphasize puzzlehunt codes because we thought they were sometimes overused in puzzlehunts.
- Streamlined, of course, was the longest feeder puzzle in Round 1.
- We even considered switching the answers of Greek Figures and Now I Know... to bring Greek Figures into Round 1, but that didn't seem like a particularly easy puzzle either.
After a long discussion and a poll in which this puzzle still got slightly more votes than every other puzzle for being put first, we moved it back to first and settled for adding the boxed text on the puzzle page, to hopefully avoid the scenario where solvers are discouraged by being unable to solve the first puzzle:
If this is your first puzzlehunt, we encourage you to check out all the unlocked puzzles! You can solve them in any order. The text in this box is not part of any puzzle, and will disappear after your first solve.
It seems like we were correct to worry about the puzzle being harder than we expected, since as of time of writing, it's the second-hardest puzzle in the first round, and still has fewer solves and a higher difficulty rating than the first round meta. In fact, even the solve count might underestimate its difficulty, since it's very backsolvable. I know some experienced puzzlehunters who semi-jokingly call it the hardest puzzle of the hunt, not to mention the comments we got from people who really couldn't recognize the cultural reference due to not being native English speakers. I'm still not sure if this was the right first puzzle for the hunt, but I hope that people enjoyed it regardless.