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This is a with four component puzzles and a final meta.


Creations of CSIRO

The Australian research institute CSIRO is notable for producing inventions such as gene shears, the insect repellent Aerogard and more.

Crossword grid

Three clues resolve to multi-word answers. Combine some clues and answers to form a message.

???   →   _ _ _ _   _ _ _.   _ _ _ _ _ _ _   _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Clues

ACROSS
 1. Turned and twisted molecule
 3. Cuddle giant briefly
 5. One horribly intrusive, ultimately pointless computer program
10. Volume that man returned after initially borrowing "Introduction to Hunting Something Enormous"
15. Close to water content of snowflakes identified
17. Number, one in Spanish beginning to look like a name
18. Dry fruit enthusiast
19. With mad love, start to snuggle furry animals
21. Erroneously issue grant for parts of sheet music
23. Fools around without, initially, cotton garment
24. Hear tavern owner do some gardening work
26. Figures Oscar and Echo left broken promises
28. Characters in funnier role-playing game
32. Rations mostly held back by comrade in a cold manner
33. Support one in commercial
35. Beat without trouble, escaped
38. Called out celebrity drummer
39. Group's new in-joke?
40. Looking back, charge in Oktoberfest order's more substantial
41. Anguishes after sibling opens up
42. Defeat heartlessly to make disappear
43. Hoist last of cable and rise into the air without it
44. Sally's oddly crafty
45. Army groups not, for instance, prideful?
46. You heard, in Garsdale, of unusually sweet but toxic substance

DOWN
 1. Food coach tossed icing and last bit of eclair
 2. Other accounts reconstructed last
 3. Try to sell bird of prey
 4. Use up most of Lego set
 6. Watch unconcluded contest
 7. Notes legal thing
 8. School group's last to go
 9. Start to sell our tart
11. Participates in replacing indium with silver in car parts
12. Eats nearly all of meat and potatoes dish
13. Muppet's expressing love for trees
14. New chest built for woodworking tool
16. Sent back ten thousand fish
20. Child to harbour love in the near future
22. Start to record one very loud musical phrase
24. American cookies couple dropped from the top for big birds
25. Earnings from game company with backing
26. Styled plait worn by one, hanging at the back!
27. See alien following yours truly
29. Fashion types quietly leaving crafts market
30. Leader leaving valiant party
31. Address protecting a Russian river
32. Japanese-American businessman inside car at an intersection
34. Residue in arid region
36. Sounded instrument for story teller
37. Pulled out dagger with bloodlust at heart
39. Australian company starts to give information openly

Lunarite

Sometimes simulator games seem like they're just making up item names.

Lunarite


Casino Jackpot

We have a real high roller in the house! Will they be able to make the lucky spin?

Casino Jackpot

Spin!
1. ___ Bidding ("Shadows over Innistrad" MtG card)
2. Zeroing button on a stopwatch
3. "By treason’s tooth bare-___ and canker-bit." :: King Lear
5. ___ Zenrai-zenji (19th century zen master)
You won $15.

Spin!
1. Spanish generator manufacturer acquired by Atlas Copco in 2011
2. Ancient Germanic alphabet characters
5. Relating to the cheek, anagram of ANGLE
7. Masculine Spanish word for "chalks" more commonly used in Mexico
You won $13.

Spin!
1. Biological things inherited from one's parents
3. Indian agricultural worker, anagram of A SINK
5. "The Tomorrow Show with ___ Undergaro" (podcast)
6. The Invincible Barbarian, per a 1982 Italian film
7. Hebrew dirges or laments (var.)
You won $15.

Spin!
1. French commune popular for sandstone bouldering, located roughly 80km from Nice
3. "The Dark Knight ___" (2012 Nolan film)
6. Penalties to pay, such as those from speeding
7. Step between "lather" and "repeat"
You won $14.

Spin!
1. Lazy ___ (turntable)
4. Percussionist for Russian band Theodor Bastard
5. Former name for sthène, an obsolete unit of force
7. Parts to ignite for firecrackers
You won $13.

Spin!
2. Political assistants
4. Actress Kendrick and ballerina Pavlova, say
7. Donates (to a charity)
You won $11.

Spin!
2. ___ Porcelain (French company allegedly founded in 1768)
5. "___ Strength" (1999 album by reggae artist Garnett Silk)
6. Bakemonogatari opening "___ Circulation"
You won $11.

Spin!
3. Catalysing enzyme in biology, anagram of SANER
4. Samoa's first female deputy prime minister ___ Naomi Mata'afa
5. Italian word for reams
6. Horizontal band on a heraldic shield (var.)
You won $12.

Spin!
4. "___ the Funeral Parlour" (BBC comedy series)
5. Inaugural Sydney FC captain Mark
7. Strengthen with stone, as an embankment
You won $11.

Spin!
4. "Happy Days" actor Williams
6. French for eldest, as in "ma sœur ___"
7. ___ Roses (American band with guitarist Slash)
You won $12.

Spin!
5. Stitched lines on a baseball
6. Uncertain estimate
7. Diving equipment inventor Augustus
You won $12.

An Ad Hoc Akari

This Akari was put together as a cheap excuse for a puzzle.

An Ad Hoc Akari


Meta: Popularity Within a Target Audience

With ever-advancing technology enabling more and more creators, it can be hard to keep up with the latest trends. What can we use to quickly determine what's worth checking out?

Popularity Within a Target Audience

Note: There is technically an odd one out in this meta. Please use an appropriate alternative.

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Working on this here! $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Apr 29 '18 at 15:52
15
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This was a joint solve by Deusovi, ffao, Gareth McCaughan, M Oehm, noedne, and Sid (and probably at least one or two other people that I forgot).

For details of the solutions to each puzzle, see this spreadsheet.

Creations of CSIRO

This is a fairly standard cryptic crossword, but with two gimmicks hinted at by the flavortext:

Since CSIRO makes insect repellent, several Across answers have to have insects removed from them before being entered into the grid. For instance, ANTIVIRUS is entered as IVIRUS, taking out an ANT. And SIGNATURES is entered as SIURES, taking out a GNAT.

Since CSIRO produced gene shears, several Down answers have had DNA codons removed from them. (A DNA codon is made up of three nucleotides, which are abbreviated as A, C, G, and T.) For instance, PIGTAIL is entered as PIIL, and DRAGGED is entered as DRED (taking out GTA and AGG respectively).

The finished grid looks like this:

filled cryptic grid
(Here, red marks words with a bug removed, and yellow marks words with a DNA codon removed.)

Now, we can extract a message:

The first letters of the clues with bugs removed spell OVERLAY.
The extracted DNA codons' corresponding amino acids have single-letter abbreviations: these read AFIVER from left to right.

So we want to OVERLAY A FIVER. Noticing that CSIRO is an Australian company, we overlay an Australian five-dollar note (which is partially transparent!)

overlaid bill
The completely uncovered letters spell GIVE SOL:VIRTUAL ORGANIZATION, so the answer is VIRTUAL ORGANIZATION.

Lunarite

The first step to this puzzle is simply identifying things.

For each item, the image and description represent two different things. Helpfully, the amount of each item is the length of the image's word, and the cost is the length of the answer's word. (For instance, the first is PATRON / HYPOCRITE.)

Once that's done, you may notice

that all of the descriptions' answers end in "-ite". With the flavortext, this hints at minerals of some sort: turns out the images are all the names of minerals! Patronite, sampleite, chambersite...

Using the Mohs Hardness scale numbers for the real minerals and indexing into the corresponding "-ite" words gives the phrase YOUTUBERS LIFE, the answer to this puzzle.

Casino Jackpot

Answering these (horribly obscure) clues, we can start to figure out how they are entered:

We can enter each set of clues into a 3x5 grid. Numbers 1 through 7 all indicate different ways the answers are input, reminiscent of a slot machine: 1 is the middle row, 2 and 3 are the top and bottom rows, 4 and 5 are v/^ shapes, and 6 and 7 are diagonals going from one corner to another.

Next, using the image:

see that these grids are just segments of a bigger slot machine with 7 "symbols" (letters) on each reel.
reels

Finally, we notice the 7s in the image: we can rotate the reels to spell out SEVEN across the middle.
spun reels
This gives us the answer: BIG NAME GUEST.

An Ad Hoc Akari

This puzzle is like a normal Akari, but with a twist: instead of counting the number of bulbs adjacent to them, each clue gives the sum of adjacent bulb numbers. We can find the unique working bulb placement:
akari solution
To extract an answer, we look at the squares lit by two bulbs.
lit squares
Here, I've marked each of these with the sum of the bulbs that light them. Reading these numbers off alphanumerically gives the answer, FIVE AND DIME.

Meta

The four answers are:
VIRTUAL ORGANIZATION
YOUTUBERS LIFE
BIG NAME GUEST
FIVE AND DIME

The first words of each answer spell "Virtual Youtubers Big Five". The first part, "virtual youtubers", refers to a recent trend of people making Youtube videos using a 3D animated character as an alias and icon. The "big five" is a nickname for five of the most prominent ones.

In fact, these animals are associated with four of the Big Five. Dennou Shojo Siro is nicknamed "Dolphin", Kaguya Luna is nicknamed "Hamtaro" (a fictional hamster), Noja has fox ears, and Mirai Akari wears a butterfly ribbon.

Also, each one of these names can be found in a puzzle title: Creations of CSIRO has "Siro", Lunarite has "Luna", Casino Jackpot has "Noja", and An Ad Hoc Akari has "Akari". This associates each puzzle with an animal icon.

The remainder of each puzzle title is the exact same length as the remainder of the corresponding answer. Matching them up, letter-by-letter, and taking the letters that are the same gives us 2 or 3 letters per puzzle. Putting them into the blanks gives us the final answer: A TRAINED AI (a pun off Kizuna Ai, the fifth and most prominent of the "Big Five".)

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  • $\begingroup$ Also maybe this is relevant - CSIRO invented rot13 cynfgvp cbylzre onax abgrf bs juvpu gur 'svire' vf bar. $\endgroup$ – boboquack Apr 30 '18 at 3:15
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Wrap-up: The Making Of Popularity Within a Target Audience

This is not a solution to the puzzle, but provides notes from its poser. This type of answer has been approved by the community.

Caution: This post contains spoilers.


My first draft of this wrap-up was far too long-winded because I had much to include. I've now tried to boil it down to the main things I wanted to say.

• Puzzle creation started mid-March, one and a half months ago. Because of the nature of the metapuzzle, much time was spent trying to come up with a puzzle to fit a title rather than the other way around, which was a first for me.

• Originally this was intended to be a single puzzle, but since the triple pun answer was suited to a meta and to celebrate the rapidly growing Virtual YouTuber (VTuber) community I decided to turn this into a mini set.

• The substringed characters meta idea was partly due to Nijikawa Laki being embeddable in SOUVLAKI, which I found amusing. The characters ended up going in the title instead largely due to Akari being more suited as part of a title.

• The embedded clue phrase uses "Big Five" since it's used in the most comprehensive fan chart. Confusingly the more established Japanese nickname is 四天王 ("Four Heavenly Kings", despite there being five characters), and at one point the meta had "Big Four" in the clue phrase instead.

• The meta flavourtext doesn't actually hint at how to solve the meta since I didn't feel it was necessary, and is just a description of VTubers in general. In hindsight, perhaps a subtle hint or two would have made the initial aha and final extraction easier to spot.

• VTubers are gaining popularity so rapidly that, over the course of puzzle construction, Nekomiya Hinata overtook Nekomasu as 5th most subscribed VTuber, with ~275k subs after just 2 months of activity when that happened. In response, this puzzle's title was changed to include _H IN A TA_ as an honorary sixth member (the previous title was the more direct "Unveil Energetic Characters", a tribute to Eilene).

• The odd one out in the meta is Nekomasu, whose catch phrase and part of extended name NOJA was used instead.

Mirai Akari was originally represented by 🔍, a search icon, to reference her nickname "Princess of Googling Yourself" (エゴサーの姫). This was changed since Nekomasu's fox technically wasn't a part of a nickname anyway, and it nicely makes the icons all animals (the butterfly motif is more obvious in Akari's first video, and the meta image uses Discord's blue butterfly emoji).

• Creations of CSIRO went through 7 different gridding attempts due to minor mistakes like using GANTT CHART for the codon TTC when it also contains ANT, or codons unintentionally being formed within the completed grid.

• The $5 note unfortunately doesn't align perfectly — this is particularly a problem in the lower right, where the IE above the AT is half-covered. It's also unfortunately ambiguous whether to take the cells half-covered by the golden wattle — in the end I decided to use them since they can actually be seen through and I didn't want to increase the grid size, as 8x16 provided a reasonable alignment without being too large.

• Enumeration was provided to assist with picking the intended cells and for parsing, especially for the abbreviation SOL. for SOLUTION. GIVE ANS was originally used, but this was changed to GIVE SOL so that GEL could be used as a grid entry.

• The deletions gimmick may feel slightly tacked on, but it served the practical purpose of allowing the obscure ARATANI to be used, to avoid a double column of mostly unchecked lights. Ironically, coming up with the banknote kicker actually happened last after the deletions gimmick was considered, although I'd been trying to work polymer banknotes in the whole time since it's one of CSIRO's most famous inventions.

• SUGAR OF LEAD got an objectively terrible clue due to needing to start with a Y, which turns out to be surprisingly difficult since few good cryptic indicators start with Y and the answer doesn't contain Y itself. A certain shrine would have worked, but I wanted to avoid needing anime knowledge in the component puzzles as much as possible.

• In hindsight, 41A's BROACHES is badly gridded from a crosswording perspective since only the ES can be gotten from crossings.

• Lunarite is the only puzzle which used an idea I had before construction on this started, though the answer was intended to be something else. Many hours were spent trying to come up with a Stardew Valley (in which lunarite is an item) and/or Harvest Moon puzzle to make the title less suspicious, but to no avail.

• NOJA was surprisingly hard to embed well, and I didn't want to use "Sino-Japanese", so I settled on "Casino Jackpot" relatively quickly. This makes it the only puzzle whose answer was decided from the title rather than the other way around.

• The above partly explains why Casino Jackpot has the only "green paint" answer that is not really a Thing. Thankfully this also helps hint that letters are important for the final meta extraction, rather than the overall answer meanings.

• Since "jackpot" evokes slot machines, I thought it'd be interesting to have a crossword filled using slot machine paylines. I quickly realised that it wasn't easy to get 3+ good answers in a single spin, leading to a copious amount of obscure cluing.

• 3 clues stooped to using anagrams. 2 are due to ambiguity (DNASE/RNASE, GENAL/MALAR), the other (KISAN) was out of fairness since it was harder to research and it was in a particularly useful set.

• Many traps were to be avoided when fact checking. Most notably, Gisan Zenrai-zenji's Wikipedia article is, as of writing, titled Gisan Zenkai which as far as I can tell is incorrect. Similarly, a search for GUAOL on Google currently gives me hits for "The Guaol", supposedly part of Titan A.E.'s soundtrack, but this is in fact a misspelling of "The Gaoul". In all honesty, I wouldn't be surprised if there was an inaccuracy in the final puzzle despite my best efforts.

• At least one set is completely unnecessary, but it was included as a contingency and to make the aha easier to spot/confirm. I've learnt that sometimes when you feel the difficulty is just right, it doesn't hurt and is sometimes better to go one notch easier.

• GIVES and GIVE I are both answers in Casino Jackpot. Duplication like this is usually best avoided in crosswords, but here I decided to turn a blind eye due to difficulty of construction. There was, however, a set I scrapped due to it completely overlapping with another on an answer.

• During meta construction, a number of Akari-related titles were passed through and considered (e.g. "Linked Data Akaris", "A Bland Akari") but none of them seemed workable. The final version uses the "Ad" in "Ad Hoc" as a hint, and I'm quite proud of it since grid deduction puzzles don't usually have good ways of extracting a single word of phrase answer.

• Despite coming up with the Akari idea, it took a fortnight before I got over the dread of constructing it. Construction took place over 5 hours one late night, starting with a reasonable placement of lights without regard for clues, solve difficulty or grid size, then tightening things up from there:
Akari first draft
• The 0 light is necessary to produce an A in the answer. If this were a general puzzle genre, solve logic might be more interesting if all lights were 1+.

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