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Welcome to the very first puzzle in a new series! It's all about (hopefully) exploring new ways of creating puzzles, as densely as possible.

If you'd like to create your own Density™ puzzle, the rules are as follows:

1. The resolution of the grid is 72 x 72 squares
2. No words, text, numbers or symbols can be used
3. The tags should indicate what types of solving strategies are required
4. You must specify the number of words + letters in the final answer


Density Puzzle #1

Density Puzzle #1

Final answer: (5, 7)

Hint 1

Deusovi managed to jump a step and solve the cryptic clues, so I'll nudge in the direction of solving the first step, which won't help much, but should clear some information. The A-Z interpretation is on the right track, but is making the assumption that the first triplet is 'A'...

Hint 2

The black pixels in each large coloured square don't represent individual letters, but rather, something to be done to the letter for each square

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  • 3
    $\begingroup$ This is interesting so far! I've got four squares of letters, and I'm not sure what to do with them yet. $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Oct 11 at 5:45
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps it is time for an additional clue? $\endgroup$ – Jens Oct 20 at 1:15
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, have been quite unwell for the last few days, adding a clue now $\endgroup$ – Dmihawk Oct 22 at 18:41
  • $\begingroup$ Dahhh, sorry for the downvote. It’s locked in now. $\endgroup$ – Rewan Demontay 4 hours ago
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The dots in between the squares...

... are in groups of three. Taking top/left = 2, middle = 1, bottom/right = 0, reading as ternary, and then converting A=001, B=002..., gives the following:

top row: SNAKE DOCK BOAT
middle row: POT NAKED BURNS
bottom row: CATCH UPSET TEN
left column: ROLL IN JOB UNIT
middle column: METAL OR ENERGY
right column: BUG BOTCHED TAN

These can be interpreted

as cryptic clues. Each leads to a three-letter word: BOA(-t), _URN_, NET<, _BUN_, OR+E, ANT*. And these words are a word square, with the words placed in the locations of their clues.

BOA
URN
NET

There are also some other ways to extract similar arrangements of letters:

The nine large squares each have the same color as exactly one of the colored triplets of pixels. We can either extract the letter from that triplet, or assign the triplets A-Z (since there are 26 of them).

The nine large squares also each are missing a pixel - this is always one of the first 26 pixels. So this gives another 3x3 square of letters.

The data collected:

CCs is the square from the cryptic clues; A-Z is taking the corresponding triplets' positions; dec is taking the corresponding triplets' letters; gap is the position of the hole in the large square.
CCs A-Z dec gap
--- --- --- ---
BOA YLN NAP DTQ
URN HOL COA XBP
NET ILA KAS AMJ

The next step needed heavy hinting for me to find it:

If you use the gap position to Caesar-shift the letters from the word square, you get FIRSTDORD. This is likely a reference to "Dord", a fake dictionary word accidentally added when a note asking to add "D or d" to mean density was misinterpreted. So the answer phrase may just be FIRST DENSITY?


Unused information [hinted to be a clue to the step I did first]:

It seems pretty clear that this is the data that needs to be extracted - I'm just not sure how to get an actual answer out of it.

The only remaining information in the puzzle is the particular colors used. They don't seem to be notable in any way - some are fully saturated, some not, and the RGB values used don't seem to have any particular pattern.

Of the second and third squares (both using the colors), only one is probably intended. I'm not sure which, though - both look equally plausible as letter sets.

It's strange that one color is repeated three times - this makes me think that the "color triplet position" rather than "color triplet decoded" 3x3 is intended (because there were multiple other A's that could have been chosen from the decoded text).

I've used all the tags, except possibly and (depending on how you interpret those - do the color matching or the anagram in the cryptic clue count?).

Other uses of : There are no slightly-off-color pixels - all the large regions really are a single color each.
Other uses of : I've tried anagramming all four of the squares I found - nothing interesting appears. I've also tried anagramming the letters in the same position in each square, and again, nothing.

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  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Ok... wow! That is a staggering amount of progress to make! I won't give anything away at this point, but I will say that part of the puzzle was supposed to lead you to the ternary deduction (I hadn't expected someone to figure it out that easily) $\endgroup$ – Dmihawk Oct 11 at 7:24
  • $\begingroup$ Ternery was obvious, it took me only a few minutes to notice it. $\endgroup$ – Jasen Oct 19 at 10:18
  • $\begingroup$ Well, density is a 7 letter word... $\endgroup$ – PiIsNot3 Oct 22 at 20:05
  • $\begingroup$ @PiIsNot3 Huh, I had discarded that because it didn't seem likely to be the actual answer (it's not really a phrase that makes sense by itself). But now that I think about it more, it might be right? $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Oct 22 at 20:08
  • $\begingroup$ rot13(jung vs gur rvtug gevcyrg jnf 'N'?) $\endgroup$ – Dmihawk Oct 23 at 0:07

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