Microsoft Vanishing Point Game (viral marketing)

by Todd Ogasawara

I'm don't think of myself as a viral marketing fanboy. But, when one comes with a puzzle to solve, I guess I'm a sucker :-)

The black envelope you see arrived in the mail today. The return address on the envelope is from LOKI with a One Microsoft Way (Redmond campus) address. However, the postmark is San Jose, CA. Inside the envelope is a small note from the DESK OF LOKI (Enigma Director) and a small black envelope with an odd looking 256MB USB flash drive. The drive contains three files: A text file note, a JPEG image with a graphical cipher key, and a short video from Loki.

The note instructed me to go to If you head there, you will see a countdown timer that probably hits zero as CES starts (or Bill Gates' keynote starts). The solution to the cipher is on the web. So, you can hunt for it if you don't have a key of your own (all the cipher's are unique, btw).

The solved cipher leads you to another web page with a list of US cities and dates (probably Vista events). OK, gotta go to try to solve my cipher now. I hope this viral marketing effort turns out to be more interesting than the Origami one for the Ultra Mobile PC launch last year :-)

Here's a Wiki that provides more info about this ARG (Alternate Reality Game):


Brian Enigma
2007-01-07 21:08:52
I find it interesting that one of the stamps looks to be the image of a pocketwatch--and pocketwatches look like they may factor into the game fairly heavily (as the girl in the video looks to be putting several pocketwatches into a box and several staggered countdown timers have been discovered.) Do you notice anything interesting or unusual about that particular stamp? Is it a standard USPS stamp (one that I've perhaps never seen before?)
Todd Ogasawara
2007-01-07 21:19:49
Brian: It is a USPS stamp. The interesting thing (to me anyway) is that it is apparently only avaialble for purchase in quantities of 10,000 (quite a thick stamp booklet :-). The stamp is named American Clock (link goes to site).
2007-01-09 15:53:25
what about the one on the right? i cant make out what's on it... any help? thanks
2007-01-09 17:34:30
The one on the right on my envelope says "GEE'S BEND QUILT"
2007-01-10 11:56:07
I too received an envelope with these contents that had the American Clock stamp in the middle flanked by the same 3 cent and a regular Statue of Liberty 39 cent on the right.

Yep, I'm hooked too! Wish I had been there to see the fountain last night.

2007-01-11 17:23:27
Argh.. I wish I could get one of these nice parcels :)
2007-01-18 23:23:25
Is anyone else having trouble accessing week one's puzzles? I can get week 2, but not week 1.
2007-01-20 01:23:40
The VPG-Website is working fine for me, even the puzzle box #1.

On monday, there was little trouble with puzzle box #2, because the shared locations for the first puzzle of pb #2 had been deleted. Though this has been corrected already and everything is online again.

Jack Helmick
2007-02-02 11:42:59
I had no problems with box 1,2 or 3, but box 4 I am not able to enter the answers in the box, I click on it to place the mouse cursor but I cant enter anything!