An Interview with Pete Wilder
I sent Pete Wilder a list of my own questions here are his replies. I feel sure you'll find some of them very interesting. If you have you own questions please add them to this thread and I'm sure Mr Wilder will give you an answer.
Why did you create The Oracle - Lost in Time?
[Pete Wilder] It’s a long story but here goes. I had been through a divorce and my two elder children used to stay with me on alternate weekends. We used to have a great time watching Friends on Friday evenings and eating home delivery pizza. The time was limited and I wanted to make the most of our time together by doing something constructive and interactive so we came up with the idea of creating a treasure hunt. The idea developed over the next couple of months but then they got bored with the idea and it went on the back burner. However, it was nagging away in the back of my mind and after a while I decided to resurrect the idea albeit on my own.
How long did the puzzle take you to devise?
[Pete Wilder] About two years to produce the draft manuscript including the illustrations
Does a puzzler need to live in the UK in order to claim the prize?
[Pete Wilder] No, I have always maintained that I would accept written submissions from overseas hunters
On a scale of 1 to 100 with 100 being almost unsolvable where would you put The Oracle?
[Pete Wilder] I would say about 80
What is an average day like in the life of Pete Wilder?
[Pete Wilder] Monday to Friday, I go to work, often commuting into central London. When I’m not working I like to play golf. It’s a fun way to keep fit without being too strenuous. I enjoy cooking, I find it relaxing and an opportunity to be creative so I usually prepare my own evening meal. I cook for the family at the weekend.
Do you solve puzzles / treasure hunt in your spare time?
[Pete Wilder] Not really, with 4 children and golf as a hobby I don’t have that much spare time
Is Pete Wilder your real name?
[Pete Wilder] Yes, my birth certificate actually says Pierre but my parents have always called me Peter and I shortened it to Pete in my professional life
Would you say that the puzzle has stages i.e. you have to solve stage one before moving onto stage two?
[Pete Wilder] The puzzle isn’t really structured in stages, it doesn’t really work in that way. There is a logical progression but I would say there is some inspiration required and the solution flows rather than steps from stage to stage
You mention that you were inspired by Kit Williams' Masquerade, did you try to solve Masquerade yourself and if so how close did you get?
[Pete Wilder] Yes, I did work on Masquerade and spent many hours. The closest I got (which wasn’t even close) was solving the message in the field at Tewksbury using atomic numbers and their atomic symbols. The feeling of excitement was unbelievable as a meaningful message emerged. However, this was soon overcome by disappointment as the content made it clear that it was just a tease. From memory the message read, ‘Wrong now think aga(r)in’.
The Oracle has an educational element to it and deals with some quite deep / fundamental scientific ideas.
Does an understanding of these ideas help in the solving of the puzzle?
[Pete Wilder] Not really, if it does it is only in a very indirect way. By that I mean that the book tries to raise awareness of where we are in the Universe and where we come from i.e. we are made from stardust, the ashes of a former Supernova and we live on a planet that circles the Sun, that sits in one of the spiral arms of the Milky Way which in turn is a galaxy in a local cluster of galaxies and so on. In the way that the book is making us think about where we are in the Universe in a similar manner it is making us think about where the token is located.
What do you do for a living?
[Pete Wilder] I’m an IT Project Manager working for Corporate clients.
Are there deliberate red herrings in the puzzle?
[Pete Wilder] Oh yes!
You're obviously a family man with four children according to the book. What do your children think of this project?
[Pete Wilder] I think they were very proud of their Dad when it was first published but the novelty has worn off now.
What do you think is the most important skill a puzzler needs to have to solve The Oracle?
[Pete Wilder] An open mind, good spatial awareness and the ability to think laterally
The book was published in 2004, back then did you have any idea that it would still be unsolved in 2012?
[Pete Wilder] I had high hopes that the book would be a commercial success in the same manner as Masquerade with many more readers. Under that scenario I didn’t expect the puzzle to remain unsolved this long. The fact that sales have been slower than expected means that I am not surprised that it hasn’t been solved yet.
If this gets solved would you create another one?
[Pete Wilder] Maybe, it was good fun and I did feel a sense of achievement when the book was published. I’ll think about that at the time.
You have been posting regular clues on the website; is another one due soon?
[Pete Wilder] Yes, I intend to continue publishing clues from time to time and I guess it’s time for another one soon.
If you were solving The Oracle where would you start?
[Pete Wilder] At the beginning ;o)
I would like to thank Pete Wilder for very kindly agreeing to be interview and for providing such interesting answers.
Thanks Truthfinder & thanks to Pete too. There's some very interesting replies. I'm glad to hear you don't have to be a scientist to solve it, but the lateral thinking is going to be hard for me!
Having read the questions/answers again I've thought of a follow up question that I'd like to post here. Hopefully you'll drop by soon and hopefully you'll be happy to reply.
I liked Truthfinder's question on the difficulty. I'm sure that was a hard one to answer because what might be near impossible for one person might come easily to someone else. However, it is nice to get a rough idea of how you gauge it's difficulty. Perhaps to give us a better idea of what your score of 80 means, could you estimate how you'd answer the same question about Masquerade so we get a bit of benchmark!!
I first got hooked on treasure hunts when I saw a friend's copy of Masquerade when I was a kid. I never got anywhere at all but loved the whole idea of being the first to crack it! So thanks for The Oracle, it's been very enjoyable so far, and fingers crossed one day......
Good question! 80 is an arbitrary assessment on an imaginary scale where impossible = 100. So yes very difficult and on a par with Masquerade. However, I would say it's like 'who wants to be a millionare' - if you know the answer it's easy, if not it's impossble. You may have to 'phone a friend' or 'ask the audience'. The best analogy I can think of is trying to knock down a brick wall. In the beginning there is no progress and the wall seems impregnable but if you persevere eventually a chink appears and you manage to remove a brick. Then you are able to put you hand in the gap and remove another brick and before long there is a gaping hole. From there it is relatively easy to pull down the rest of the wall. That is how 'The Oracle - Lost in Time' will be solved.
Best wishes and happy hunting
Thanks for the answer Pete.
Really great answer...fascinating in fact, thanks Pete.
OK folks let's get banging on that wall!
Thanks again Pete. There's loads of other questions I'd like to ask about the puzzle but to be honest would rather keep on searching without too many pointers. Your regular website clues are good to keep me coming back to The Oracle.
But there is one logistical question I'd like to ask if I may. Do you ever check that the token has not already been found? I'm spending a lot of effort on the puzzle and I'd hate to find out that someone solved it 2 years ago and has already retrieved the token. It's a cynical thought I know, but as the prize fund may rise over time what is to stop someone finding it and not being in a hurry to claim the prize money?
Good question and thanks Pete!
Originally Posted by Xodiak
I do check from time to time but haven't done for a while. I can't guarantee that someone hasn't found it since my last visit and is holding on to it. Next time I check I will post on the forum and let you all know if it's still there. Having said that I will pay out to the first correct submission so if you solve the puzzle and send a written submission you can still claim the prize without physically retrieving the token. In that circumstance someone holding on to the token would lose out.