Sunday, September 13, 2020

Secret of Jenafur: IT'S OVER

It's done. They've solved it. Well, one person, actually (thank you for saving us Paul!). Jenafur's been found. BFA can finally come to an end. And yet, it feels like a bittersweet end.

Normally, if I don't enjoy a Secret, I simply don't participate. I've yet to obtain Lucid Nightmare or the Crimson Tidestallion. However, both of those involve mount rewards. I'm not a big mount collector, but I *am* a pet collector.

So Jenafur is/was different. I had to be invested in this damn cat. And at first it was interesting. Going from Amara to Crazy Cat Lady's house, eventually to Karazhan. This cat was taking us on an adventure! Then...we went no where for almost a year.

I've no problem with puzzles taking time, but from the start I had a feeling this one would be a struggle for the community. Not only was the reward obviously a battle pet (a not-so-enticing reward for most), BFA wasn't exactly a super popular expansion. I've noticed that most Secrets work due to brute-forcing and numbers. Have enough people trying enough theories at the same time, and someone is bound to come across the solution or part of it. This generally requires a lot of excitement about the Secret though, and a battle pet usually doesn't generate a lot of interest unfortunately.

In addition to lacking in numbers and interest, this puzzle was, to be blunt, implemented poorly. Once inside Karazhan players had an idea of what the next step was, but nothing was clear. It felt disjointed and missing cohesiveness. There weren't any indications if what you just did was the "right" thing or "wrong" thing. Which can make a puzzle VERY frustrating. Players knew what needed to be done, but had no direction on *how* to do it. Food, check. Something to do with music, check. Music staff? Maybe check. But what food, in what order, and where? We ended up at a dead end.

This went on for about a year. During that time there were hints dropped here and there, which initially gave players some direction. But then the hints just felt as if they were restating what we already knew.

There's also rumor/speculation that the Make-A-Wish girl had to "leak" the sheet music associated with this Secret to a friend, who then shared it with others, until it eventually made it to the Secrets community. Without this sheet music, it's possible we wouldn't have the solution today.

Speaking of sheet music, reading over how Paul solved this puzzle... it's just mind boggling to a layperson. I only have *very* basic understanding and knowledge of music, and I somewhat understood the whole food = notes, floor tiles = music staff. How they came to the final solution (which food to use and where to place) still boggles my mind though. So I'm just wondering how the hell someone with ZERO music knowledge was supposed to figure this puzzle out.

I'm also not fond of the fact that we needed external resources to aid in solving this Secret. I much prefer and enjoy puzzles that can be solved by just playing the game. The sheet music and hints felt necessary for this one, which just feels... not great.

I won't go into the whole controversy around the final hint and how it was presented by the girl herself. Let's just say I have many thoughts on it. If you really want to know and we're mutuals, I might discuss it with you. Maybe.

All in all, I'm glad this one is over and done with. It required what felt like a lot of external help, which doesn't feel great.

I feel guilty for saying this, but I really did not enjoy this Secret. Both as a participant and as an observer. Participating felt more than just frustrating, it felt futile. Observing was cringe-worthy at best.

I hope some lessons were learned while the community spent almost a year (with help!) trying to figure this one out, only to have someone that doesn't even play WoW solve it. My hope is that future Secrets are not implemented in this manner. Any "hints" should be readily available in the game, and if the Secret isn't a popular one, the need for many different eyes and minds should be minimized as much as possible. Even a layperson should be able understand/solve it in that type of situation.

Anyway, go get yourself Jenafur. She will emote occasionally, and very rarely turn shadowy and sprout tentacles (pictured above) all while whispering ominous messages to you. At this point I'm on her side. Destroy it all Jenafur, destroy it all.

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