HyperCypher Instructions & Tips

HyperCypher is an online puzzle game written in PHP where the object is to decrypt short messages. Each message is encrypted using a "simple substitution cypher," meaning that the 26 letters of the alphabet have been rearranged. For example, every occurance of the letter "A" in the original (unencrypted) message may be replaced by any other letter such as a "Z" (or in some cases, an "A" may still be an "A"). Decrypting the message will require you to guess at which letters have been switched (or "translated").

When you first enter HyperCypher you will see a list of available puzzles, click on one of them to be taken to the main puzzle page. At the top of the puzzle page you will see the encrypted message. Only letters have been encrypted, punctuation and numbers will be seen in their correct locations. Under each line of the encrypted message you will see lines, this is where your solution to the puzzle will be displayed as you enter your letter substitutions. This is done using the "Translation Table." Each letter in the alphabet is displayed with a text entry box next to it. The letters displayed are those occurring in the encrypted message, if a particular letter isn't part of the encrypted message it will be shaded and an asterisk ("*") will appear in the text box next to it (you should not enter anything for the unused letters).

To translate (ie. change or substitute) a letter in the encrypted message, simply find the corresponding letter in the Translation Table, enter your guess at the correct letter in the box next to it and then click the "Submit Changes" button. You may submit changes one at a time or enter as many changes as you wish before submitting them. When the page reloads, your translated letters will appear under their encrypted counterparts in the message. To change a guess, simply reenter a letter in the Translation Table, or delete a bad guess to have it removed from the decrypted message.

To assist you in choosing letters, there are a couple aids under the Translation Table. The first is a list of available letters, with any used letters shaded out. Since each letter is only used once, you can use the available letter list to keep track of which letters you have already entered a guess for. If you accidentally use a letter twice, it will be displayed in red in the available letter list... you should look for it in the Translation Table and remove one of the duplicate entries.

Under the available letters is a Frequency Table which shows how many times each letter appears in the encrypted message. Note: that's the "encrypted" letters, not the "real" letters in the message. For example, if the letter "A" is contained in the plain text message five times and has been translated to a "Z" in the encrypted message, then the letter "Z" will have a "5" under it in the Frequency Table since it will appear five times in place of where the "A" would be. Looking for letters with a high frequency count can provide a clue when getting started on decrypting a message.

Once you have successfully solved the puzzle, you will be congratulated and may then try another puzzle (actually, you can try a new puzzle anytime if the one you are working on seems too difficult... sometimes it's best to give-up and try again another day). In the upper right corner of the page, the number of the puzzle you have been working on and the elapsed time (in hours:minutes:seconds) since you started on it will be displayed. While some puzzles are easier or harder than others, solving one in under ten minutes is quite good... under five minutes is excellent! Don't be too discouraged if your first few attempts take longer, with practice you'll get better.

That's all there is to using HyperCypher, but if you would like some tips on "cracking cryptos" then read on...

The key to solving most simple substitution cyphers is looking for common patterns of letters. Since all the default messages displayed in HyperCypher are written in English (usually "US English"), let's start by looking at the most frequently occurring letters and word patterns.

The most common English letter is E, followed by T, A, O, N, I and S. By looking at the Frequency Table and seeing which encrypted letters occur most often, you can guess that they will probably be switched for the most common English letters. That doesn't mean that the letter appearing the most will always be an E, or even a T, but those would be good guesses. If you can correctly guess a few of the letters which appear most often, it will give you many clues as to what words are contained in the message. So it's important to make you first guesses carefully.

If you're lucky, the message will contain some single letter words, these will almost always be either A or I, though on rare occasions O may be a word (usually at the beginning of a sentence). The most common two letter words are OF, TO, IN, IS, IT, AS, HE, BE, BY, ON, OR & AT. Sometimes as you enter guesses, you'll see a two letter word that "just can't possibly be right"... so watch them and back-up by removing a guess that was probably incorrect.

The most common three letter words are THE and AND, followed by FOR, HIS, NOT, BUT, YOU, ARE, HER & HAD. The most common four letter word is THAT followed by WITH, HAVE & FROM. The "TH" combination is so common that it often provides your best starting guesses. I look for a two letter combo that also repeats at the beginning of longer words. You are probably on the right track if you see some words with patterns such as these:
XRJ, XRKX, XRSB, XRJTJ, XRJBJ... which could translate to:

While some messages may be chosen precisely because they don't contain many "TH" words, most will have a few and spotting them can result in the first big crack you put on a cypher. Another "give away" pattern is XZZ... which will often be ALL, TOO or SEE. WHERE and WHICH are also common, note the H as a second letter and the ERE ending. Overall, the most common first letter in a word is T, and the most common last letter is E. And don't forget to look for those ING endings. Oh, and for what it's worth, Q is always followed by U (I think).

Punctuation can also be a big clue, especially an apostrophe ( ' ) used in a contraction or possessive form of a word. A single letter following an apostrophe will often be a T or an S... and a N'T ending is also common.

As mentioned above, as you enter your first few guesses be sure to look at the partially decrypted solution to determine if there are any "impossible" words forming. Getting off to a bad start with an incorrect guess can be frustrating, especially as you attempt to add more letters to form what appear to be words, only to find you have come to a dead end. If that happens, just clear out your guesses and start over fresh... try taking a different path. I've worked cyphers I thought I'd never crack, all because of a single mistaken letter... once corrected, the message just pops right out. With a little practice, you should be able to "see" the common word patterns right away, and with a good start a few more guesses should be enough to reveal the full message.

I hope you enjoy HyperCypher and I welcome your feedback at webmaster@diamond-back.com. I would also like to receive cleaver messages to be added to the database, messages should be about 150-250 characters in length (shorter and they may be too difficult to guess, longer and they don't fit on the page very well).

-Kmgspv Tgditk Upvpwrjz, pxp CrpsgocDpjx

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HyperCypher v1.00.beta • Copyright © 2002 by Thomas R. Pasawicz. All rights reserved.