Karen Rustad Tolva

Portfolio > MIT Mystery Hunt 2013

An evil bank has acquired The Coin for the MIT Mystery Hunt. Recruit a elite team and pull off a bank heist to get it back!

For the 2013 MIT Mystery Hunt I served as as hunt's art director, which meant I both coordinated design-related tasks for other team members and contributed much of the art and web design myself.


The two opposed entities in the hunt (the evil bank and the heist crew) needed distinct brands.

Enigma Valley Investment & Loan (EVIL)

Enigma Valley Investment and Loan-themed hunt invitation, styled like a bank mailing.

Like many banks, the fictional hunt bank's wordmark used formal, serifed small-caps. Its logo resembled a plausible corporate logo (some compared it to a Pacific Northwest regional bank) but the quarters of the logo circle spelled out the bank's acronym (E-V-I-L) with sharp, curved edges.

The bank's palette: black, blood-red (aggressive colors traditionally associated with "evil" in the Western world), and light green (for money).

Enigma Valley Investment and Loan logo

The bank's main page was sedate, with a black-and-white version of the company logo. As a supposedly internal-facing site, it deliberately used mostly-HTML-default typography and old-fashioned file/folder icons.

Enigma Valley Investment and Loan intranet, with a green background, b&w logo, and mostly HTML-default typography


By contrast, the heist's logo and main page were bold, stark, and daring. The contrasting text sizes resemble those on film posters and credits, especially heist movies like Sneakers andOcean's Eleven.

Coinheist logo
Cartoon showing the six Coinheist members

Puzzle Presentation

Each round's section of the website had its own theme based on the heist team member you were recruiting.

Danny Ocean

Like Vegas: bright, splashy, and neon.

Danny Ocean puzzle page: sandy yellow background with palm trees, Vegas strip banner image, script-font puzzle titles with layered colorful shadows

Richard Feynman

A typical academic's homepage: basic Helvetica Neue typeface, the professor's author-photo, and a mostly-monochrome color palette other than grading-pen red for highlights.

Agent 99

Cold War-era surveillance dossiers--typewriterlike fonts, physical papers, and a desk with the rotary "shoe-phone" from the old spy spoof TV show Get Smart in the background.

Indiana Jones

Weather-worn, old-timey maps with each puzzle associated with a location, connected with the ubiquitous red line indicating travel in film.

Marty Bishop

A command-line interface on an old phosphorescent computer terminal, with monospace text and black and radioactive green colors.

Ernö Rubik

The Rubik round homepage had a WebGL-based, interactive Rubik's cube on it, with puzzles corresponding to the 27 subcubes. Its design otherwise was minimalist and "designer-y" in shades of white and light gray.

Physical art


A teammate drew a "1-percenter" version of MIT's beaver mascot with top hat, monocle, and briefcase, which I adapted for the official hunt t-shirt design.

MIT Mystery Hunt 2013 t-shirt design with a monocle-wearing beaver


I made a 3D version of the design for the coin printer with lighter and darker colors corresponding to the desired heights.

2013 hunt coin, with a monocle-and-top-hat-wearing beaver with an Enigma Valley briefcase on the front and building 26 on the back