At the start of every year, Google teases its I/O developer conference — specifically the dates — with an elaborate alternate reality game (ARG). Google I/O 2020’s puzzle is a mission called “Collaboration of the Cosmos.”

Update: The I/O 2020 date and location has been successfully revealed.

The Google Developers account on Twitter unveiled the puzzle this morning, saying “#GoogleIO is coming” and linking to a space-themed “Collaboration of the Cosmos” puzzle:

The intergalactic satellite network powering this signal board is down. Only by working collectively will we restore the signal to reveal a special message for all the galaxy to see. Can we count on you?

I/O ARGs in the past were an individual affair, but 2020’s is highly collaborative, requiring people to work together in order to find the dates and location for this year’s developer conference.

Since 2016, the latter has been the Shoreline Ampitheatre right next to the Googleplex headquarters in Mountain View, California, after years of being in San Francisco at the Moscone Center. Meanwhile, the conference usually takes place over three days in early May.

The homepage has a “Signal Strength” progress indicator for the six different puzzles that have to be solved. When you “accept mission,” it loads a “MISSION.LOG” dashboard that explains the Google I/O 2020 puzzle:

The satellite cluster nearest your current location has been located. Determine its proper name, then restore its satellites to their original frequencies. If successful, a portion of the Universal Grid will illuminate. Once all clusters are fully operational, the entire Grid will shine brightly and the connectivity of the cosmos restored. Remember, your fellow space citizens will be working alongside you.

Featuring a command line interface — type “Help” to see them all, entering “engage” tasks you with finding the “cluster name.” You can tap the satellites for clues. These are the six cluster names, while the frequencies (make sure they don’t touch) are easier to solve:

  1. cluster –name HEXAGON
  2. cluster –name OLYMPICENE
  3. cluster –name OPHIUCHUS
  4. cluster –name BYZANTINE GENERALS
  5. cluster –name SIERPINSKI TRIANGLE
  6. cluster –name ICOSAHEDRON

Once set, enter “frequencies –apply” for each level. The “special message” will not be revealed until signal strength reaches 100%. As of 10:30 a.m. PT, it’s only at 3%.

Dylan Roussel and Kyle Bradshaw contributed to this article

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Abner Li

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