Hey there.
I did something different this time, inspired by a certain someone ;)
I tried to give a bit of context to a short puzzle I thought, when it had none to begin with.
Just to say that you don’t have to read too much into the story. Actually, if you don’t want to read at all, you can totally skip the story. There are no essential hints in it. Even the binary code at the end (don’t be scared, you can’t see it before solving the puzzle) has no relevance to the puzzle itself, it's there just to add some flavour and maybe put the base for a sequel (but don't expect one, I haven't really thought about that yet). Btw I advise you to translate it after reaching "the end". If you're curious, that is.

The whole puzzle text is in the picture you'll see in the 1st ITH page:
you have an assignment, a target, leads to follow and a ITH code.
You can start HERE.

The puzzle will last until April 18th at 8pm CET.

I'll add further hints based on the number of solvers.
I'll post the solution at the end.
By solving it, you get access to a short train with:
Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts (ROW key), F1 2020 (ROW key), Shenmue III, Main Assembly (ROW key), Remothered: Broken Porcelain, Aven Colony (ROW key), SIMULACRA, Colt Canyon, Skully, Popup Dungeon (ROW key), Outer Wilds, The Room 4: Old Sins
ROW keys: for region restrictions refer to this thread.

Edit:

HINTS (I listed here all the ones I gave in the replies)

  • I repeat, cause it seems it wasn't clear enough to one of the solvers: the story is totally optional, don't search for hints there. I could have posted just the picture if I wanted, without story at all.
  • The ITH questions aren't needed for a reason: you don't have to answer them.
    (Don't be fooled by the ITH page; solvers listed there have input the right answers after solving the puzzle, not before!)
  • Who's the target? How'd you stalk someone from here? What those leads refer to? The ITH link is the last problem.
  • The one about the name of a common pet is the one that should give away who's the target. Name and nationality are there just to confirm it, once you get there.
  • "Near Tokyo, another kind of skyline." = "From Japan, a skyline, but not a city skyline.".
  • If you think a lead match is vague, it's probably the wrong one. They're kinda specific in my opinion.(i.e. Trouble ahead).
    After the QoL update, there's no more room for interpretation, if you understand where to look.
  • For those still going the hard way: once you are 100% sure of one lead, stop for a moment, go back in the only other place where you can see some of them and maybe something will click with you. That may help you speed things up with the other 7.
  • For those still going the hard way: 189 is a big number, why not just 8.
  • If you cannot still see the easy way: you can verify your choices here: verification tool (ITH).
  • Have you ever created a ITH puzzle? It might help you with the /SOLUTION.
  • There's more than a way you can read SOLUTION in that picture.

They're quite enough for now. I may be add more in the next days if almost everyone is still stuck.
Hints updated. (My "no hints" proposition never lasts)

>>>>> SOLUTIONS <<<<<

2 months ago*

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ITSTOO... ?

View Results
itstoohard
itstooeasy
itstoopotato

Bump for solved! I was confused, but I finally solved it. Was a cool puzzle, thanks Dog! 😊

2 months ago
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Bump and thanks for the puzzle!

2 months ago
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Bump for solved!

2 months ago
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Bump for the puzzle, I had fun solving it. I love the atmosphere you created with your story! I look forward to your next works ^-^

2 months ago
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I am so confused. I know who to stalk, but I don't know where. I have no idea what any of the leads mean. I have been trying since the first day and don't see any difference since the QoL update, but maybe that is because I don't know where I am supposed to look.

I guess I still have a week, I'll keep coming back and hopefully one day something will click.

Edit: I found something that looks like it should be part of a puzzle, but I'm not sure if it has anything to do with this one.

2 months ago*
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If you don't notice any difference, it's probably because you didn't give it much attention when you were there before the update. But knowing the difference is not that important at the moment.
There aren't many things those leads may refer to, there.

2 months ago*
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I found something else and feel like I am where I need to be, but I am having a really hard time using the leads. I am only confident on the last lead and have no idea about any of the others.

2 months ago
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Maybe the "second" point here can help you.

2 months ago*
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That's where I was originally, then I thought I found something that narrowed it down, but I don't think it does anymore. I just went back and spent about 3 hours inspecting everything and I'm pretty confident on 5 leads, but can't figure out the others.

2 months ago
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Just a note.

There're two correct matches for the 6th lead. But it doesn't really matter which one you pick, the lion is the same and the matched letter is the same anyway.
For the 8th lead is the same, even if, in this case, in my opinion, one should be the clear 1st choice.

That said.
If you have 5 correct leads (or even only 3), you should see some sort of correspondence somewhere.
189 is a big number, why not just 8.

2 months ago
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I thought I found the "correspondence" and was stuck on it, but it was wrong. I just stumbled across what I was missing, found the others, and finally solved. A bit convoluted, but still a fun puzzle. Thanks :)

2 months ago
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I'm fairly confident that I have the correct characters and understand the hints but, I can't seem to get it to work. I'm not sure what I'm missing here.

2 months ago
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If you're sure of the characters, you're probably using them wrong. The hint about creating a ITH puzzle is probably the one that can help you the most.

2 months ago
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I know I'm using it correctly since I tested it on one of my own puzzles. If that's the only part that's missing then, I must have misinterpreted one of the characters and have no idea which one it is.

2 months ago
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Then it's either a wrong character or you're missing the last step. The last hint can help you with that.

2 months ago
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Two things.

First. Stop asking for help in private. It's not fair. You should get why. The puzzle is easier now and there're hints for basically every step of it (they've all been added at the bottom of the original post).
Just stop. Thank you.

Second. I see most people are still going the hard way. My last piece of advice is that once you are 100% sure of one lead, stop for a moment, go back in the only other place where you can see some of them and maybe something will click with you. That may help you speed things up with the other 7.

2 months ago*
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Second. I see most people are still going the hard way. My last piece of advice is that once you are 100% sure of one lead, stop for a moment, go back in the only other place where you can see some of them and maybe something will click with you. That may help you speed things up with the other 7.

...I see it now, are you telling me it was always that way? 😪 That could have saved me a nice chunk of time.
(Not complaining about the puzzle, just noting how dense I was.)

2 months ago
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It's like that since I've posted this.

2 months ago*
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Bump for not solved ;)
Although I'm at 62,5% if I got the goal right

2 months ago
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Bump!

2 months ago
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Solved. I don't think it's too difficult - everything you need is there, it's just easy to overlook some of the details :)

2 months ago
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I love puzzles, but I can't even figure out the first step of who the target is. I have a first name, nationality, and two additional bits of info. Is that supposed to remind me of something? Should I focus on one of the two pieces first? I've searched for the name and nationality and scrolled through search results looking for inspiration, but I'm at a loss on how to proceed.

2 months ago
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The one about the name of a common pet is the one that should give away who's the target. Name and nationality are there just to confirm it, once you get there. Where is there you ask? Well, how would you stalk someone from here?

2 months ago
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I see! Thank you for the help! What threw me off was that I was thinking of names you would give a pet, like "Rover", rather than names of animals in general.

2 months ago
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I give up! I don't understand.. maybe it's my english.. maybe i'm dumb.
Any way thanks for the puzzle :D

2 months ago
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Thank you for trying ;)

2 months ago
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Finally! Bump for solved

2 months ago
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Just a bit more than 3 days left.
I see the number of solvers is still pretty low.
Prompted by one of them I decided to give you this "verification tool" (it's just another ITH don't worry).
It is most useful to those still going the hard way.
It allows you to check if you picked the right match for each lead.
This way there's a lot less bruteforcing involved with the last step of the puzzle, if you're stuck somewhere there.

Hints in the op have been updated!

2 months ago*
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Bump for solved

2 months ago
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Bump! :3

2 months ago
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Edit: REDACTED

2 months ago*
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Wow, I never would have been able to figure it out, i guess i need to start checking peoples steam profiles now if im stumped.
And the thing priming you to realize it was you was 'goes by name of common pet oh he is dog maybe him' altho interesting fact i've always read your name as dragon, actually only recently did I realize it was dog. regardless, interesting.

2 months ago*
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a few days ago i was googling phrases like 'marco nicknamed dog', 'marco nicknamed cat', haha nice one and thanks for the chance

2 months ago
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Closed 1 month ago by DogOnSG.