Archive for the ‘Games’ Category

Dateline Jan. 23, 2003: JMX Stage 3 is Live

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Stage 3 launched more than a week earlier than expected. The clue for the start is apparently buried in an email resulting from the completion of Stage 2.

Jaded Media Experience (JMX) is a puzzle series hosted by The first two stages were tremendously popular, even if certain puzzles were unbelievably frustrating.

If you figure out the start, post it to the Yahoo JMX Spoiler Group. For hints, from into the [Jaded Media Forums].


Friday, June 4th, 2010

[Score another one for Vraal! He has apparently single-handedly solved the painting. There must have been a clue from his dumpster diving expedition. -ed.]

Dear Landau, Luckman, and Lake:

Sin Vraal, investigative reporter, Mr. Lake may remember me.

As you well know, I’ve been closely following the investigation into that mysterious painting discovered by NRU Researcher Dr. Saint Vincent.

I wanted to inform you that I have discovered something extremely important regarding the painting -

The charcoal markings underlying the paint, they are in fact semaphore markings that represent these three words:


I was hoping LLL might shed some light on this for us - I will be posting this letter and your response at

Thank you for your time.

-Sin Vraal
Investigative Reporter

Dateline Jan. 20, 2003: L3 Update: A Deaddrop Reader Scores An Interview

Friday, June 4th, 2010

[To call this article offbeat would be almost misleading. Regardless, it’s odd, it’s hip. Heck, it’s newsworthy! -ed.]

Sometime in December, the ARG community was turned upside down; a trio of mysterious barristers named David Landau, Jeffrey Luckman, and Stephen Lake - apparently at the great expense and bequest of an anonymous client - began e-mailing documents to seemingly random members of the ARG community.

Fortunately, our wonderful brethren gathered at Unfiction and Collective Detective and shared their wealth. As it turned out, only when everyone’s materials were pooled did a message stand out. Just then, as quickly as it began, the dialogue and e-mails stopped.

Who the heck is Jake, and what can’t he stop? What kind of help does he need? Was this some sort of test, or the start of a wild new game? This intrepid reporter was DETERMINED to find some answers for you, our dedicated public.

It was shortly thereafter that three gentlemen found me, squatting in the dumpster behind Landau, Lake, and Luckman, heaving out the soured remains of three discarded cognac bottles I had found there about 30 minutes earlier. As the three wavering images slowly resolved themselves into one, I wiped my lips on the few treasured papers I had found, and quickly stood down. My face in a bag of trash, I tried again, orienting *upward* this time, and clambered over the side of the bin with a bit of a wobble.

The man before me offered me a rag with a snicker; he was obviously not one of the famed lawyers. Or was he? Wiping myself down with the grace of a hobo, and unsuccessfully offering back the man’s rag, I put on my best reporter face and asked him who the hell he was.

“You can ask me your questions, bridgekeeper, I’m not afraid… ,” he said. “Come, sit with Mephisto for awhile.”

The following interview occurred between 9:00PM and 10:00PM on the night of the Alabama Senior Bowl…

Vraal: Ok… Mephisto, was it? Just who ARE you? Do you work here?

Mephisto: Yes, I’m … the janitor, you might say.

Vraal: Ah. Thus the dumpster.

Mephisto: Yes. Enjoy the leftovers, did you?

Vraal: um, okay, just what the hell kind of game are you guys playing here, anyway? My readers DEMAND to know!

Mephisto: Rule #1 This is not a game. Rule #2 Never forget to play by Rule #1.

Vraal: do you deny there is a game being played here?

Mephisto: Are you playing one? If so, then there is a game being played.

Vraal: Who is Jake? Does he have anything to do with Ankgor Thom? Do you know anything about the universi–

Talkie: Mephisto? What on earth is taking you so long? Get in here!

Clearly relieved, Mephisto ran into the building - I quickly pocketed my dumpster papers. Several minutes later, Mephisto returned with a sharply-dressed young gentleman. Perhaps now I could get some further answers…

Mephisto: … Sir, this is the guy I was –

Gentleman: Mr. Vraal –

Vraal: How did you know my name??

Gentleman: That is our business. You may call me Mr. Lake.

Vraal: Ah, Stephen Lake, I presume.

Lake: Mr. Lake.

Vraal: I see. Mr. Lake, could you plea–

Lake: Landau, Luckman, and Lake has been fictionalized many times in the past. In regards to a Jake, we do not have any information in regards to him. Nor will we now or at any time in the future directly divulge our client’s name who instigated the battery of tests being delivered.

Vraal: Ah so you do indeed acknowledge that the messages were indeed “tests”? (I then swore under my breath for using that word so many times).

Lake: Yes… we did email the community of the tests a few days after the first test. We have said all we have been authorized to say on that matter.

Vraal: Can you comment as to the nature of the tests?

Lake: As previously acknowledged, once each test is completed and someone emails us the correct answer, the next sealed envelope is opened and we do what we can to meet the client’s request.

Vraal: You must have been paid exceedingly well; this “client” of yours sounds quite eccentric.

Lake: Funding is not an issue we can discuss. But Landau, Luckman, and Lake has never failed a client in their time of need.

Vraal: And who is your client?

Lake: We cannot discuss that matter with you at this time.

Vraal: My readers have a need, good sirs, to know what is being thrust upon them… but it seems all they have received so far have been open doors. Take the New River University, for example - In my research, I couldn’t help but notice that your law firm was rather heavily involved with recent discoveries made by a certain Dr. St. Vincent. I can’t help but infer that this discovery is related to
your client in some way. Can you elaborate?

Lake: Our client’s instructions included us getting in touch with Professor St. Vincent and delivering him a packet of information. So yes, inferring we’re heavily involved in the find is 100% accurate.

Vraal: How delightfully cryptic of you.

Lake: “Complete discretion in all manners”

Vraal: Dr. St. Vincent thanked your firm for your time and support, and wanted to “especially thank” the person who provided the information leading to the discovery. Was he referring to a member of your firm, or to your “mystery client”?

Lake: Mystery client? We prefer to call him a client who prefers to keep his name from the presses, nothing more. And yes, it would seem the good Professor was thanking him directly.

Vraal: Assuming you are in contact with Dr. St. Vincent - are you aware if he will accept queries regarding his work at this time? Perhaps I’ll have better luck getting to the bottom of this with him.

Lake: Getting to the bottom of what exactly? A person gives a university the find of a lifetime, and all of a sudden we have a Scooby Doo mystery…

Vraal: Ah ha! I’m glad you asked!

(It must have been at this time Mephisto was again speaking into his walkie-talkie, but I hadn’t noticed…It’s the only explanation…).

Vraal: 1) Your site connects to the NRU and the article connects the archaeologist to your firm.
2) One of our dear readers has posted that he found some other interesting artifacts on YOUR website that can only be construed as a mystery - calling everything into a single question, collectively. Namely, a map with some directions.
3) A mysterious painting YOU pointed the university to, now with quaint charcoal lines underlying it!

Mephisto: Mr. Vraal… I must inform you that the police are on their way. You are trespassing on LLL property.

Vraal: Our readers have started their feverish puzzlehunting anew with this business - THAT is the sum of the mystery of which I spoke. Do you STILL deny that this is indeed the start of a seductive game, or perhaps some conspiratorial guinea-pigging initiated by YOUR firm on behalf of a client (or otherwise)?

Lake: As for the findings of the painting and the charcoal markings. . . we could not have had nor have we tampered with since the painting. It’s genuine. As for the rest… well, Mysteries Abound!

Vraal: Mr. Lake - Which was right - Green Block, or Red Ball?

(Sirens suddenly in the distance, approaching, drowned out Lake’s sneered answer…)

Vraal: (Over my shoulder) Only time will tell, STEPHEN - I guarantee you that I and our readers will be following the scientific investigation VERY closely with regards to the painting. You *WILL* be hearing from me again, count on it!

I left in such a hurry, I forgot all about the papers I had grabbed from the dumpster…

Dateline Jan. 17, 2002: The TerraQuest Requiem. We Didn’t Even Have To Change The Lyrics

Friday, June 4th, 2010

57 days after it finally launched, TerraQuest is no more.

Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone and another one gone
Another one bites the dust
Hey I’m gonna get you too
Another one bites the dust

Queen - Another One Bites The Dust

At approximately 3:00 P.M. today, TerraQuest was officially canceled due to lack of registration. Employees of [ Mind Quest], the company responsible for the game, were unavailable for comment.

The game was to feature over $400,000 in prize money to be awarded over approximately a six month period. Each of the six play periods would have a single $25,000 winner while a final winner of the overall game was to be awarded $250,000.

Refunds are expected for all registered players for both initial registration fees and express clues. The first play period prize is being awarded to Roland Spencer of San Diego. Congratulations!

The complete [” press release]:

January 16, 2003
To the Players of TerraQuest

We want to thank you for your enthusiasm in playing TerraQuest. While the comments from those of you who are players have been wonderful, there is simply not enough participation in the experience to keep this version of TerraQuest going. As a result, we will discontinue TerraQuest immediately.

By discontinuing TerraQuest now, we can take the compelling storyline and combine the user and editorial feedback to modify the structural part of the game. We thank you for your support of TerraQuest and we look forward to providing you with more entertainment options in the very near future.

Since its inception, MindQuest Entertainment has prided itself on its integrity and providing exceptional entertainment value to you, our customers. As a result, all registration fees and express clue charges will be refunded in full to each player and the winner of the first Game Period (Roland Spencer of San Diego, California) has received the $25,000 prize. Thanks again for your participation in TerraQuest.

Most Sincerely,
Keith Griffin
MindQuest Entertainment, LLC

Terraquest is the latest in a string of high profile, prematurely terminated immersive campaigns, including Search4e and the much publicized Push, Nevada.

Dateline Jan. 15, 2003: A Busy Day in the World of ARG

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Wow! Three games / games-to-be update on the same day. When it rains it pours. Check out the latest facts, spec and rumors.

It’s like the grand convergence, but not. It’s like the A.I. game, but not. It’s a conspiracy — or not. Wait, it’s the world of Alternate Reality Gaming.

Our list of games and hopefuls is woefully short and the level recent activity has been minimal, if not outright disappointing. So I was naturally amazed and delighted to find out that there is activity in three different campaigns!

First out of the block, we learn that TerraQuest brought a [ new website] live. The law firm of Knight, Bishop, and Castle handles estate planning and probate.

The next find was an updated flash at []. SHC, a Push, Nevada fan site by the PM for [], a highly anticipated game expected to start at any time. Spacebass of Unfiction, noticed the change while the updates were in progress and captured three different flash files that came and went in rapid succession.

The final game (I assume it is or will be a game) is the cryptic L3. A new link appeared on [] taking players to the website for [ New River University]. The NRU site looks pretty extensive, has a ton of symbology, faculty, and content. Guesses about it were all over the map in chat. The relationship between NRU and L3 seems to be that Stephen Lake was a guest speaker at NRU. On a side note, I was informed that the rot decrypter at flywheel has been down for a few weeks, so I took a breather and programmed one in mIRCscript. If you are in Chat and see Bill logged in you can run it by typing

!rot x string where x is 0-25 and string is the text you want decoded.

Dateline Jan. 13, 2003: Chasing The Wish: 1/12/2003 Update

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Chasing the Wish PuppetMaster released an email update with the latest status on the launch. With over 350 registered players from all over the world, they are making adjustments and a launch is still a few short weeks away.

The entire update follows:

“When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.” Albert EinsteinHello from []!

As the launch of Chasing The Wish grows closer, we’d like to give you one last update on the game before the curtain of anonymity falls firmly into place. This should be our last “out of game” message and there are a few things we need to address before we disappear.

First, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the truly overwhelming support Chasing The Wish has already received. At last count, we had well over 350 registered players for the game including dozens and dozens internationally, with groups of players in the UK, Canada, Italy, Spain, Australia, Brazil, Croatia(!), and Hong Kong. And more are still registering every day as the word spreads and momentum builds. We’ve also had over 4 dozen players volunteer to help out in one way or another with the “Behind The Scenes” effort. Since we won’t be communicating directly with the players once the game goes “live”, this will be our last chance until after the game to thank each and every one of you for your support of this “grassroots” game. We’re also grateful for the financial support we’ve been receiving, from both merchandise sales and direct donations. We are doing our best to make this an experience you won’t soon forget and your support in any form will definitely help. So please take this as a very sincere “Thank You”.

We’re receiving e-mails every day asking about the start of the game. As you can tell from this e-mail, it hasn’t started yet and the launch is still weeks away. We’re doing our best to meet our estimated timeframe but, quite honestly, things may slip by just a bit. Before you groan too loudly in disappointment, please understand two things: (1) the numbers we are dealing with are much greater than anticipated and are forcing some adjustments to things already complete, and (2) we are committed to having the game “ready to go” when launch occurs. Because Chasing The Wish is basically an interactive novel that unfolds in real time, it is essential not to have any “downtime” periods like many of the other current games are experiencing. We can promise you that such interruptions will not occur with Chasing The Wish. We can also assure you that if such a delay in starting is necessary, it will indeed be short. It truly won’t be long now.

There will also be at least one more major update to the site before the game begins as we make adjustments to put it more into “stealth” mode. Keep your eyes open as there will be some interesting new things there soon.

In closing, we’d like to suggest a few things that will help make your experience with Chasing The Wish as enjoyable as possible. One important thing is patience - both now in the pre-game and once the game begins. Remember, this is a story taking place in real time so things will take time to occur. Next is research - question and research everything. There are multiple levels of meaning to many elements of the game; understanding them all will give you the best chance of working your way through the game. Finally, be part of a community. There are several communitites/groups already set up to help each other play the game with message boards, guides, and trails in place and ready to go. You can find them from the Links page on the CTW website and if anyone knows of any others, please let us know and we’ll add it to the list. One of the great things about this type of adventure is interacting with the other players and helping and encouraging each other through the puzzles and plot twists. And, as a little word of advice, there will be spots in CTW where you absolutely need someone else’s help.

OK, enough for now. We have much to do. Have faith that every day brings us closer to opening up the door to this strange new world we are creating called Chasing The Wish.

The Chasing The Wish Development team

Dateline Jan. 9, 2003: JMX Stage 2 Solved. Players Anxious For Stage 3

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Players completed Stage 2 of the JadedMedia Experience today. Of the seventeen puzzles in the series, three qualified as absolutely brutal. The level of creativity in the puzzles increased dramatically with more puzzles requiring lateral thinking and knowledge of binary, rot encryption, trivia, enigma cyphers and more.

Players needed almost a month to complete Stage 1. Stage 2, which launched on New Year’s Day, was solved in just under nine days elapsed time.

The players on the #JMX chat, accessible through, had mixed feelings about the end of stage 2. With the thrill of conquest, the prevailing question was, “What do we do now?” The Stage 3 launch date hasn’t been confirmed, but it is widely expected to be on or around Feb. 1.

“[ JadedMedia] is an online project put together by a team of collaborators. the intention is to keep you guessing by helping you see what you already know. the project has been put together by friends, colleagues, and allies. it is an alternative to what you would normally do in a place that is not even there.”

Dateline Jan. 8, 2003: L3: Now Hiring

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

It seems the people behind the new L3 website are looking for talent. The site, tied to a recent set of puzzles, may be either a lead-in for the actual game or a recruiting tool for PMs. Clicking on the [ Client Referrals] link brings you to a web form that states, “We are searching for several Puppet Masters to assist with the creation of an extensive ARG (Immersive Campaign). If you are interested, please submit your information below. We will contact you at a later time to follow up.”

Judging by the survey, any prospective PMs will be making a fairly substantial commitment to the game. One of the question asks, “Are you prepared to spend between 12 and 20 hours per week for at least six months?” Nothing like telling the truth up front!

The survey also asks for writing, website development and other skills along with a few oddball questions.

Dateline Jan. 8, 2003: Aspen Treasure Hunt Site Collapses During $10k Final Episode

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Even as I write, the Aspen Cologne website remains unavailable. This morning, at 10:00 A.M. ET, Aspen released the final episode of their treasure hunt where one lucky winner will receive a grand prize valued at $16,000.

[ Aspen Cologne], sponsor of the Aspen Treasure Hunt (see previous article) was unable to prevent the crippling collapse of their website (including the game console) during the final episode of the Aspen Treasure Hunt.

At stake are prizes totaling over $43,000. A representative from Madden Media acknowledged that several people have called in to report technical problems and referred me to the technical staff who have not yet returned my call.

The representative had no information about whether the outage would affect the award of prizes. According to the [ official rules], “If, for any reason, the Contest is not capable of running as planned by reason, for example but not limited to, of infection by computer virus, bugs, worms, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of this Contest, Sponsor reserves the right at its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Contest and select the winners from entries received prior to the action taken, or as otherwise deemed fair and appropriate by Sponsor.”

According to Carol Ann K., one of the players present for the final episode debacle, “This was a great game that would have been greater if the server could handle the load each week. Many found it frustrating that they could not even enter the game, or when they did many elements were missing. Bottom line: I think you are on to something here. Few will forget about Aspen Cologne.”

The symptoms of the failure were identical to a DDOS attack. Most pages on the website were unavailable for extended periods and the game console behaved erratically by locking up, losing player points and inventory, and presenting blank screens instead of the normal views. The entire website went completely offline at least once.

Dateline Dec. 31, 2002: JadedMedia Experience Stage 1 Wraps. Stage 2 Staged

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Players completed the first full stage of the JadedMedia Experience yesterday. With over 150 players, JMX is one of the successful online puzzles currently active. Stage 2 begins tomorrow and promises to be equally challenging.

The first stage, composed of 19 puzzles, took players just under one month to complete. At times, the puzzles fell like lushes at happy hour. For other parts, the players needed a bit of prodding in the way of additional hints to recognize the blindingly obvious.

Kenny Perry, aka Compguy509, got top honors for the first stage. According to Kenny, Gridlock (1.5) was the hardest puzzle just because the players way overthunk it. Encrypt (1.11) was another that stood out for him.

JMX Stage 1 will remain online for anyone that missed out and is still interested in playing through the challenge.

For the duration of the first stage, The JMX server logged over 16,000 page views and transferred almost one gigabyte of data.

Stage 2 launches on New Years Day. You can jump in at [] and register to play. Game play is free.