Archive for March, 2010

Dateline Nov. 23, 2002: Changes Afoot at Collective Detective

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

It’s been said that the only constant in life is change. This week, Collective Detective added MMORPG campaigns to their growing repertoire of cases. Less than three months old, cd.org started with a handful of cases covering Alternate Reality Gaming (Immersive Campaigning in their vocabulary) and treasure hunting. Along came Push, Nevada, which swelled the ranks of players to over 1,000. With Push in an untimely grave and no clear successor, Collective Detective took an unprecedented move and has begun to promote cases for Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG) with one case already open for the beta test of The Sims Online and plans for Star Wars Galaxies not far behind.

MMORPG games have a number of similarities to traditional ARG projects, so I cornered a few people at cd.org to find out what they thought about the new case. Frankenpaula, a beta tester for the Sims Online and one of the most prominent players in the Search4e, was quite excited about the new case. For her, it is all about the community. She felt she has found a great group of people to interact with online and is happy to be able to expand that interaction into other games.

I caught up with Josh Babetski, founder of Collective Detective and we chatted about the direction he’s taking CD.ORG.

WB The sims online case was a surprise for me, was that part of your original plan or a recent development?
taxicafe Well, there were always plans to sub-divide the cases into categories, when CD was being designed though what they were was still an unknown. It’s foolish to try and predict where the genre will take itself or to try and shoehorn it, but things like MMORPGS and the like were in the back of our head.WB MMORPGs are a vastly larger market. Both FP and Cort are really looking forward to how cd can enhance the community aspects of playing those games. Do you see other benefits CD offers to that player base?
taxicafe Mostly that you can log onto CD from work, you can’t log into Sims, EQ, etc. :-)
But there’s already a long tradition of community outside of these fictional worlds. They have guilds, clans, groups, drinking buddies, what have you. We enjoy what we call Immersive because it puts the world of the story into our world, this is just a slight change of actually diving INTO theirs.

WB What other genres do you see as a good fit for CD?
taxicafe I think time will dictate that. This genre’s a pup. I think a year from now we’ll perceive it in a whole new way that we do now. Just like it’s evolved dramatically in the Year from the Beast. So you have to blend pro-active growth but don’t fight the tide.
WB You already have a strong group of treasure hunters. I see RPG and other games that are going online fitting in as well.
taxicafe Like if there’s ever a point of enough people interested in a Case for Xbox/PS2 online gaming, we’d set one up.

taxicafe Not only that, but beefing up more social resources are important as well.
WB What do you mean by social resources?
taxicafe Inter-CD tournaments, things like that. Not to mention the development of the detective section so you can find CD members in your area. I think the first step will be getting the Detective resources finished so you can find all the detectives in say the Tampa area.
WB Sort of like sanctioned events?
taxicafe More informal, but if there was a demand for a Halo club or something, we might have a competition. As for real-world we definitely will organize a Collective Detective Cookout or something at some point.

WB It seems though that you’ve expanded past the genre. ARG or immersive campaigning (call it what you will) is really only one part of CD.
taxicafe That’s only if you have a tunnel vision of what the genre is or should be. Time Hunt is a fundamanetally different campaign than Push. Push was really not the same kind of campaign as the Beast.
WB so you see the genre as something that encompasses treasure hunting, MMORPG, and whatever Push was?
taxicafe I see the genre as a collective experience, wherever that may take the participants. I know you guys are hung up on this “ARG” term and that there’s anothter camp the has a mantra of “it is NOT a game,” but it boils down like this: Immersive is an umbrella for a very weird mix and match underneath. If I’m part of a murder mystery train troupe and we have part of our story on a web site. If I’m part of the Sims world, but introduce events and stories from real life.
Defining a genre by whether or not the Beast did it (phone, fax, email, websites) limits your ability to grow it. Besides its the community that really matters. The success of the genre hinges on the fact that people interact and collaborate and hang out in some capacity long after one story ends. “Join for the case, stay for the community” I think Headmocker said it.
WB That’s a pretty good motto there.
taxicafe (credit where due.)

Dateline Nov. 22, 2002: Deaddrop Announces Week In Review Newsletter

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

We just issued our second weekly newsletter today. You can find it here: Vol. 1, Issue 2.

Our free newsletter, entitled the deaddrop Week In Review, covers the happenings for all ongoing games, updates for games in the pipe, genre news, and offers a schedule of upcoming events.’, ‘You can find our inaugural newsletter, Vol. 1, Issue 1, online as well.

We will always have the latest edition in the links block on our homepage. If you want an email notification when the newsletter is available, you can sign up for it as part of your free registration to deaddrop.us. The email notice is only sent if you opt in for newsletter messages.

Dateline Nov. 22, 2002: Push, Nevada PM, Doug TenNapel In Upcoming Live Chat

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

ARGN and Unfiction are pleased to host a live chat with Doug TenNapel, the consulting producer who wrote/designed all of the puzzle material for Push, Nevada, on Sunday, Dec. 1st [2002] at 8:00 pm EST / 5:00 pm PST.

Join us live at the live chat as we get our chance to talk to Mr. TenNapel about all the behind-the-scenes aspects of the Push NV mystery.

Before working on Push NV, Doug TenNapel got his start in television as an animator for the cartoon version of “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.” Later, he got into video games and created both the “Earthworm Jim” game and subsequent television show. He also worked on “Neverhood.” His upcoming TV effort, entitled “Gear,” is based on his graphic novel of the same name, published by Fireman Press. Mr. TenNapel has dozens of comic book, video game, animation, and television credits, and he also wrote, directed, and played a part in the 2000 movie Mothman.

The chat will be held in #unfiction on the Chat-Solutions network. For those of you without an IRC client, #unfiction can be accessed via the browser-based java applet [www.argn.com/chat.htm]. Please try to arrive a little early. This will be a moderated chat. Chat and question guidelines will be posted on the unfiction.com forums shortly.

Dateline Nov. 21, 2002: Terraquest launch marred by early bugs

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

After two missed starts, Mind Quest manages to get their inaugural game out of the gate. The countdown timer for TerraQuest started yesterday, but 3 hours after the scheduled start, some players are still unable to login.

Early entrants experienced numerous bugs including the inability to login to play. It appears that the MySQL database was somehow misconfigured leaving preregistered players in the cold. As of two hours past the launch time, an informal poll of players in two separate chat channels indicated that fewer than 25% of registered players had access.

For those that did manage to start the game, numerous bugs were reported with key features in the game. One player, who paid $10 for an Express Analysis, was informed that a response could take up to two hours. Originally, the game developers promised to respond to these paid requests within 10 minutes. Part of a winning game strategy is to determine which clues need express analyses. The first player to submit the correct answer for each game period wins $25,000. Because each player is limited to five express requests per game period, judicious use of these paid responses could easily net a player the prize.

Equally troubling was the response that several players received indicating that they had already submitted their answer for this game period and were ineligible to submit any more answers until the next game period. Unless fixed, this bug essentially disqualifies the player from a prize in the current game period.

Other bugs reported include the inability to log back in after successfully logging in once and then properly logging out. For those that could log back in, some reported that the requests they submitted were missing and it appeared they needed to start over.

One other interesting anomaly was discovered prior to the official launch. The countdown timer was based on the observer’s system clock. By turning the clock on your computer forward, you had an early peek at the login screen located at lars.terraquest1.com. It is unknown whether the login was actually active, but this type of error opens the door for a serious security breach that could potentially color any claims to prize money.

The players who were able to successfully start the game and navigate through the interface reported that the environment was very rich graphically and were excited about the opportunity to play.

Dateline Nov. 20, 2002: Terraquest Announces Launch, Part 2

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

If it feels like deja vu, well, it is. The original announcement on Nov. 4 had lots of details. This one is more of a stealth launch since the counter is buried on a page with an obscure link.

You can get an exact countdown to the launch here [www.terraquest1.com/status.html].

According to their current press release, “TerraQuest is the flagship game developed by MindQuest Entertainment, LLC. TerraQuest is an interactive game that will be played over a period of approximately six months, which is a cross between a mystery and a scavenger hunt. TerraQuest is a game of skill that depends on the intellect and skill of the player instead of random chance. TerraQuest is offering a minimum prize fund of $250,000 in most jurisdictions [some are inexplicably limited to half, others are ineligible for the prize], and the more people who play, the greater the prize fund becomes. It will be divided into six rounds or game periods, each of which will last for approximately 30-45 days. In order to play TerraQuest, an eligible individual must pay an entry fee.”

The game is focused on solo play and cooperation between players is being actively discouraged.

Dateline Nov. 18, 2002: ARGN Becomes a true network

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

In support of our mission and dedication to Alternate Reality Gaming, deaddrop.us is pleased to announce it’s charter affiliation with the newly released Alternate Reality Gaming Network.

We have also started our new, weekly newsletter, ARG Week In Review with summaries of games in progress and news from the past week.

The Alternate Reality Gaming Network is becoming just that — a true network of independent sites contributing to Alternate Reality Gaming. More than just a simple webring, ARGN will always point you to quality, complementary places to go.

ARGN will become the hub for this new affiliation of sites, a place where you will always be able to find a listing of interesting places to go and an archive of ARGs gone by.

In addition, there will be access to web-based chat with a listing of cool channels to join, and we are sponsoring a mailing list whereby you can always stay informed of news and announcements of new and suspected ARGs.

Our continued mission is to promote the growth of ARG, aka immersive gaming community. By stimulating growth, everyone benefits. As with any new genre, the community is faced with a chicken and egg problem. We take a long term view and plan to provide an ongoing program of articles and features geared to both players and puppetmasters.

Our newest feature will appear weekly on Friday. Entitled ARG Week In Review, it covers the previous weeks news and updates to games in progress. You can find our first issue here.

Dateline Nov. 15, 2002: Terraquest: Gamespy interview fills in some blanks

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

The game still hasn’t launched, but the hype machine is in full swing. Among other things, see how Keith from Mind-Quest dodges the inevitable Majestic comparison. It seems that Terraquest isn’t really targeting the ARG community. To quote Keith, “We as a company will not promote or host either chat rooms or bulletin boards, and the main reason why is that we have to maintain a neutral position in this - you can’t give anyone an advantage at any point in time. We don’t recommend using them because of the simple fact that you are competing against the same people you are going to be talking to - and in that scenario who do you trust? Is the information you get going to be accurate?”

I’m thinking Keith is going to be in for a surprise.

The game will be played through the LARS interface and includes zoomable still shots from multiple angles, WAV audio files, video and webcam shots (presumably live video??) and 3D shots that can be rotated and examined in detail.

If the article or the Terraquest website [www.terraquest1.com] convince you to play, you can register right away. Game play is expected to begin any time.

Get the entire interview at http://www.gamespydaily.com/news/fullstory.asp?id=4343 GameSpyDaily.

Dateline Nov. 14, 2002: Search4e: Gamesfirst interviews Dana Bruno

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

As part of an ongoing media blitz, Dana Bruno, offers herself up to Shawn Rider to a glimpse into her past and the continuing investigation Search4e [www.search4e.org].

Dana gives some great background on her history, what happened to her partners and the Newsdogs organization [www.newsdogs.com], and explains her relationship to the other primary investigators over at True Crime Press [www.truecrimepress.com].

It’s a great read. You can find it featured on their home page archive or here.

Dateline Nov. 12, 2002: Mark Nakamoto of W. New York Wins $1 Million Push, Nevada Prize

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Mark Nakamoto, 24, of West New York, New Jersey, is the lucky viewer who claimed the $1,045,000 prize from the Push, Nevada Game, it was announced today by the ABC Television Network.

Nakomoto solved the >Push, Nevada” puzzle after watching the >Push, Nevada” series and the Final Clue, broadcast live during ABC’s >Monday Night Football” on October 28, which completed the information viewers needed to solve the puzzle. The Final Clue led viewers to a series of letters taken from the episode clues that, together with a cipher, corresponded to a telephone number. Less than two minutes after the final piece of the puzzle was broadcast, Nakamoto, an assistant editor for a Manhattan publishing company, was the first contestant to call the winning number.

Nakamoto wasn’t the only viewer to figure the puzzle out, just the quickest to respond. During the first 20 minutes after the Final Clue was broadcast, more than 500 people solved the puzzle and called the winning number. Within the first 24 hours, more than 10,000 viewers had called.

The Push, Nevada Game was the largest TV and online game of skill ever played in America (for a prize of over 1 million dollars). The TV portion of the game is in a class of its own, as it was the only nationwide game of skill that could be played and won by simply watching a TV show. An estimated number of players upwards of 600,000 participated in the game, based on a percentage of broadcast viewers and online numbers. Additionally, close to 200,000 of these players interacted with the online portion of the game, rivaling some of the largest online games in existence.

>Push, Nevada,” a mystery about a strange Nevada town where nothing is as it seems, had its last original airing on the ABC Television Network on October 24. Sean Bailey, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Chris Moore were executive producers of >Push, Nevada,” from LivePlanet in association with Touchstone Television.

LivePlanet creates, markets and distributes entertainment experiences that break down the barriers between traditional media, new media and the physical world. LivePlanet calls this new kind of entertainment experience >integrated media.” Ben Affleck, Sean Bailey, Matt Damon and Chris Moore founded LivePlanet in June 2000.

Dateline Nov. 9, 2002: Classic Infocom Adventure Games Online

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Do you miss those old text adventures? You can play many of them online at WildBill’s Infocom Text Adventure Collection. Wildbill found a Java-based game interpreter and made the games available. Due to limitations of Java, you can’t save your game, but they are still fun to play.

In his collection, you’ll find Zork 1, 2, and 3, Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, Bureaucracy, and Leather Goddesses of Phobos.

The collection can be found at www.nulldevice.net/infocom/ http://www.xs4all.nl/~pot/infocom/.

There are a few other links, including one for the Interactive Fiction Archive. Believe it or not, people are still cranking out games in this format and there are a number of gems in the archive.