Archive for June, 2010

Dateline Feb. 11, 2003: Classic Adventure Games Meet Multi-User Online Gaming

Friday, June 4th, 2010

If you’re geeky enough to fondly remember Police Quest I or either Space Quest, read on!

I am continually amazed by the lengths people will go to the recreate their favorites online. I’ve learned to love Atari’s Original Adventure. I’ve gotten all misty eyed at a nice, online collection of Infocom adventures. I’ve even waxed rhapsodic about the largest collection of adventure game links.

But who in their right mind would recreate not one, but three different adventures using DHTML and Javascript of all things? The answer, my friend, is blowing^h^h^h^h^h^h^h, er, is Martin Cool Sarien.net.

The three adventures are a work in progress, but being able to play online isn’t the coolest part. The games are multi-user! We’ve got the kitchie little CGA graphics, little Roger is animated, and you can chat with any of the other players. Did I mention it be free?

Martin plans to post his development kit soon. He’s hoping that players will be jazzed enough to help recreate other games, like Kings Quest, and help finish the rooms in the games he’s already begun to recreate. He’s also planning to add scheduled mini-games, multiplayer puzzles and add inventory related features. The gaming engine is flexible and allows other graphical engines to plug in. So it’s possible to even recreate newer games like Day of the Tentacle or Indiana Jones (ok, all things being relative). The engine supports SCI and SCUMM style graphics if you want the technical term.

Because of the development environment, no plugins, downloads, or enhancements are needed. The game should be very playable in any modern browser on Windows, Mac, or *nix.

Dateline Feb. 11, 2003: The BBC Takes Notice

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Despite numerous factual errors, the ARG community got a huge shout out from the dot.life column of the BBC News Online.

Mark Ward, dot.life columnist for the online edition of the BBC News, was very complimentary to the genre and Collective Detective specifically. Factual errors notwithstanding, the article is quite positive and complimentary.

Ward writes, “One of the most prominent is the Collective Detective, whose members share an interest in online immersive games such as The Sims, and have a liking for intellectual puzzles. The group has racked up considerable success in solving online and offline scavenger and treasure hunts, as well as more general puzzles with prizes on offer. ”

The article provided sidebar links to both CD and [Chasing The Wish].

Dateline Feb. 5, 2003: Search4e is Back and Flush With Cash

Friday, June 4th, 2010

The story, posted to Unfiction by konamouse, summarizes the recent events in the restart of Search4e. It seems to be back and players have received everything from ATM cards to phone calls.

Konamouse posted the following update to Unfiction:

If you are an investigator in the Search for Ed, or looking to solve a mystery and puzzles, http://www.search4e.org is up and running after a few financial setbacks in November (at the time we were notified of the mysterious death of the Publisher of True Crime Press, Owen McCleey).Recently there have been some significant developments:

A number of investigators received packages that previously had been held at Postoffice Boxes Etc for people who many have been members of a Knights Guild. These packages had clues that reminded us of a fax number we had gotten thru some crazy emails earlier, and sent us to a new website - www.julie-uprising.com

When the correct data was entered into the survey page (there were clues to that from the Wolford pantyhose manufacturer’s website and within the source code of the survey page itself) we found this interesting site - [www.knightsoftheweb.com/clients/muistiin.html (now a link spammer)] which points us to a radio station 99.1KOTW (Knights Of The Web) and gave us a headache translating the Finnish language.

A mysterious letter arrived at another investigator’s home, with an ATM card and a dollar bill that clued him into the pin for the card, and further points to a radio station web site - [www.991kotw.com/]

At the radio station site we can hear two of the three sound files, the first one is missing some files. Come to the community forum at Search4E to see the results of the wave file clue (it turned out to be a phone number that had a voice mail message from KOTW). I left a message last week and last night received a phone call in response - the clues from the phone call help us solve the puzzle from the above website and input the correct code in the KIBS box in the middle of the Union Station picture.

Now we have ATM applications we can fill out and submit (can we find the POB for this company?) and tiny little more background information on some of the characters ingame.

Anyway, didn’t know if any of you in ARG were playing or not. But if you were before, please come back and help us keep moving forward.
If you weren’t playing before, come on in, read the beta puzzles solves and the background mystery (lots of info in the dot con forum, same navigation as in unforum) and help find Ed.
_________________
’squeek’

Dateline Feb. 4, 2003: Alias Sleeper ARG Launches

Friday, June 4th, 2010

No one knows if it’s a fan inspired piece or the real thing, but a number of members of the Alias Game Community received emails leading them to a couple of puzzles and websites.

My vote is that the game was created by an Alias fan rather than Rulerfrog or his minions, but we might be surprised.

The trailhead was a email similar to the one received by Zephyr_hex

Hello.
I found a site you might be interested in. It’s only for clever
people. Some one I know by reputation only puts important messages
on it.

[www.geocities.com/xyzazni/Of_Interest.html] is this website.
The three words that will lead the way are: Secret A _
Use those to get to the door.
What did Bach tell you to do? That is the key word to open the door.
The pictureless caption will give you an idea.
This is for everyone, not just those Miz Martinez mentioned.

Equi_Design has already begun [www.geocities.com/alias_faq/red_herrings.htm a most excellent trail] of information.

So far, the game is being conducted solely on free resources such as Yahoo and Hotmail, but the PM has kept good contact with the players, so I really hope the game has legs. (Note to PM: If you need ad-free hosting, send a request.)

Dateline Jan. 28, 2003: … A Boat You Cannot Row

Friday, June 4th, 2010

There is a legendary fish, the subject of tales spoken in hushed voices, passed from father to son, ally to ally. An enigma, hidden in the streams and lakes of the world, spreading its fins to catch the currents that will take him to where only dreams may go.”

If you need a great laugh, check out [chasingthefish.com Chasing The Fish] for a really clever spoof of the highly anticipated game, [Chasing The Wish].

I really hope the site is kept up during the game. The registration was done using GoDaddy’s Domain Proxy Service.

Dateline Jan. 24, 2003: Interview With Team Noah Boddy, Part 1 of 3

Friday, June 4th, 2010

This just in from the intrepid Sin_Vraal out in the field:

I still don’t know who it was that attacked me.

I had 3 whole pages, you see, 3 of them! I was looking over my NoahBoddy interview notes when a cab came around the corner and clipped me, sending me flying! I hit a wall with a crunch, and must have passed out for an hour or two, for when I came around, all of my papers were gone! Well no, one of them was half wrapped around the grate of a nearby storm drain. I grabbed it before it could blow away, and have attached it below so it doesn’t get lost again.

I limped over to a phone booth and whipped out my PDA. NOBODY runs me over! I of course called my dear editor, Bill, to inform him that I wouldn’t be at work again today.

“No? Let me guess – been boozing it up again, eh?”, he snorted.
“Oh no, boss, really, I was just victim to a near-miss!”
“A near miss??”
“Hit, damnit, I was hit — by a big car! Unfortunately, it wasn’t a total miss, or I’d be coming in today!”

After the obscenities died down and I was able to explain what happened, good Bill grumbled a goodbye and slammed the phone.

Determined to get to the bottom of things, I dialed my good editor-friend SpaceBass - And what he had to say hit me nearly as hard as the car.

Narrative continued at unfiction.com.


PART ONE OF THREE
INTERVIEW WITH TEAM NOAH BODDY


Vraal: What were your main reasons for closing the game?

NB: Several reasons motivated the Noah Boddy group to close the game — although closing is actually a misnomer. The game has been on hiatus, much like a television series during the summer season.

Let us make one thing clear - we have ALWAYS intended to come back and finish the game with its original 26 week schedule: 1 ‘opening’ clue, 24 ‘weekly’ clues and 1 final tie-everything-together and get the winners week. But in the process of doing this, several things began to happen and it forced the team to look at the situation as it stood.

1a. Time issues: The Noah Boddy team is comprised of several people who do other things for a living. None of us is a full-time employee of Noah Boddy Productions. And as the game was originally envisioned, it could have been done within the context of our >free time”. As we have stated from the beginning, this is an experiment – we’re trying things out to see what works and what doesn’t. Part of what didn’t was the issue of how much time would have to be devoted to the game from a >creator” standpoint. Quite honestly, the game began to take too much time from those pursuits that allow the team to make a living so they can RUN NoahBoddy. Some of the time issues were because of real-life situations, but most of the time issues came from other factors, which in turn became the other reasons for us to place the game on hiatus until they could be fixed.

1b. Design issues: It became clear to the Team that there were some serious design issues that needed to be addressed in order to make the game work more smoothly. First and foremost of those was the idea that we truly needed more than one board for the game to work — we needed an >in-character” or >in-game” board and a board for >out-of-character” or >out-of-game” board. We honestly believed that more people playing the game would be veterans of the Internet and that’s turned out not to be the case. Which, while extremely exciting for us, means that we have to guide players more effectively, and that required us to look at the options for >re-doing” the design for the game. To put it bluntly, it became too confusing for players to have some people discussing the current puzzles while others tried to communicate with the game characters all in one giant bundle. So we had to re-think things. Which we’ve now done.

1c. Problems: Anyone who was playing the game is aware that we had players who became problematic. Whether they were determined to attack the team or the players or just confuse the issue, we reached a level where the game became attacks instead of teamwork and anger instead of passion. Part of our decision to take a hiatus was the hope that time away from all of this would give players the chance to cool down and return with a better frame of reference. And our plans for the coming designs and better >framework” for the game should help keep people motivated and interested in the right directions. We also have new plans in readiness should any future problems arise. All of that took time to get in place.

1d. Business: We were being considered for funding and sponsorship, but knew that funding and sponsorship would be difficult to maintain with all of the flaws that the general game play was facing. We needed to take a look back, ourselves, and see what really needed to happen to make this a viable, able to be sponsored game.

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 JadedMedia.net. 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].

Dateline Jan. 20, 2003: Imperial Wars: Another Spin on Cooperative Online Gaming

Friday, June 4th, 2010

What do you get when you cross TerraQuest, Traveller and The Beast? You get Imperial Wars. Five years in development, it combines some of the best elements of immersive campaigning and role playing without requiring anyone to give up their real job, families, or both!

You can read the [www.ogcan.com/article.php?sid=553″ full article] on OGCAN.

The creator of Imperial Wars, Intelligent Life Games, describes the core element as the metagame. The metagame is “that cool stuff that happens outside of the game rules, where people talk across the table, make local rules and generally enjoy the social aspects of an activity with others.” Essentially, the stuff that happens in the Iwars Universe facilitates the metagame.

According to Scott Miller, PR man for Imperial Wars, “In the game is full email and instant messenger, whose address books are populated as you meet the other Starlords in your own pocket universe. But maybe the best thing about the game is the ease with which it fits itself into your lifestyle and yet retains the immersive quality of a long-term game. Unlike games that demand your complete and full attention, IWars co-exists with the rest of your life. It brings back not only the really fun social aspects of gaming but also those wonderful lost emotions of anticipation and contemplation. This is not a game for everyone; it’s not the long-awaited breakthrough game of the Internet masses. The target is much higher than that. We just wanted to make the most fun game that we could think of. ”

IWars is different because it has its roots in older Play By Mail (PBM) games rather than persistent worlds like Ultima Online and even Colossal Cave. The game development started five years ago and was intended from the outset to use tools players already are familiar with, such as email and IM.

Imperial Wars recently completed their closed beta and is now accepting applications for the [public playtest]. The game universe includes 350 diverse worlds traversed by hundreds of star fleets. The revenue model for the game will be based on turns with other elements of the game available for free. Turns are expected to cost $3.95 each with a monthly cap of $10.99 for games with faster paced activity.

Because the focus of the gameplay is based on interaction and strategy, players have no need to engage in time-consuming activities to build their status or increase levels. The initial game pace will seem slow for players unaccustomed to this form of gaming, but as you meet other ‘Starlords’ and encounter more of the universe, the number of options available and time required to effectively execute your strategy will increase to meet whatever amount of time you intend to spend.

With the information I gathered from the article, the positive discussion on how the gameplay progresses, and my affinity to sci-fi plots, I’m very excited to see how this game turns out when it launches.

Dateline Jan. 20, 2003: SPECIAL NEWS FLASH: L3 PAINTING EXPOSED!

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, DeadDrop.us. 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:

FAIL
SAFE
HTML

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

Thank you for your time.

-Sin Vraal
Investigative Reporter
www.deaddrop.us
INFORMATION MUST BE FREE!

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…