Dateline Dec. 8, 2002: Chat Transcript with Push, Nevada’s PM Doug TenNapel

March 23rd, 2010

Unfiction, in cooperation with ARGN hosted a chat with the main PuppetMaster and Puzzle creator for Push, Nevada. The PM, Doug TenNapel covered a lot of ground and announced his next project.

The chat:
SpaceBass welcome Doug
TenNapel I’m here
TenNapel Hi I’m Doug TenNapel, I created the puzzles for Push Nevada
SpaceBass Before we start repeating people, I have a list of questions from those who weren’t able to make the chat
SpaceBass First of all, I’d like to welcome Doug TenNapel and thank him for taking the time to come out and chat with us. We really appreciate any opportunity to pick the brain of a puppetmaster.
TenNapel Yeah! glad to be here.
SpaceBass Before we start taking questions from the audience, I’ll start out with one question that I know a lot of people want answered, and then we’ll start voicing people to ask their own questions.
SpaceBass So, to start: What is the connection between NoahBoddy and Push, NV?
TenNapel Wow, I’m not gonna know a lot of that suff…
TenNapel …Push was separated between fiction and real world puzzle…
TenNapel If there was a connection, it would go in after the fact probably by our web content guy Steve Edwards…
TenNapel …Noah was a plant that we could control…
TenNapel … bleed out clues and keep track of our most “dangerous” audience members.
SpaceBass Let me follow-up quickly..if Noah was a plant, does that mean the NoahBoddy game that started after Push ended is indeed run by people who were involved with Push?
TenNapel I don’t know. I know that we had plants we control but I couldn’t keep track of who was real and who was not…
TenNapel …if he was or was not a plant, it wouldn’t surprize me!
TenNapel …that may sound like a lame answer…
TenNapel …but after a while the Push production got huge I didn’t always know what one arm of the production was doing. Next?
SpaceBass Okay, thanks. Let’s go to the audience. Our first questioner is Push.
TenNapel I like your name already.
Push Doug, will there be a DVD set of Push?
TenNapel I have no idea. I know that the Exec producer Sean Baily was talking about it so who knows. As the puzzle guy, I wouldn’t necessarily be involved with that unless it was to create new puzzles or remove old puzzles from the set. Next?
Push Was your delay last weekend caused by Watermark?
TenNapel Push, Good ONE!…
TenNapel …my delay last weekend was caused by my own incompetence… so I blame Watermark! Next?
Tien_Le Welcome, Doug, thanks for joining us. Who was Enoch? and followup…who were Enoch’s ‘contacts’?
TenNapel Hmmm this is going to be difficult…
TenNapel …it’s like Shatner at a Star Trek convention…
vpisteve heh
TenNapel …I’m not perfectly familiar with the drama of Push so try to question me about the puzzle work. They really are separate parts of the show…
TenNapel …I know some things about the narrative but I tried to stick close to weaving puzzles into the show. Next?
vpisteve can you explain in a little more detail your role, just so folks are clear on exactly what your contribution to everything was
TenNapel Sure…
vpisteve how did it all work for you?
TenNapel I was involved with the very start of the show…
TenNapel …like the week after Ben and Sean pitched Push to ABC I was meeting with Sean…
TenNapel …I helped craft some of the elements of the pilot and the overall arc of the season…
TenNapel …but once we got going I left working on the dramatic elements of the show…
TenNapel … they brought in writers and directors to do that…
TenNapel …I had worked on Push for 1.5 years BEFORE prodtuction started…
vpisteve wow
TenNapel …so I had a ton of puzzle notes to craft. That’s me. I created the puzzles FOR THE MILLION DOLLAR PRIZE ONLY…
TenNapel …the dramatic puzzles (non-prize money stuff in the mystery of the show) was primarily handled by Sean Baily and Steve Edwards…
TenNapel …Edwards and I shared an office at the studio so we worked together a lot, towards the end he was helping me with a lot of puzzle stuff.
catherwood was the web interactivity side of things restricted by the goals of TV group and their “game integration team” on what could and could not happen beyond the show and the $million game?
TenNapel Wow…
TenNapel …the drama of the TV restricted everything.
TenNapel …push had to work as good TV first…
TenNapel …so there were lots of web ideas and puzzle ideas we had that just couldn’t be done because it was too intrusive or required too much work that sucked away from the TV show…
TenNapel … further, lawyers…
TenNapel …need I say more?
the42guy How did the final solve [”vongilnail”] due to cancellation differ from the original solve? Follow up: Do you think if Push had been scheduled on a different night (it was against “CSI”), it might have survived?
TenNapel … good questions…
TenNapel …I always knew that vongilnail would be the final answer…
TenNapel … We had cleared 10 different phone numbers from 10 locations under different names to make sure they couldn’t get traced back to LivePlanet…
TenNapel …I had hoped that Von Gil Nail could be worked into the narrative of the show so I presented the name to Sean Baily…
TenNapel … it was too late to create the character but we knew that name would come down the pipe, when the series got canned we just had to incorporate the clues from the cancelled shows into the last episode…
TenNapel …it was kind of an exciting challenge!…
the42guy yah, that was an interesting ending. :)
TenNapel …I love solving puzzles and this was a real life puzzle to solve…
TenNapel …I dont think Push would have survived…
TenNapel …it’s the wrong show at the wrong time in life…
TenNapel …perhaps another season or HBO or a feature would have worked but I personally don’t blame CSI on our troubles. Next
Diandra I noticed that some of the puzzles in Push (for example the touch-tone dialing puzzle and the puzzle to remove the static from the audio clips) were very similar to puzzles in Majestic. Were any of the same people involved in both ventures…or was it merely coincidence? If it was coincidence, were you (at some point) aware of the similarities?
TenNapel …I know that we all liked the idea of Majestic…
TenNapel … and perhaps Majestic tanking would have been an omen for us to listen to…
TenNapel … but I don’t recall having that kind of direct contact with any of the Majestic developers…
TenNapel …those are pretty common game/puzzle elements so I doubt there’s any deliberate borrowing.
Curlay Are the scripts actually written for the ‘rest of the season’, and/or are the shows produced?
Curlay I know you said mostly the puzzle end
TenNapel The scripts were written through like 11 episodes…
Curlay Out of how many? 15, were there?
TenNapel We produced 2 episodes that were not shown I think. Next?
kingohugs Some of the web “only” stuff was quite entertaining, and seemed to promise some great story line material…if the show had lasted, was there talk of seeing things like the Skate Park or RoadRunners brought into the TV plot late in the season or in the (ideally) following season?
TenNapel There were originally 13 episodes…
TenNapel We were always looking for ways to intermingle fantasy elements with real life elements…
TenNapel …I’m not sure what would have happened but we were always borrowing stuff from each other. Next?
imbri What were the expectations for the online element and were you overwhelmed/underwhelmed by the internet response? After the experience is there anything that you would do differently? What and how?
TenNapel Underwhelmed on all accounts…
TenNapel …I’m not sure how to fix whatever went wrong, I think only time will allow us the opportunity to take another crack at blending TV with internet…
TenNapel …we were just too early for this kind of thing on a broad general audience basis. Next?
Gupfee I was wondering if there were more plans for underused elements like highwatertrucking.com that didn’t get implemented because of the show’s early cancellation?
Gupfee and the follow-up would be what was the best thing we never saw?
TenNapel There are no plans I’m aware of to implement anything now…
Gupfee not now, during the run of the show, I meant
TenNapel …perhaps if the show got big we would have tapped more stuff we planted in the show earlier.
TenNapel …The best thing…
TenNapel …you never saw the show parts where Jim Prufrock takes down Push…
Gupfee can you elaborate on that?
TenNapel …the scripts had him utterly dismantel the town and the remnants were burned to the ground!
TenNapel …during the run of the show…
TenNapel …you missed seeing all of the fun we had making the thing!
TenNapel …great crew, I grew to love those people. Good people.
Tien_Le what was going to be the clue for ‘underwear’? And why was Peter Pan a clue?
TenNapel …good one
TenNapel …Underwear was me having fun…
Tien_Le so we weren’t going to see all the Push characters in their skiveys?
TenNapel … it was a pun where one of the characters says, “The money’s under the bed.” and another character bends down to look under the bed (and there is no money there but he is showing his underwear) and the character says, “Under Where?!”…
SpaceBass lol
Tien_Le LOL
TenNapel …Peter Pan was our clue that Disney/ABC was a bit involved with Watermark…
TenNapel …The reason why Push was aired on ABC, owned by Disney was because perhaps Watermark owned every TV network…
Tien_Le thank you
TenNapel …I think we already did see all of the Push characters in their skivies!
the42guy 3 follow ups: So if the DVD is made, is it possible to see the unaired eps or read unaired scripts? So Jim, at home, - how did he figure out he was still being manipulated and go back to Push? And was the final clue originally going to air during Mondey Night football?
TenNapel I would think that the unaried eps would be included in the DVD release. I know there’s still some tidy-up work to do on those eps but the hard part is done on those episodes….
TenNapel …Jim figured it out when everything was too perfect…
TenNapel …His auditor instincts kicked in when his own life looked like a classic set-up…
TenNapel …yes the original clue was going to be aired during MNF…
the42guy whats the % chance of a DVD anyhow? And will it be announced if made… I noticed the book seems to have been cancelled.
TenNapel …We had to have a national simulcast to fairly disperse the last clue of the show to all timezones!…
the42guy aah.
TenNapel …I have no idea about the DVD. I’m sure if it gets made they will tell everyone they can about it!…Next?
kingohugs How much monitoring of the Internet groups, BESIDES the Enoch Yahoo group did you conduct? And as a follow up: Where you surprised by what you saw? Any outlandish speculation in terms of overall plot or individual puzzles that stuck out in your mind?
TenNapel …We looked at as many groups as possible…
TenNapel …I didn’t really care what specifically was being discussed, I just wanted to make sure that at least some people were getting my puzzles!…
TenNapel …my fear was that I had made all of these puzzles and nobody would get it! Next?
SpaceBass I have some questions from people who couldn’t make it today.
SpaceBass kxmom11x asked: Were there any specific events that changed or altered the course of the game? (excluding cancellation, of course) From the PM’s point of view, what was the most memorable event of the show/game?
TenNapel …nothing really changed the course of the game other that the lawyers…
TenNapel …it’s very difficult to make a “legally fair” game when there are so many different kinds of people creating different kinds of law suits…
TenNapel …Truly our litigous society ruined the puzzles the most…
vpisteve :(
TenNapel …As I said the most memorable event was working with this incredible crew around the clock… next?
SpaceBass Yux asked: Did the holes punched into the bible work much like a piano roll?
TenNapel …I think so, it was a special kind of card reading machine that would convert the Bible code into a codebreaker that implicated Watermark or something. Next?
catherwood (flups to the message boards question)-is this how you found out that the large flash header image on enochpushdialectic needed to be replaced with a static image? did it disturb you to read about people using Flash decompilers to find flaws with the hidden morse code in the headers? (flup) did you see people inventing puzzles which never existed? Or missing puzzles that were too well hidden?
TenNapel …I didn’t catch the flash stuff…
TenNapel …didn’t really care too much about what people invented or didn’t get (though there was a LOT of inventing!)…
TenNapel …I was only concerned that the “core” players were following my puzzles. They followed just fine so I was satisfied with that part of the show. Next?
Push 3 follow ups: What did you think of Derek Cecil’s performance of Jim , What was the hardest puzzle you crafted, and What sort of puzzles did you hide in the opening titles of the show?
TenNapel I like Derek as Jim…
TenNapel …it wasn’t what I’d expected, but he was a fresh face with a fresh take on the character…
TenNapel …toward the end I couldn’t imagine another kind of Jim, Derek owned that character…
TenNapel …the hardest ones usually went by so fast that I thought someone would have to tape it to get it. I didn’t want this show to only possibly be won buy a guy with TIVO…
TenNapel …I tended to only hide word or heavily graphic images in the title. If it was too hard for production to cram into the shoot that week it probably went into the credits. Next?
Diandra Were any of the additional puzzles for the unaired episodes created? If so, will we ever get to see them? If not, can you describe those we missed?
TenNapel There were tons of puzzles that were created that didn’t make it into the show and others that didnt make it due to the cancellation…
Diandra by “ever get to see them”…do you think they would be included on the DVD?
TenNapel …You will never see those puzzles. They are probably too long and complicated to share here…
TenNapel …I doubt if they will be on the DVD unless they include my sketchbook (could happen)…
TenNapel …one funny clue I came up with…
TenNapel …was for the work “longitude”…
TenNapel …it just had an old man wearing a T-Shirt that read, “I’m width stupid”. Next?
jamesi hey there… do you have any plans to get involved with a web-based campaign or game of some sort?
vpisteve heh
TenNapel No plans…
TenNapel …I’m always consulting in the games industry but I prefer my work on the drama side of things. Can I plug my project?
SpaceBass feel free
TenNapel CREATURE TECH!
SpaceBass What about “Gear”?
TenNapel I wrote a graphic novel called Creature Tech that New Regency picked up as a live action movie!
TenNapel …I’m writing the script…
vpisteve i do have an absentee creature tech question
TenNapel …everyone go buy the Creature Tech Graphic Novel on Amazon…
TenNapel GEAR is being made at Nickelodeon…
TenNapel …I’m working on the pilot…
vpisteve from Liqidcrack: Congratulations on the CreatureTech deal can you give us any more information? And will there be a followup to CreatureTech?
TenNapel I’m writing the C-Tech script…
TenNapel …I submitted the outline and it is APPROVED!…
TenNapel …I’m putting the final touches on the rough draft and getting ready to submit…
TenNapel …I don’t know if there’ll be a follow up to C-Tech, I gotta time my comics very carefully since they are so time consuming…
TenNapel …there are definitely more Creature Tech stories in me but it takes a long time to tell them. Next?
vpisteve how’re you doing on time? got time for a few more questions?
TenNapel I’ll take 3 more questions.
vpisteve what was the original pushtimes site? and will you forgive us for finding it too soon? :)
TenNapel We always wanted people to find Pushtimes…
TenNapel …those of you who found it early where a great confirmation that our evil plan was operational!. Next?
vpisteve heh
SpaceBass I have a few absentee questions from another player
SpaceBass ngajengai asked: Did the number 10623 refer to the date of Ernie Padgett’s unassisted triple play on 10/6/23 and if so, was it a point of reference of some kind? Were the characters using baseball gestures to signal information to the audience? Because I think I could see them, but couldn’t put together the system… Also, I think I also recognized some ASL and some finger-spelling… Am I out in left field with these questions?
TenNapel There was some sign language going on but I don’t remember much of it getting into the show…
TenNapel …I don’t know anything about baseball so I doubt if that stuff was there. Next?
kingohugs With the use of Bodnick as a late episode clue, can we gather that he was not dead? How was he to be Hinted at?
TenNapel We thought of bringing him back, but I mostly wanted to use his name as a tribute to the character. There was a chance that he would survive but I;m not sure…Last question please!
Tien_Le was the number 47 used specially in each episode
TenNapel No. Hey gang, in closing, Wasn’t it great that Mark Nakamoto won a million bucks without having to eat any bugs?!
SpaceBass lol
vpisteve heh
imbri heh
TenNapel Thanks gang
SpaceBass Thanks again for taking the time out for us Doug.
jamesi thanks to you
SpaceBass And good luck with Creature Tech!
TenNapel I gotta go now. Thanks especially to Steve for your patience
SpaceBass I’m heading to Amazon right now ;)
vpisteve yeah doug. thanks so much
Gupfee Come back and visit any time!
TenNapel YEehaw! Go TECH!

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