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

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

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

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. 12, 2003: BMW Films Season 2 Immersive Game Ends in Vegas

March 28th, 2010

BMW Films gave away a 2003 BMW Z4 Roadster last night. The endgame in Las Vegas was the culmination of an extensive online scavenger hunt three years in the making.

The online game was discovered by following a [ mysterious link] denoted with the symbol :k: found at an Apple website.

The goal was to follow the clues online to uncover six keys. By mailing the list of keys along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope, players received an envelope containing an entry for a chance to win the BMW. Out of several thousand players who began the search, only 250 became eligible for the top prize.

At least four members of the various ARG communities were present for the endgame in Las Vegas. You can view three accounts of last nights events at Unforums. The live event brought players from around the United States to the Stratosphere and face to face with some of the actors in the short films from [BMW Films].

The lucky winners, Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Fisher, are newlyweds from Bellingham, Washington. They’ll be driving home in their new [2003 Z4 Roadster].

Unfiction has a complete write-up of the live event, including plenty of pictures, compliments of Steve Peters.

This was the second game sponsored by BMW Films. They have run one for each of the two seasons they’ve been producing films. According to Steve, who spoke with the winners, the PMs, and quite a few other folks behind the scenes, “As far as what the PMs told me about a third BMW Films game? I wouldn’t know. I’m just a pawn. ;)

Dateline Jan. 10, 2003: Uru: Online Ages Beyond Myst Promises Story and Exploration

March 28th, 2010

The recently announced open beta for the online MMORPG sequel to Myst promises to deliver more than open ended interaction and level advancement. They also intend to offer players the opportunity to explore within the context of a complex, interactive story.

Uru: Online Ages Beyond Myst is about to begin closed beta testing.

Unlike [The Sims Online], Everquest, and other games of that genre which focus on open ended play and level advancement, the latest massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) from Ubi Soft will offer something new.

First and foremost, URU will be a game of exploration. The game will have three different environments (personal, neighborhood, and the city). By focusing on exploration rather than conflict and level advancement, the game designers are able to introduce puzzles requiring group interaction that will forward a story. This design philosophy should be an enormous draw to fans of the original Myst.

For fans of online immersive gaming, the potential for a running story, a continual stream of puzzles, and realtime interaction may prove to be an undeniable combination.

The original presss release:

San Francisco, CA - January 8, 2003 - Ubi Soft Entertainment, one of the world’s largest videogame publishers, and Cyan Worlds, Inc., developers of the legendary Myst® and Riven™, today announced their highly anticipated upcoming online adventure Uru™: Online Ages Beyond MYST. Players will have the opportunity to explore and interact with meticulously crafted environments in, around, and beyond the newly discovered underground D’ni empire that predates human civilization. Explorers wishing to help test the game during its beta phase are invited to apply today by visiting

“Uru is an ancient word, the earliest word for city. It is rooted in the idea of a gathering of people, which is precisely what Uru will foster,” said Rand Miller, founder of Cyan Worlds. “We’ve been working for almost five years developing the cutting edge technology, detailed design and breathtaking graphics that allow us to build real-time online worlds that go beyond Myst. Imagine being able to explore lush landscapes, ancient deserted cities, mysterious forests, curious swamps — and that’s only the beginning. We’re trying to provide an environment that’s so engrossing, people will talk about it and share their experience. With Uru the journey is experienced together within the game, with friends, family, even strangers uncovering fantastic places together.”

Uru will take advantage of broadband to deliver a continually updated, immersive environment and storyline, with content that grows, changes and evolves constantly. It will also be the first persistent world to support real-time voice communication. Uru is designed to appeal to a broad audience and enable players of all skill levels and interests to experience expansive ages of the Myst universe in a uniquely social environment. Playing their own avatars, hundreds of thousands of players will meet new people, all realistic impersonations of themselves, play games, solve mysteries and embark on a voyage of discovery with friends. Players will be able to customize their level of interaction with other players, choosing to play alone, with small groups of friends or in areas where they can meet new people.

With 12 million units sold worldwide, Myst is one of the most widely recognized and critically acclaimed game brands in history. “Uru represents an incredible evolution in the Myst product line and in online entertainment,” said Jason Rubinstein, General Manager of “Fans of the Myst series, online socializers, mystery buffs, Internet chatters, multiplayer online gamers and non-gamers alike will be amazed by Uru. It will definitely raise the bar for an immersive online experience, and we expect it to attract new customers to online gaming and perhaps change the face of mainstream entertainment.”

PC users will be able to enjoy Uru, which will be made available through, one of the top ten gaming portals. The final version of the game is scheduled to launch in late 2003 with a closed beta test commencing in January 2003. For more information about Uru: Online Ages Beyond MYST, or to apply to be a beta tester, visit

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

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

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

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 Jan. 4, 2003: Cybertrek Winners Announced. Dave Barnett Claims $500 prize

March 28th, 2010

SIMPLE CodeWorks announced the grand prize winner and a number of finalists in their online mini-adventure, Cybertrek. Dave Barnett took the $500 prize with his entry.

Cybertrek, a seven chapter mini-adventure played solely on the web, presents players with a number of cryptographical puzzles and increasingly difficult mathematical challenges wrapped around an adventure story.

Of the winner and current list of six finalists, members of [ the Collective] swept at least six of the top seven spots. Dave Barnett, a member of, took top honors and the $500 cash prize for submitting the first email to SCW. The consolation winners will each receive a free copy of The Pro-SIMPLE Combo.

Although the prize has been announced, anyone can still play. The rabbit hole can be found at The game is still very playable and doesn’t have any time sensitive elements that detract from the playing experience.

According to their website, “Will you be able to rescue the old professor from his secret underground laboratory? Will you be able to find the stolen jewels that have been hidden in the Murdock Mansion? Will you be able to escape from the castle of the evil Baron Von Laden? If so, then you might even be able to complete all seven episodes of Cybertrek and discover the true identity of the mysterious “Woman in Black!”

There is plenty there to keep you busy for a couple of days and the game is completely free to play. Playing the game is easier if you download the free version of SIMPLE, but the download is optional until you get to the last chapter.

SCW also plans further installments in the game with Chapter 8 planned for release at some future date. There is no word yet as to whether there will be prizes for the additional segments.

Dateline Dec. 31, 2002: What would you like to see most in the next ARG?

March 28th, 2010

Speak up and tell deaddrop (and lurking PMs) what you want to see in future games. I know it’s tough to choose just one, so jump in and comment with your wish list, priority list, or thoughts.