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

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

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

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.

Dateline Nov. 6, 2002: Reprint: Article on Nonlinear Storytelling by Michael St. Hippolyte

March 16th, 2010

Mr. St. Hippolyte was kind enough to allow us to reprint his article entitled “A Plot Beyond A Line: New Ways to Be Nonlinear”. The piece was first published it in 1995 and remains largely relevant to this day.

Of course, Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) are inherently nonlinear and unbounded. Playability, plot development, and character interaction are all critically affected by how one structures the overall game and by the specific focus given to the various elements of the game.

This article discusses a number of approaches to nonlinear story development. I’ve added limited annotations to point out examples and details relevant to ARGs.

A Plot Beyond A Line: New Ways to Be Nonlinear (Original [http://users.rcn.com/mash.interport/nonlin.html])

How do you tell an interactive story?

It sounds like a simple question: “How do you tell an interactive story?” But in reality it contains a deep philosophical contradiction. If being interactive has any meaning, then it must be that the person who is experiencing (viewing, listening to, playing, reading) the interactive story affects the way the story goes, and perhaps even the way it comes out. That’s what makes a story interactive. But to tell a story implies that you have a story to begin with. How do you tell a story when you do not and cannot know exactly what the story is in advance?

The starting point of a useful answer to this question, as any interactive storyteller would attest, is that there are limitations. Either you put limits on the viewer, or your story, or both.

You can limit the viewer of your interactive story to activities such as playing with gadgets and solving puzzles, which may entertain but do not advance the story: getting the bunny to hop by clicking on it, but not in a direction of your choosing. Such a narrative would be only marginally interactive. Or you can limit your story to the idea of a story, minus the details, with the viewer himself ultimately responsible for the story. Consider, for example, the excellent simulation of a village economy, SimCity: like L.A. in Dragnet, it has a million stories; only in SimCity none of the stories exist until you run the program and start developing real estate. The story you get may be long or short, poignant or pedantic; all SimCity guarantees is that the story will fit the SimCity model of urban development. SimCity is immensely entertaining and informative, as many good simulations are; but a simulation is not by itself a narrative.

There is, finally, a middle path, which is the one followed by most writers of interactive narratives. The author limits both the viewer and the story: the viewer to a finite set of choices, and the story to a finite set of outcomes. As we shall see, there are many ways that this can be done, but in all cases the limits are stringent.

Interactive stories being written today range from hypertext novels to text adventures to interactive multimedia titles. Any and all media are up for grabs; for the computer every medium is just another bit stream anyway. But for all these stories in all these media, the range of underlying narrative structures is rather condensed. A small number of interactive models, i.e., mechanisms for limiting the viewer’s choices and the story’s outcomes, account for most of the interactive stories published to date. Many more such models are possible, however, meaning that a vast world of creative opportunities has yet to be exploited. In fact, it has yet to be even charted.

If Columbus had not been equipped with a map that underestimated the diameter of the earth by half, he may never have set sail in a westerly direction. Whether the earth would have been better or worse is a question I will leave for others, but most explorers prefer to start a journey with as good a map as possible. The following links lead to a rough map of interactive storytelling, with the boundaries demarcated and the charted territory plotted out. And for the vast spaces yet to be explored, a few possibilities penciled in.

Conclusion

Interactive storytellers have gotten a lot of mileage from a small set of models. But many interactive stories will remain untold until new models come into being. Perhaps some of the models described above will do the job; perhaps not. The discussion is worthwhile even if the only result is to show that new models are possible; this is all it takes to drive the process of creative exploration forward. In any event, we shall soon see for ourselves the new breed of interactive story, whatever it looks like; the explorers are already out to sea, and they will not return with empty holds.

Copyright © 1995 by Michael St. Hippolyte. All rights reserved.

Dateline Nov. 5, 2002: Search4e: Unfiction interview with Lars Fontaine

March 16th, 2010

Spacebass had an absolutely hilarious interview with our boy Lars from True Crime Press posted at unfiction.com.

The interview, conducted on Monday by email and posted here, covers Heather’s boy toy assistant and how he relates to the office structure at TCP.

Lars sets a new standard for eloquence and insightfulness as he discusses the goings on at True Crime Press and offers a little peek into the people in Search4e.

I hope Lars sticks around. His perspective adds a gossipy element to the story and offers an inside look of what is in store for us. He’ll make a great mole and, if the promised picture arrives, I’m sure he’ll do his part to ensure the oft neglected gender in computer gaming remains ensconced in the mysterious search for Eb Sobian.

Dateline Nov. 5, 2002: In the Spirit of Push, Noah Boddy launches.

March 16th, 2010

According to Noah Boddy, the contest is real and there will be 6 winners, 6 Final Solutions, and 6 grand prizes. The story is new and geared toward the fans of Push, Nevada.

On the website, the PuppetMasters had the following statement:

From Noah Boddy’s Important Message [http://www.cyberthea.com/noahboddy/message.html]:

An Important Message from the ProducerAs you can see, the contest is officially underway with the update of NoahBoddy.com and the posting of our official rules (see the >Game Rules” link on the main site).

The contest IS REAL.

There will be:

6 winners
6 Final Solutions
6 Grand Prizes

We have been reading the posts and flames from the fans of Push, Nevada and elsewhere and we understand your concerns. The reason we have not had the official rules up and running was because only within the past 72 hours have they been completed.

It was our (myself and my small, unpaid but dedicated team) sincere hope that we would be able to run this Internet Experience under the auspices of LivePlanet, but legal difficulties have made such impossible. As such, a new company has been formed for the process of this Experience—an experience that we hope you will enjoy as we continue to experiment with the Internet and how it best can be used to bring entertainment to an audience.

As I said elsewhere, the experience of Push, Nevada was an inspiration for me; the chance to interact with its fans a revelation. I felt the audience deserved better than it received and that the show deserved a chance.

So while the show itself was cancelled and the final solution for its storyline forever left unanswered, this is what I could do for its audience—a new story, taking the strength of the Internet’s audience and giving them a chance to solve something new.

Something with more determination, with a sharper focus and a promise to deliver puzzles and hints and clues that are geared for the voracious Internet audience. No more concerns about ‘are we over thinking?’ We are going to do everything we can to make sure you are not even close to thinking hard enough.

You will notice that the Grand Prizes are to be disclosed later—there is a reason for that. We here at Noah Boddy Productions (the new company comprised, literally, of those that wanted to do this during their off hours) are still working on them. If you have gone through the trouble to solve them, you want something spectacular—and as this site was a spur of the moment decision on our part (although the story is actually one that we’ve wanted to tell for a while), we are still in the process of putting together the necessary pieces to give you Grand Prizes worthy of the time. We think you’re going to be happy.

And with that, the contest begins—yes, I know some of you are still going to be wary, and I understand why. This is an experiment for everyone—you and me. It may well fail. But I think if you stay with us and give this a chance, you’ll find the story a great one and the contests far more challenging.

I sincerely hope you will stick around. We are going to try something different—and we would love to see what you think of it. If the amount of email that’s flooded my account is any indication, you certainly WANT another, better puzzle. That’s what we intend to give you.

Sincerely, The Noah Boddy Team

P.S. Yes, Noah Boddy remains behind the screen for now. Your job is to find out who the Noah Boddy in the STORY is—but we promise, the real Noah Boddy will raise his or her neck before the final curtain.

Dateline Nov. 5, 2002: Aspen Cologne Sponsors $25,000 Treasure Hunt

March 16th, 2010

Aspen Cologne has created a twelve episode treasure hunt that you can play by yourself or with a friend. Along the way, you can collect prizes totaling $15,000 on your way to an ultimate prize of $10,000 and a trip to Aspen to collect it.

The game plays just like a classic adventure game complete with an inventory list and the quest for treasure. Along the way you can find free cologne, CDs, and outdoor apparel.

Earn points in a variety of ways and use those points during the hunt to help solve puzzles and overcome obstacles. An interesting twist is the ability to buddy up with one other person. You pool your points and compete together to navigate the flash-based world.

The game is free to play, requires Flash 6.0 or higher, and a screen resolution of 1024×768 or better. Start your hunt for buried treasure at aspencologne.com.

Dateline Nov. 4, 2002: TerraQuest Goes Live

May 1st, 2009

For $25, you can try your hand at an online adventure that just might net you $250,000.

MindQuest announces the final release of their new game.

The game, released today, has numerous opportunities to win cash There will be several $25,000 prizes and a grand prize of at least $250,000 (unless you live somewhere where the prizes are half (see the u>Official Rules for details).

The Press Release:

Henderson, NV November 4, 2002 MindQuest Entertainment, an online interactive entertainment company, today announced its flagship game, TerraQuest, a strategic online game that blends mystery, intrigue and the chance to win a substantial cash prize. Players from around the world in over 20 nations will compete to be the first to solve the mystery and reap the benefits.
>The TerraQuest game will offer an extremely rewarding intellectual challenge to people all over the world,” said Keith Griffin, founder and chief executive officer of MindQuest Entertainment. >Because TerraQuest depends on the mind instead of reflexes, it can be enjoyed by everyone with a basic computer literacy. This truly is the next generation of entertainment – it is what adults play when they grow up.”

TerraQuest Offers a New Type of Online Entertainment
TerraQuest is an interactive game that is a cross between a mystery and a scavenger hunt. It blends elements of reality entertainment with the Internet for a new paradigm in entertainment. As console games and online fantasy games have created a new and highly successful market in the last several years, TerraQuest brings to market a new type of online game that is based on skill and intellect, rather than reflexes.

TerraQuest Players Control Their Own Destiny
Using a Laboratory Assisted Research System (LARS), players are put in control of their own destiny. TerraQuest invites the player to step inside a variety of interactive media presentations. Using the LARS Console, players have the opportunity to navigate and view rooms panoramically, listen to audio clues, and submit clues to the Research Lab. At the lab, clues can be examined, magnified, fingerprinted and unlocked (such as a briefcase). Requested analysis will be sent back to players within 48 hours. Using a clue manager, players can keep track of all their detective work to submit their proposed answer at the end of a game period.

>The interactive LARS Console really puts the player in charge of their own destiny,” said Devin Pense, creative director for MindQuest Entertainment. >Players may choose to focus on a particular room or object that may or may not help them get closer to the final answer. The suspense of solving the mystery and winning a shot at the prize money is extraordinarily entertaining.”

TerraQuest Is Challenging, Intriguing and Most of All-Fun
TerraQuest will comprise six game periods, each lasting approximately one month. The object of the game is to obtain the number for a bank account that contains the grand prize - the first player to do so will win one-half of the money in the bank account. During the first five game periods, players will be seeking to discover the first part of the bank account
number and the identity of the person possessing a safe deposit box key. The first ten players to correctly identify that information will then compete against each other to be the first to locate, at a specific date, location, and time, the holder of the safe deposit box key, who will give that player the key. Inside the safe deposit box will be numbers comprising the second part of the bank account. The players will be able to follow the clues by using only their computers, their minds, and readily available research within the game.

TerraQuest Offers the Chance to Win a Substantial Cash Prize
The first finalist to locate the holder of the key will be deemed the winner. The winner will receive the key to the safe deposit box, which contains the second part of the bank account number. The winning player will receive fifty percent of the money in the bank account (the grand prize). Each of the other nine finalists will receive five percent of the money in the bank account. The first player who is not a finalist to locate the holder of the key will also receive five percent of the money in the bank account.

Pricing and Availability:

TerraQuest offers a great entertainment value. Players who register in the first month pay a $25.00 registration fee. As the game periods progress, the registration fee increases. For complete pricing information, please see the TerraQuest Fact Sheet at www.mind-quest.com

MindQuests’ flagship product, TerraQuest is available today for download at www.terraquest1.com.

Rules and Eligibility:

To review the Official Rules and eligibility to play the game, please visit www.terraquest1.com

About MindQuest Entertainment
Founded in January of 2002, MindQuest Entertainment, LLC is an online interactive entertainment company that writes and produces games that are based upon skill and intelligence, rather than reflexes. As the first company to offer an online interactive game with substantial cash prizes, MindQuest will offer compelling entertainment to adults from many countries around the world. MindQuest is a privately funded and privately held limited liability company, with headquarters in Henderson, Nevada. For more information about MindQuest and its flagship product, TerraQuest, please visit www.mind-quest.com.

Read the privacy policy carefully. You’re not just paying for the game with your credit card.

Dateline Nov. 3, 2002: Terraquest demo and pricing announced

May 1st, 2009

MindQuest, Inc. has release pricing for their new online adventure, TerraQuest. The demo harkens back to the days of the first graphical adventure games with a few twists thrown in.

First and foremost, there be treasure. And we’re not talking about cheesy little gold coins. There will be six separate $25,000 prizes awarded along the way and a grand prize of at least $250,000 to one lucky winner.

The catch (there’s always a catch), is that to enter the game, you have to pay. The game is divided into six game periods. Depending on when you join, the price of entry escalates from $25 to $100 through the fifth game period. For the final game period, the price drops to $50 but you are ineligible for the grand prize. Furthermore, by joining, you agree allow your personal information to be shared as follows (and I quote):

Use of Information

We may use the information we collect from you for any of the following purposes: (1) to facilitate your participation in TerraQuest (2) to fulfill your requests for certain products and services; (3) to provide you with targeted offers based on your specific requests or your stated preference to receive certain categories of offers; (4) to send you information and promotional materials and offers from our company as well as from our subsidiaries, affiliates, marketing partners, advertisers, and other third parties, (5) to deliver targeted display advertisements and offers (by matching criteria provided by our advertisers with information collected from our visitors), (6) to enable our marketing partners, advertisers, and other third parties to communicate with individuals; (7) to contact visitors to our Web Sites or registered participants of TerraQuestâ„¢ when necessary; (8) to help address problems with our Web Sites or marketing services; (9) to administer our Web Sites; (10) to conduct internal reviews of our Web Sites (e.g., to determine the number of visitors to specific pages within the site), (11) to help us better understand visitors’ use of our Web Sites; and (12) to protect the security or integrity of our Web Sites.

Translated into plain english, anyone. And specifically, targeted marketing partners.

The game appears to be self contained within their LARS interface, so I don’t think it will qualify as a true ARG, but it looks to be a lot of fun and the element of substantial rewards might be enough to make a few people ante up and play along.

The official launch date has not been announced, but company insiders seem confident that the game should be live no later than mid-November.

Dateline Nov. 2, 2002: 8march2003.com: Real or Rant?

May 1st, 2009

The heading claims “Global Announcement” and goes on to say, “On this date an astounding discovery will be revealed to the world.”

So is it a game or just the wanton ramblings of a crackpot conspiracy theorist? It seems to me, that the story is improbable enough to be completely fictional…

and, therefore, quite possibly a game.

Two hints make me think it’s a game. First, there are oblique references to conspiracies that don’t normally go together. The statement “It has been suggested that prophecies by the ancient Seers and Soothsayers of the distant past, speak of what I have uncovered.” just doesn’t jive with someone with enough access to major search engines that they are knocking on your door moments after enter “certain combinations of search strings.”

Even if someone is that paranoid, it’s so unlikely to be true, that it must be fiction. Given that iit’s fiction, it would be done a lot more professionally if it came from a big commercial venture or movie studio.

Ergo, it’s likely a game. It’s likely to be homegrown. The PMs are giving themselves lots of time to develop it and have already garnered lots of buzz around the Internet.

I’m calling this one something to keep on the watchlist.