On December 8th, Flynn Lives treated players to a final live event as the alternate reality game promoting the upcoming release of Tron: Legacy came to a close. As the previously discovered Digital Pulse timer hit 00:00, the site updated with information about multiple transmissions that members of the Flynn Lives organization had discovered and believed to be connected to Kevin Flynn. Organization members identified sixteen cities within the United States from Kevin Flynn’s 1989 book tour that contained evidence concerning the signals. The hope was that, once secured, the evidence would fill in the missing pieces and allow the group to begin a side channel attack to contact the missing genius. Once the countdown reached zero, coordinates with directions to the locations of hidden evidence were posted every hour in groups of two, starting on the eastern seaboard and working west with each pairing, with each drop site marked by a TRON sticker initially seen on the fictional Flynn Lives message boards.
While the Digital Pulse page originally indicated that a team effort would be needed to complete the event prior to the end of the countdown, Flynn Lives organizers later clarified on their Facebook page that only one operative was needed in each city. International players were unable to participate on the ground, but provided online support to the stateside players as they scrambled to make the pick-up, as it was now apparent that it was a race to be first to the sites.
As reports began to filter in from the participating cities, the story began to emerge. Players who were fast and fortunate enough to get to the drop and find the sticker were greeted by a phone and tracking number. Upon calling the number, players reached a Flynn Lives representative who, after receiving the tracking number, informed the player to await a delivery. Within minutes, deliverymen, dressed in Dumont Shipping company attire, arrived at the various locations and delivered a manila envelope after getting a signed release from the player. The release had directions from Kevin Flynn himself, noting that the package was only to be retrieved by the first person to call in and report the tracking number. Judging by the note, the packages had been awaiting pick-up since 1989, shortly before Kevin’s disappearance.
The contents of the envelope were fairly simple: a hollowed out copy of Kevin’s book, The Digital Frontier, containing several pages from the classic TRON arcade game manual. The greater challenge was solving the puzzle therein. On the last page of the book, players found an answer key with several holes cut out of the page and a grid drawn showing where to start and end. Players were then left to take the included TRON manual pages and struggle lining them up with the key until they found the correct alignment and, with it, a numeric code.
As those sixteen players lucky enough to get the package worked on finding the code within their book, they received a second phone call from a Flynn Lives representative with directions on how to find a nearby operative from the organization who was waiting for them. Upon reaching the new location and finding the appropriately dressed operatives, players entered the numeric code from the Digital Frontier puzzle into the operative’s laptop. Successfully entering the code activated the “Node” for that city and helped to further isolate the source of the transmissions found on the Digital Pulse website. Unlocking the Node also earned the player a Flynn Lives t-shirt and a new Flynn Lives lapel pin to accompany the Dumont Shipping package.
Once all sixteen cities had activated their nodes, the scrambled transmission on the Digtal Pulse website became clear and, when clicked, allowed online players the chance to begin the side channel attack as a last ditch effort to contact Kevin Flynn. The newly unscrambled transmission took players to FlynnLives.com/CircuitPulse, where they were confronted with a digital recreation of the old game Mastermind. The innovative puzzle, which called upon players to use their phones as an interface for inputting solutions, failed to keep players at bay for long and once cracked allowed the players to boost the signal strength of the side channel attack before they were told a portal had been opened and their computers suffered a simulated melted down.
A pop-up window opened showing Alan Bradley’s pager buzzing with a page from a new number. Immediately a cascade of windows began to open while the score from Tron: Legacy played, ultimately leaving players looking at the smiling face of Clu before the signal was lost. Left with the pager, players who called the displayed number heard an automated message explaining that the number was no longer in service, along with a reference code for the error message. That error code, once entered into the HelloFlynn.com website, yielded a short message from Flynn’s server: “Pulse received. END OF LINE.”
As players discussed the ending of the game, a final observation was made: Allen Bradley’s pager flashed in a way that was very reminiscent of Morse code. A few moments later, the code was solved. The pager did indeed have a hidden message, and a final thank you from Flynn Lives to the loyal players was discovered at FlynnLives.com/Electrify with details on how to attend a free screening of Tron: Legacy on a first-come, first-served basis in select cities this Monday, December 13th.
Players are left to debate the consequences of their actions, since the alternate reality game’s ending implies that they might be responsible for opening a doorway for Clu to reach out and contact the outside world. However, there can be little debate of the success of the Flynn Lives campaign. An innovative game that told a compelling tale that engaged and integrated players and their actions into the narrative of the pending film, Flynn Lives kept players invested for two years and has built an army of supporters to go forth and spread the word about Tron: Legacy.
While Flynn Lives has reached END OF LINE, players find themselves getting ready to start the next part of the journey. Tron: Legacy opens December 17th and if the intensity of the players who followed the game provides any indication, there will be an army of Flynn Lives members getting the word out and preparing for opening night where they will join Sam Flynn on the grid and finally find out exactly where Kevin Flynn has been all these years because, as we all know, FLYNN LIVES!
END OF LINE.
Editor’s Note: This article’s author was one of the sixteen Flynn Lives players to arrive first at a set of drop coordinates before facing the puzzle hidden within the pages of Kevin Flynn’s book, The Digital Frontier.