Author: Carie Ward

Evelyn Offscreen: A Brief Clarification

EvelynOffscreenHalloween makes everything weird. At any other time, a substantial number of overlapping clues would mean that two campaigns were linked in some sort of way. But throw Halloween into the mix, and what appeared to be a logical conclusion to a group of facts turns out to be nothing more than a set of bizarre coincidences.

ARGNet has been informed that the “Evelyn Offscreen” campaign is, in fact, not at all related to the Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights. While there was never direct confirmation in the game that the two were related, there were several coincidences that made it appear that they were.

1. A newspaper clipping posted in a comment to Evelyn’s blog mentions the Palace Theater. The Universal Palace Theater is a centerpiece of the Halloween Horror Nights experience.

2. Newspaper clippings shown in the videos about the Palace Theater talk about Evelyn Crane going into reclusion after a box office flop. This event is talked about in great detail on the Evelyn Crane blog.

3. The Evelyn Offscreen website talks about how live events will be playing in Orlando, FL. The Halloween Horror Nights with the Universal Palace Theater attraction is also taking place in Orlando. (The Universal Hollywood HHN has a different set of attractions.)

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused players.

A New “Trick” from Universal Studios: Evelyn Offscreen Presents a Real Treat

EvelynOffscreenHalloween is fast approaching, bringing with it costumes, candy, and the macabre. If you live in Orlando, it appears as though Universal Studios is bringing one final “treat” to your homes with the launch of its horror-themed alternate reality game Evelyn Offscreen, a new “interactive Halloween adventure” that is being run to promote Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights.

Evelyn Crane is a classic horror movie actress who has been in seclusion for the past 37 years, after an incident where a movie critic called her “too old”. Ever since then, Evelyn has been searching for the secret of eternal youth so that she can reclaim her old glory as an actress. Based on her facination with Elizabeth Bathory (the Hungarian countess who, as legend has it, bathed in the blood of hundreds of murdered young girls in order to retain her youth), it would appear as if Evelyn might just go to any sort of lengths in order to reclaim her beauty, youth and position. A perfect sort of story for Halloween.

If that wasn’t enough, there is also the mystery surrounding a series of deaths at the Universal Palace Theater, where many of Evelyn Crane’s movies have been shown. Julian Browning was the usher at the Palace Theater from 1922 until 1940, when he was found hanged behind the screen at the theater. Ever since then, he has been reported to be “present” at many of the other tragedies that have befallen workers and patrons of the Palace Theater.

Visitors to Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights will be able to visit the Universal Palace Theater via the Silver Screams haunted house in the theme park. The Evelyn Offscreen website promises that live scenes will be playing in Orlando, Florida, but whether this means just in the Silver Screams haunted house or possibly elsewhere remains to be seen. However the online campaign will be available to everyone, so even if you can’t get scared half to death at the Halloween Horror Nights, you can still get scared in your own living room.

Click Here for the Evelyn Offscreen website
Click Here for Evelyn Crane’s twitter
Click Here for Evelyn Crane’s blog
Click Here for information on the Universal Palace Hotel

What Happens in Vegas Doesn’t Stay in Vegas

vpg_box1open.jpgThe lights dimmed, the music stopped, and the fountains at the Bellagio started chiming like clocks. It was time for Loki, the enigmatic puzzle mistress of the Vanishingpoint game to work her magic. For over three minutes, the Bellagio fountains were turned into a massive movie screen as clues to the online portion of the game appeared like ghostly images on the water.

Earlier on Monday, the Vanishingpoint game site updated from its teasing countdown to include ways for players to register for the game. The update also included information about the grand prize which had previously driven players into a speculation frenzy. Their wildest dreams were confirmed when it was announced that the grand prize winner would win a trip into space aboard the Rocketplane® XP Vehicle, along with various other goodies.

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EVA – The End of the World As We Know It?

eva_game.jpgIt started (as these things so often do) with a cryptic website: in this case, a MySpace belonging to a mysterious entity calling itself EVA and bearing a disturbing message:

I have returned. Awaken[sic] by disturbance. The sickness of humanity. You have grown undeserving. The preciouse[sic] life you take for granted. a test. To prove your worthiness. to prove your will to live. Ensure your safety. The prophecy. When it is to be. none will be safe. to stop it. Take the challenge

The “challenge” appears to be a seven-round test, with each round based on a different world mythology. The author of the test, Ovdasupal, is challenging us to save Janna, whom he claims is his songstress and soon to be the mother of his child. Ovdasupal is being helped by the Scions of Punishment, who in turn have enlisted the Deceiver, Jonathan, to help them translate certain texts that would help their cause. Working against the Scions and Ovdasupal is EVA. EVA claims he is helping humanity as the Scions wish to bring a punishing purification to the human race. Although EVA also wants to purify humanity, he claims to offer a kinder, gentler purification, and may even give humanity to live if we can prove ourselves.

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Playing Lawn Games for Life

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What do you get when you combine a cross-country trip with a scavenger hunt, old family stories and a variety of puzzles? The answer is Lawn Games for Life, a new ARG that is running now through the middle of December.

Lawn Games for Life is part of the inheritance that Anna Ravelo has left her favorite niece, Taylor Garcia. The game is a quest to discover an even bigger heirloom: The Fountain of Truth. The Fountain is the “most precious, valuable, and treasured possession” of the family – and possibly the world.

Taylor, as substitute PM for the late Aunt Anna, has been assigning trials for her extended family members for the past week. Each trial reveals more information about Anna’s past brings us one step closer to finding The Fountain of Truth. The trials also award points to the family who can solve them ahead of their cousins, creating a spirit of competition amidst the cooperative play.

Lawn Games for Life is scheduled to end December 22nd when a live finale will be held in St. Augustine, Florida. Interested players should visit the Trials page to solve puzzles on behalf of their extended family members (who often gather on the LGFL discussion board). There is also a guide designed to help newcomers to the four families get up to speed with puzzle walkthroughs and links to Challenge Pieces won in previous trials.

Trailhead: http://www.lawngamesforlife.com
Discussion at Unfiction: http://forums.unfiction.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=17510
Guide: http://www.wonderweasels.org/lawngames/guide.html

Exploring Our Future on a Lost Planet

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As any gamer can tell you, game trailers are more than just an opportunity to feast your senses on the latest pre-recorded gameplay designed to tempt you into buying the game when it is finally released. For the keen-eyed gamer, hints of deeper game mythology can often be coaxed out of these trailers, adding to the overall experience of the game.

It was just this type of dedicated gamer who first noticed that there were strange things in the trailers for Lost Planet, a new Xbox 360 game designed by Capcom and scheduled for release in January. Those that watched the first trailers on the Xbox Live Marketplace saw “111” and “neovenusconstruction.com” flash toward the end, leading them to rush off in search of the next I Love Bees.

These intrepid explorers have been rewarded with the discovery of several slick-looking websites that all share the goal of colonizing new planets (including, in the future, EDN 3 – where Lost Planet is set). While the in-game sites seem to be setting up background stories at present, there are numerous hints that more is still to come, making this an ideal point to join the game. In fact, it has been hinted on the Capcom boards that players have all the information needed to advance the game, so things could start to happen very quickly if they can discover what clues they are missing. Maybe you could be the one to stumble upon that one little bit of information that can blow the game wide open, so what are you waiting for? Be a hero to gamers everywhere and discover the secret.

Trailhead: http://neovenusconstruction.com
List of in-game sites: http://awiser.googlepages.com/home
Discussion at Unfiction: http://forums.unfiction.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=17446

VirtuQuest Open ARG 6.5 Announced

VQicon.jpgVirtuQuest has officially announced that they will be launching Open ARG 6.5 which will be playable to the general public. After a summertime hiatus, VirtuQuest is back in full force completing their newest ARG, as well as branching out into more traditional web development venues. While we don’t know when or how the newest game will start (ARG developers are always so secretive about these things), rest assured that we will alert you as soon as any new information is received. Players of previous VirtuQuest games will want to keep their eyes and ears open for any unusual communications, and while they are waiting, might want to check out the VirtuQuest Gallery where examples of previous games have been archived. If VirtuQuest’s Fall 2006 memo is any indication, there just might be a tie-in to one of their previous games.

Check Your Joystick at the Door

migs.jpgOver 800 members of the worldwide gaming industry descended upon Eastern Canada today for the start of the Montréal International Game Summit 2006. Designed to become “The Annual Event” for Canadian and East coast game development specialists, the Summit is hosting “some 30 courses, seminars, conferences, and workshops over a two-day period” as well as numerous social activities since game designers have to play at some point in time.

On a special note for ARG enthusiasts, Elan Lee of 42 Entertainment is scheduled to give a talk on ARGs. Alternate Reality Games: Check Your Joystick at the Door promises to explore ARGs from their history to what they may become in the future. The talk will also tackle how to think about entertainment and storytelling in a whole new way. Plus, there just may be cookies.

In advance of his talk, Elan sat down with Phil Fish of the Montreal Gazette for a quick chat about what ARGs are. In the video, Elan talks about how ARGs turn the players into real world heroes rather than having them just pretend through their computer or gaming console. Off camera, Elan gave the interviewers some interesting tidbits which may be hinted at on their blog at http://community.canada.com/gamecity. You’ll want to check for that update later, as well as video from Elan’s talk.

ARGN would like to thank the Montreal Gazette, Sebastian Speier, and Phil Fish for graciously notifying us about the interview and allowing us to link it for our readers.

Lost at Comic-Con

lostglyph.JPGThe Lost Experience got quite a lot of publicity during the San Diego Comic-Con this year. During the Question & Answer section at the Lost panel, a mysterious woman, who identified herself as Rachel Blake, started questioning the panel members on the Hanso Foundation. Despite the writers claims that it was just something they made up, Ms. Blake was adamant that both the films and The Hanso Foundation are real. She questioned them on Joop, fires in Iceland, organ harvesting and deaths of Hugh McIntyre and Darla Taft. Before she was escorted away by security, she screamed that the Lost writers had blood on their hands and that if the audience wanted the truth they should visit hansoexposed.com.

Once at the hansoexposed.com site, visitors need to register and start hunting down glyphs that contain codes that unlock segments of a video. These glyphs can be found just about anywhere: on websites, podcasts, magazines, and on cast members themselves. Once a new segment is unlocked, it then needs to be positioned correctly within the other segments to create a coherent video. So far, 21 of the 70 fragments have been unlocked. Although there is a leader board set up to track those who find the codes first, the codes themselves are spread across the globe, so cooperation is needed to find all 70 codes to expose the Hanso Foundation and tear it apart.

It’s still not too late to get involved with the quest to expose the Hanso Foundation. You don’t need to know everything that has come before to participate in the hunt for the glyphs. But if you are curious, Unfiction has several Quick Reference Guides to lead you through the three acts of the game. Rachel Blake also has her own version of what has occurred so far. Only by working together can the secrets that the Hanso Foundation are keeping secret be exposed.

Who Is Benjamin Stove? Wrap Up & PM Chat

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The question of “Who Is Benjamin Stove?” has finally been answered after four months of intense speculation. Depending on who you ask, Ben Stove is: a tinfoil hat nut job; a teacher; a research; a shaman; an alien; hot-headed; a great guy; a man of vision; enigmatic; a scientist; a friend. In other words, just your average internet personality.

Players were first introduced to the mystery of Ben Stove in the form of a painting of a crop circle. From there, they found Ben Stove’s mentor, Dr. Martinez, and obtained copies of letters written from Ben to Dr. Martinez over the years. The letters were filled with secret codes that led to libraries all over the country at the same time as they caught the eye of some mysterious Men In Black. Eventually, Ben Stove himself was found, along with his website filled with research into crop circles. His research showed players that the crop circles were a warning to the people of earth about the dangers of fossil fuels and that using alternatives, such as ethanol based products, were the way to save humanity.

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IDEAS Festival 1906

mcguffin.jpgA new mini-campaign, IDEAS Festival 1906, has appeared in recent days, in part to promote the Indiana IDEAS (Interactive Digital Environments Arts and Storytelling) 2006 Festival at Indiana University.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to assist Time Corps Detectives in tracking down one Silas McGuffin. Mr. McGuffin has been performing unlicensed Chronal Travel and has conspired to commit WWI. It seems there was an incident involving a bakelite penny, a train, and a bunch of corn resulting in Panama declaring war on the United States in 1906. Oops.

I have it on good authority from a Time Corp Detective on conditions of anonymity that we should be able to solve this case in about a month. Any interested parties should visit the briefing center sooner rather than later if they wish to help find the time-jumping madman.

IDEAS Festival 2006 will be held Saturday April 1st, 2006 at the Radio-TV Center, Indiana University Bloomington. From 10am to 5pm there will be a juried show of “digital and interactive works in sound, animation, video, 2D and 3D graphics” followed by the Keynote Address by Bob Cesca of Camp Chaos Entertainment, Inc.

Vaporlofts Closes Its Doors

vl-end.jpgSometimes addiction to ARG games is not a good thing. We players always seem to want more stories, more puzzles, and more action, even after the game has finished. Especially after the game has finished, players will attempt to find more secrets hidden away, squeezing every last drop out of the game before they walk away.

So has been the case with Vaporlofts. I am sorry to report that ARGN has received information that the game has come to an end, just the way it was meant to, even though none of us realized it. In a vast departure from previous games, Vaporlofts ended the way things in life tend to do. There were no ending credits, no happy endings, just more questions than answers. Anne never returned from Atlanta and with information going missing, it seems that only Vaporlofts can know why. With the company so good at keeping secrets, we may never know what truly happened to her. All of our leads have gone cold, so it’s time to put this into a cold case file and hope that one day a new lead may turn up.

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Orbicon’s Stellar Finish

oc_inept.jpgOrbital Colony finished up this weekend, finally answering the question as to what happened to Orbicon scientist Steven Mae.

The beginning of the end started when players discovered Cassandra’s blog on the Inept website. The mysterious Cassandra, who looked too much like Davina for everyone’s comfort, was on the station and that she was the one who had kidnapped Steven.

With the help of the players, Seth set up a trap for Cassandra. He would put up a fake blog post saying that more information of Steven’s had been seen in the Gardens. When Cassandra showed up to collect it, he would capture her. At 7:00 EST, players were able to listen in on what was happening in the Gardens. When confronted with the fact that she was caught, Cassandra collapsed, and gave Seth a clue to Steven’s whereabouts in case something worse happened to her.

At this point, the audio connection to the station is cut. Raider, the ever resourceful SAIPets robo-dog, is able to connect to IRC and the players start to help Seth decode Cassandra’s message. The name Cassandra provides was another directory on her website. Players had to solve a couple of different number slide puzzles before they got their answer. Steven was being held in the Level 13 Biolab V.

Rushing off to save Steven, station security protocols caught up to Raider, and he had to implement additional measures to stave off detection. Upon reaching the Biolab, Seth (with Raider and Stevie in tow) finds that Igor Bronco is there waiting. Igor had known what was happening all along, thanks to his elaborate security system. Igor’s plan falls apart though when his two daughters, Cassandra and Davina, walk into the Biolab instead of his security forces. When Cassandra pulls a gun on Igor, he grabs Stevie to use as a human shield. Unfortunately for Igor, Raider’s programming to protect Stevie kicks in and he attacks Igor, saving Stevie from both Igor’s clutches and the bullet from Cassandra’s gun.

With Igor’s plan uncovered, and Steven found unharmed, the Puppet Masters were finally able to come out from behind the curtain (u:steven.mae p:FLYHGGH). We would like to congratulate everyone involved in the game for a job well done.

Responses from the players have been positive, and we look forward to any new games that this group may put together. So if you happen to see any of those brave individuals who sacrificed their time and energy into this game, be sure to congratulate them.

A post-game PM chat is in the works, although no dates and/or times have been finalized. We will have all of the details on ARGN as soon as they are announced.

Orbital Colony Launches

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After twenty-one months of planning, fifteen months of pure speculation and a four months of dissecting the only (found) in-game site, Orbital Colony has finally launched.

Very neatly timed with the finale of Last Call Poker, Orbital Colony launched November 16th. Players who had provided their phone numbers in the Name That Rock competition were called by the TEP Foundation (not to be misheard as PEP, PEG, PET, TET or any other variation) and asked a series of survey questions. After the calls were over, players rushed to find two brand new sites to peruse: The TEP Foundation and SAI Pets

A few days later, after a hacking incident at Orbicon, three more websites appeared on the horizon. Coalition Against the Road To the Stars, Path Back to Eden and The Inept are all working to bring Orbicon down, as if Orbicon didn’t have enough problems with suing both NASA and Google.

What started as a mere training ARG for potential PMs has grown into a fully polished game that just happens to be run by several members of the unFiction community (and if you keep your eyes peeled, you might just run across a name or two carefully hidden in plain view). With phones to answer, emails to send, videos to watch, audio to listen to, and quite possibly the long lost brother of Wongmo, Orbital Colony has something for everyone to enjoy. So sit back, strap yourselves in, and get ready for your ride into space.

Discussion at UnForums

Wiki hosted by Deaddrop

IRC Chat in #orbital hosted by Chat Solutions

Vaporlofts

vaporlofts.jpgWhen it rains, it pours. Another new ARG has come to light recently, despite the fact it has had a web presence since May. VaporLofts started as a LiveJournal blog by one Anne Schreber (aka point_system), who started befriending other LiveJournal bloggers who shared similar interests. Not a lot of attention was paid to the blog until Anne started talking about an airplane exploding over the Pacific Ocean, with one person miraculously surviving. A lot of people’s interests were piqued after that. Since then, we have been introduced to Anne’s mysterious employer, VaporLofts, who seem to be interested in a lot more than just selling and renovating real estate.

While it is still too early to tell where the VaporLofts story is heading, the game itself seems to show some real promise. The pace of the game shows that the creators have a great deal of patience. The recent trend to rush game developments due to overzealousness has doomed many an ARG in the past. It is refreshing to see that this game has not yet fallen into that trap.

VaporLofts should be a good ARG for those who have been waiting to get in on the ground floor. ARGN will keep you apprised of any major developments as they occur.

Trailhead
Discussion at Unfiction
IRC Chat in #vaporlofts

Seen Steve “Implodes”

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Seen Steve, the parody ARG, wrapped up over the ARGFest weekend in the only possible manner that it could: it “imploded”.

Players gathered in the #seensteve chat room, waiting for the final game timer to reach zero, when the PM (or PhooMaster) joined the room and announced the game was over as he had “homework and stuff” to do. But before he left, he gave players one last puzzle hidden in the final flash – a puzzle which would lead players to the Project Phoo FAQ and would reveal the identity of the PM.

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ARG Parody ‘Seen Steve’ Takes Off

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It’s not every day that an ARG that starts off by IM’ing hkdl turns out to be one of the most talked about, but “Seen Steve” has turned out to be just such a game.

Seen Steve is a brilliant parody of the ARG world. So far it has encompassed Acheron, Art of the Heist, BLARGS, The Beast, Chasing the Wish, The Flaming Heart, gAIMs, Gypsysoft, I Love Bees, Lockjaw, Our Colony, Perplex City, RedKore, and Seen James – just to name a few. As a bonus, it also has ferrets and pixies which are near and dear in everyone’s heart (or at least they should be).

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The Art of the H3ist Wrap-up and Review

aothparty.jpgJune 29, 2005 marked the Relaunch Event for Tatum Think as well as the finale for the Audi sponsored Alternate Reality Game The Art of the H3ist. Players gathered at The Viceroy in Santa Monica as well as on the web to watch the live event play out.

The beginning of the end started 36 hours in advance with one of the lead characters, Ian Yarbrough, breaking into his rival Virgil Tatum’s house. While Ian found the incriminating evidence he was looking for, he also managed to get himself caught red-handed by Virgil and his two goons and was promptly captured.

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Where’s Handy?

handy.jpgThese days, you can take nothing for granted.

What seems to be a very well-researched feature article in the East Bay Express discussing 4orty 2wo Entertainment, I Love Bees, and what goes on behind the scenes in an ARG also seems to have its own secrets buried within it. The article, entitled The Buzzmakers, seems to indicate that Alex Handy (the article’s author) is missing. Clues to his disappearance have been hidden within the article, the paper edition of the weekly Oakland area East Bay Express, as well other real world mediums.

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