After a number of panels featuring discussion between independent puppetmasters and members of different design companies, 42 Entertainment‘s Jim Stewartson (Chief Technology Officer), Elan Lee (Co-Founder, Vice President of Experience Design), Sean Stewart (Co-Founder, Creative Director), Steve Peters (Game Designer) and Michael Borys (Visual Design Director) sat down for a roundtable discussion, moderated by Kristen Rutherford, about how their team works together.
Stewart began the roundtable with a discussion of a chemistry puzzle in the Beast that was intended to look “cool and spooky” but be relatively easy to solve, and 42’s subsequent efforts to reproduce that effect in their other games. One of these attempts was Flea++, the “programming” language used in I Love Bees. In a similar vein, players would “teach” the character of the Sleeping Princess to speak as she cobbled together words and phrases from their emails and replied to them. Stewart’s favorite draft reply was “I want a cupcake.” Lee told him they couldn’t use it because it was too ambiguous — it could be a call to action for the players. According to Stewart, one of Lee’s main roles within the company is removing ambiguity from what the players see (Stewart’s summary: the creative process at 42 consists mainly of Lee saying, “That’s really good but can we have another draft?”).
The second panel discussion at ARGFest focused on Running An ARG, and it had a diverse selection of panelists. Sam LaVigne and Ian Kizu-Blair of SF0, voice actress Kristen Rutherford of I Love Bees fame, and Unfiction administrator Jackie Kerr delivered a multi-perspective approach to the subject which in turn provided a thorough look at player relations. It was moderated by Unfiction moderator Krystyn Wells.
Kerr began the panel by enumerating three design difficulties that can create problems with community relations: badly-defined game boundaries that confuse the players to the point of frustration, games that break down the community’s collective intelligence rather than supporting it, and design decisions that provoke so much meta discussion that it becomes difficult to interact with the game itself in a natural manner.
The Alternate Reality Gaming Network will host a live call-in phone chat with some of the voice actors featured in the Ilovebees Alternate Reality game, hosted by the kind folks at AccuTalk. It will be open to callers both in the US and abroad, and will take place this Saturday, November 13th at 12:00 noon Pacific/3:00pm Eastern. On hand will be Kristen Rutherford (Durga/Melissa/Sleeping Princess) and more from the cast (stay tuned).
This phone chat will work very much like a call-in radio show, as callers will have a chance to talk directly to the actors, and ask whatever questions they like. Watch this unfiction thread for more details as they become available.
EDIT 11/10: more details…
If you’d like to participate, call (404) 920-6610, then enter the conference code 516230#. You’ll be prompted to state your name (or screen name in this case), then will be put on hold until the chat begins at noon.
By default, you’ll be in listen-only mode. If you’d like to ask a question or make a comment, press *1. This will put you in the queue, which will be gone through in order. We’ll move overseas callers to the front of the queue. When it’s your turn, you’ll be ‘voiced’ and able to talk.
The chat went well. For those of you who couldn’t make it, here is a recording for your listening pleasure: