Roughly a month and a half after konamouse and many in the THX 1138 fan
community received the first emails from OMM, the SEN5241 (aka SubCity Central)
ARG has ended. OMM has fallen, all are free and ARG players have walked away
with another quality bit of entertainment under their belts.

For those of you who didn’t play along, Subcity Central was set in the world of
THX-1138, an early film by George Lucas. In the THX-1138 world, people live in
an oppressive, drug-controlled society. They aren’t allowed to think for
themselves, love or even have sex. They don’t even have names, but instead
SubjecteID’s like SEN5421. Players helped bring down OMM by sabotaging many of
the systems that kept the people under OMM’s thumb. The players produced
defective police robots, altered the community’s drugs and broke the hold OMM
held over the people. Without drug clouded minds and police to control them, the
people rose up against OMM and gained their freedom. Yay!

One of the things I really liked about SubCity Central was that the puzzles
actually had a place within the storyline. There weren’t any arbitrary puzzles
thrown in just to keep the players occupied. Don’t get me wrong – some of those
arbitrary puzzles can be really fun, but it was nice to have puzzles that had
some meaning. Many of the puzzle solves resulted in a direct and immediate
change in the game. Each time a player created an inferior police robot or
sedative their SubjecteID (like VAR1234) would show up on the site with their
solution. Once enough players succeeded in breaking one of these puzzles, OMM’s
control over the community was weakened. I also liked that some of the puzzles
were cooperative. Each player could only contribute one part to a particular
puzzle. So those of us that, um, aren’t the best at puzzle solving had a chance
to contribute.

The character interaction was a little lacking in the game, but it fit well
within the storyline. We were trying to help characters who were oppressed and
secretly sending us messages under the radar of the controlling OMM. It wouldn’t
really have been realistic to expect SEN to be able to email us freely and chat
on AIM every night. Most of the interaction was through official emails that
SEN5421 “hijacked” and added an encrypted message to. So, to me, the lack of
interaction was realistic and worked with the game. Plus it was kind of nice to
not have to get the characters to warm up to you in order to get any progress.

Overall, I really, really liked SubCity Central. The storyline was an
interesting one that many of us were already familar with, but even those that
hadn’t seen the movie could still play along. If anyone wanted more background
on the characters or story all they had to do was take a trip to the video
store. The ARG was simple, short and to the point. It didn’t require several
hours a night to wade through tons of information and spec. It didn’t require
complex graphs and flow charts to keep up with the game’s events. The players
knew what they had to do and did it. SubCity Central was alot of fun and I’m
really glad I didn’t sit this one out.

The biggest surprise was discovering that the PMs behind Subcity Central are the
Virtuquest team. Having played some of Virtuquest’s previous netventures and
Corporate ARGs, I’m not surprised at the quality of SubCity Central. It’s not
entirely clear whether or not this was officially sanctioned by George Lucas.
Virtuquest does thank George Lucas both in the credits and on their site and the
ARG suspiciously occured right before the release of the THX-1138 DVD. I hope
Lucas was in some way involved because that would mean that maybe others in the
entertainment world are becoming aware of ARGs. Subcity Central was a great
spinoff from the movie and a fun advertising campaign (whether it was intended
to be or not) I was sucked into the movie all over again and will probably buy
the DVD because of this ARG.