ARG Netcast, Episode 8

netcast.jpgWe were big liars when we said that Episode 7 of the ARG Netcast would be the last of 2006. Yesterday, Jonathan Waite was joined by Sean C. Stacey, Marie Lamb, Brooke Thompson and Carie Ward for a look back at 2006, and a look forward towards what might happen in 2007. Episode 8 is our year-end Review and Predictions episode, one you don’t want to miss!


  1. Great netcast — but I really have to disagree with the characterization of Ny Takma’s language puzzle as the “best puzzle of the year.” It was a good game, but the language was not a language, just a word-level cipher, so it wasn’t even solvable without the PMs telling you what each word meant. If it’s not solvable by the players, it’s hard to see how it can even qualify as a “good” puzzle, let alone the “best.”

    That said, the game itself was definitely a highlight of 2006.

  2. The puppetmaster of Another Contest Worth Entering has posted an interesting article about what went wrong, and why on his blog.

  3. Phaedra – Good points and I don’t disagree with you. It was just a word level cypher and it did have presentation problems. I do disagree that it wasn’t solvable – the players uncovered many of the words (granted, with help from the PMs) and used what they had uncovered previously in order to gain context and uncover more. Of all the puzzles that I saw this year (granted just a small portion of all those that were put out there), it left the greatest and most lasting impression.And, due to the uniqueness and the fact that it was such a defining aspect of the game while also providing and building upon the theme of the game, I do think that it deserves to be listed in the best of 2006.

  4. A word-level cipher by definition isn’t solvable. 🙂 That’s what we’re calling it, at least, but it’s a misnomer: “cipher” implies a system. Unlike the alphabet, which contains only 26 characters, and therefore has a very finite number of possibilities for each character, which is what makes an alphabetic substitution cipher solvable, the possibilities for each “character” (i.e. “word”) in a “word-level” cipher is for all practical purposes infinite. It can’t be solved by any logical means — it is for all intents and purposes unsolvable unless the PMs feed you each word, in which case you’re not really solving it, are you? Very few words were actually determinable from context.

    Furthermore, even a relatively minor aspect which might have allowed some sort of contextual solving was botched. Different tenses and conjugations of the same verb bore no visible relationship to one another, destroying one of the few other opportunities players could otherwise have had to actually solve anything.

    So, again, while I’ll gladly admit the game should appear in the Best of 2006, the language puzzle was neither a language nor a puzzle (or at least not a viable puzzle), and IMO very poorly executed.

    And yes, I feel pretty strongly about this because it’s something I’ve very much wanted to see tried (created language used as puzzle); even if someone else does it right, now, the reaction of the players will likely be altered or diluted by the fact that it’s been done before. I feel like a very interesting opportunity was wasted here.

    Oh well, maybe in a few years it will have faded from people’s minds and someone will do it right. 🙂

  5. Phaedra,

    I can’t argue with you too much, most of the words in it were given to the players… however, you underestimate the players. A good many of the words and phrases were deciphered by the players before we released the relevant codes. Such as Ny Takma meaning The End and quite a few other words. Now not all of the words they pieced together were 100% accurate for the system we had created, but in context they matched the points in which we had desired. Our biggest failure in this attempt was assuming that our poor reading of the language would be able to be sounded out phonetically and then deciphered. I won’t argue on where it should be, I will agree that there were aspects of it that could have been executed more efficiently, but by saying that it wasn’t solveable when a good many of the words were solved before PM interaction – that’s harsh on the players who did a wonderful job solving what they could.

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