Filmmaker Lance Weiler, who recently promoted the VOD release of his film Head Trauma alongside an alternate reality game called Hope is Missing, was kind enough to talk with me about his current project, Beyond the Rave. For the first time in almost 30 years, Hammer Films is releasing a feature-length horror movie, and Lance and his company, Seize the Media, are producing a companion alternate reality game in conjunction with Hammer and MySpace.
The feature will be released in twenty installments on MySpace, with new episodes every Monday and Wednesday. The plot revolves around a British soldier trying to find his girlfriend who was taken by a group of vampiric, night-time ravers. According to Weiler, the game aspect is broken down into two paths, with hints and clues strewn across the videos and MySpace: “Find the Wraith,” based around the movie’s vampire-centric plot, and “Humans vs Vampires,” a combat-based system that allows players to hunt down weapons and trophies, and battle to increase their collection.
In stark contrast to “Hope is Missing,” where the gameplay led players through a variety of websites such as MySpace, XBox Live, Twitter, Stage 6, and Opera, “Beyond the Rave” is much more centralized. Lance claims this allows the developers to take advantage of the MySpace Developer’s Platform in order to receive finite information on gameplay that helps the team optimize the experience, and suggests we’ll be seeing a lot of innovative uses of the underlying API.
Bringing alternate reality games to social networking sites has exposed the genre to new audiences, with over three hundred players discussing the game so far on the MySpace forums and over 14,000 users listing the main page for the experience as a friend. Due to mature content, access to the videos and the game is restricted to anyone 18 or older.
Lance notes that bringing alternate reality games to social networks can also help bring people together. On their own, social networking sites let you set up a page, deal with your friends, and occasionally meet a new person randomly. “What’s cool about an ARG is the ability to work through things together, and to become friends.” Since Beyond the Rave has multiple levels of interactivity, players can choose the level of involvement that suits their interests, whether that involves leaning back and enjoying the first new movie from Hammer Films in decades, or progressing through the videos frame-by-frame to isolate subliminal clues leading to websites that can provide weapons helpful in battling for supremacy.
For those of you looking for prizes, you can answer twenty questions about the episodes on Faustino‘s profile for a chance to win “a truly vampiric top prize” or one of forty goody bags.