It’s been a while since the end of the ARGFest-O-ComicCon Hardcore Summer Tour, and I think I’m finally recovered enough to start recapping some of the crazy events that occurred! For this, the first in a series of Comic-Con 2009 recaps, here is the recap of the live event for the Disney movie, Tron: Legacy – otherwise known as “Flynn Lives!”.
It all started July 21 when players noticed an article on ComingSoon.net that featured an article on Flynn’s Arcade – apparently they had received arcade tokens and a nondescript flash drive with an animated .gif (labeled “Tron3.gif”) loaded on it. Other sites received similar coins and flash drives with other .gifs on them – 5 in total. The .gifs contained scrolling HTML-like code that, when decoded and compiled, displayed a matrix that were then combined with the numbers at the bottom of the .gifs, leading players to www.flynnlives.com. The arcade tokens also had “Home Of Tron” on them, which led to another site: www.homeoftron.com.
A quick background: Kevin Flynn was the main character in the original Tron movie, a visionary who designed a game called Space Paranoids, was fired by ENCOM after a dispute with CEO Ed Dillinger, and was then sucked into the game in order to battle Dillinger’s “program”, the Master Control Program (MCP) alongside fellow programer Alan Bradley’s “program”, Tron. Together they defeat the MCP and Kevin is released back into the “real world”.
FlynnLives.com is a site operated by the Flynn Lives Organization, a group who have dedicated themselves to the investigation of Kevin Flynn’s disappearance in 1989. According to the newspaper article links on the Flynn Lives website, after the events of the movie Kevin Flynn was rehired by ENCOM as the VP of Creative Development and led the company to greatness before retiring in 1985 and disappearing in 1989. Also, while working at ENCOM, Flynn opens his own arcade, Flynn’s Arcade, and fills it with the games he developed at ENCOM. The HomeOfTron.com site is dedicated to the memory of this arcade.
Players soon discovered a bouncing spider .gif at the bottom of the FlynnLives website that, when clicked, displayed a countdown that would expire at approximately 9:30PM Thursday July 23rd – conveniently during ComicCon. The countdown page was updated Wednesday the 22nd with a message: “Meet us at the cul de sac near the corner of 1st and J when the numbers run out. You’ll know who we are.” – which happened to be right across from the Convention Center. Does this sound familiar?
Meanwhile at ComicCon, the lucky few that managed to squeeze into Hall H with the Twilight fans and attend the Disney 3D panel were treated to a new 3D version of the Tron:Legacy trailer from ComicCon ’08, but with a new added bit: a scene in where Sean Flynn (Kevin’s now-adult son) returns to the old, shut down Flynn’s Arcade, finds an old Tron machine in the back of the arcade and spins it away from the wall, revealing a passage to a secret chamber behind the game into which Sam disappears into. Hmmm, forshadowing perhaps?
That evening, the countdown expires – and a large group had formed at the location listed on the countdown page. Flynn Lives Organization “volunteers” presented players with release forms and upon signing and returning, participants were presented with an envelope containing a number of items: an instruction sheet with map, translucent paper with 3 columns and a grid (which could be placed over the map on the instruction sheet), a handheld torch/black light, a blue Sharpie, and a Flynn’s Arcade token. The instructions were for the players to find three different Tron posters placed in the highlighted area on the map, and using the black light, find hidden coordinates on the posters which would then be inserted into the columns and then mapped on the grid. Once completed, the grid would lead to the final destination (as yet unknown, but due to the coins it was assumed to be Flynn’s Arcade). A merry pursuit throughout the gaslamp, finding and flashing blacklight on Flynn Lives posters ensued, and once all coordinates were acquired, mapped out on the grid, and grid overlaid on the map, it revealed a winding path through the city – the endpoint of the path, sure enough, was Flynn’s Arcade.
The line to get in was huge, and took awhile to get in. The arcade staff ran groups of people through, and took approximately twenty minutes per group. Once inside, a full-fledged arcade is present with a jukebox playing Journey, and all your favorite 80s arcade games, including Ms. Pac-Man, Asteroids, Battlezone, and of course Tron. However, five special Space Paranoids machines were also present. The arcade staff (and prior groups as they exited the arcade) strongly suggested playing Space Paranoids, and playing each machine successfully through the first round displayed a unique code – five in all. This was not an easy task as the game was rather difficult to play, and required several groups working in succession and coordinating online to finally acquire all five codes.
After about fifteen minutes, the jukebox music died and gave way to an techno tune (apparently some of the Daft Punk music created for the new movie). A hologram-like design appeared over the “House of Tron” neon sign (similar to the poster’s secrets revealed by the black light), and the wall behind a Tron machine in the back wall swung open to reveal a secret chamber… just like the scene in the trailer at the earlier Disney 3D panel. Drawn like flies, the players moved into the darkened passage beyond, which revealed several production drawings of the new lightcycle and, around the bend, a life-sized rotating version of the cycle itself, spinning slowly in time with the techno. Once the players were able to draw themselves away from the mesmerizing sight, Flynn Lives staffers were there to present posters and t-shirts to participants as they left, still in a daze as to what they had witnessed.
The T-shirts turned out to be more than just nice swag – holding the same black light to the t-shirt revealed the words “slash derez” – leading to FlynnLives.com/derez, where the previously acquired five codes could be entered. Entering each code revealed what appeared to be a picture of the lightcycle model displayed in the Arcade but in a “derezed” state, and .mp3 files of statements from Kevin Flynn (it is unclear if these were taken from the movie or created for the ARG). Combining all five .jpgs in Photoshop revealed the full picture of the lightcycle, and entering all five codes unlocked a hi def version of the trailer shown at the Disney 3D panel.
While the URL of the trailer (“0xendgame”) may indicate this was just a short viral with no more ARG-ish content, the movie itself isn’t due to be released until sometime in 2010, there is a great possibility of some Dark Knight-like interaction down the road – so keep your fingers crossed and your eyes on the game’s Unfiction thread. Pictures of the ComicCon event can also be found here.