A van is careening down a winding road, followed in close pursuit by a police car, sirens blaring. The passenger of the van, Ben Wilkins, urgently questioned by the driver (not named in the chapter but later on we find out his name is “Charles”), swears he doesn’t know why they’re chasing him or what they want, but mentions “a package” back at his apartment. Charles tells Ben to connect his phone to the laptop in the van, where he’ll give Ben “a Jack app” to buy him time to get back to his place and grab the package, and so that he can contact Ben afterwards. A policeman leans out of the police cruiser’s passenger window and starts to shoot at the van…
Daybreak 2012, a transmedia webseries by Tim Kring (Heroes, Conspiracy for Good), launched on May 31st with the release of the first of 5 weekly chapters of the webseries on Daybreak2012.com. Along with the Daybreak 2012 website, the Jack Boxers app was also released for both the iPhone and Android smartphones, along with an accompanying website, We Are The Jack Boxers. The purpose of both the app and the website is to enlist help for the cause of the Jack Boxers, who are fighting the forces of darkness and bringing the Truth to light.
The Truth, according to the Jack Boxers, is essential to many things – sacred geometry, energy and vibration, the works of Fibonacci and Tesla – but most importantly, the dodecahedron. In the final few episodes of Touch, the dodecahedron (or “doda”) played a major role in the mythology of the show, and that mythology is carried over into Daybreak. However, while both Daybreak and Touch exist in the same “universe”, the doda is the only common thread between the two stories.
The Daybreak 2012 site is the main location for both game videos and story. Scrolling up the page reveals a series of dodas, each linking to a video. The smaller dodas link to videos from the Jack Boxers app or other relevant information, while the largest ones contain the main chapters of the Daybreak story. Scroll down, and a series of links describe the AT&T Technology used in the story and the tools in the Jack Boxer app, and a link to the Jack Boxer app itself. Scroll down further and an image of a jack-in-the-box at the bottom of a hole in the ground links directly to the Jack Boxers site.
The Jack Boxers website has the look and feel of a site run by a major Unix hacker, and contains information relevant to the Jack Boxers interests. Also posted are pictures of the jack-in-the-box symbol in graffiti, poster, and sticker form located in different cities around the country along with in-game information found by the Jack Boxers that contribute to the overarching story. While the site warns about being optimized for Google Chrome or Safari, it renders well enough in Firefox and IE9. At the very bottom of the page is another link to download the Jack Boxer app.
While the websites are interesting and provide both the main story and video clips, the real fun is the Jack Boxer app. After opening the app by toppling the iconic black and white Jack-In-The-Box and pressing OPEN on its bottom, the app’s main page launches and displays a spinning globe surrounded by a dodecahedron. As the globe spins and the pentagon-shaped portal hovers over certain areas of the globe, a clear tone is played and the sound meter found below the globe spikes.
Beneath the sound meter is the Menu. The Comm Center is the first menu item, and is where all in-game communication takes place. If you connect to Facebook through the app, you are able to message your Facebook friends who also have the app installed. The primary focus of the Comm Center, though, is to present puzzles and information. Some of the types of puzzles that have appeared so far have involved scrambled images, reversed and/or speed-adjusted audio files, and clues to passwords for locked files in another menu area, the Archive.
The Archive contains a list of folders which are later filled by solved image files and audio recordings and information placed there by in-game characters. There are also two locked folders, Fibonacci and White Rabbit, which each need a password to be unlocked – another form of puzzle in the game. As puzzles are solved and information is provided, more folders are added with the information needed to progress in the game.
Another important menu item is the Terminal. Many of the clues given in the game either lead to or are unlocked by commands and codes entered here. Typing “help” will give you a list of commands (ex: “activate”), but the codes entered with the commands (ex: “-node”) come from the messages from in-game characters or puzzle solves.
Four tools used to help solve puzzles are also included with the app:
- Image Scrambler, used to unscramble image files. Images are sent by in-game characters scrambled much like a slide puzzle, and must be solved using vertical, horizontal, pinch and zoom, and two-fingered vertical and horizontal swipe controls.
- Image Recognition, which is used to scan pictures for hidden messages, either in the real world or on the Jack Boxers site. An image of the jack-in-the-box Jack Boxers symbol was placed on the Jack Boxers website, and when scanned with the Image Recognizer, a hidden message is displayed. Also, a number of real world graffiti, posters, and stickers of the jack-in-the-box have been placed around the country, but it is unknown if any messages are contained in these.
- Frequency Analyzer, used to decypher messages given in audio files which consist of tones. One puzzle was an audio file consisting of different tones which, when played while using the Frequency Analyzer, not only gave the frequency of the tone but also formed letters in the display grid.
- Sound Editor, used to speed up, slow down, or reverse voice recordings. All voice recordings have used the Sound Editor to manipulate the recording by reversing or adjusting the speed of the playback in order to hear the message.
The final menu item is Profile, which contains your profile information, such as an automatically assigned “JB” number, location (if GPS is enabled), and status in the game – everyone starts off as a “NOOB”, but some have moved on to “PROSPECT”. If you link the app to Facebook, it will add your Facebook picture as your in-game picture and tell you how many of your Facebook friends also have the Jack Boxer app (which enables you to message them in the Comm Center).
The game is set to run for 5 weeks and Chapter 2 was just released this past Thursday, leaving plenty of time to catch up and play. Follow the discussion in the Unforums, or the Invenire Vertatem group on Facebook.