On December 8th, Flynn Lives treated players to a final live event as the alternate reality game promoting the upcoming release of Tron: Legacy came to a close. As the previously discovered Digital Pulse timer hit 00:00, the site updated with information about multiple transmissions that members of the Flynn Lives organization had discovered and believed to be connected to Kevin Flynn. Organization members identified sixteen cities within the United States from Kevin Flynn’s 1989 book tour that contained evidence concerning the signals. The hope was that, once secured, the evidence would fill in the missing pieces and allow the group to begin a side channel attack to contact the missing genius. Once the countdown reached zero, coordinates with directions to the locations of hidden evidence were posted every hour in groups of two, starting on the eastern seaboard and working west with each pairing, with each drop site marked by a TRON sticker initially seen on the fictional Flynn Lives message boards.
While the Digital Pulse page originally indicated that a team effort would be needed to complete the event prior to the end of the countdown, Flynn Lives organizers later clarified on their Facebook page that only one operative was needed in each city. International players were unable to participate on the ground, but provided online support to the stateside players as they scrambled to make the pick-up, as it was now apparent that it was a race to be first to the sites.
As reports began to filter in from the participating cities, the story began to emerge. Players who were fast and fortunate enough to get to the drop and find the sticker were greeted by a phone and tracking number. Upon calling the number, players reached a Flynn Lives representative who, after receiving the tracking number, informed the player to await a delivery. Within minutes, deliverymen, dressed in Dumont Shipping company attire, arrived at the various locations and delivered a manila envelope after getting a signed release from the player. The release had directions from Kevin Flynn himself, noting that the package was only to be retrieved by the first person to call in and report the tracking number. Judging by the note, the packages had been awaiting pick-up since 1989, shortly before Kevin’s disappearance.
The week following Thanksgiving is usually a slow one as folks readjust to their daily routine post-turkey and gravy, but Flynn Lives players found themselves back in the thick of things. After a week’s hiatus, presumably to give thanks for all the buzz fans have been creating, Flynn Lives was back with some flash today; a Flash-based puzzle, to be exact.
The main page for Flynn Lives updated with a link to a new puzzle, Gygax, which featured a cut-out pattern for a 3-dimensional Bit from the original Tron film as an homage to Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax’s love of multi-sided dice. Additional information in the read-only Flynn Lives discussion forums helped players crack the puzzle in no time and in turn discover flynnlives.com/epiphany. With a few additional twists and turns players found themselves staring into pulse of a count-down timer.
End Game has begun with flynnlives.com/digitalpulse, a a call to action to retrace Kevin Flynn’s steps during his final book tour. The site advises all Flynn Lives operatives to be prepared to hit the ground next Wednesday, at 11 am EST, in a final push to retrieve the remaining evidence and finally uncover what has happened to Kevin Flynn. A total of sixteen cities will take part in the final mission but the cities themselves have yet to be identified (excepting Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and San Francisco which were named on the poster), a tactic reminiscent of the beginning of this viral and its first outing, Operation Zero Hour.
Flynn Lives is going out in style, so make sure you have your shoe laces tied and your GPS units handy, because when the time comes next week, Flynn Lives operatives will finally get the chance to find out what happened to Kevin Flynn: and that’s one ride you do not want to miss out on. Keep your finger on the digital pulse, and be ready to hit the ground running next Wednesday.
It has been a busy two months for Flynn Lives, which has been a nice change of pace for players who had been growing anxious for activity following the two month lull post San Diego Comic Con. In early October players noticed a new puzzle on the Flynn Lives Facebook page that, once cracked, led to tickets for a screening of twenty minutes from Tron: Legacy in IMAX 3D in theaters across the country for Tron Night, October 28th.
Ordinarily such a screening would be prize enough for most players but Flynn Lives did not stop there. Just days before the Tron Night screening, the Flynn Lives website updated, letting players know that the game was back with a vengeance and that the endgame had begun. Players began frantically searching the site for updates, and it was quickly discovered that Zack’s popular Arcade Aid puzzle game from months past had been updated with new titles of classic video games.
Players worked together and beat the updated game, earning new achievement badges within just a few short hours, but it was the message with the final achievement badge that left the forums buzzing. Titled End Game, the unlocked achievement let players know that something was coming in the mail soon from Flynn Lives. A screening and swag? Players speculated that this was surely the Endgame hinted at on the Flynn Lives main page and as Tron Night came and went, everyone anxiously awaited their package, their final parting gift from Flynn Lives.
Two weeks ago a set of mysterious signals from deep space led to a startling discovery. On November 7th a group of Scientific Researchers from the Bradford Rant Institute of Cosmic Kinesis (B.R.I.C.K.) were the first to intercept and decode the signals, which contained detailed coordinates. Following the coordinates, the researchers soon found themselves within Legoland: Billund where they located a tiny crash site, complete with an alien pod lodged in the brick-filled crater. The pod contained an extraterrestrial visitor short on words but high on bricks. Piecing together the mystery, the researchers soon realized that other signals from deep space represented the future landing sites of six additional space-faring pods, providing quite the rabbit hole for a nice LEGO ARG.
Players have already been treated to some code-cracking, LEGO-style, along with the promise of more coveted pods scheduled for dispersal around the world, presumably near Legoland sites. The second pod is still transmitting coordinates and has yet to land, but it would seem our newest visitor will be touching down somewhere near the site of the future Legoland: Fort Worth amusement park. Undoubtedly, B.R.I.C.K. will have no short supply of North American assistants when the final set of signals for the second visitor are transmitted and triangulated.
So what does it all mean? Who are these mysterious visitors and what brings them to Earth? The game took off a week ago following a mysterious tweet from Brian Johnson. Brian’s Twitter bioraphy includes an interesting tid-bit, noting that he is the producer of the upcoming massively multiplayer online (MMO) title LEGO Universe. Digging a little deeper using this newfound information, an article detailing the arrival of the afore-mentioned pod in Legoland: Billund was discovered on the LEGO Universe main page, further eliminating any doubt as to the purpose of the tiny pods.
Last December, ARGNet announced plans for an upcoming game courtesy of Expanding Universe that promised to draw players into the underground club scene. The idea of a London-based murder mystery spanning several nightclubs piqued the interest of the ARG community, while the way Expanding Universe planned to incorporate and immerse players into that mystery drew national and international attention.
The game is set to run for two weeks with multiple live events in London and three 15 minute videos. Breathe offers players the chance to not only interact with characters in real time, but also to help shape the narrative itself. Those brave enough to attend the live dance events will get the chance to socialize with the in-game characters and in all likelihood become characters themselves: possibly even accomplices to the unsolved crime.
This past August, players who signed up for the game at the Breathe homepage learned that the months of waiting were almost at an end when they received e-mail invitations to a masked ball, “A Night of Xcess,” a live event set to kick off the first episode of Breathe. Intrepid players next discovered Pleasure Principled, which included the dress code for the event, a list of performers attending, and instructions on how to buy tickets to the ball.
Fans of 2K Games’ viral campaign, Something in the Sea had a strange encounter this past Saturday. Several players reported that they had received a mysterious telegram from the game’s hero, Mark Meltzer, advising them to be on the lookout for a package from him within the next day. The telegram itself was more than enough to excite the fans of the game, but what stood out the most to all the recipients was the deliveryman who knocked upon their door.
Mark avoided such popular delivery services as UPS, Fedex or even USPS and instead sent his parcels via Speedy Brothers. An apparent transplant from the sixties, the Speedy Brothers deliverymen made their deliveries on vintage bicycles and in full costume. One thoughtful player had the presence of mind to capture a picture of one of the rare and elusive deliverymen dropping off his telegram.
Players fortunate enough to receive the telegrams soon found themselves in possession of a splicer mask–one of the decorative masks seen in Bioshock 1 adorning the maddened splicers who attacked and harassed players throughout the game. Mark has continued his investigation into the disappearance of his daughter, Cindy, and he recently uncovered a warehouse full of Rapture artifacts. Players admired his find from afar until, unexpectedly, they found themselves in possession of the very same artifacts with a request for help from Mark.
While Bioshock 2 looms on the horizon, 2K Games is still pulling players in with an ever-evolving story and continued real world interaction. The success of Bioshock 2 remains to be seen, but the buzz and excitement 2K Games is building up around their product is readily apparent. Several video games have used viral marketing in the past but Something in the Sea continues to distance and set itself apart from those previous campaigns. The weekend deliveries made by the Speedy Brothers widen that gap and raise the bar for future campaigns.
A special thank you to Precarious from the 2K Games message boards for allowing the use of her photographs.