Last week, cryptic print advertisements started to appear pointing readers to the TestSubjectsNeeded.com website. In last week’s issue of the comic Flashpoint, morse code led the way. In the Seattle Weekly newspaper, it was a QR Code. Both paths lead to a psychedelic movie introducing the viewer to the Human Preservation Project and then goes through an interactive experience asking the users to react to a few prompts around their five senses. Users who complete the interaction and register get a user id badge, which to date has no known purpose.
Some television viewers have noticed the TestSubjectsNeeded.com url flashing during commercials for 5 Gum, so it appears as though Wrigley is involved in this Human Preservation Project. Players have also confirmed 42 Entertainment’s involvement in the campaign by analyzing the website’s .swf file and locating the placement listing for the Seattle Weekly QR code.
Despite the lack of content, news of the project and 42 Entertainment’s involvement has generated interest on MovieViral and the Unfiction forums. Is that enough to get you excited as well? If so, check out the website testsubjectsneeded.com. Let us know if you know anything more about the campaign.
PAX East was held in Boston this weekend, and conference attendees that took the time to dig through their conference swag bags discovered cardboard cut-outs of a futuristic controller. If rumor is to be believed, this innocuous controller serves as the trailhead to 42 Entertainment’s newest alternate reality game for the film Real Steel. Each controller was labeled with an alphanumeric code and the url WWW.WRB.COM. At the time, the website displayed the controller alongside four progress bars. Inputting codes from PAX caused the progress bars to slowly fill up until earlier tonight, when the history of World Robot Boxing was revealed.
The history of robot boxing is charged with clashing personalities. The sport was born at Raiden’s Koma Club in Tokyo’s Akihabara district. Raiden carefully cultivated the bot boxing community, offering scrap from fights in the club to help local designers get their start in the industry. Quickly, Kizu, an up-and-coming designer backed by Cold Siren Industries, dominated the fights with his bot Backslash. Kizu split from the Koma Club to found the World Robot Boxing League with billionaire Nate Matheson before abandoning Cold Siren Industries to create the next champion, Gamma.
Kizu did not get to enjoy his championship long before Gamma was defeated by the Lemkovas, a family of Russian oligarchs, and their bot called Rubicon. Partnering with former rival Tak Mashido, the Lemkovas created the current reigning champion and unstoppable juggernaut known as Zeus. But while the era of Kizu appears to be over, the figure depicted on the controller given away at PAX bears a striking resemblance to Gamma, and the “G2” logo can be found on Gamma’s blueprints, so his work may resurface again.
It is at this point, presumably, that former boxer Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) steps into the ring with the Real Steel film. According to IMDB’s description of the plot, Kenton “thinks he’s found a champion in a discarded robot.” The Hero Complex blog hints that you might see director Shawn Levy and Hugh Jackman “using this particular campaign to communicate with fans in some special ways.”
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.
An important and much hyped event in the Flynn Lives! ARG came to fruition May 6th–the public unveiling of Encom International’s online version of their 1981 arcade classic “Space Paranoids,” which debuted at San Diego’s Comic Con 2009 for the Flynn’s Arcade event.
As a prelude to its release, a special countdown teased the game’s release. Players who visited the countdown splash page were able to click and destroy Recognizers that appeared and hovered across the screen. It served merely as a timewaster, but if players had the patience to keep clicking and destroy 99 Recognizers, they received a badge on FlynnLives.com. By persisting further and destroying 999, they received another badge. Finally, when the countdown ended on May 6th, Encom published their much-anticipated Space Paranoids Online arcade game, just as Alan Bradley had announced.