Being a Puppet Master is a hard, often thankless job. If you do things wrong, your players complain about the content you’ve put out. If you do things right, they tell you that there isn’t enough content. Dealing with the inevitable crises under this sort of scrutiny and feedback is draining.
When I worked on Ares Station, I woke from a nightmare about our players. They were huge, fuzzy spiders, chasing after me through endless hallways. Finally, I made it to a helicopter and jumped aboard, only to have the spiders jump up and pull it down. In desperation, I tossed a spherical puzzle to the ground. They converged on it, allowing me to escape. From then on, any player who complained or demanded content from us was labeled a ‘Puzzle Spider’.
In an odd way, my nightmare made things easier. When our players got into the story or said good things about what we were doing, I let it give me a boost of energy. When our players criticized, I pretended it came from Puzzle Spiders to make it easier to take. After all, Puzzle Spiders don’t mean things personally. They’re just voracious consumers of good puzzles and story. As a PM, you can take their interest as a compliment. After all, if your story wasn’t any good, they’d move on to something else.
As mentioned last week, a new Alternate Reality Game of sorts is emerging from a company called Studio Cypher. Since the discovery of the game, many members on the Unfiction message boards have been keeping up with ongoing events, so when the web site changed on April 14th, it did not go unnoticed. The site now has two branches — a main section with information on the company itself, including information on previously developed ARGs Ares Station and IDEAS Fest 1906, and a second section on their new game/multi-player novel Cyphers.
The company is taking a slightly different approach with this venture, and has stated that players will be charged a “nominal fee” to become an agent in the game. While the pay-to-play gaming model is hardly a new phenomenon, it is uncommon to find the model applied to Alternate Reality Gaming. However, as the company has been successful with two previous ARG projects, perhaps this is a situation where the players can bank on a quality experience deserving of the fee. In any case, the game creators have announced a pre-game IRC chat which will address “how everything will work,” which will serve as a unique opportunity for players to address out-of-game concerns before the game goes live. The chat will take place on the Chat-solutions IRC network this Tuesday, April 18, at 8 pm Eastern (GMT-5).
Thanks to Magesteff at Unfiction for the information.
The indie Alternate Reality Game Ares Station came to a close on May 5th, with an announcement on its trailhead page. Although nobody likes it when a game ends, those who played the two-month long ARG seemed to be extremely happy with the game overall.
Ares Station was designed by Indiana University Bloomington graduate students Nathan Mishler and Will Emigh as a Telecommunications thesis project. Ares Station represents about a year of work, and included excellent quality design and multimedia elements, as well as a very effective “stealth” launch.
Helmets off to Nathan, Will and the rest of the Ares Station crew for providing a quality Alternate Reality Gaming experience. You can read a transcript of the post-game chat with the Ares Team here.
If you’ve been looking for something to do while waiting for Perplex City to get going, your search may be over. An alert reader sent the following email to the ARGN tipline this morning:
I walk through the plastic halls. I see you on your blue planet so far away. Your whispers, once a week bursts, tell me you think my home is your salvation.
Rejoice! Rejoice! You will use us, downtrodden miners and sterile scientists, as a stepping stone to the great beyond.
You don’t see us as people at all. You should be ashamed.
Just like her.
Orbital Colony? Something else? A little soon to tell for sure, but it looks like there are multiple websites/blogs from the year 2083 A.D. to tear apart in the meantime. We’ll keep you posted as things progress.
Discussion on Unfiction.