Tag: Jordan Weisman

Lost Souls: Burning Sky Opens New Trilogy for Young Adults

2012 marks the end of the world in the Mayan calendar, and, in Lost Souls: Burning Sky, 13-year-old Nathan Richards must play the Game of Lost Souls to win mankind a place in the new world cycle. But apparently, Nathan is barely passing the 7th grade and doesn’t know how to play this game. To make matters worse, lost souls keep bothering Nathan with their pesky demands for revenge and redemption . . . but they’re the ones with the key knowledge that Nathan needs. Oh, and did I mention Nathan has to beat the Mayan god Kukulkan at the Game of Lost Souls, or else humanity is doomed? Yes, that’s right . . .¬†doomed.

Lost Souls: Burning Sky is the latest book-plus offering created by game designer, author, and Smith & Tinker founder Jordan Weisman, well-known in the ARG community for his involvement on The Beast and, more recently, for his work in transmedia publishing with the Nanovor universe, Personal Effects: Dark Arts with J.C. Hutchins, and the¬†Cathy’s Book series with Sean Stewart. Written by science fiction and fantasy writer Mel Odom and published by Running Press Book Publishers, Lost Souls: Burning Sky features an original board game, which can be played online through Game Table Online. The object of the game is to get more pieces/points than your opponent into the center of the stylized Mayan calendar, and the straightforward gameplay is something like the African game mancala. To play, look for the “Play Now!” buttons on the Lost Souls website. You will need to download and run a browser pop-up application using Java WebStart to play.

It is not clear if there is a full transmedia experience planned for the Lost Souls trilogy. However, the website for the game seems to have some placeholders for future updates, and, there are few hidden extras to be found on the site.

Click Here to order Lost Souls: Burning Sky from Amazon.com.
Click Here for our coverage of Nanovor.
Click Here for our coverage of the Cathy’s Book series.
Click Here for our coverage of Personal Effects: Dark Art.

An Interview with JC Hutchins: Personal Effects

jc_hutchins.jpgEditor’s note: this is a companion interview for the article we ran yesterday on Personal Effects: Dark Art, the new transmedia novel written by JC Hutchins and produced by Smith and Tinker. Mr. Hutchins was kind enough to answer a few questions posed by Michael Andersen, and the responses are below. Picture courtesy of CC Chapman on Flickr.

MA: You’ve developed a strong core following through your work with The Ministry of Propaganda over the years — how will we see them utilized through the Personal Effects ARG?

JH: Thanks for mentioning the Ministry of Propaganda! I love connecting with my audience using the MOP, and giving them street team-style missions to perform. They’re amazing, generous people who volunteer their time to help spread the word about my work.

When it comes to Personal Effects: Dark Art, I’m certain I’ll ask them to evangelize the book’s release, as well as some special — and at present, secret — promotional stuff we’re cooking up. As always, the hundreds of MOP “agents” will be on the front lines, firing people up for the project. I’m lucky to have so many cool people in my life.

MA: A lot of the clues will be found with the book and its contents: how much can we expect to see from Personal Effects before the novel’s print release this Summer? And what can you say about your experience working with Smith & Tinker (and St Martin’s Press)?

JH: There’s already some content connected to the Personal Effects universe out in the wild, and I think it’s awfully cool. While longtime ARG players are accustomed to some of the stuff we’ve already released — fiction that’s being updated in real-time, in sync to when Dark Art’s events take place — the Personal Effects experience is ultimately designed for newcomers. We were careful to craft a tale that adult readers would really enjoy, and motivate them to pursue the transmedia experience on their own, solo-style.

That’s not to say we won’t have a “base of operations” forum available for players, or that we don’t welcome dedicated fans of ARG storytelling — we will, and we absolutely do. But we all know that most ARGs require what I call “bunches of brains” … lots of players … to unlock puzzles and push the story forward. Dark Art is different in that we’re aiming to allure folks who’ve never heard the word “ARG” to participate in this awesome breed of storytelling.

Speaking personally, it’s sometimes hard to remember just how remarkable and unique transmedia storytelling is … and how high its barrier for entry can be. The Personal Effects series is built to resonate with the individual reader. We absolutely hope — and totally encourage — longtime ARGers to read, play and share their experiences with the community, but we wanted to make the Personal Effects narrative to be a welcoming one for newbies.

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I Swear, I’m Not Claiming All Girl Gamers are Fake: Personal Effects Goes Live

pixelvixen.jpgBack in September, podcast novelist JC Hutchins tweeted about a friend’s new gaming blog. A little over a week ago, he did it again. And I’m glad he did — since January 2008, Rachael Webster has posted some rather insightful and snark-filled articles critiquing recent game releases under the moniker “PixelVixen707”. The blog has attracted some attention, and Pixelvixen707 even had the impeccably good taste to list ARGNet on her blogroll.

Only one problem: Rachael Webster isn’t actually real. Although the blog’s archives go back to January 2008, the domain was only registered in June. Compounding the problem, her employers at the New York Journal Ledger have a tendency to report news that hasn’t actually happened. Some of that news involves her boyfriend Zach Taylor, a rather popular art therapist at Brinkvale Psychiatric Hospital. With the recent addition of personal posts to the PixelVixen707 blog, a simple gaming blog slowly yet subtly drags you into the rabbithole, as GameSetWatch noted earlier today. For a bit of irony, check out Rachael’s article on Matt Hazard, an action gaming franchise that never existed, as described by Ralph Tokey, a game developer that never existed.

These assets set the stage for JC Hutchins’ upcoming supernatural thriller, Personal Effects: Dark Art. The story revolves around Zach Taylor, an art therapist who uses his patients’ personal effects to help decipher their mental problems. However, according to JC Hutchins, “Zach gets far more than he bargained for when a new patient is admitted to the facility: a man who is a suspected serial killer.” The thriller will showcase a spooky storyline featuring a young optimistic hero, in addition to a relentlessly cruel villain with a secret.

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The Hour of Needing a Title for This Article – Cathy’s Book Answers Call, Delivers Hot, Extra-large Pizza Pie of Awesome

cover.jpg.JPGI have a secret that I wasn’t planning on sharing. It’s almost too embarrassing to put into type on a site such as this, but my dedication to the readership is too great for me not to – and so I entrust you with this meaty nugget of shame: when I first read Cathy’s Book, I didn’t look at the evidence packet AT ALL. Even worse? I didn’t even go onto the internet and hunt for websites OR dial the phone numbers. Faced with the chance to read a book while surfing the internet and playing with a metric crap-ton of awesome evidence – a dream of mine, really, as I can barely keep my head together long enough to complete anything linear in one shot – I managed to overcome my attention deficit, which usually compels me to do all three of the above mentioned activities while also watching TV, for 2 hours as I read (and finished) the text of Cathy’s Book.

So there you have it: I am a Bad ARGer. I failed in my mission to hunt, explore, and solve, instead drooling excitedly over only one part of a narrative specifically MADE for hunting, exploring and solving: the static text. Simply because it is That Good. On the second, third and fourth readings, the narrative only gets better with the internet presence and the evidence packet adding fine layers of buttercream frosting onto an already scrumptious, many-tiered cake of delicious prose. Cathy’s Book is an absolute treat to read: narratively and visually striking, the text melds magically with the tactile pleasure of picking up bits of newsprint and old photographs and the intellectual pleasure of seeking new information on the internet and dialing in to someone else’s voicemail, hearing their messages.

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EDOC Laundry Exclusive Interview

edocsecrets.jpgARGN had the opportunity to get in touch with Dawne Weisman, Founder and President of EDOC Laundry, to discuss the upcoming venture, and get some questions answered in regards to the exciting idea.

ARGN: So what was the inspiration for EDOC Laundry? Is there some backstory into the development that would be interesting to fans?

DW: I was very inspired by the work my husband (Jordan Weisman) did in creating a new form of story telling (dubbed ARG by you guys) and saw a way of integrating that into my passion for graphic design and fashion. I founded edoc laundry around the talents of my graphic/fashion design team headed by Shane Small, and consisting of; Daniel Dejos, Justin Koh, and Cathy Brigg, and brought them together with some of the team that Jordan had assembled for 42 Entertainment, namely Elan Lee and Sean Stewart. I then brought in a great writer by the name of Christopher Kubasik who is writing all our scripts.

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IGDA San Francisco Presents: I Love Bees, 4orty2wo

dvdbees.jpgOn April 26th, the International Game Developers Association will present “THINKING OUTSIDE THE (x)BOX (or “HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE BEES”) at 7:00 PM at the Metreon’s Action Theater in San Francisco (101 4th Street @ Mission).

Featured speakers will be Jordan Weisman, Sean Stewart and Jim Stewartson of 4orty2wo Entertainment, the team behind the Alternate Reality Game “I Love Bees.”

4orty2wo’s Alternate Reality Game became a phenomenon last year, sending thousands of players running to payphones around the world. The innovative Halo 2 prequel involving a seemingly innocent website of a Napa Valley beekeeper and a shipwrecked AI from the future received a Game Developers Choice Award for Innovation, was featured at GDC’s Experimental Gameplay Workshop, and became the latest and most successful example of the nascent Alternate Reality Games (ARG) genre.

But what place do ARGs have in the world (and future) of video games? What is their relation to one another? Are there lessons to be learned from ARG production that can impact the way video games are made?

Join Jordan Weisman, Sean Stewart, and Jim Stewartson of 4orty2wo Entertainment as they examine I Love Bees to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of ARGs, their intersection with traditional video games, and the future of this exciting new form of digital play.

This event is free and open to the public. For more info: www.igda.org/sf