Tag: mare vitreum

Player Review: Prototype 161 Mare Vitreum

Editor’s note: The following is a recap of the Prototype 161 event on October 31, 2008 in New York City. Originally brought to our attention via a lovely piece of glass swag, the game took players to the streets of NYC on the spookiest night of the year, and intrepid player Jim Babb covered the event for us. Thanks to Jim for his eye-witness account of what transpired.

This past Halloween night, I was member of a group of elite investigators that brought down an evil cult mastermind and his super genetic computer. Yep, a first for me, but just another night for Prototype 161. The event had an online pre-game that Prototype assured us was not necessary for the game and which I enjoyed. The pre-game even had a clue drops in five cities across the country.

At 7pm the event started in New York City’s Central Park when investigators were each handed a folded piece of paper, sealed with wax (a nice touch in my book). The first part of the night was a foot race around Central Park solving simple clues in order to build a map that would come in handy later when we moved over to Roosevelt Island. For those of you that have never been, Roosevelt island is accessible by means of a Tramway and was also the home of New York’s abandoned mental institutions. The Tramway offers an excellent view of the city and was my favorite part of the night — I am glad that the Puppet Masters included this in the game. Roosevelt island offered an excellent backdrop for the rest of the night, because of its size, roughly 0.3 square miles. However, despite the amazing setting of the game the night quickly hit some snags.

We were met on the island by a “professor” giving a lecture on the occult at the local youth center. The youth center would become our home base for the rest of the evening and into the morning, which was decent enough until the soda machine ran out. Most, if not all, of the teams became stuck on the first puzzle (my own team was out of commission for 2 hours). The puzzles were difficult and fun if not entirely related to the premise of the event. One of the major problems I had with the game was after the first clue was finally solved: it provided an answer with which we didn’t know what to do. We were supposed to be looking for a six-letter word, but there were not hints to this effect.

Finally, my team got back on track as we split up to get the rest of the clues. The island was used to full advantage by the PMs. They had us running up and down the area, from a Chinese restaurant to get puzzle containing fortune cookie, to a garden that was totally creepy and dark at night. I am pretty sure that the drunk guys outside the garden were out-of-game, but nevertheless they provided a nice atmospheric element. Other snags included one of the puzzles being vandalized (pumpkins smashed), restaurants used in-game that closed because it was too late, and the police breaking up the big groups of people.

However, my team was determined not to give up, but we were far too frustrated and tired to put in the needed effort to finish with a bang. We all received text messages informing us to stop what we were doing and see the finale. We had lost, but everyone did get to see the end acted out. The problem here was that the finale only made sense to those that had played the online pre-game, but was interesting enough even if a little anti-climatic.

I was excited to try my hand at an alternate reality game and I thought Prototype 161 would provide a good crash course in the genre, and while it did provide me with a feel of ARGs I wish it had gone a little smoother.

UPDATE: Prototype161 vs. Mare Vitreum, Live in NYC

nocandyforyou.jpgAttention New Yorkers! You’re going to have to tell the kiddies trick-or-treating is canceled this year. Something much more interesting is happening this Halloween in New York City. Prototype161 is planning a live scavenger hunt game on October 31st called Mare Vitreum.

Mare Vitreum is a dangerous doomsday cult that has been recruiting its members by sending out etched pieces of glass in the mail. In response, prototype161 wants agents to infiltrate the cult and foil its Hallow’s Eve plans in New York City.

If past events are any indication, this is something that is not to be missed. Last summer’s event had participants scouring the city looking for clues, solving puzzles and interacting with in-game characters. Some of the live interaction included being kidnapped by a van full of masked men and saving a tied-up damsel from inside a locked theatre.

The event starts at 7pm at a yet undisclosed location. Many of the previous events have run late into the night or even the next morning, so bring along some caffeinated gum and money for snacks. The registration fee is $40, although a 50% off coupon is available for the first two people to call the ARGNet voicemail (leave us your email address). So get yourself registered, bribe the kids to skip trick-or-treating (who needs all that cavity-causing candy anyway?) and get ready for a very ARGish Halloween!

Game Launch: Mare Vitreum (Sea of Glass)

Sea of Glass swagOn a very busy day for us here at the ARGNet offices, the last of our day’s articles deals with a beautiful piece of etched glass sent to us through the post. With the words “And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire” written into the glass block, and with nondescript symbols etched along the bottom, we had a feeling that there was a mystery to be solved here. Even as we talked about it during tonight’s ARG Netcast recording, I didn’t have a hot clue as to what to do with this puzzling transparent square slab. And then, thanks comments from Geoff May and redct in the ARG Netcast Ustream channel, we had a destination — marevitreum.com.

You see, those symbols along the bottom which resemble the Klingon alphabet were only part of the message. Luckily for us, there were a few other recipients of the same gift, except at least one (thatsplenty at Flickr) had different etchings at the bottom. Simply line up the two and the web site URL magically appears.

The web site includes a mystery of its own, with blurry paragraphs that clear up as you mouse over them. The thing is, the blurry paragraphs have red letters strewn within the text, and the clear version do not. Sean C. Stacey and I actually went through and solved the puzzle during the netcast recording, getting the message “Oct thirty first new york city” which points, quite obviously, to Halloween in NYC. Besides that, other mouse overs reveal text which seems rather religious in tone — appropriate as the ‘sea of glass’ quote comes from Revelations 15:2.

So, anyone up for a bit of fun on All Hallow’s Eve in the Big Apple? If you’re in the area, stay tuned for developments of this new mystery.