The Koschei Society is an organization of scholars and historical enthusiasts. In the course of their research, the Koschei Society stumbled across a handful of artifacts that just might set an enterprising researcher on the path towards a legendary alchemist’s hiding spot, and the recipe for a transformative alchemical elixir. Are you wise enough, resourceful enough, and brave enough to be that enterprising researcher?
PostCurious’ newest narrative puzzle adventure The Emerald Flame begins with an invitation to assist the Koschei Society in poring over a series of letters and artifacts to unearth the ancient alchemist’s secret. Structured across three separate “chapters” of puzzle-driven narrative, players piece together the information necessary to advance the story, verifying answers through an online chat portal. The game’s Kickstarter campaign funded within 4 hours of its launch, and offers the full experience for as little as $69. The campaign will run through June 26th, and has already secured over a thousand backers eager to take on the Koschei Society’s challenge.
Burning Bright: A Seamless Blend of Art and Puzzle Every chapter’s structure follows a similar framework: aspiring Koschei Society researchers are tasked with extracting information relevant to the investigation. Like many at-home puzzle experiences, these puzzles can be completed in any order, providing structure to the small group solving experience. However, The Emerald Flame‘s greatest strength is its ability to take things one step further, weaving the game’s art and its puzzles into an elegant tapestry.
The puzzles at the heart of The Emerald Flame aren’t always self-contained. So while some puzzles communicate everything that’s needed on a single sheet of paper, others are interspersed across the experience. Pulling on a puzzling thread on one line of inquiry might lead to a revelation about a detail expertly hidden within the art of another page, or teach you the rules of engagement for one of the game’s items. But the reverse is also true, with the game’s artistic stylings serving as signposts for players, hinting at what puzzle pieces are likely to fit together, if seen under the proper light. This interplay between art and puzzle leads to many of the most surprising moments of The Emerald Flame.
Editor’s note: All of the information contained within this article is courtesy of Zach, also known as molecularr in the Unfiction forum community. This summary was originally sent in on February 10, 2007, so some of the information may have changed since then, and we have made some changes to the article to reflect this. We thank Zach for his dedicated work in getting this information to us!
A lot of stuff has happened in MHC since the last podcast, so I’ve tried to summarize it in sections below. The main things are that the MHC dealt with some aftermath of the Today show incident (Matt still isn’t really speaking to Derek, it seems), and players have been in contact with the mysterious GesamteSeele (Painted Soul) who was the last person to know the whereabouts of Jon Paine.
In more general news, there’s been some speculation in chat that this is a GMD production, though I don’t think that has been proven or really substantiated beyond a general feeling that MHC is similar to their past work.
Cryptidtruth has continued to post videos of the mysterious fish-like creature, including one containing a puzzle (see below). Derek has also started receiving envelopes under his door, containing a new puzzle (see below, “5 Per”).
This week’s Puzzles:
Video – cryptidtruth’s most recent video of the fish-like creature contained some frames with pieces of text on them. When collaged together, they revealed a message explaining why cryptidtruth prefers to remain anonymous.
Ted Allen might be the only person protecting this world from death and destruction. Then again, he might be the person who will bring about our doom. I’m not talking about that suave Queer Eye co-host Ted Allen, although I do consider his cuisine to be earth-shatteringly delicious. No, I’m talking about the character in Doom Skull (alternatively titled Thirteen Crystal Skulls), a grassroots alternate reality game that has gathered a dedicated following over the last two months.
Doom Skull follows the search for thirteen legendary crystal skulls from outer space that may be responsible for the destruction of Atlantis. With the aid of “The Chosen” — four people cursed with the ability to communicate with the skulls — players prove their worthiness to each skull by solving a variety of puzzles. So far, they’ve successfully collected seven of the thirteen skulls. But now, Ted Allen is warning the masses that helping the skulls will lead to a cataclysm of epic proportions, so the players must decide how to proceed.
Exploring the Doom Skull universe is like taking a romp through an alternate reality gaming tutorial. Each skull has its own unique method of communication, ranging from Britskull‘s steganographic images, to Skyskull‘s pig latin, to Goldenskull‘s chessboard cipher. Not all puzzles are “traditional” ARG fare, though. Skyskull had the players work on a jigsaw puzzle, Goldenskull sent a crossword puzzle, and Roseskull had participants collecting image files from past websites, characters, and other players. Since each skull seems to have a distinct personality, these often lighthearted challenges help complement the overall character of the game.
In a world where technology allows immediate communication between people on opposite sides of the planet, and the internet provides instant access to new entertainment and information generated daily by multitudes of contributors of both the professional and the amateur varieties, it’s easy to forget the value of older, slower forms of communication such as snailmail. Perhaps this is the reason for the growing popularity of the slow foods movement, which offers a sumptuous alternative to the culinary portion of our increasingly-fast paced lives in which the time invested is itself part of the reward, and for which handmade quality trumps convenience.
The ARG world seems to have gotten its own equivalent to that movement in the form of The Committee for the Sedulous Amalgamation, which offers its players a veritable banquet of the type of pleasures that just can’t be replicated digitally: the thrill of tearing open an envelope to find a mysterious snailmail letter, the enjoyment of physically handling a beautifully constructed puzzle, and the satisfaction of possessing swag that you’ll keep long after the game has ended. The game launched with a letter sent to Unfiction, inviting players to thirteen Challenges and exhorting them to “make humanity proud!”
The lights dimmed, the music stopped, and the fountains at the Bellagio started chiming like clocks. It was time for Loki, the enigmatic puzzle mistress of the Vanishingpoint game to work her magic. For over three minutes, the Bellagio fountains were turned into a massive movie screen as clues to the online portion of the game appeared like ghostly images on the water.
Earlier on Monday, the Vanishingpoint game site updated from its teasing countdown to include ways for players to register for the game. The update also included information about the grand prize which had previously driven players into a speculation frenzy. Their wildest dreams were confirmed when it was announced that the grand prize winner would win a trip into space aboard the Rocketplane® XP Vehicle, along with various other goodies.
Stranger Adventures, produced by the two-time Emmy nominee, Riddle Productions, launches new adventures every Saturday. Each puzzle-filled adventure lasts for one week and is delivered through emails and video diaries on the Stranger Adventures website. The adventures are designed in a way that you can work through them by yourself and, if you happen to get stuck, the website contains clues to help you along. At the end of the week, those who solve the adventure’s pass code may find a bit more cash in their pocket. That’s right, each adventure comes with a prize of up to $25,000. There’s still time to sign up for the latest adventure: Daily Rage. So, what are you waiting for, head on over to StrangerAdventures.com and flex those puzzle muscles with a little story action.
Editors’ Note: We mistook the name of the production company, Riddle Productions. This error has been corrected in the article.