Tag: Sean Stewart (Page 1 of 2)

Interview with Cathy’s Book Co-Author Sean Stewart

Below is an interview that Michael Andersen conducted with Sean Stewart regarding the release of the Cathy’s Book app for the iPhone.  In addition to co-authoring the transmedia storytelling experiment Cathy’s Book, Stewart worked on ARGs including The Beast, i love bees, Last Call Poker and Year Zero.

MA: How did you and Jordan come up with the idea for Cathy’s Book?

SS: It was Jordan’s idea (things often are).  After the Beast we were talking about how fun it was, but how frustrating it was, too, that it was over: even if someone heard about how cool it was, they couldn’t DO it.  “Hey!  You’re a book guy,” Jordan said.  “We should do a book using the same kind of techniques!”

So we did.

We came up with the broad outlines of the story together.  We figured YA was a good place to start, and, to be honest, having written a fair number of somewhat dark sf/f novels, I wanted to write a book I thought my teenage daughters might like.  (They have a cameo in the first novel which Sharp Eyed Readers may spot…)

MA: How would you compare the writing process you used for Cathy’s Book, as opposed to what you used for traditional novels like Perfect Circle or full-blown ARGs like The Beast?

SS: We determined that the thing HAD to work as a book, first and foremost; if you never did any of the ancillary material, you still had to have an enjoyable, satisfying experience.  So I wrote Cathy’s story, if you will, much as I would a regular book.

We used the extra material to fill out the life of Cathy’s love-interest, Victor.  Readers looking through the extra evidence can eventually work out almost every detail of the Many Lives of Victor, from gold camp ragamuffin to WWI flying ace to mobster, and so forth.

Trying to fit together the various pieces of evidence was much more like the storytelling method of The Beast.  Over time, we also changed how we did that.  Cathy’s Book, like the Beast, has a ton of little pieces of stuff for players to link together.  In Cathy’s Key and Cathy’s Ring we moved increasingly to building “interactive arcs,” so that a reader might, for instance, send an email and go through a 3 or 4-step investigation to arrive at a satisfying endpoint.
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ARGFest 2007: 42 Entertainment Roundtable Discussion — The Big Picture

After a number of panels featuring discussion between independent puppetmasters and members of different design companies, 42 Entertainment‘s Jim Stewartson (Chief Technology Officer), Elan Lee (Co-Founder, Vice President of Experience Design), Sean Stewart (Co-Founder, Creative Director), Steve Peters (Game Designer) and Michael Borys (Visual Design Director) sat down for a roundtable discussion, moderated by Kristen Rutherford, about how their team works together.

Stewart began the roundtable with a discussion of a chemistry puzzle in the Beast that was intended to look “cool and spooky” but be relatively easy to solve, and 42’s subsequent efforts to reproduce that effect in their other games. One of these attempts was Flea++, the “programming” language used in I Love Bees. In a similar vein, players would “teach” the character of the Sleeping Princess to speak as she cobbled together words and phrases from their emails and replied to them. Stewart’s favorite draft reply was “I want a cupcake.” Lee told him they couldn’t use it because it was too ambiguous — it could be a call to action for the players. According to Stewart, one of Lee’s main roles within the company is removing ambiguity from what the players see (Stewart’s summary: the creative process at 42 consists mainly of Lee saying, “That’s really good but can we have another draft?”).

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Why We Eat Strangers’ Candy:  A Reflection on the ARGFest 2007 Keynote by 42 Entertainment

“Delivering a keynote address to this audience is really difficult.  What can we talk about?  We can’t talk about anything we’ve done in the past because you were all there experiencing it. We can’t talk about anything we’re working on right now because that would ruin the fun and the mystery of the experience. We can’t talk about anything we have planned for the future because frankly, you are the competition. All that’s left is self-deprecation and the elephant in the room…trust.” — Elan Lee

Those words kicked off one of the most fulfilling experiences of the ARGFest weekend, according to many of the participants. The keynote address by Sean Stewart and Elan Lee not only educated the audience (composed of players, puppetmasters, aspiring puppetmasters and other interested parties) but it also provided memorable insights into the successful games that helped establish 42 Entertainment as one of alternate reality gaming’s lead design companies.

Early on, the speakers noted that alternate reality gaming has a unique cability to evolve at any given time in accordance with the audience’s wishes.  That characteristic allows mistakes to be quickly assimilated into the game in a way that avoids the perception of failure (“Yeah, we meant to do that!”).

The discussion was split into three main sections:

— How is trust established?
— Why should puppetmasters care if the players trust them?
— Why do ARGs require trust?

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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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Sean Stewart, “Gaming Innovator”

seanstewart.jpgWhen you hear the name Sean Stewart, what comes to your mind first — author or puppetmaster? While most of the ARG community knows Stewart as one of the creative forces behind The Beast, ilovebees and Last Call Poker, a few were initially introduced to his work as a writer within his many novels, such as Nobody’s Son and Galveston. John Borland at c|net has picked up on the buzz surrounding Stewart and his impressive body of work, both in the literary world as well as the world of ARG, in a poignant article titled “A novelist turned gaming innovator“. It’s a great read, and has an interesting perspective from the ‘other side of the curtain’.

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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