Studio Cypher’s second case, Perfect Friends Forever, concluded last month and players finally discovered who was trying to kill Madame Z, the psychic founder of the Perfect Friends Forever website.
Perfect Friends Forever is a friend matching service where six ghostly spiritual advisors examine and compare members’ spirits to pair up perfect eternal friends. Madame Z lives with these six spirits in the former residence of the wealthy E.S. Wylie and the most famous house in Bay Horse, MO. Just as the PFF service was about to launch, Madame Z received a grim warning, “Die Z”, written in plates and silverware on the floor of her bedroom. Yes, that’s right. Not only did the psycho madman threaten Z, but he threw grandma’s fine china on the carpet to do it!
Players joined forces with a skeptical gumshoe named Anton Jeffries and solved the case. Or did they? As the perp, an antiques dealer who wanted to find the hidden treasure of E.S. Wylie, was handcuffed and taken away to the big house he yelled out that the treasure was still out there waiting to be found. The Studio Cypher PMs have confirmed that the treasure’s location can be found in E.S. Wylie’s will. So those who are looking for a good unsolved puzzle to defeat, check out the thread about it at UnFiction.
Due to the extreme awesomeness of ARGFest 2006: Chicago, one writer was not enough to cover all the excitement! Therefore, this article has been contributed by the combined efforts of Sean C. Stacey, Will Bagby, and Michelle Senderhauf. All pictures for this article are courtesy of Will Bagby, photographer extraordinaire.
On a balmy Friday in late July, ARGFest 2006 commenced, as Bagsbee was first on the scene at the scenic Holiday Inn O’Hare. After doing some reconnaissance on the area surrounding the hotel, he went for an early beer and beef jerky run at the local Dominick’s (where, as one suit-and-tie clad commuter on the check-out line commented wistfully, “that looks like a pretty good day right there”). EGo showed up later that morning, and the first of many ARGFest toasts followed soon after. Imbri and a pair of BYOSPers (thunderclap8 and INCyr) arrived, the group dined at the local Hooters, and were soon joined by ARGFest Hostess krystyn.
More ARGFesters trickled in over the course of the afternoon, another booze run was made by Aliendial and others, and everyone gathered in Room 215 (a.k.a. the BYOSP room) for some pre-dinner PS2 Karaoke. At 7 p.m., everyone piled into cars for a 30-second drive to Gino’s East for some famous Chicago deep dish pizza. The jury is still out on Chicago vs. New York-style pizza, although these reporters know the truth. More ARGers showed up during dinner, bringing the total to around 20. After dinner the siren’s call of Karaoke led the group back to the hotel for more hilarity, and some surprisingly good performances.
Studio Cypher has announced the launch of their second “Multiplayer Novel,” entitled Perfect Friends Forever, set to begin this week. According to Studio Cypher, “[Perfect Friends Forever] is much improved on our first episode: it contains many more puzzles and major story updates will happen on Tuesdays and Fridays.” The plot will involve Madame Z, a psychic who uses spirits to run a matchmaking service, who is trying to find out which of her spirit helpers has turned against her. For a free preview, enter the pass code “argonaut” at the Perfect Friends Forever trailhead site.
The first Studio Cypher Case, Out in the Cold, was released last month when a Cypher field agent, Chuck Lehner, disappeared. Soon after the case launched, players started to receive postcards in the mail from Lehner which led them to his website and a blog that belongs to his friend Sue Terrini. The game, which ended yesterday, had some difficult puzzles, real world hidden caches and even an ingame band which seems to be the hip ARG thing to do these days. Players had been working to unravel the mystery of what happened to dear old Chuck and what mysterious brown pieces of clay had to do with it.
To many, the real mystery surrounding Studio Cypher is whether or not the pay-to-fully-play model is working on all levels. In order to fully participate in each case, players must become a Wakeful Agent for $9.99 ($13.99 outside the U.S.). Only Wakeful Agents will receive special content and can interact directly with the characters. Paying players also get access to game updates before the non-paying players. Those who don’t pay can still play along, but it still remains to be seen whether or not this limited access really allows players to immerse themselves in the story enough to want more and become a Wakeful Agent.
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.
During the live event for the IDEAS Festival ARG, I came across a laminated cipher reference card made by a company calling themselves Studio Cypher. After the curtain was lifted, I got the chance to speak with the Puppetmasters behind both the IDEAS Festival ARG and Ares Station. Ian Pottmeyer, Will Emigh and Nathan Mishler have formed a company dedicated to the production of ARGs called Studio Cypher.
Their website describes Studio Cypher as a company that “creates multi-player novels: stories that place you in the middle of a mystery you can help solve.” Mishler and Emigh explained that they use the term “multi-player novel” rather than ARG to avoid alienating potential players who aren’t familiar with the term. Studio Cypher is going to use a partial pay-to-play model for their ARGs. Players will be able to play along without paying a fee, but won’t be able to access some of the premium content in the game. Although they haven’t announced an official price, I was told that the cost will be less than $10 per adventure. The first episode is due to launch sometime over the next month.