Tag: vanishing point (page 1 of 2)

ARGFest 2008 in Review: Rules of Engagement with Steve Peters (Brunettes with Glasses are Hot)

ARGNet Writers pose at ARGFest 2008

This article is the third in a series, providing summaries of the presentations at ARGFest-o-Con 2008 in Boston

Steve Peters left ARGNet a few years back, but he still sticks around. Supposedly, he works for some company named 42 Entertainment that sponsored ARGFest 2008 and purchased tickets to The Dark Knight for attendees. In this Showcase Presentation, Steve Peters explained how to deal with Alternate Reality Gaming audiences using the Microsoft Vista-sponsored ARG Vanishing Point as an example.

According to Peters, there are Five F’s of Fantasticness necessary for every alternate reality game: Find, Focus, Fun, Freedom, and Fear.

The first step to every alternate reality game is the FIND: discovering the game. With Vanishing Point, 42 Entertainment targeted early adopters with puzzle boxes, puzzle graphics on Windows and technology blogs, and a taunting message suggesting that the readers wouldn’t be able to solve these. Solving the puzzles led to the main page for Vanishing Point, where, explains Peters, players found the ever effective and tantalizing countdown. So effective, in fact, that Vanishing Point included dozens of countdowns scattered around the website, each one culminating in a live event.

Which brings us to the second step: FOCUS. Players need to know what to expect when they’re entering a game. While you can pick up a book and anticipate the commitment it will involve by the number of pages, size of the font, and reputation of the author, the same does not necessarily apply to alternate reality games. Sticking to regularly scheduled updates helps generate expectations for the players. Setting more explicit boundaries through iconic touches to the websites can also help guide players and protect the developer’s sanity.

The third factor is both the simplest and the hardest: FUN. Under the direct assault of hundreds or even thousands of skilled players, puzzles often need to be difficult. However, they still have to be fun, and often building upon previous puzzles can help with that process.

Continue reading

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?”).

Continue reading

Vanishing Point Post-Game Chat Now Online


A recording of Vanishing Point’s post-game SkypeCast with 42 Entertainment’s Elan Lee and Steve Peters is now available. If you missed the chance to listen to the live SkypeCast as the puppetmasters revealed behind-the-scenes stories, puzzle solves and other secrets from the other side of the curtain, you can catch up now!

Thanks to Neowin’s Rob Wright and Dave Legg for hosting and editing the chat.

ARG Netcast, Episode 12

argnetcast.jpgEpisode 12 of the ARG Netcast series is supersized! Why, you might ask? The answer lies within the netcast itself, with three monster discussions on ginormous topics that found their way into this week’s agenda. So, if you don’t want to hear about how the Receda Cube was found in Perplex City, or how the Deus City creative team has responded to one of their players, or about the true meaning of This Is Not A Game, then stay away! However, for those interested, listen in as the panel consisting of Jackie Kerr, Jessica Price Brooke Thompson, Sean C. Stacey and Jonathan Waite and first-time panelist Nicko Demeter discuss these topics, and more. Note: we’re having substantial problems with audio lately, so we’re sorry for the quality of this netcast, which is not the best. Subscribe to the ARG Netcast feed through FeedBurner or via iTunes.

Game News

  • Oh joyous day, the Receda Cube has been found! Of course, we talk about the center of attention in the Perplex City game, which officially ended (Season One, anyway) with the discovery of the Cube by Andy Darley, an admired and loved Unfiction forums member (Rand0m). Darley writes about his adventure here, and here. Also, here and here. Finally, here is the end of his tale. He’s a great storyteller. Aside from Darley’s discovery, we dish on how clues might have been given to one particular group and not the overall player base, and wonder why Violet was Combed Thunderclap, and how she knew about quirkyacuity.com months in advance of the site being registered.
  • Deus City has responded to a player who offered suggestions, help and bug reports by asking her to leave the game, citing Terms of Service violations. We’ve got the details! We also discuss how players might become confused by the gameplay, given that two of the characters in the game are real people.

Continue reading

ARG Netcast, Episode 11

argnetcast.jpgSo, after hours of post-recording edits for Episode 11 of the ARG Netcast series, the audio quality for one side of the conversation is terrible at best. Don’t let that dissuade you from listening though, as this week’s roundtable is as entertaining as it is informative. Regular panelists Brooke Thompson, Jackie Kerr, Sean C. Stacey and Jonathan Waite are joined this week by Jessica Price, ARGNet writer and Unfiction forums moderator. Subscribe to the ARG Netcast feed through FeedBurner or via iTunes.

Game News

  • The Heroes 360 experience moves along, albeit very slowly. There is a lovely player wiki (yarr, there be spoilers) that has been created, so hopefully the game gains a bit more momentum, soon. Also, see this Blogspot page for more (spoilers ahoy!) information.
  • Meigeist is getting love from afar. They also have a nifty player wiki which will get you caught up in less time than you can say “Save the cat, save the world.” Although, you’d sound silly saying that.
  • Perplex City players are pretty darn close to finding that cube, we hear. Something about a rock, and a Jurassic… something. They also have some pretty cool plans for the reward money.
  • Monster Hunter Club explains away some advertising, and characters show up at the Today show.
  • Puzzle of the week: A grid puzzle needs reconstruction (and deconstruction) for Monster Hunter Club. See this thread at the Unfiction forums for more details.
  • The VirtuQuest people send us a response to our questions about Township Heights. Jackie weighs in on the “mildly insulting” situation. Then the rest of the panel piles on.
  • Check out this beautiful mock-up (totally unofficial, we understand) of the Neowin-Unfiction branded AMD chip. This will apparently be possible thanks to the winner of the meta puzzle of the Vanishing Point game. Neowin/Unfiction for the win! We also report on the now-postponed VP post-game chat with 42 Entertainment, so ignore that part when you get to it.
  • Studio Cypher will be releasing the fourth chapter in their Multiplayer Novel soon, called High Stakes.
  • Jessica talks about her experiences with Ravenchase, which you can also read about in her outstanding ARGNet article.
  • Jane McGonical is going to be the first ever female keynote speaker at the Game Developer’s Conference in March. We couldn’t be happier for Jane and wish her the best!
  • ARGFest is less than a month away.
  • We let the cat out of the bag about ARGNet’s partnership with SXSW for the Screenburn festival. Details will be released in the coming weeks. Brooke will be speaking at the conference, for those who can make it.

Continue reading

Vanishing Point Post-Game Chat Postponed

vanishing_point.jpgA quick but important update about the post-game chat announcement we published late yesterday — the post-game chat with members of 42 Entertainment that was scheduled for later today has been postponed indefinitely. According to Neowin, the sponsors of the Vanishing Point game (Microsoft and AMD) want to wait until the list of winners is announced before chat takes place. As soon as we get word on the date and time of the rescheduled chat, we’ll let you know.

Older posts