So, this morning, a recap of the John Titor hoo-hah over at Idle Words amused me. In Titor’s case, the idea of using usenet to create participatory fiction online – uh, not the Kaycee Nicole variety – intrigues me, and I think it reflects my lately ranted-on interest in Star Trek bands and the like, and even maybe ties into Sherman Alexie’s bit at the Hugo House this weekend, “D&D Saved My Life.”

So when I stumbled across an interesting Metafilter link that pointed to a corporate info site called Metacortex and pointed out some interesting related sites such as the nearly-complete underwater Greek resort of Aquapolis and so forth, I was amused enough to chuckle and click into some of the sites.

Metacortex, you see, is the company that one Thomas Anderson was working for, several years ago, when all sorts of unexpected things began to happen, involving a movie, then another movie, and soon, yet another movie.

I noticed with interest that the MeFites fingered the project as being in some way related to an online mystery-slash-role playing immersive headbender they referred to as an “A.I.” game. I did not make the connection to the Spielberg/Kubrick film, I just assumed they meant something kind of complex that involved pretending that computers were intelligent.

So I slapped the link in an email to my favorite Matrix fan and went about my bidniss. Hours later, what do I find but a plaintive lament. Said Matrix fan once participated obsessively in the online game that was entitled the Beast and developed at Microsoft by Sean Stewart and Elan Lee, as a marketing tool for the film, one that seems to have somehow escaped the farm, and while seated at a downtown Boston bustop, was finally tranquilized by marketing-campaign control officers.

Fortunately, a helpful link to the Cloudmakers, the ad-hocracy of participants that organized to solve the game illuminates what all the fuss is about, and possibly what the woe will be about.

An apparently Germany-based site has sprung up to begin the coordination process. I think it’s very interesting that the prior game was developed in Redmond, and that the new game’s geographic referral points are to Redland, apparently the home of Metacortex. The telephone numbers, word is, are operable. Call now! Operators are standing by.

ARG forum Unfiction has a slew of boards set up. And here’s a guide, in progress.

Can anyone tell me if Neo appears in the movies at any time wearing a black turtleneck or carrying a certain variety of fruit? One or two of my readers were conclusively identified as working over very near Redland when my site’s referrer logs were subpoenaed under the Patriot Act last Wednesday recently by means too top-secret to be disclosed – what’s the good word?

(Although, despite the 206 numbers, I’m thinking this is NOT running out of MS; the servers are all Apache/Linux, they’re using MT – if this was an inside job that stuff’d be IIS/ASP all the way.)

And in conclusion, I had no idea about Mr. Elope’s past brushes with ARG abuse, or I surely would have held my peace.

2 thoughts on “time itself

  1. If it’s not Microsoft (or former Microsoft) people on this game, I’d certainly be surprised, as they seem to have learned in too many ways from the mistakes made by the architects of The Beast.

    For instance, a cursory glance indicates that they’ve registered all of their domains through “Domains by Proxy”, a company I’m assuming performs precisely that service. Every site in the game openly acknowledges being hosted by the same company, as well. Early on in The Beast, players noticed that the WHOIS records for each of the known game domains followed a certain pattern, which was then extrapolated, and half a dozen game sites that weren’t ready were suddenly exposed. Much behind-the-scenes scrambling ensued.

    Continuing in this theme, I’d assume the Apache/Linux servers (which incidentally are running Front Page extensions, something no good Linux sysadmin would even consider!) are in place for the purpose of security and robustness. In The Beast, at least one machine was literally hacked by an outsider, forcing one of the Puppetmasters to step out from behind the curtain and call for calm, if I remember correctly.

    Not long afterward, one of the live interactions went awry when an actor hired by WB/MS mistakenly took a vital piece of information home rather than leaving it with the players, and the only way the puzzle could be solved was through brute force. So someone wrote a distributed brute force client and everyone began hammering one game server looking for clues. In other words, a DDoS attack was necessary to solve the puzzle.

    Frankly, I think the MoveableType usage was designed to give the new game site credibility as a personal site. I thought it was a nice touch, particularly with comments enabled, such that players can’t tell which (if any) are real clues and which are wankers trying to throw them off.

    <looks back at the monumental comment he’s about to post>

    Oh, Christ. SEE? SEE WHAT YOU MADE ME DO!?

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