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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Arrglington Jump - The Go BZRK Case Study: Interview with Rich Silverman (Part 2)

15. Ok, so let’s go back to strategy and game design for a bit. How did you structure the experience in terms of having to decide when to release new material and in what platform, etc?

Ok, so here’s Rich’s crash course on how you write an Alternative Reality Game:

The first thing I do is come up with a treatment for the entire story that runs 10-15 pages. Then I break that down into a bullet point timeline that includes the main background story in chronological order all the way to the present.

Then I look at it in terms of the three main acts of the story for the ARG and how to divide these into the actual timeline of the experience. I knew I had 3 months to tell the story, so I scheduled the 1st month as preliminary to set up background story and buzz for the ARG. Then the next 2 weeks were devoted to Act 1, the subsequent 4 weeks were devoted to Act 2, and the last 2 weeks for Act 3.

Then, I looked into the time span of those weeks and settled on a release schedule. I find that the best days to release material are Tuesdays and Thursdays cause it doesn’t conflict with the work week too much or the weekend – on Mondays people are more focused on getting back to school or work and on Fridays minds turn toward the weekend. This is pretty standard. Then you have to decide how the narrative is layered into the release schedule and what beats need to be followed up in real time, especially for the live interactive challenges.

For Go BZRK I focused roughly on three interactive game challenges per week. The first challenge was a crossword puzzle devised by a character before his rather suspicious death. That mechanic started at the end of Act 1, with a couple clues released each week that led to grid solutions. Solving two of the crossword questions revealed a bitly address that dropped a zip file on the user’s computer filled with more content. Running parallel to that was the Nexus Humanus website, which is set up as an organization in which you have to move up the different levels by doing some weekly tasks in order to unlock more information and clues about the story. In addition to that, we also had an additional weekly interactive element that tied into all the new story content released for any given week.

16. I have to say that my favorite part of the experience was the Nexus Humanus website you built because it was utilized as a way to further the plot of the experience by creating character profiles within that network that interacted with the players. I think it was cleaver because it also provided for a way to contain the audience interaction in this particular platform and obtain some sort of metrics. Was this successful or did you find the audience going to a separate forum or wiki by themselves?

Posted via email from Siobhan O'Flynn's 1001 Tales

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