Arg Hub Discussion

Discussion in 'General' started by Anashel, Aug 9, 2014.

  1. Anashel

    Anashel Puppet Master Staff Member

    Ok this thread is starting to get really good. And it affect one of our key component that until today, I always consider 'done deal'... I will come back to my comments and questions about the Hub, but I wanted to react to 3 things. (I will tackle one per post)

    1. The Gate 33 HUB: Why does it was created in the first place?

    In the 70’s, a scientist from Harvard received a call from an old friend nicknamed Jack. (Later to be revealed as Whitechapel) The job involved pretty advance machine coding for that time and the pay was really good.

    The code involved a complexes series of manipulation between machine interface and thermodynamics instruments. Seven interface to be exact, later to be known by the player as the Seven Seals.

    At the same time, an underground laboratory was being built. This laboratory included a refrigerated room with an incinerator adjacent to the main operating room, along with X ray lab and other highly advanced instruments.

    As soon as the first interface was finish, experiment started in the laboratory. The scientist report one incident, after being woke up at 3 am by screaming sound, all the campus went outside to see what was going on. To the best of their abilities, even if they shared the same event, the sound that was tearing their ear apart seamed to came directly from inside their brain. The scream then vanishes as suddenly as it started.

    The source code almost complete, the life on the campus was bringing him close to madness. More scream at night with horrible nightmare. Before disappearing and leaving senseless comments in his personal manuscript, the scientists talk about a Talisman that will empower the system. Somehow, his code with the underground lab and this unknown device fit together in a puzzle that drive him insane and make no sense.

    Truth is, it was believe this talisman had the ability to absorb special wavelength, more precisely specific frequency of the brain.

    Picture and sound have the ability to sync a person brain on a frequency subject to be absorbed by the talisman. There was no indication of any limitation on the distance cover by the talisman, as long as the frequency was correct. These same mad scientist, lead by Whitechapel, believe that if the talisman was bombarded with enough brainwave, it will enable them to execute a dark ritual that consisted of extracting into a real physical material the essence of the wave. This unique material was to be used in dark magic ritual found in an old book made of skin and written in blood.

    Sadly (!), they never manage to reach enough peoples to properly activate the talisman. It was to be hidden long enough until somehow, somewhere, it’s presence generated enough interest to activate it and restart the experiment.

    Along the years, the sound and picture to generate the proper brainwave was implanted in many mediums. Some conspiracy theorist believed that playing some record backward could activate specific part of the brain, or that some advertising or even film had hidden frame or wavelength…. Fact is, nothing manage to activate the talisman. In 2009, these cryptic picture and sound where hidden in a gaming company website and went silent for more then 2 years. Then, they finally got found and generated enough ink, and more importantly enough people's attention to activate the talisman.

    From that point, the plans that had to be put on hold in 70’s was now back on track. Hidden behind a cat and mouse game with a serial killer and a police investigator, the real truth started to reveal itself to the sharpest of mind involved in the experiment.

    Each seal experiment took its root way back into phrenology studies; Veneration, Firmness, Combativeness, Individuality, Adhesiveness… seal after seal, various part of the brain were triggered, various emotion were invoke… Harvesting more and more brainwave at a the same moment from multiple peoples across the world, the talisman reached it’s full capacity. The experiment went on, starting with dead body and then with freshly killed body, they got more and more closer to extracting this unique material.

    They finally realized that, while the talisman was in full power, they needed not only to harvest the essence while the victim was alive but also needed someone with a specific DNA signature… All eyes turn toward our Police Investigator Astrid Massing, bearing not only the right DNA, but the perfect ct scan for the Last Seal:

    So to answer your question, would an organization setup a flash website to broadcast strange puzzle in the goal of putting you in a specific mindset, with each puzzle revolving around a primary subject, triggering unconscious behavior from your brain, echoing across the world to be consume by a strange and occult Talisman. Our answer was Yes.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 12, 2014
    12 people like this.
  2. Anashel

    Anashel Puppet Master Staff Member

    2. The Situation Room : Why it became this room in the first place ...

    MAYA end of days was coming and we took a good month to write a storyline to pitch an ARG Sequel at Funcom.

    Sadly this time it won’t be a cute story as the Gate 33. Actually, I will tell you the story then I will tell you the about the Situation Room.

    ---- Stage 1 of END OF DAYS ARG

    So the story was about an old women called ‘The Oracle’ who believe that the ‘End of days’ as most people called it was actually the coming of a new age. And this new age would witness nothing else then the birth to what she called “The Choosen one”.

    //side note
    It was in fact the Anti-Christ, it would have helped a lot of people if she had say so plainly from the start, but you know how old people are, especially when you have divine power to see in the future and you stayed with the group (Angel) who gave free will to humanity, versus the “OTHER” group (Demon) who kind of not really agree with the concept and started to sleep here and there, even making a child to Eve in the garden of Eden!

    As if the result shouldn’t have spoke enough by itself on how much all this wasn’t a good idea, sadly someone really stick to it. Peoples got split between the two gangs and in a moment of madness, one gang really tough they had a shot… and they didn’t.

    As it was and as it will be, human race would have their own free will with the coming of this Anti-Christ, as they had with the coming of the Christ in the last age.

    //end of side note

    The first clue for the player was a light bulb swinging in a basement with a Spanish woman praying. To be more specific: an exorcism. One that doesn’t goes as planned as her voice is being slowly swallowed by multiple daemon voices.

    The video end there and give the human a choice to join the cult of the followers and be ‘warned’ by email, cellphone or full real address. (Interesting to say that on a video of an exorcism going wrong, more then ten thousand peoples gave me their full address)

    From that point, the players were drawn into a 10 layers puzzle while watching a live stream of the Oracle building some sort of a Dream Catcher. Trough the 10 puzzle, the players started the learned that they not only had to find the Anti-Christ (why not) but for the sake of the next age, they had to slay or join him, whatever fitted the most.

    While that story captivated ARG player out of the game, something strange started to happen IN-Game. A new players streaming on U-Stream every night, was making epic killed and saving serious wiped from the hardest dungeon in TSW. With more and more time pass, and more and more viewers joined, his skills in dungeon where just mind-blowing as his lethality in PVP area.

    After a while, rumors started to surround this player; cheater, hacker, hidden developer. Whatever was going on, his power and skills were now becoming clearly abnormal, even from an Asian point of view. Able to solo a Custodian in PVP and dominating the gates of hells in PVE, the players was now becoming a threat to the world.

    As you can imagine, that’s where both universe touched point and realized the Chosen One was already roaming The Secret World universe and gaining more and more power. You could join his side and adore him as a future ruler of the world or gather all the resources available and kill him in the most epic world raid.

    ---- Stage 2 of END OF DAYS ARG

    Even if technically possible, this concept was shut down when presented to the client. The main argument was that no one would love to watch a good / powerful player play all night on twitch TV, and will even less be interested to see him evolved in an uber-demi god requiring the help of the whole community in a major raid instance to take him down. Actually, the belief from the client was that players would actually hate it and leave the game. Furthermore the ARG players will not be interested to join in the in-game battle.

    To conclude, we also needed more ‘buy now’ mechanics, recruits a friends and a ‘share on your wall’ system if possible. In short we were too much story-telling not enough advertising. With the announcement of Free To Play we had to become more advertising. (I can't blame them for that, our project was paid with advertising budget afterall)

    So we came back with the Situation room. Due to the time left, we gave no guarantee of Share mechanics and similar stuff, but at least we had a central place where it would be possible to follow a players progression, friend invite and share mechanics.

    First mission was a disaster. Player hated the ranking system, the share / invite a friend ‘in your face’ button and the fact that the server went down for about 6h when the mission was launched. They were also bugged redeem code for the item you won.

    We were transfer on dedicated server but sadly downtime plagued the game as soon as we reached 2000 to 3000 simultaneous players, mostly because it was ‘detected’ as a DoS Attack…

    All this created also real security issues, getting at seal 3 were we got hacked by a Boolean blind-based attack. No player email were at risk since they were not hosted on the server, but still, the game itself could have been wipe in a couple of clicks.

    The nightmare ended in Seal 4 where we started to both have a community momentum AND a technical stability. Seal 5 and 6 were the biggest success of both ARG.

    3 Human Equation employees left the company immediately after then end of the ARG. I cannot even start counting the overtime, sleepless night and weekend that I forced people to come to the office to keep this thing alive.

    ---- After the END OF DAYS

    The situation room now have grown on me. Would some secret society built a test room were player would be put in to see how well they perform? I think yes. For logistic and expenses, theses room could be virtualized: I think yes also.

    Are the current design of the room too far from and ARG: after reading all your comments I think we can revisit the room, still keep something for both an ARG player and a Netrunner without breaking the immersion.

    As someone said, it could be all in the way we animate the introduction to these room. One thing for sure, the room are here and they are not what they used to be in the END OF DAYS. They got more power and are clearly well maintain and quite active.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 12, 2014
    10 people like this.
  3. Anashel

    Anashel Puppet Master Staff Member

    3. Comments from MoPono that many agree on: "The "replayability" measure that is used to grade most other games should be nil. Once it happened => water under the bridge.".

    I am surprised about this one as the Replay Engine was, in the last Fundraising; almost unanimously consider as top-notch features. For the one who don't know what was the Relay Engine, here is a quick description:

    When a collective mission is started, the replay engine record everything happening, both in the Situation Room, on the various fake website involved, on the various fake email involved AND in the chat room. (Given that we have our own chat-room technology as we have a our own forums technology)

    Once the puzzle is over, it’s possible to replay the mission, like Tokyo Flashback mission. You choose how much time you have (30 minutes, 60 minutes…) and start the mission.

    The replay engine return in time and show you the situation room, all fake website as they were. You then replays the mission ‘live’ with the people talking in the chat and the solution being found as it happened before. If you choose a shorter time, less relevant discussion get compress but the main storyline is reveal.

    But all this isn’t static. Hooks enable you to finish the game before the normal replay is expected to end. So you can beat the clock. With the right keywords, a sentence that was expected later from a fellow agent will pop sooner in the chat getting you some headway.

    So the replay not only let you relive a mission that you miss, with all the emotion and the action, but it help you train and get better at solving it before the community does it for you.

    That was in short what we had in mind for Replay Engine. The main story arc (shorter edition) or at least a couple mission could be mandatory for any new player who join, at least to help them understand what's going on and were we are now...
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 12, 2014
    10 people like this.
  4. Anashel

    Anashel Puppet Master Staff Member

    Who told you it wasn't already started? =P
  5. Vismal

    Vismal Gold Member

    Whuuu?? *rechecks stuffs*
    3 people like this.
  6. nikel

    nikel Lab 1852 - Neurals

    Unfortunately, does not seem to exist :<
    3 people like this.
  7. Vicarne

    Vicarne Senior Agent

    Love this idea! Exactly what I had in mind for the training rooms.
    6 people like this.
  8. Santiak

    Santiak MIA

    Thank you for the insight, Anashel! :)

    One point I'd like to comment on, though:
    *quickly reviews his own posts to check whether something got lost in translation*

    As I understood it, the "replayability" that MoPono spoke of - and thusly the type I was refering to as undesireable - wasn't so much the type one might encounter in the Replay Engine, but the type of replayability one finds when, for example, starting a new run in Fallout; new actions, new consequences - creating a new storyline from point A as a result.

    To try and distillate it further:
    Replay Engine: Revisitation.
    Fallout Analogy: Restart.

    I very much like the notion of the "Replay Engine"; it acting not only as a way for newcommers to catch up, but also as a component in the story-arc of TBW - as Vicarne also highlights.

    (feel free to stop reading, from here. It's mainly my imagination running with the possibilities of such a mechanic.. *sighs at his own posts*)

    Follow me down the twisted lanes of my midnight-oil burning imagination:
    I can only imagine the possibilities if, and forgive me for being in tune with my Comic-doppelganger, the "Replay Engine" might be explained as "revisits" to previous Ruptures; scar-tissue from which the effects of the temporal distortion is still present, but very much diluted.
    The "shared memory" of that Rupture is very much cemented in the history of our own evolving storyline, but the bleed-through manifests flashbacks in agents researching the scar-tissue too intimately, triggering visions of our timelines past.
    Now imagine that as a mechanic; if we manage to close enough Ruptures in a single generation, what happens to the pressure that is causing said Ruptures? Does one of the scars rip open, opening the possibility for either a complete merger, and evolution, of two temporal planes, birthing a new tier of mission - not from the point in time when the Rupture was originally "handled" (i.e. point B), but from the current point in time of our timeline?

    Imagine a newcommer talking about the "replay" they just did. Eyebrows of a few veteran agents rise, as the circumstances the newcommer describes seem somewhat different than what they thought they remembered.

    This could then be a proverbial unlocking of many times more difficult missions; new actors, mirror-Watchmen, repercussions of paradoxical facts, and the attempts to resolve them.

    In this sense, the Replay Engine isn't a matter of going A-Z-X-Y instead of A-B-C-D, but a matter of reviewing A-B, B-C, or C-D.
    It could then, somewhere far, far down the line, be used to propel the story forward as well, if said bleed-through should occur, and we as agents manage to detect the newfound anomaly.
    8 people like this.
  9. Sonne

    Sonne Division-79

    That is pretty much what I meant but the meaning of zero replayability depends on your point of view. Imagine a player who runs a Templar agent from beginning to endgame in TSW, there is no point to that player running another Templar character - there are no surprises and the challenges and results are the same. TSW replayability comes from content in the other two story lines. From Funcom's point of view, the Templar storyline is replayable as many times as there are new players that want to experience it, nothing is changed by previous players in the story and Funcom just presents another copy of the same story.

    How replayability relates to Black Watchmen is similar. [confession, I knew nothing about a Replay Engine prior to today.] Black Watchmen has a realtime storyline. Once a problem is solved, knowledge of the solution can't be redacted from the agents who solved it. The solution becomes history for those agents. To the best of my knowledge, the only reasons for an agent to revisit content they'd already solved is to look for leads to more content they may have missed, to look at what other agents were doing at the time, to get practice at performing better and faster, or to refresh their memory. So, in that sense there is no replayability, it is all a look back at history.

    However, from A&S' point of view - historical content can be presented via the Replay Engine to every other agent who wants to experience it their first time. They get to hone their agent skills while reviewing the history other agents have already created.

    Now, if history can be rewritten as Santiak suggests, that changes the parameters determining how replayable the content can be.
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  10. Santiak

    Santiak MIA

    Sorry for the misunderstanding - I must seem like a madman espousing random prophecies, hoping that one will fit. :confused:

    It was mainly a thought-experiment as to what might be an additional boon of having the "Replay Engine".
    Didn't mean to insinuate it should function as something that could rewrite history, but perchance something that could trigger a clash between two seperate current timelines.

    To use an old community favourite as an example:
    TBW-Timeline, "TBW": Msika perishes after leaving for Chelyabinsk - for the purpose of the example, let's say due to a Rupture forming.
    Alternate Timeline, "A1": Msika, in a timeline outside our own, managed to survive that Rupture formation.

    The events that took place in TBW, will, after the closure of a Rupture, be cemented as fact.
    However, because of the pressure build-up in the scar of the Chelyabinsk Rupture, occurences from current-A1 begin to appear in current-TBW.
    Msika isn't brought back to life as such, but the pressurized bleed through the Chelyabinsk Ruptures scar, causes snippets of what's going on in A1, such as messages sent by Msika, to also arrive to agents in TBW.

    It could be a handy way to either lower the difficulty, as a result of agents frantically using the Replay Engine, in order to find clues they might have missed, resulting in a bleed-through "hint".
    Or it could do the opposite, as a result of agents having closed all current-generation Ruptures, and revisiting former Ruptures in search for new clues, resulting in a bleed-through "mission".
  11. TheChosenOne

    TheChosenOne Active Agent

    Thank you Anashel! ;)

    Also I personally like this "The Chosen One" idea. But people (especially in PvP) would have been screaming, raging and reporting. Also one faction would've become dominant meaning more rage.

    I am glad you are taking the feedback serious though and it's great to be having an open conversation like this.
    8 people like this.
  12. Ugly

    Ugly Senior Agent

    Random tangent, just curious where the journal pages ( are from? My arg-stinct is to clean up the indentation you can see from writing on the previous/next pages, and I'm resisting the urge since I've been crazy busy (ok, I may have cleaned up a partial one already).
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 13, 2014
  13. nikel

    nikel Lab 1852 - Neurals

    They were a journal recovered in the Gate 33 ARG. I think Anashel gives a nice summary as to the backstory, but it would be nice to go over those other pages again!

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