Midnight! Last Call!

Please note that all blog posts before 8 April 2007 were auto­mat­i­cally imported from LiveJournal.  To see the com­ments and any LiveJournal-specific extras such as polls and user icons, please find the source post­ing at http://brianenigma.livejournal.com/2005/09/

In the last cou­ple of weeks, a new ARG hit the scene called Last Call Poker. The pro­duc­tion val­ues are amaz­ingly high. The sto­ry­line sort of revolves around a free online poker site and starts with a video (very pro­fes­sion­ally shot and high qual­ity) depict­ing a trade gone awry — money for a his­toric gun, with the deal set in a Hollywood grave­yard. You slowly uncover more char­ac­ters through the poker site (they are all reg­is­tered in the game), which unlocks lit­tle tid­bits of story, images, audio, and video. You use this to then piece more of the plot together. With regard to unlock­ing characters/information and using that to obtain more infor­ma­tion, it is pretty much like any other inter­ac­tive online story out there. This one just has some damn high qual­ity media and they devel­oped a cus­tom Flash-remoted mul­ti­player poker engine allow­ing play­ers to com­pete against one another, but also giv­ing a venue for char­ac­ters to inter­act with peo­ple and drop tid­bits of infor­ma­tion.

I mainly started fol­low­ing Last Call because it looked like Perplex City was slow­ing down a bit. Now PXC is pick­ing up (with the recent movie trailer appear­ing in the­aters, the new voice­mail sys­tem, and the GPS coor­di­nates to that obelisk thing on Long Island) as well as the next wave of cards about to be released. I tend to be a one ARG at a time sort of guy — partly because there is only so much time in the day and partly because I have a hard time fol­low­ing two simul­ta­ne­ous sto­ries (I am also a one novel at a time sort of guy.) I will make a good effort to try to fol­low the two in par­al­lel, but if time or atten­tion get stressed, I may have to drop Last Call. For now, I have put together a hum­ble lit­tle site of my notes, includ­ing a thoughtmap rem­i­nis­cent of the old Matrix ARG days. I do have to say that the lat­est OmniGraffle is pretty slick. Being able to hyper­link objects and export as HTML is a really nice new fea­ture. Anyway, I hope I can con­tinue to fol­low the story and update the thoughtmap.

Circling back to my time lim­i­ta­tion, I do have a lit­tle gripe about Last Call. Between fam­ily, friends, chores, and sim­ple relax­ation time, I tend to not have much time for fol­low­ing these kinds of sto­ries at home, so I try to catch up where I can while in down­time at work — wait­ing for QA, wait­ing for a board to come in from fab, wait­ing for new met­al­work, or just plain wait­ing for stuff to com­pile. Normally, this is all fine and dandy — I can catch up on news, blogs, and ARG-related sites. I can get away with read­ing these because they are typ­i­cally pretty con­ser­v­a­tive and mostly text-based. Things that are a bit too flashy, I can look at in a text-based web browser (lynx or Opera with images and styles dis­abled.) In the case of Last Call, the only in-story site is a free online gam­bling web­site. This, I can­not get away with. I do not really play poker, but there is still a lot of story con­tent on that site to be accessed. As far as things are con­cerned here with regards to gam­bling sites, I might as well be surf­ing for porn. WebSense is not yet aware of the site, but I assume it will start block­ing it soon. It has been sug­gested that I could just read the forums with­out par­tic­i­pat­ing in the actual web­site, but that seems like a less than ideal solu­tion. Similarly, I can read all about chess strat­egy with­out play­ing a sin­gle game; I can read about for­eign lands with­out tak­ing a trip there; I can read a clin­i­cal descrip­tion of sex with­out actu­ally hav­ing it. Reading about oth­ers hav­ing fun, uncov­er­ing plot, and work­ing through puz­zles with­out being to par­tic­i­pate, your­self, does not exactly seem like a great way to play an ARG.

There has been a lot of spec­u­la­tion (heck, is it even spec­u­la­tion any­more?) about who is run­ning the show, but very lit­tle about what it is for. Presumably, it is a viral advertising/marketing cam­paign for a com­pany or prod­uct. I guess we will have to wait to see.

On a related note, is any­one up for some Tombstone Poker at the Lone Fir this week­end? ;-)

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