Friday, August 29, 2008

And the winner is...

Thanks to everyone who sent in responses to the Via Domus competition, I was surprised by just how many emails I got in fact, which for off-season was pretty impressive considering if required detective work). Anyway, I can now reveal to you the answer.... which is..... GOODWIN! Here's some of the clues within the riddle:

You'll find me in the middle of the niGht, but also just as the dawN ends
Curious, isn't it, that I appear during bOth, twice, though I guess it really all kind of depends
Because, to be honest with you, I am actually a little bit two-faced, I lie
Though on the surface of things, I'm sure you think I'm a nice normal guy
Deceitful is my middle name though, my last being pure success ("WIN")
I work in silence, survey you closely, and take glee in your distress
You honestly have no idea, that I am always in decided watch
The skill in my trickery, I'm sure you'd agree, is certainly quite top-notch!
Really all you need now is one more clue, a mark, a symbol, a sign
Figure out who I am, quickly now, before that prize of yours is mine
Don't worry, it'll be fine ("it'll be fine, it'll be all GOOD")

So you did have to see past some filler stuff, but in fairness most people got the gist, and I think the biggest answers I got besides Goodwin were Ethan or Henry Gale/Ben, so apart from the real clues, all the other metaphory stuff pointed in the right direction of a spy within the group. Also, the middle of night and end of dawn thing is standard riddle speak, just an fyi people who got confused and thought the person was the moon - sorry! However, I did get quite a few correct responses, and the winner out of the hat is... (I'm doing this as I write)... "Travellin' Jack Sawyer" who is from California in the US of A. Congratulations to you, TJS, an email will be heading your way soon! To everyone else, commiserations, but I hope you enjoyed trying to crack the code - I got lots of lovely emails saying how it was fun to have something to mull over. Hopefully, we can do another competition in the near future!

Right, so I'm off to count my pennies to pay for an international parcel to the US... and also am outtie all weekend - cause I'm getting new digs wahoo! - I hope I don't miss any DWY developments.... though I doubt that's v. likely...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A bitter end to test 2

Well test 2 may be over for the most part, but today DWY sent out a reminder email newsletter to everyone that the test was actually available. I doubt many of us needed the message, however, but can't knock em for covering all their bases, and they must be a bit tired after making 100+ general knowledge questions. Click here to view the newsletter (or check Lostpedia's correspondence page).

There is a little something in the source code, stating "The Dharma Initiative - Guiding the World to a Bitter Tomorrow - BS". Possibly a reference to the clue, using "i" instead of "e". Or another bitter reference, this is the second one so far after that "batteries ice pint" anagram. Also, is BS leety swear, or is it initials? The swear doesn't seem to fit the context, unless its describing the Dharma Initiative, with the slogan as a subordinate clause. It probably is just that though, as I'm not aware of any character by those initials, and we still don't know with 100% certainty that Dan Bronson is RuckusGuy yet!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The I of the beholder

I was most excited to find out about a new test on today, until I noticed it was general knowledge... Now I don't consider my general knowledge bad, but it certainly isn't egghead quality. Liking the intro to the questions though, stating how only your first try will count, and how your result will not be published - thereby effectively minimizing those who may want to cheat more than the cheat already there (read on!)

So I began the test and soon found I was facing horrid questions. I've read how some people got really nice easy ones, whereas I got things such as "where was the Magna Carta signed" and "when did Renoir create the something-or-other bouquet painting". I clearly messed it up, with the Magna Carta thing saying Salisbury Plains (which I then realized is where Stone Henge is... possibly not where the players met to sign a legal document), and then 1908 for the Renoir painting (I'm pretty sure he lived circa late 19th/early 20th, so could be right). Other questions I recall weren't as bad, but my memory is blank as to what they were. The questions do rotate though every time you take the test, so I guess its not important the particular questions I personally received on the first try.

However, the final question IS important - giving the most bizarre question - "What is the answer to this question?" Well, is it A, B, C or D? And that is where the latest "cheat" comes in! You may have noticed that at the start of the test the title says "Analysis" with the I underlined. So, on the final question, pressing I makes the C option flicker - revealing "the answer". It would seem that this cheat may have some bearing on the groups you are put in after. These new groups as Brontes, Polyphemus and Steropes (I myself am a Brontes). Not as well-known as someone like Pandora, but all three are from Greek myth, and are all cyclopes (correct plural spelling... great, another nemesis to contend with). Brontes and Steropes are brothers and sons of Uranus and Gaia, whereas Polyphemus is the fly in the clear connection ointment - child of Poseidon. Do be sure to let us know if there is some story in particular involving solely those three figures together. At any rate, a possible connection to the I, cyclopes have one eye - though perhaps even this is reading too much into it?

I'll be sure now to pull out my kill-you-if-it-dropped Mythology book, and also take a closer look at the questions - I feel like I need to swot up on my general knowledge now. I do think that the questions were fiendish, however, and perhaps all that mattered is the final test with the I, the true test? Still lots of questions, and nothing in the way of answers. Sounds familiar...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Is it immature to moan?

I just checked out the latest LostARGs "Do or Die" podcast today. Its a nice little show following the clues and giving some opinions on the show, and the only one around to my knowledge where you can follow clues on the way to work with your iPod - its just a nice little thing :)

Anyway a point they raised got me thinking about some of the stuff we've had over the past few weeks, and in particular attitudes towards the slow progression of our little ARG narrative. I also ran a little poll on Lostpedia wiki about attitudes towards the game so far, and was pleasantly surprised to see that, mostly, attitudes were either positive or optimistic for improvement in the coming weeks. This was an impression that honestly I hadn't felt from the involvement and interaction I've had with other people, on sites such as Dark, Doc, LostARGs, Lostpedia - all the "key" sites (however you wanna take that). Indeed, I saw Congested's perfectly valid arguments at Dark's blog, where he complained about a lack of narrative. I agree with this really, I'd like to see a clue that actually leads to some plot development as opposed to a clue that leads to a test or another clue - it feels like the end result is nothing useful, just a further distraction from something important. I would love a clue that actually has significance to something relating to this story or Lost itself. The March Has 32 Days thing was a great example - its Lost parallels are fantastic. More like this?

However, the real point I want to ask though is this - are those fans that are "moaning" (using the term in a completely unbiased sense) justified, or are we all just being Season 1 Shannons? I hear the argument a lot "well you know we are getting this completely for free - be grateful!" - but is that fair? I mean, this ARG isn't necessarily the angle of "giving something back to fans", surely its "keeping their interest so they haven't deserted us by January". In that sense, there seems perfectly valid arguments on both sides. I have to say I'm personally on the fence, as yes I would love to see more clues, but I am appreciative that we have at least something to keep interest and the community active, whether or not I agree with it in terms of its actual STORYTELLING value. Thus, maybe it is the case that attitudes should be more in defense of TPTB, as if you scratch off all the semantics and get to the true core - it is, reluctantly I guess for some people to admit, a case of anything being better than nothing.

I think this ARG was mistakenly marketed as being like TLE, when clearly it is not - following a similar format to Find 815. Which is fine, but it wasn't specified, and so now there is a lot of judgment of the way this story is going, comparing it to the wrong standard. Should we be following with more patience and optimism? Well the Lostpedia poll, as I mentioned, seems to think so.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Lord of the Flies read begins September 1st

A huge thanks to everyone who took part reading "Carrie", and to those people who stopped by for the live chat too. The numbers weren't humongous, but I quite enjoyed that as it meant we could have a nice informal chat and it wasn't complete chaos with so many people speaking at once. Anyway, enough of "Carrie", we're moving on! On September 1st, we begin the read for "Lord of the Flies", by William Golding. I did mention this at the beginning of the "Carrie" read, so now I hope everyone has had enough time to source a book. This read time should last September 1st to the 20th.

However, if you haven't got the book yet, or if you're new to the book club, IT IS NOT TOO LATE! You've still got just over a week to get yourself a copy, and you can find it on all good websites, like Amazon (USA). If you'd rather not buy the book, you can always borrow it too. Check out this site for library locations in the United States. International peeps, you can always use your regional Amazon, or your own local library!

Once you've got the book and reading time begins, discuss the book at our Forums here. On the 20th, there will also be another live chat, 2pm EST / 7pm BST. Hope to see you on the Forum and on the Chat!

Live Book Chat in 2 hours

Just a quick note to say the live chat for Carrie by Stephen King begins at 2pm EST and 7pm BST. Log onto Lostpedia Chat via a client, or run it in your browser here. Hope to see you there!

Not so over the moon

DWY updated today - giving us a first glimpse at the leaderboard. No RuckusGuy up top of the list, but surprisingly no cheaters either necessarily. See most of us woke to realize that we have actually no Dharma points - and then of course I remembered what the site said about points being given out for EXTRA tests set by Hans Van Eeghen and for recruiting new people. So those on the leaderboard will be the ones who recruited a mate to the cause, bagging themselves 10 points a head. I'm actually glad, even though I recruited no-one; I like that the competitive leaderboard means nothing. I'm not a big fan of glory hogging or the ostentatiousy "be the best" mantra, anyway.

Anything else of interest in the new updates? Well the "My Progress" section is up, doing pretty much what was done in Find 815 by showing the tests you've done, anything you've missed, etc. We've also been allocated into "groups". I myself am unsettlingly "Pandora" (inside "joke"), and most people are otherwise in "Ganymede" it seems. So just the two groups so far then, unless anyone else has another group? One would assume they'll be more in time. Pandora is a moon of Saturn (see WP), and as you may remember Ganymede appeared during Comic-Con, along with a host of other Jupiter moons (link). Naturally, both names also have mythological roots (as how moons are often named). We're still no closer to figuring out the significance of the moon names though - if indeed there is at all. I hate it when they drop mythic names just to make it seem mysterious and interesting. Meh, everything these days is ostentatiousy. Though then again, this game is based on a drama...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Exposing the truth about test 1

I have mulled over this all morning, wondering whether or not I should expose the following. I know Dark took it off his site, but a number of people I've spoken to believe this to be "in-game" and "built-in" and so I've come to the decision that this should be published here. You've all heard the rumors about being able to cheat on the DWY test, and yes they are true - some involve hacking messages to browsers from servers (which I DO consider cheating), but there is one which really does seem intentional, and I think is quite possibly MEANT to be there.

If you don't want to know, then don't read it. I am not in the business of spoilers, but as I've just said - I think this is in-game and so thus NOT a spoiler. If you disagree, fine, and if this is somehow just a big screw up on the part of TPTB, I'm sorry I fueled the fire, but to be honest I'm not taking the fall for their screw up - nobody would be to blame but themselves. Note to the haters - I'm not ruining the experience here by posting this - people have a right to know the truth (getting all RB there), and also its unfair in the first place that real players will get nowhere near the league table. And who knows - maybe you HAVE to get in a top percentile to progress - or need a certain number of points to view an extended DHARMA DVD edition of Pierre Cheng. You just don't know!

Right, with that out of the way - the "cheat". When you're logged on and click to the start the test, click on one of the fragments and then immediately press SPACEBAR. The whole page will go berserk and you're switched to a test where the timer remains at 100%. You can then complete the test, and usually get a high 90s score, if not 99% or 100% (though I personally have only gotten 99 after a few attempts). Why do I think this could be intentional? Well it is a PRESSurized SPATIAL test - a clue to the hack? Could this be Dan Bronson giving us all a helping hand? Or is it really a screw-up? Basically, I am a little annoyed - if it is intentional, why didn't they clarify with a little note from Dan Bronson about it. What's the point in a frickin leaderboard or "my progress" if there's an intentional way to ensure top marks. Maybe it is a cheat, maybe it isn't, but you have to take a decision about these things - and I chose to reveal the truth. Begin the hate barrage!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Win a copy of Lost: Via Domus

Note: The competition is now closed!

A little bored with Lost not being on your screens? Want something other than the ARG to satisfy your Lost addiction? Well, why not play Lost: Via Domus - the official Lost game! Explore the Island as Elliott Maslow, a survivor suffering from memory loss after the crash of Oceanic Flight 815. Along the way, interact with all your favorite characters, including the Others. Uncover your past, and try and figure out how to get home!

We're offering one user a free copy of Lost: Via Domus for PC. Note you'll need a relatively new computer to run the game (check all the tech requirements here). As for legal mumbo jumbo - the winner will get a copy sent to them anywhere in the world, but whether I do priority mail or normal mail will depend how much it costs :) I also can't be held responsible if the prize suddenly gets lost itself in transit. All rights reserved, you agree that upon entering you relinquish rights to sue, I will protect any personal info given to me, yada yada, blah de blah.

Anyway if you would like to enter the competition, read the riddle below and tell me which Lost character I'm talking about. It should be relatively easy, but if you have trouble, I'm sure you'll be able to get some help in the Forum, IRC Chat or in the blog comments section. The competition will close on the 28th (a week from today) at midnight BST time. To enter, email the answer to nickb123ATlostpediaDOTcom, along with your online name, email address in the message (I know it says at the top, but it just makes it easier for me) and a rough idea of where you are (e.g. Spain). I won't be replying to messages to tell you you're right, but I think when you have the answer, you'll know its correct. I'll announce the winner next Friday. Good luck! Here's the riddle:
You'll find me in the middle of the night, but also just as the dawn ends
Curious, isn't it, that I appear during both, twice, though I guess it really all kind of depends
Because, to be honest with you, I am actually a little bit two-faced, I lie
Though on the surface of things, I'm sure you think I'm a nice normal guy
Deceitful is my middle name though, my last being pure success
I work in silence, survey you closely, and take glee in your distress
You honestly have no idea, that I am always in decided watch
The skill in my trickery, I'm sure you'd agree, is certainly quite top-notch!
Really all you need now is one more clue, a mark, a symbol, a sign
Figure out who I am, quickly now, before that prize of yours is mine
Don't worry, it'll be fine.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Win some Lost goodies

Today I finally got my copy of Lost: Via Domus for PC, only to find that my PC is apparently old and doesn't have the right video card to the run it. No worries, I thought with slight annoyance, I'll just send it back and get the PS3 version (and then suddenly turn up at my brother's for the first time in about 6 months to "see how he is").

However, it was in this moment that I thought, "why return it" - I mean, hassle! Wouldn't it be cooler to work with it and give it to someone who maybe wants it that bit more... wouldn't it be cool to finally clear out my Aladdin's cave of geek memorabilia... fans of Lost, I give you, LOSTPEDIA PRIZES!!!!

What do I have to offer Lost fans apart from Via Domus, I wonder, as I wander my room, looking at my bad ass signed Serenity poster (seriously, its BAD ASS - and you ain't getting that!) Indeed peeps, I am a bit of a closet geek (well, not so closet with a signed Serenity poster on display, but ya know....).

Ergo, I have A LOT of crap. But what about Lost - well there's an Apollo bar there which I seriously wonder the health and safety stature of being two years out of date, a first edition UK version copy of Bad Twin, as well as an array of Lost Magazines which I admit I've never actually read... Season 1 on DVD... lots of stuff! And hey, maybe I could utilize Lost contacts I've made over the last few years and even get them to donate some goodies? (I could always ask, I guess!)

So, why don't we make a few Losties happy, and keep this ARG from getting stale with a bit of fan collectory incentive. Tomorrow, I'm gonna do the first one, a copy of Via Domus on PC, and from there do a competition whenever the going gets slow. I'm not gonna make it easy though - there will be a little "question" of sorts to answer relating to Lost. Don't worry though, it won't be TOO fiendish, and I'm sure you can get help from other fans on Lostpedia's Forum and Chat if you're stuck, or maybe even email me and I'll give you a few hints... I'll leave the competition open for a week, and then pick the winning name out of a hat (hence the rabbit-out-of-a-hat logo).

In all seriousness, I think its high time we gave something back to the loyal people who make things like a Lost ARG possible - you.

Test 1 now ready!

Finally, the test is up, and we are ready to go!

A new email was sent out informing us about the new test (view it here). Nothing in the source code to my knowledge, though there is something unusual saying "Batteries Ice Pint..." - though it doesn't really look cluey, so I think its just techno jargon. In saying that, I read a comment on DarkUFO after googling the three words that its a possible anagram of "patience is bitter" - TPTB having a dig?

So, the test! Well, after a little wait when the site said it was "updating", the test finally switched on and I have to say it isn't too bad - I think the peeps did a good job making it difficult open playing field as its a test one can't really cheat on. All you need do is fit pieces into a square (I'm making it sound way easier than it is) within a 100 second time limit. The faster you do it, the higher your score. I've had three goes at it so far - my first I had 29 seconds left so 29%. After that failure, I tried again and managed a 58, and then my third attempt I completely messed it up. I'm guessing obviously the easiest way is put in some big pieces first, and then the horrible looking shards last. Let me know how you all do, I doubt you're as poor as me (even check out the image I uploaded from Lostpedia - someone got 84!!!)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The weirdest video... EVER

So I imagined my next post would be rounding up the new recruitment test. However, I just received something very odd indeed, and thought you guys might have an opinion on it.

Now through working on Lostpedia, I often get some strange messages - but this one really does take the biscuit. I was emailed about a video on YouTube featuring none other than Mr. Damon Lindelof - in addition to a whole host of geek favorites like Joss Whedon and Brian K Vaughan - talking about a new book by Brad Meltzer entitled "The Book of Lies". Now, apparently, its all real! Now where have I heard that one before....

So I'm guessing this is, what, being marketed as the next Da Vinci Code or something, and may even have one top-notch ARG viral campaign to boot? Have to say it sounds very cool, check it out at - seems like there might be a rich tapestry of clues and mysteries to solve there... unfortunately one ARG is enough for this little code-breaker to handle right now, I'm afraid. However, Lindelof's backing I'm sure means its going to be a fun ride, and also Mr. Whedon's as well, who I'm also a big fan of. So, hey, if this Lost ARG gets a little slow - maybe figure out what the connection is between Cain & Abel, and Superman?!!?! Ladies and gentlemen I give you, quite possibly, the wacky conspiracy to end all wacky conspiracies!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Excited about a test...

Just a quick weekend update. Hope everyone is excited and ready for Tuesday - and hope the Dharma Wants You servers are also ready to handle the traffic, they were down for a heck of a while on Friday... I have faith though, and am very glad that things are in motion now, and looking forward to a very good story, and indeed the challenge that await in these aptitude tests. Remember to take lots of screencaps!

Thanks to those who also had a bash at the little code I made in the last post - I think answers will be posted at some point over at - where they are now on Clue #3. There isn't any connection between clues, but its nice to try and solve things before the proper game ships out brain teasers our way. Clue #2 is pretty awesome, and 3 is much nicer after my first one which people found really difficult (I wanted to emulate the book Masquerade in terms of all the red herrings and misdirection, but maybe I emulated it a little TOO much - it took literally YEARS before that book was solved). I've also made a new one today, though I dunno if it will be released... but its quite an original and fun one involving chess.

However, Tuesday will bring much better clues than those fans can muster - clues that actually mean something to a narrative. So enjoy ruby Tuesday, before she comes and goes.

Friday, August 15, 2008

We have ETA, and something to whet your whistle

Well it would appear that TPTB were watching over my last post and have now given us a date for the tests on this auspicious day (is that the right word). A new email has been sent out (view it here), not really answering much, but advising us to go to the website, where you will notice, depending on whether or not the site is working for you, that commencement date is the 19th of August - Tuesday!!! Fantastic news, and cheers to the good old Dharma folk for keeping us in the loop :)

In other news, check out this code I made, gibberish right?:


What's it all about? Well it isn't in-game just to be clear, but it is one hell of a good mini-game to keep you guessing before Tuesday's progression. To play the game, and hopefully in the end break the cipher string above, you'll need to find a Lost-related answer hidden within an image. The image is full of pit-falls, making it tougher than the average fan-clue. If you do manage to solve the image though and get the key, well done you as that's the hard part - but then if you want something extra, use the keyword on my code above for a special message!

But where is this image with the key... I don't have it... stop bothering me... go ask somebody else!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I think this lines mostly filler

"All things come to him who waits - provided he knows what he is waiting for."

Sound words there, possibly taken slightly out of context, by President Woodrow Wilson (what an odd reference...) Well last night looked hopeful in ARG land, when I saw that the security update message had been removed. However, no tests as of yet, but there is a new email as of today, which appears to have been sent only to Comic-Con recruits, thanking them for their participation, and perhaps unnecessarily back-tracking over the "abysmal" comments Hans Van Eeghen made about them at the panel. Read the email here, or check Lostpedia's archived copy here. Note: the sourcecode appears clean.

The word filler springs to mind though with this email, I must say. I'm not complaining about the ARG, lest I be heckled by scornful loyalists - but an ETA on when these tests will be ready would be a big help. Maybe they'll be ready tomorrow, for the 8/15 date reference?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

An Inside Job

Its been a slow week in ARG land, forcing many sites to post about other things, or muse about the ARG as a whole (of which I myself am guilty of). However, I've finally got enough clues to do a decent post with, so here's a round-up of this week.

On Wednesday, a newsletter dated 08/08 (Friday) was found on - and was quickly pulled by the powers that be. Thus, it seems clear this was a goof on their part.

On Friday, the site itself started to go "glitchy" as the Lostpedia wiki officially called it. On the homepage, the DHARMA logo buzzed and looked like TV static. Upon login, there was also random gibberish words that showed up for split moments. I had begun categorizing and recording these until I realized they weren't codes, just nonsense. However, one gibberish code appeared longer, and was consistently appearing on the site in different letter orders (e.g. nahnmiieosdite). Reword this, and it made "I am on the inside". A user at DarkUFO also apparently managed to view the sourcecode of the flash itself, finding the same message within it. Remind me to find out how you do that?! At any rate, it seems interesting that we now have a new Persephone of sorts on the inside of Dharma. Is this RuckusGuy/Dan Bronson. I mentioned in my last post about how it would be better if Dan was a mere sidekick, and people on other sites have actually suggested that this hacker may be someone new entirely.... Time will tell.

Finally, on Friday evening (Saturday for most of us I think), the newsletter that was pulled earlier in the week was re-released, almost identical in format. View it here. However, the sourcecode had a new hidden message "Good luck my old friend Hans". Now if you take this sarcastically, it could be our protagonist mocking Hans for being unable to stop the security breach hacking (probably the most likely answer). Or, maybe take it even further and suggest our hacker has a history with Hans. Or someone from Hanso is wishing Hans luck with his Dharma project? That one was a bit of a stretch. Note also that the newsletter itself was slightly different, with the addition: Apart from the leak of a sensitive internal communication... - looks like TPTB are covering up their Wednesday release goof by making it part of the narrative. And they would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for us meddling kids.

Hopefully next week will bring us a little more in the way of tough clues to mull over, and indeed testing should hopefully begin next week, after "security upgrades". Until then, its back to the waiting game. If you're bored, however, I've hidden a little something myself in this post - its an old phrase I heard the other day which I believe is quite fitting to Lost fans at the moment. Heed the words, and take some time off! :)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

What do Lost fans actually want in an ARG?

This is something I've been considering this week, after following the clues and checking out all the comments that people have come up with on a range of fansites about this new ARG. As someone who played TLE, Find 815, and this new one, and has for years written hundreds of ARG-related articles for Lostpedia (of course with the help of many others), I want to put forward my points about what an ARG needs to be a success. I'm going to discuss these in headings which are by no means exhaustive, and I hope other fans will add to the list on what they want in a Lost ARG.

1) A decent protagonist - Anything related to Lost needs a key character, and naturally any good narrative in any genre needs a lead figure. You look at any Lost project, at its center is a good lead. Outside the main show, we've got Rachel Blake, Sam Thomas, even Paul Artisan (though an awful plot, he was a good main figure). We like our leads to have a little something to them, and a good ARG needs a strong-minded individual with a lot of depth. Does Dan Bronson fulfill this role though? It is of course still very early days, but does the angle of "ultimate Lost fan" as his casting call stated really make him what we fans want in a protagonist? Would he not be better as a sidekick geek? Someone like Rachel Blake could pull off the geeky personality trait because it didn't define her, but so far our RuckusGuy appears to be solely playing to this stereotype. Fans need a strong leader figure who they can crowd around and follow. To put it brutally blunt - we need a Jack, not a Hurley.

2) Multiple websites - Part of an ARG is the mystery, the finding of new websites, finding out if they're in-game or not, meticulously examining sourcecode. Its a shame that this requires a lot of sponsorship to pull off effectively, but even so Find 815 managed to utilize alternative sites like to a reasonable success when hiding their clues. Even without big sponsorship like TLE had (Hansocareers, ROT, RDB, LYCGY, Sublymonal - all sponsored sites), surely where there's a will there's a way?

3) A guide - Following on from the previous point, however, multiple websites opens fans up to hoax websites, and I think these new ARGs are attempting to keep things simple so fans don't get lost. But that was why we had Speaker and co... if there were fans playing the ARG who weren't good at sourcecode searching or clue hunting (and lord knows, I was no expert), that's why you have an official go-to place to help you, while of course you also have resources like Lostpedia to catch you up. One can understand where creators are coming from, "keep it simple so as not to alienate fans who aren't THAT geeky", but its a flawed logic. Fans love Lost, so don't worry about something like that - if they're playing, you've already got em hooked!

4) Challenging clues - Again, following on, the biggest thing probably required in an ARG are the clues for fans to mull over. I'd maintain that a key writer problem is: how do you tell a story over a period of months with staggering clues, and still manage to keep fan interest. The answer is simply give them things to think about, give them clues, sidequests in the story, keep them questioning. TLE succeeded in this, with many individuals like Mandrake Wig, or Project Sumo - they weren't part of the main story so could be followed by hardcore fans and not make the more straight-forward followers feel left out. The problem with the recent ARGs is that it feels like fans are in a sense being spoon-fed, which is okay as there is lots of sourcecode clues, foreign language stuff, etc to keep the real geeks contented. But even this seems irrelevant, there are tidbits of info hidden for the hardcore fans but not to any real avail. The French, German and Icelandic was an example of this - fun but serving no real purpose to adding to the story per se. Even if they have no relevance, if they provide information on some other aspect (even providing a little backstory to themes within the ARG), it can effectively satisfy all parties. Look back to TLE - the sign language video with a glyph - it had no relevance to the main plot, and yet for those who wanted to know what the sign language said - they could find out and learn more about the Mel0Drama character. Again, its keeping it simple so as to not alienate fans, but at the same time its just limiting the ARG.

5) Continuity - This has to be a given for Lost fans. You can see on the main show how a reference to Hanso, or to DHARMA just makes viewers go nuts. Of course, a Lost ARG picks up on a Lost theme (TLE had Hanso, F815 had Oceanic, The Project has DHARMA), but continuity between them, I think, would certainly get Lost fans fired up. This new ARG is in its pre-stages, so one cannot yet judge them, only hope that they decide to do this. Throw out a little reference to Hanso! Even say something audacious like "oh by the way, Rachel Blake is dead!" Any reference, no matter how shocking, is a reference nevertheless, and how it would rile players worldwide - surely that's the sign of a successful ARG?

6) A range of format - You have to give the new ARG props on this one - the stunts at Comic-Con are wonderful examples of a successful ARG - blending reality and fiction, real-world and the online world. The hallmark of a great ARG is the belief that it could actually be real, and when you have even the most involved fans just for a split second thinking "is DHARMA actually a real company..." before slapping themselves for their stupidity, you know you've done it. However, a great ARG needs to go further, they need to draw fans in using a variety of methods. Comic-Con was a good start, real-world interaction, and now we're in web-based mode (again, fantastic). I only hope though that the new phase brings with it some extra means of communication - give RuckusGuy some videos, audio conversations, hide some clues in posters. Expand things more to success. Sponsorship of course is an issue, but getting the actor to hold a digital camera, say a few lines as a video blog, and then stick it up on YouTube - production costs can't be THAT excessive!

And that really concludes my points. You might now be agreeing with what I'm saying and wish to add to it, or you might think that I don't know what I'm talking about and shouldn't question TPTB and be all know-it-all. But it isn't really about that, its about causing a bit of debate and asking, while writers know all about what we want on the show - what do Lost fans actually want in an ARG?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Dharma kinda wants us, but doesn't know it yet

So it appears there's a new Dharma Wants You email, except no-one has the email yet and the URL version discovered is dated 08/08 (which is Friday...). Check out the newsletter here. So either the URL is inaccurate, or this shouldn't be a clue yet and might get pulled now that fans have found it. I hope its just the former, as you'd think by now TPTB would realize that they can't put something on the net without a fan finding it in 10 seconds flat - does nobody recall Rachel Blake's first video on! Or the days of the dreaded glyphs!

I'll post the email's contents below. Note, possibly classed as a spoiler, but it is an ARG based on the Internet, so the words contradiction in terms springs to mind. Also there are two things within the newsletter source code, but are exactly the same as the other newsletter with "banks claw" and the bluetooth video. Looking forward to Friday!


As many of you may be aware there have been a number of security breaches in recent days related to the nature of the Dharma Initiative's latest research.

This included the unauthorized release of sensitive video documentation during a sponsored panel discussion with the makers of the TV show "LOST" at Comic-Con 2008 in San Diego. Consequently, the person responsible for this breach, a promising recruit by the name of Dan Bronson, has been expelled from the volunteer program and had his Dharma membership permanently revoked. Furthermore, the Dharma Initiative has withdrawn their sponsorship from "LOST".

The Dharma Initiative must stress that the video material leaked at Comic-Con 2008 was viewed entirely out of context. Furthermore, the way in which the material was presented utterly distorted its significance and credibility as scientific data.

The Dharma Initiative is extremely disappointed with this outcome and has ordered a security audit of all departments. As part of this audit the DharmaWantsYou recruiting website will undergo a security upgrade in the next few days.

Upon completion of this upgrade a date will be announced for the official commencement of Volunteer Assessments.

All recruits are reminded that the unauthorized release of confidential information pertaining to the details of your activities within the Dharma Initiative will result in instant dismissal from the volunteer program.

Hans Van Eeghen
Head of Recruiting
The Dharma Initiative.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Book Club Begins

After a long lead-up, finally we're at the start date. From now until August 23rd is the official read-time as part of the Lostpedia Book Club for "Carrie" by Stephen King. I hope everyone who wants to take part has got a copy of the book by now! A little warning - Ben's description of Carrie as "depressing" isn't far wrong apparently, so don't blame us if you can't hack it! :-p

Anyway, for those ready to put on their reading specs, the main discussion thread for the book can be found here on the Forum for when you're done. This will be for general chats about the book, your thoughts on themes in relation to Lost, etc etc. You can of course also post other threads if you want discussion on one aspect of the novel in particular (or maybe even discussions for people at certain points like Chapter 6, etc), but please try to keep book report style comments to the key thread, so the place is kept tidy.

Other than that, Saturday August 23rd is when the live chat will take place - the plan is still 2pm EST and 6pm GMT, and if that changes there will be an announcement). You can also use Lostpedia Chat to discuss the book in IM anytime (for a guide on how to get hooked up, see here). That place is probably best for when you've finished the book though, so you don't get spoiled!

All that is left for me to do is say happy reading, and thanks so much for taking the time to be part of this! Its been fantastic to see how many of us want to do this! Oh, but before I go start reading myself - I must state - September's book will be.... Lord of the Flies!!! The William Golding book will be read as part of the book club from the beginning of September, giving you from today a month to source the book! I'll post a further reminder about this book a week before we start it (August 23rd, you see my scheduling there?), but if you wanna get organized uber-early, see public library locations or Amazon (USA links).

Bring on the pain, Carrie!

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Shape of Things to Do

Damn. Lost Season 4 has been complete for quite awhile. I've seen each episode too many times and I've watched the Charladay scenes many more times than I would like to admit. I caught up on all the shows Lost made me neglect. As soon as Comic Con started I was glued to the Youtube videos of Darlton's panel. Of course, I signed up for the new ARG as soon as went live. I have even recently been outside. What is a Lostpedian to do in these troubled, Lost-less, times?

Worry not! A few dedicated Lost fans have decided to ease our suffering, with the creation of humorous websites to keep us busy – hopefully for the full 188 or so days until Lost's magnificent return to the air.

Lost ROFL is the icanhazcheeseburger of the Lost fansite universe. For those of you not up to speed with your internet memes (tsk, tsk!), Lost ROFL is a collection of Lost screen captures and animated GIFs with dumb captions, or alternatively, dumb pictures with Lost quotes as captions. Lost ROFL also scopes out the best of Lost humor elsewhere on the web, so you'll get great (and sometimes obscure) videos and websites, as well as Lost humor culled from other forums and blogs. The most entertaining part of the site is a “WE HAZ TO GO BACK” subsection, featuring oodles of cute furry animals, civil war generals, and anything else with a significant amount of hair reminding us where we have to go! Lost ROFL, like Lostpedia, is powered by user generated content, and you are bored. Submit! You've got work to do!

Oh, you're lazy? I know the feeling. I was supposed to have this written in time to be posted after the Season 4 finale! Luckily for us, Lostpedia's own BauerUK has decided to create his own comic and requires nothing from us. AfterLOST is a fantastically drawn webcomic about alternative endings to episodes of Lost, perhaps if it was written by surreal comedians with a taste for the abstract. Currently, it's mostly Season 4 episodes, but previous episodes are in the works, I've been told.

What sort of blogger would I be if I didn't talk about my own stuff? (Answer: unique)
I host the Lostpedia Bash, a collection of funny quotes from the official Lostpedia Chat, based on the great database, but all about Lost. While some quotes are inside jokes among the participants, others should make sense to any Lost fan – and hopefully make them laugh!

Should you require a little more interaction, you might want to check out the Games Sub-forum at Lostpedia's official forums. While not necessarily humorous, there are a whole slew of forum-based games that will provide countless memes to take part in and word associations to associate. There's also a "Mafia" game, Zombie choose-your-own-adventure (Season 7 anyone?), arrested development word association, and more. Come on in and take a try at it!

On behalf of the sysops, forum mods, and IRC ops, all of us at Lostpedia, say thank you, namaste, and... wish you good luck in finding something to keep you busy.


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