Endgame Guide – Page 2 – Sending Emails & Watching Videos

Should probably come up with better names for these posts. Or just go and do an actual guide. That seems a little too much work though. Need to ease into things a bit.

So the second thing the “How Do I Start” page tells me to do is go and watch this persons videos. But before that, let’s find out who is writing this blog. Because I can’t keep referring to them as “this person” or “the author”.

So the author person is a woman named Stella. She won’t give out her last name lest her father freak out. But she does tell us that she lives in Las Vegas and finishing up a doctorate in Ancient Studies. And if she knew anything about the internet, she should know that just that little bit of information would be enough to track her down in the real world if someone wanted to, with or without her last name. She is writing this site because she “learned some things” – things she’s known for a long time but never wanted to admit. But now she needs to share them with the rest of the world. I suppose setting up a website is a lot cheaper than a psychiatrist.

Stella also has an email address you can email her at: 12ancientlines@gmail.com And holy shit! There is actually an auto-responder. Been a long time since I’ve seen one of those that didn’t magically disappear for some reason after a few days.

Stella’s Auto-Response

Thanks for the email. Nice to know that there are at least a few people out there who don’t think I’m a ranting lunatic.

The question is – do you want to hear more, and in the process maybe get to know me a little better? If that's the case, I’ve included a little challenge here. If you can unravel it, then your curiosity will be rewarded.

Oh and...by the way, I’ve just made myself my own shortlink, you know, like bit.ly or goo.gl.

Mine’s stl.la. Pretty easy to remember, which is good because I'll be using it a lot.

Now if I only had something to link it to…

stellaemail

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A Snarky Endgame Guide

The snarky guide to Endgame.

It’s been a looooong time since I’ve written a guide. So I’m out of practice. I’m also not in a job anymore where I can write a guide during the downtime, and I hate spending tons of time on my home computer, so I’m writing this on a borrowed Windows 8 laptop while watching tv. This means that you might hear a: my complaints about this computer and Windows 8 or b: comments on what I’m currently watching. It also means that this probably isn’t going to be as in depth as my other guides with all the “bells and whistles” that I used to include (if you can call my little hidden text boxes “bells and whistles”) since I don’t have the program with all the shortcuts I used on this computer. I will make up for that by turning up the snark, since it seems that is really all you guys want judging from my twitter feed :)

Okay, let’s start this. I’m like a week behind on this game, and there is so much being called “Endgame” that even for me it’s almost a bit overwhelming. I can’t imagine someone new to the genre trying to figure things out between the book, the gold contest and the ARG I’m going to write about. Maybe next time either spread stuff out a little more or name things differently? But what do I know? I’m not a creator, just a lowly player that technically this is being marketed to.

Happily, I favorited a tweet in the beginning telling me how to get started with Endgame. So I’ll use that to get us up to date. Okay, checking out Post Apocalyptic Media, we are told to go to Ancient Societies getting started page. Starting to feel like I’m getting the run around already.

Ancient Societies

First thing the Ancient Societies tells me to do is to get an understanding of the 12 Ancient Lines. (And already I am regretting the lack of an external mouse on this laptop. It has a trackpad that only sometimes works and I keep choosing the wrong link on the touchscreen. Also, I am worried about Hayes Pollard’s knee that I just saw whacked in this USC/Colorado game that I DVR’d.) Right away we’re told that people are miserable and desperate and that we shouldn’t look to the future but to the past. Makes me wonder how much history this person has actually studied. I mean, the past wasn’t all that bright and rosy. As much as I love Renaissance festivals and visiting them during the summer, I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to live during that time. Unless you were royalty or a member of the nobility, life really did pretty much suck. If you did manage to survive your childhood, you then had a lifetime of backbreaking work to look forward to.

Anyways, the Twelve Ancient lines. We are told that the true importance of these lines have been covered up and erased from history. I probably shouldn’t waste too much time trying to figure out, if everything is shrouded in mystery, how this website knows so much about the lines. I’m just gonna chalk it up to magic knowledge implanted directly into the author’s brain while they were sleeping. Probably just as plausible when compared to whatever the real reason is.

Okay, the lines:

Aksumite – Based around Ethiopia and possible holders of the Ark of the Covenant. The line declines when corrupted by Romans and conversion to monotheism.

Cahokian – Pre-cursors to the the Native American population in the United States. Mysteriously vanished around 1250 CE. The only remnants are the Cahokian Mounds left behind.

Donghu – Based in Mongolia. Conquered by the Xiongnu who themselves are forerunners of the Mongols. Invented the horseback horde combat style, but apparently were not conquerors. Just violent and merciless with a touch of spirit and free will.

Harappan – One of the oldest civilizations, the Harappan were based around the Indus Valley. They built the first major cities and have a “mysterious” writing system that has not been completely deciphered. (Because it is so mysterious and not because civilization died out and left no way for us to understand their writing.)

Koori – Forerunners of Australian Aboriginals. Conquered by colonial Australians. Or so the histories say. But as history is just written by liars, can we really trust it?

(I am beginning to sense a pattern here. Pick a region, go back to the furthest “known” people, name an Ancient line after them. But 12 still seems like an arbitrary number. You could easily contract or expand that number depending on your criteria.)

La Tene – Also known as the Gauls. They apparently didn’t like being called names (like Barbarian) so they would sack cities (like Rome). Founders of Druidism, but they were not necessarily related to the Celts.

Minoan – Sea-faring people who eventually were conquered/overtaken by the Greeks.

Mu – First great human civilization. Born on a continent in the Pacific that no longer exists. Well, at least the author isn’t claiming its Atlantis if the Mu are from the Pacific. Oh wait, they ARE claiming it’s Atlantis. I cannot believe the lies we have been told by all these historians. So glad this Ancient Societies person is setting us straight.

Nabatean – Centered around Petra (in modern day Jordan), the Nabatean were a trading empire who were eventually taken over by the Romans and Qahtani Arabs.

Olmecs – Precursors of the Aztecs and Mayans. Developed the concept of the Zero and also had a calendar. They were also heavily into blood magic, which according to every modern day book and video game I’ve encountered is just bad, bad, bad.

Shang – The most powerful Bronze-era empire in China. (But obviously not the only one with that quantifier. So why is this one of the Ancient Lines? Why not go further back to find the forerunner of this line?) The Shang mastered the use of bronze and developed Chinese writing. Also heavily into ancestor worship. Because remember kids, the past is so much better than the future.

Sumerians – First powerful civilization to arise from the Fertile Crescent in Mesopotamia. Invented the chariot which allowed them to conqueror neighboring cultures.

So those are the 12 Ancient Lines. But it still seems like there could be more – there are huge swaths of the planet that are ignored. Nothing at all from South America. Most of Africa is ignored. And no extremely northern civilizations? Inuit, Vikings, something out of Russia? Besides the Koori, all of the 12 lines are situated between roughly 15°N and 50°N. I will admit I am not versed in the pre-history of the rest of the planet, but it still seems like there easily could have been more Lines available (or at least different ones).

That’s the basic background. And after spending 2 hours trying to get this website back up online, this is all you guys are getting tonight. I will write more later, I’m sure. I had forgotten how much fun it is to be so snarky :)

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Stupid Fucking Puzzles

I am so annoyed with this puzzle. Let’s just say if I were to see a certain intern in a dark alley, I’m not sure that intern would be coming out of said alley in one piece.

What do we know so far?
1. It involves the six hexagon faces from the hexaflexagon thing – see here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rowan72/7833458844/

2. These faces have to go around a key – found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rowan72/7838577914/in/photostream/

3. There is not a unique fucking solution to this. There are many ways for them to go around. None of which so far have made sense – see here for one such solution: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rowan72/7840298592/in/photostream/

4. Was told that ‘sinner’ is a word that I should probably be looking for – see here: https://twitter.com/WorkWithNoPants/status/238355199796842496

5. Was told that ‘relate’ should be either Junior or Senior – see here: https://twitter.com/WorkWithNoPants/status/238402393740541952

6. Based on #4 and #5, I can come up with a list of 8 different ‘solutions’ that would give ‘sinner’ and ‘relate’ and have the hexagons match along their edges. They are listed below. They start at the top of the key hexagon and go counterclockwise. The names are from this page – http://xclusion.net/people – as I am not making 8 more stupid graphics. I’ve also listed the ‘words’ formed, although split into the two separate parts.

heather   sin  ner
senior    ter  man
junior    rel  ate
tanimo    ati  uns
midge     ons  man
etta      hip  ate

heather   sin  ner
senior    ter  man
junior    rel  ate
midge     ati  ner
tanimo    ons  ner
etta      hip  ate

midge     sin  ner
tanino    ter  ner
junior    rel  ate
senior    ati  man
etta      ons  ate
heather   hip  ner

etta      sin  ner
junior    ter  uns
senior    rel  ate
tanino    ati  ror
midge     ons  ror
heather   hip  ner

etta      sin  ner
junior    ter  uns
senior    rel  ate
tanino    ati  ror
heather   ons  ate
midge     hip  uns

etta      sin  ner
junior    ter  uns
senior    rel  ate
midge     ati  ate
heather   ons  ate
tanino    hip  man

etta      sin  ner
heather   ter  ate
senior    rel  ate
midge     ati  ate
junior    ons  uns
tanino    hip  man

etta      sin  ner
heather   ter  ate
senior    rel  ate
tanino    ati  ror
junior    ons  uns
midge     hip  uns

7. We have zero idea of what to do with this information if any of it is even correct. So really, I don’t know why the fuck I’m bothering. (Can you tell I’m really annoyed by this?)

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Threatening Emails Don’t Phase Me

As some of you may have heard, I have become the International Representative of Work With No Pants. It’s a great honor and a huge responsibility and I couldn’t be happier that I got the position.

Part of the benefits of being the International Representative of Work With No Pants was that I received a free Work With No Pants t-shirt and an all-access account at Xclusion, the employee networking site of Ty Coin INC. (of which Work With No Pants is a subsidiary). My free t-shirt came in the mail on Tuesday, and when I opened up the package, I noticed there was something else hidden away – an origami tiger with the Latin phrase “inimicus animo” or “enemy of the spirit” written on the back.

This was rather strange, especially since the tiger had as its head a photo of Ty Cohen, Jr. – the CEO and President of Ty Coin INC. I posted about the origami tiger a few times on Xclusion and linked my photos in the hopes that someone could explain what was going on.

Imagine my surprise when I received this message in Xclusion from Ty Cohen, Jr.

Email from Ty Cohen

That paper tiger is my private property. You are instructed to hereby burn it. Do not open it. Do not post any more images. It was all a big prank that got out of control. Nothing that concerns you. Is that clear?

And I suggest you follow my instructions, if you value your job, my fine “International Representative”, because I am this close to shutting Jud’s whole operation down over this latest fiasco.

Now, I’m not one to just let someone in a position of ‘authority’ walk all over me like that. As you can see, I responded that I would not post any more images of the paper tiger to Xclusion.net. And I won’t. However, this is my own private website and I will post whatever I damn well please, including a scan of the inside of the paper tiger.

I apologize for the clarity. The paper is rather stiff and hard to get flat enough on the scanner to get a really clear image. Even putting a heavy book on top of it didn’t really do much it seems. From what I can make out, it appears to be a series of surveillance photos of a guy in a white sweatshirt with a dark baseball cap. I can’t tell if it’s Ty Cohen Jr or not (all of the creases don’t help). The two most interesting photos to me are the ones in the alley with the dragon painted on the wall. It appears white sweatshirt guy meeting/conducting business with dark sweatshirt man. Is this what Ty didn’t want to us see?

What’s really odd is why Ty is so insistent that I not show any more photos of this. You can barely make out what’s going on. So why all the demands for silence? Who made the tiger in the first place? Ty? Someone who is trying to blackmail Ty? Does this possibly have anything to do with Ty Cohen, Sr. recently dying? I don’t know, but I think I want to find out.

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Dark Score Stories – Secrets

Solutions to the secrets hidden on http://darkscorestories.com. There are seven hidden videos to find. Answers are after the jump.

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Zoetrap Walkthrough

Brief walk-through to catch people up on the events surrounding the disappearance of Oliver Drew at the StoryWorld Conference 2011.

  • Oliver Drew, an Occult Transmedia producer, arrives in San Francisco for the StoryWorld Conference.
    • His website http://zoetrap.com gives a brief biography and lists several inventions having to do with the paranormal.
    • His twitter name is @_zoetrap. Included among his tweets are a couple of seances that he has performed.
  • In the early morning of October 31st, Oliver decided to hold yet another seance, this time using his zoetrope. It did not go well. Communication from Oliver is abruptly cut off.
  • Come daybreak, it has become clear that Oliver is missing. His girlfriend @eva_lake asks people to check in on his at his room in the Parc 55 Hotel.

    • Visitors to Room 2413 would have found a chaotic crime scene, complete with a message written backwards in blood on the mirror. The zoetrope is found on a table surrounded by tarot cards.
    • They also find a QR code on Oliver’s pillow that unlocks a Phone Security message that gives you a hint as to how to unlock the hexed folder. The answer to the clue “How many Tarot cards in the major arcana?” is 22 – or XXII if you use Roman numerals like those on many Tarot card decks.
  • The Paranormal Press has also heard about Oliver’s disappearance and wrote an article about it. Included in the article is a QR code that leads to an iTunes app that connects your phone with Oliver’s.
  • Oliver’s phone contains a number of different things you can interact with.

    • Mail: Lots of different emails from a variety of people. Sadly, there is not an online archive of the email texts that I know about. Biggest item of note is the fact that Oliver was researching an Arthur Warburton Lytton who was an inmate in Alcatraz who was known simply by the name “Prisoner L” (based upon the cellblock where he was held). Along with his inquiries at Alcatraz, Oliver was also going to talk to a Marianne Lytton Miller, the great-granddauther of Arthur.
    • Phone: Takes you to all the voice mails that Oliver’s phone has received (which are archived at Audioboo). Several are from Eva wondering where Oli is. One is from a PC Dave Watts wanting to talk to Oliver about an incident involving Marianne Lytton Miller on August 12, 2011. There are also several paranormal calls that come through during your use of the phone that get saved to voicemail.
    • Docs: Protected by a 3 word phrase. The phrase needs to be successfully entered in order to break the hex on Oliver’s phone.
    • Calendar: Calendar of events leading up to and through the StoryWorld Conference.
    • Twitter: List of tweets with the #swc11 hashtag.
    • Scanner: QR Code scanner
  • While StoryWorld participants visited Oliver’s room all day to look for clues, Oliver’s phone updated a number of times with new emails, voice mails and clues.
    • Prisoner L emails a video of himself obsessing over the zoetrope.
    • A paranormal call comes in from The Fool. He seems to be begging for his life and asking Lytton to spare him.
    • A paranormal call comes in from The Lover. She talks about her husband (presumably Lytton) and how he was charming in public but cruel in private. She showed him an immortality spell that he became obsessed with.
    • Another email from Prisoner L. Talks about how close he is to completing his great work and that he just needs a few more souls.
    • A email from an unexplained contact comes in with a video showing Oliver sitting near a spinning zoetrope with Prisoner L’s voice in the background goading him on.
  • A black envelope starts circulating around SWC11. Inside is a couple of cards. One is of The Hanged Man Tarot card with a strange letter I in the corner. On the back is a QR code unlocks a Map that points to Union Square in San Francisco.
  • At the location marked on the map, players found a sign with a bit.ly address that took them to an audio recording of a fight between Oliver and Eva. Eva mentions how Oliver has been shouting a strange word (Capti) in his sleep.
  • New evidence is found in one of the elevators at SWC11. Scanning the code unlocks a phone call from Oliver who sounds as if he was trapped inside the elevator.
  • Around the same time as the elevator evidence was being discovered, a new unknown paranormal email came. It’s a video of Oliver begging to be let out. He tells us that we need to remember the word that Eva said he shouted in his sleep. That word is “Capti”.
  • During the evening of November 2nd, @LEldritch starts tweeting about how one of his cards from his Lytton Tarot deck has gone missing. It was The Hanged Man card and it had been last used in a Tarot reading for Oliver. Looking through his other cards, he discovers that some of them have unexplained writing on them. He then tweets a picture of the recreated Tarot reading as well as how to read a Celtic Cross pattern. Reading the letters in the order given by the pattern, you get:

    1. The Chariot A
    2. The Magician N
    3. The Tower A
    4. The Devil M
    5. The Hanged Man I
    6. Judgement S

    ANAMIS isn’t a known word, but anagramming leads to ANIMAS or MANIAS as possible words.

  • Putting together the three main clues that we’ve been given, it is now possible (after trying several different combinations of words) to unlock the hexed documents folder:

    I: How many Tarot cards in the major arcana? XXII
    II: What is the word that Oliver said in his sleep? Capti
    III: What is the word spelled out by Oliver’s Tarot reading? Animas

    Inputting “XXII Capti Animas” into password prompts unlocks a Psychic Pass that tells of a jury of peers that will decide the fate of Oliver Drew. Soon afterwards, zoetrap.com updates with information on the Night of the Dead.

    FIND OUT WHAT’S HAPPENED TO OLIVER DREW AND DECIDE HIS FATE
    VENUE: CELLAR BAR, SAN FRANCISCO, 685 SUTTER STREET
    TIME: 7.30PM

    Happily, the website promises that what happens at the bar will be repeated online so those at home will be able to see what happens.

  • Two new phone calls are received on November 2nd:
    • The first is from Marianne Lytton Miller. She talks about how her family was cursed by the zoetrope. She also tells how she was murdered by a man who wanted the zoetrope.
    • The second is Oliver pleading for help. It sounds like (and the attached photo seems to confirm) that he’s slowly being hung to death. He begs us to find him before he dies because then HE will come after us. [I actually never got this phone call so not sure if it was unlocked with a QR code or not.]
    • Both of these calls help to make sense of a tweet from Eva talking about Oliver’s seance activities. It seems several words came up: ‘Help me, hanged’ ‘Trapped Damned’ ‘Cursed Miller’ ‘Murders’ and 12 August 2011. [I’m willing to bet that Marianne was murdered on 12 August. But the question is: Who killed her? Oliver? An immortal Arthur Lytton? An insane Oliver possessed by Arthur Lytton?]
  • Players at StoryWorld started finding pamphlets written by @LEldritch talking about Haunted San Francisco. On the back is another QR code that unlocks a new call from Marianne Lytton Miller. She says that we have a choice to make and that we shouldn’t make the wrong decision. She tell us to enter the three word code to find out what we’re needed for.
  • I don’t have exact details as to what happened at the Cellar Bar, but around 8:30 PDT, zoetrap.com updated with a new video from Marianne. [I never got this video so I’m unsure if it was just released to the web or was supposed to be received by Oliver’s phone.] She tells us we must decide the fate of Oliver. But there’s a catch – Oliver is the man that murdered her to get Prisoner L’s zoetrope.

    • Prisoner L, Arthur Warburton Lytton, was trying to kill 22 people and capture their souls according to the cards in the Major Arcana. He had killed 21 before he was captured and eventually died. When Oliver took the zoetrope, Prisoner L started coming after him since Oliver was the last soul – The Hanged Man. So now Oliver has become trapped in the zoetrope. Marianne tells us it is our choice to either leave Oliver trapped within the zoetrope (a place of pure pain and anguish) or to show him the mercy he did not show her and free him.
  • The players in San Francisco voted to condemn Oliver. [I voted to free him because I wasn’t completely convinced that he wasn’t being controlled by Prisoner L/the zoetrope when he killed Marianne. I also wasn’t convinced that giving Prisoner L his 22nd soul was a good idea. But I was overruled.]
    • After he was condemned, a new video from Oliver appeared on the website. [This video never appeared on my app also so no idea if it was supposed to or not.] It seems the players in San Francisco made the correct choice because Oliver is completely unrepentant about killing Marianne. She wasn’t using the zoetrope to its full potential and he was going to change that. Oliver shouts that he’s coming for our souls next, but Prisoner L starts spinning the zoetrope and Oliver screams for mercy. The video ends with Prisoner L reciting something in Latin – and @_zoetrap’s Twitter starts repeating that same phrase.
  • And that’s where things end. Marianne is avenged, Oliver is condemned, and Prisoner L gathers his 22nd victim. Eva decides it’s all too much and heads back home. [I wonder if PC Dave Watts will question her about Oliver’s whereabouts when she gets home.] No idea where the zoetrope is – but I’m hoping that it doesn’t fall into the hands of LEldtritch. I’m not sure he would be the best person to have it.

By the way, if you enjoyed the game and want special swag from the game (or even just to help financially support an indie game), there is still a little bit of time left on the Zoetrap IndieGoGo fundraising campaign. Who wouldn’t want a freaky tarot card or postcard from a homicidal spirit?

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A Rant about Auto-Replies and ARGs

I’ve been trying to follow the Facebook ARG The Inside Experience. It hasn’t been easy because, well, it’s on Facebook and it doesn’t really lend itself to the type of campaign that is being run. But I’ve been sticking it out. I’ve written several pages for a guide to the game, and while I was trying to update it today, I was emailing game addresses to get an auto-reply to go onto the next step to the game (since I like to verify things for myself before publishing).

As it turns out, I apparently missed the window for these auto-responses. Despite being found less than 24 hours ago by players, 2 of the 3 reported no longer work. I’ve tried with two different email addresses and have gotten nothing. As a player who has been following this game for several days, but is yet not tied to the computer 24/7, I find it very odd that the PMs would take away one of the main avenues to advance further in the game with no real explanation. And this is the second time that an auto-response necessary for advancement has been removed. At least the first time the next step was given out directly by the main character, but so far a quick glance at the current main page of the game has nothing about it. Yes, there are other groups talking about it – but not everyone is playing with a group (or even wants to attempt to join a closed group).

So, being the type of out-spoken person that I am about these things, I sent off an email to idecidewhatthefuturebrings@yahoo.com and yourfriendsaremyfriends@gmail.com expressing my displeasure. Since I have no idea if those accounts are being monitored at all, I’m posting my email publicly so that I can point it to them over Facebook and Twitter. This is not the only problem that I’ve encountered with the game, but I think it’s one of the biggest since I believe it completely impacts outlying players of the game.

to: idecidewhatthefuturebrings@yahoo.com, yourfriendsaremyfriends@gmail.com
date: Mon, Aug 1, 2011 at 9:19 PM
subject: Seriously.. if you are going to have an auto-reply…

to send out clues in – THEY SHOULD WORK FOR OVER 24 HOURS!

Otherwise, what’s the point in having them? Is it just to give the people who stay up all night something special to talk about with people who have to go to work in the morning? It’s bad enough trying to follow what’s going on through all the crap being thrown around on Facebook – but to not allow others to get a chance to get caught up on their own without wallowing through that pile of shit is ridiculous. I somewhat accepted the utterly crappy way you handed AcornWallpaper and that wild goose chase you sent us on (did you ask for permission to use those thumbnails or did you just steal them from DesignYourWall.com?) I can understand sort of how you could mistype McArthur for MacArthur (but still it’s sloppy. No beta testers on your team?) But you know, 3 times is not the charm for you. It’s no longer just simple mistakes. It’s becoming a pattern utter disdain for the people actually trying to follow this. And I’m here to tell that it’s not okay. It’s really not. It reflects badly on you as a PM team. It reflects badly on Intel and Toshiba. It reflects badly on the entire game. Stop leaving your players out of the dark for no good reason.

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How Not to Launch an ARG

Over this past weekend, I was witness to one of the most spectacular ARG launch fails I have seen in the 7 years I’ve been playing ARGs. It was truly beyond anything I had ever seen and I doubt if anything will come close to it in the future. It not only turned me off from playing the ARG once it actually did launch, but it also made me question the abilities of team behind the game. The saddest part is that most of the public perception problems with the launch could have been easily addressed with a little transparency from the Puppetmaster team. I hope that future Puppetmasters will learn from this incident and not repeat the same awful mistakes.

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