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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