Experience It! Exposed

The trailhead for the game was released prematurely, wasn't it?

Yes, unfortunately we [myself, student development teams, and the BAM staff] didn't have a chance to work through what I had called the "clean-up week." We were planning on fixing some of the information on the websites, trouble shooting, and basically trying to take out as many of the inconsistencies that occur developing a project like this. Remember, our time frame was only 6 weeks from the first meeting with the museum. Most people would agree that 6 weeks isn't nearly enough time to actually develop a project like this.

At any rate, a friend of one of the members of our development team posted an early message about Experience It on the unForum. The rest is history….

How did you find out about the leak?

I was first made aware of the leak after I received several phone calls on my cell phone during and after school. Finally one person told me they had seen my "WHOIS" information posted at unForum. I initially though another teacher was goofing around with a prank, but as I logged into unForum I saw that it was not a joke. I would like to thank the unFiction administrators and members for their understanding and support through this whole ordeal. Needless to say, I had a couple of nights of restless sleep as I tried to seal up the leak and fix some of the problems created by the early release. Luckily, the Boise audience had not received the actual experienceit.info address yet. So local players didn't see a lot of the problems in the early days of the game.

I understand the culminating event was a success. How would you rate the success of the campaign as a means of advertising?

The museum's Curator of Education said, "It was our means of advertising and we all thought is was very successful." The board members of the museum were very happy to see a new audience at the museum brought in by this non-traditional advertising. At the beginning we actually targeted 50 people to be a success, we ended up with around 85-90 individuals attending the event.

How did you go about developing puzzle and clue ideas?

After generating several storylines, the idea of the "Inventor" and the missing person scenario seemed to be the easiest to develop. I then tried to utilize the Gary Hill Biography by making the clues match elements in the biography. I really wanted this to be an adventure were players had to actually visit locations around Boise trying to gather evidence and clues. I also wanted players to gain information from the Internet in multiple mediums, for example the photo of the note found at the Inventor's house and the audio message at web-message.com.

Several of these ideas I actually have seen in other ARGs, so I just tried to develop the story to include them as best as I could. The museum wanted the game to be fairly easy so players would not get discouraged or get stuck and quit playing. Once again, the time factor was a big factor. Later in the game's existence, the BAM asked if I could develop the entire game to work online. That way individual players that started to play the game a day or two before the final event could get through quickly.

The clue dealing with the Cuneiform Numbers was inspired by an Egyptian Exhibit the museum will have later this year. The museum staff really liked the idea of having players "decode" information to finish the game.

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