Kringmaster: Conspiracy For Good ARG

By Alec Meer on June 25th, 2010 at 5:32 pm.

hippies

Heroes creator/murderer Tim Kring has revealed his next project – an alternative reality game. The idea is, essentially, an interactive TV show – yer timeless wotsit of good and evil, which participants (i.e. you) observe, interact with and even shape as it happens. Exciting! And hopefully nothing at all like Heroes season 2-4.

“The story is not a $4 million per episode television show that comes to your screen,” said the small-bearded, flinty-eyed man. “It’s a narrative that comes at you from multiple directions and allows you to stand at the center and be a part of it.”

To whit, it’s the tale of the Conspiracy for Good, an ages-old bunch of niceness advocates, and their clash with environment-bullying megacorp Blackwell Briggs. “I think there’s a “cool factor” to being involved in something that’s sort of a secret society and a clandestine operation against an evil corporation,” said the pullover-wearing, thin-faced man.

Even Wikipedia‘s in on the gag already, with the current draft of the Conspiracy For Good page trying to make fact fiction. There are arguments. There always arguments on Wikipedia.

There will also be live action events, in That London Town. Scavenger hunts and stuff, apparently.

Most of all, though, there’ll be tons of stuff on the official site. Starting with this video:

IT’S SO REAL.

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41 Comments »

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  1. Flaringo says:

    Iiiiiinteresting.

  2. Veret says:

    Gee Alec, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I, for one, thought that seasons 2-4 were really g–…um, they were–…I…I loved–…

    Nope. I can’t say it. They were shit. I wonder how this will turn out?

    • Nova says:

      Not that season one was outstandingly good.
      2 and the part of 3 that I’ve seen were even worse though, thats true.

    • MarkSide says:

      I thought season 4 was much better than the preceding two, in that it was more like the first.

      Also, I think Heroes really showed us what can be done with completely nonsensical character development. Nathan always left us guessing, right? Good? Evil? Evil? Good? We never knew what that crazy megalomaniacal superman would do next!! lolz

    • Josh W says:

      Season 1 was almost good, season 2 was a botched development, and then they tried to go back to basics, never realising that heroes season really was almost good, like you would sit there waiting for it to suddenly get amazing, like you were sure it would. There were good bits yes, but it’s real quality was in the suspence about what it would all turn into.

      But they never got that, they didn’t realise that the later series popped the bubble and showed that far from working towards writing complex multilayered plots, they’d just learned how to borrow other series’s forshadowing. So they couldn’t go back to the start because the start was in part based on ignorance. That’s my review!

  3. Apiary says:

    Whoa. This story dropped in my RSS reader as I was laughing at this picture: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Heroes_US_Ratings_01.png

  4. Blob says:

    I loved Heroes seasons 2-4.

  5. Vinraith says:

    How appropriate, given that a large part of what killed Heroes was listening to viewer feedback entirely too much.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Bollocks. Heroes didn’t do what the viewers wanted at all! In fact quite the opposite.

    • Vinraith says:

      @DrGonzo

      If they’d stuck to the original plan and not listened to the viewers, they wouldn’t have even had the same cast in the second season. That the viewers don’t know what’s good for a show is hardly any surprise, you can’t run much of anything by an opinion poll and expect anything but a mess.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Well that does sound better. But I don’t think listening to viewers or players is necessarily bad. Valve do a very good job with it.

    • Vinraith says:

      @DrGonzo

      I’m not suggesting it is necessarily bad, in fact usually it’s very good. What I’m suggesting is that Heroes wasn’t doing it right, or more precisely was doing it to the exclusion of the show having a vision of its own as to where it wanted to go and how it wanted to get there. Making good use of feedback is a positive thing, letting it pretty much run your show for you isn’t.

    • Earl_of_Josh says:

      Hmm, I’m much more inclined to think it had more to do with the writers strike than it did with listening to the viewers.

    • bob_d says:

      What really killed “Heroes” was the writer’s strike and the big break in the middle of season 2, or rather, their response to it. They had all this time to think about it and decided that it was going in a direction that didn’t work, and that they no longer had the time to do the story arc they originally had in mind anyways. So they decided to more or less ignore the first part of season 2, which just made everything worse, as that seemed to throw them off balance for the rest of the show’s run. They were never able to find their footing after that. Also: the first season was a fluke.

    • Vinraith says:

      @bob_d

      I don’t really disagree.

      They had all this time to think about it and decided that it was going in a direction that didn’t work

      I think a lot of this “thinking about it” you mentioned involved interactions with their fans on the internet, which convinced them to abandon the direction they’d been taking things. The problem is, having copped to fan opinion once, they kept doing it. Character unpopular with the internet fans? Reduce their presence, change their personality, or radically alter them. Plot line unpopular with the internet fans? Drop it, no matter what it does to continuity, and try something else. This policy of randomly wrenching the show in any direction to try to get back on the viewers good side did nothing more than accelerate it’s demise, which is what I’m referring to in my original post.

    • Tei says:

      Listening to a audience, not listening to it, are design guidelines. There are not wrong or bad. There are diferent outputs. Theres even another option, where to listen to the audience on some things ,but not all.

      The creator is the ultimate voice, that has to follow what will produce the best output. If he choose to be a slave of the audience whises, has to be because he know thats the best router for a creation.

      There are creators (like videogame modification makers ) that follow the people advices to the letter, and produce good creations (mods), others follow his guts and also produce whortwhile stuff. Again, imho, theres not wrong.

    • jeremypeel says:

      Not wrong as such Tei, but in this case, not a great means of creating a compelling story or maintaining continuity.

      Having some awareness of fan reaction to certain elements of a series is obviously invaluable for its writers, but I can’t think of many shows with knee-jerk plot turnarounds that worked out well for them in the long run.

      If it’s about adapting smaller parts according to fan reaction, that has been shown to work – when Nicky and Paulo were introduced as characters in Lost, fans disliked them so much that the writers decided to kill them off. The key factor here is that they were killed off very effectively (and quite horribly), I enjoyed the whole experience and didn’t even notice the change in direction until reading up on it afterwards.

      When series two of Heroes brough Sylar back from the dead, I felt like the beautifully orchestrated climax of the first series had been completely negated. Heroes seemed to switch from riffing cleverly off comic books to falling prey to one of their worst habits.

    • Web Cole says:

      The thing about trying to take into account mass feedback is your either going to end up with a complete mess, or something that’s so compromised it just ends up as a bland, boring, lowest-common-denominator piece-o-crap.

      As stated, you need a strong guiding vision whilst still knowing when to heed given advice. It’s a difficult balance to maintain, no doubt.

    • Uhm says:

      Having time travel was a pretty effective killer.

  6. Xercies says:

    Hmm interesting and gets me thinking back to that article i read about a speech talking about emergent narritives from media. i think it was you Alec that brought up that i think.

    Anyway i would like to see where this goes to be honest…but unlike traditional TV/Film narritive it could get a bit complicated to follow after awhile and some people could give up just leaving the hardcore guys there. its interesting but i don’t know if its as good as the traditional narritive yet.

  7. ken says:

    I’m getting major flashbacks of viral marketing for that game Singularity….

  8. Jimbo says:

    As you can see, the ice on the left completely melted, while the metal on the right barely melted at all.

  9. Helm says:

    I think people involved in this would better spent their energy chasing after a real world evil. It’s not like there’s not enough. It cuts to close to vicarious vindication for doing a virtuous deed to count as ‘gaming’ for me, and as such there needs to be some ethical scrutiny of the concept. It’s misdirection to bother with manufactured world evils when there’s so much wrong with the real world. People playing Gears of War or killing Zombies in some other game act under no delusion that they’re positively impacting the real world whereas here I can see people getting really worked up about this roleplaying thing to the point where they get some mad cognitive dissonance going, and to what end?

    • Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

      What makes an ARG so special that lines will be blurred?

      Who knows, maybe some one will get sucked in. And then believe in themselves to fight the actual evils we might find in the world.
      So maybe good will come out of it.

      I dont really see either happening, though. Its a game. People know what that is. Those that cant probably dont need to play an ARG to be effected. Im sure any other piece of fiction works.

  10. Ioasty says:

    Trying to stop a real world evil is a lot harder than stopping a fake one, though. And you won’t receive any sort of real backlash from a fake world evil, either.

  11. Wazzle says:

    Call me crazy, but that sounds an awful lot like the interactive shows from Fahrenheit 451…

  12. capital L says:

    I’d like a This is My Milwaukee game. That is to say, I’d like to play a video game set in that IP, not that I’d like to play an ARG.

  13. Premium User Badge

    luminosity says:

    Season 2-4 were even worse than 1? I don’t know how anyone could even get through season 1 of heroes. Pseudo babble about how evolution totally explains people throwing fire from their hands left me unable to watch more than 2 or 3 episodes.

    • D says:

      Yes. I also only watch documentaries. *Beep boop*

    • Thants says:

      Were you not aware that it was a show about people with superpowers?

    • Howl says:

      Dr. Suresh’s soliloquies had immense comedy value. Unintended I’m sure.

  14. GT3000 says:

    I wonder if I can make a working business model using Blackwell Briggs as the business concept. That’d be sweet. Killing innocents and placing my employees within international grey zones whilst paying to keep their families silence regarding their less than ideal deaths.

  15. Eamo says:

    The music on this video has an alarming implication. It would seem the leader of the Conspiracy for Good is none other than Professor Leyton! Can the Professor solve this puzzle or will his penchant for getting distracted at the first sign of matches, animals, doors or jugs (well ok, we all get distracted by jugs) give his vile foes time to make good their wicked plans.

  16. Lewis says:

    Isn’t one of the key pillars of ARG design that you never announce that you’re doing an ARG?

    Isn’t another one that you never reveal who you are?

    Ah, they were back when I were a lad, anyway.

  17. mister_d says:

    An ARG should be a game in its own right, not a marketing stunt for a crappy web TV show. Also when you start doing “live action events” you’re essentially appealing to a small number of weirdos.

    The only proper, non-gimmick ARGs to exist are In Memoriam/Missing and its sequel. Those were designed as actual games that you played. Most importantly they existed in a single player bubble.

    The concept of an ARG has so much potential when it’s not some marketing stunt or “interactive TV show” garbage.

    • Lewis says:

      I think you might be getting a little bit confused about what an ARG actually is.

      In Memoriam wasn’t an ARG. It was an adventure game which used real-world internet stuff as a component in its puzzles. ARGs are cross-media narrative “games” that rarely involve the use of a specific piece of software (though various pieces of software can be used to solve puzzles) that take place in a real-world environment. Often the internet is the central hub for an ARG, but phonecalls, text messages, letters and packages, and – indeed – real-world live action events are commonplace.

      ARGs, if I’m correct in this, actually began as marketing campaigns, before people picked up on the idea and started running the things for their own right. Of course, there’s little money to be had in that, so you rarely see those types of any large scale.

      And I also think you’re confusing the very idea of what this ARG is. It’s not an ARG to promote a TV show, as far as I can tell. The TV show is part of the game.

  18. sfury says:

    Is that Trent Reznor at the end? O_o

    (and what does he say?)

  19. hugh says:

    I thought Heroes 1, was truly amazing, 2 yes it went off the plot, but full marks to Tim Kringe for introducing the story. Its very easy for us spectators to past judgments, but what have we produced that’s amazing. Everyone wants to be a Simon Cowell these days.