Phrenic now has an alternate reality game that starts with interactive video

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I’m always looking for ways to get people interacting more deeply in the story of Phrenic. Sometimes that means allowing people to create their own content (like in Go Clone Yourself) or letting them make decisions about where the story goes in a Tweet Your Own Adventure game.

The latest way to get wrapped up in Phrenic is the Life Identical Genetic Enhancement Screening test. It’s an alternate reality game that begins with an interactive video. Zoe, a Genetic Enhancement Advisor, asks you questions in a “live web conference.” You can answer yes to all of her questions but it’s more fun if you express a little reservation or doubt. (There is also a standard sign-up form if you want to skip the interactive video.)
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Fill out a quick contact form and Zoe will immediately send you a brochure about genetic enhancements, followed by secret emails about what’s really going on with the genetic enhancement testing. She might ask you questions or send videos, photos, or artifacts like sketches of cloning storage pods.

This interactive story is designed to have more episodes and artifacts added over time. Zoe’s emails and tweets represent a new chapter in the story and also fills in another piece of “Play” in Phrenic’s tagline “a thriller you watch, read, and play.” Zoe’s storyline ties into other storylines so when Phrenic’s Clone Assassin comic project comes out in a few weeks, you’ll see the same events from the perspective of Zoe, a customer service agent spying on Life Identical.

Go get screened by Zoe or connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter.

And if you want updates Phrenic, sign up here. The Clone Assassin stuff is going to be awesome.

(If you’re interesting in this sort of thing, I created the interactive video with Adventr and all of the immersive interactions are done using Conducttr.)

My first Tweet Your Own Adventure game


the-doll-cyoaI turned an interactive story I wrote for Phrenic into a Tweet Your Own Adventure game. Not only is it a homage to the choose your own adventure type books everyone read as a kid, but it’s also a tribute to the text adventure games I used to try writing in BASIC on a TRS-80 (I was terrible at it).

What is a Tweet Your Own Adventure game?

It’s a new kind of text adventure game played entirely with Twitter interactions using @ replies. You don’t even need to follow anyone. It’s all done by sending @ replies to a character from Phrenic on Twitter, known as @PhrenicDoll.

How do I begin playing?

All you need to do is tweet the word START to @PhrenicDoll

Then @PhrenicDoll will reply to you. At the end of the tweet are two options in ALL CAPS. Reply with one of those options (your answer doesn’t need to be in all caps). You’ll get a new tweet until you reach one of the endings (or if stop replying).

How do I “rewind” to a previous choice?

Let’s say you made a bad choice in the story and want to “rewind” to a previous decision. Just type the ALL CAPS option and you’ll resume the story from that point.

You can also tweet START to @PhrenicDoll at any time to re-start the whole game.

How do I pause the game?

Let’s say you start playing on the bus then get to work and can’t play anymore. Simply stop replying to @PhrenicDoll (she won’t mind). On your bus ride home, you can reply to her latest tweet to resume the story.

How do I stop playing?

To stop playing, simply stop replying to @PhrenicDoll. She only talks to you when you talk to her.

Does everyone see my tweets to @PhrenicDoll?

Your interactions with @PhrenicDoll won’t be seen by people who follow you unless they are also following @PhrenicDoll, or if they go directly to your profile page.

There are a lot of @ mentions to the @PhrenicDoll in my feed. Can I delete them?

Yes, once @PhrenicDoll has replied to your tweet, you can delete your tweet. But if you do that, you’ll lose the conversation thread in Twitter that allows the whole interaction to read like a story.

How did you make this?

I wrote the original story using Inklewriter and then modified it for Twitter using Conducttr.

Special thanks to volunteer beta testers: @EGGmockradio (first!) @Superglrl @phjpdx @QMpolly @audreywalker !!

What else has this Phrenic doll been in?

Editing new Phrenic episodes

Phrenic is having a one year anniversary party on Wednesday (post & pictures to come). Here are some screenshots from scenes I’ve been editing. Two take place in a creepy asylum environment. The other is a fun clone assassin episode. A new version of the app (with a new icon and design) is coming soon too.  The website looks newer too! PhrenicWorld.com

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Notecarding a new screenplay…

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I’m in the process of notecarding out another feature. It’s probably the most fun part of making a movie because there is no technology to troubleshoot, people to schedule, locations to coordinate with, or money to try and not spend. It’s just writing and imagining new scenes and what could happen in those scenes. There’s not even dialogue yet. Improvisation happens sometimes on the set, but this notecard process is pure improvisation. What if this happened? What if this character did this? Sure, there is a little bit of practicality, like realizing that where a scene is set or how many people are in it can affect all the scheduling, budget, location scouting, etc. Working within limitations makes me more creative.

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I wasn’t interested in doing another feature immediately after Did You Kiss Anyone? The idea of making a new standalone feature seemed almost tiresome at the time. If I was going to make another feature, I wanted to be excited about it. So instead I worked on what excited me: creating Phrenic. People seem to like it and I’ve been able to do some cool things because of it, like Grimmfest, speak at UO, the Film Trooper podcast, and the Foes of Reality interview. The app allows me to send push notifications to people who opt in, which amounts to sending a message directly to the screens to of the number of people you’d find in in a packed theater. The flexibility of the storytelling framework lets me experiment with new platforms, like Plotagon or Theatrics, as well as create new characters or storylines whenever I want.

But I missed making a feature and all the agony and ecstasy it involves. I toyed with going back to an old script and building a transmedia framework around it, but then I realized I’ve already got a transmedia framework with fans in place. After a few days of staring blankly lost in thought, I knew how I could make a feature that tied into the world of Phrenic and included some of the characters. I started writing out notecards, one per scene.

So far, I think it’s kind of awesome.

Bigfoot Bridge

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There’s a contest to name the new bridge being built in Portland. This bridge is different than every other bridge in Portland because it’s the only span across the Willamette that doesn’t allow cars.

Here’s my pitch (which I submitted to Trimet) to call it Bigfoot Bridge:

Bigfoot is a famous long-time resident of Oregon. Feet will also play a big role on the new bridge. Feet will walk, pedal bikes, and tap to music listened through earbuds on public transportation. The bridge also spans two scientific areas (OHSU and OMSI) that should be connected by something mythical, because magic is just science we don’t understand yet. Naming the bridge Bigfoot is also weird, which is something Portland prides itself on being known for.

After I submitted it, I realized that the new bridge is just a big footbridge. Big Foot Bridge!!!

 

If you also think this name is awesome, please tweet this to @trimet to let them know!

My talk about transmedia and indie film at UO

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I was excited when Mary Erickson asked me to talk about indie film and transmedia for her film industry class at the University of Oregon. I was also a little nervous when I found out there would be about 100 students because I didn’t know exactly what to talk about or what level of experience the students had. I joked with friends that I would ask the class, “Who here has made a feature film?” and every single hand would raise. “Okay, but who here has made an app or transmedia experience?” and every single hand would stay raised. Fortunately that wasn’t the case, but I think many of them will be doing those things in the near future.

Before class, I got to do a nostalgia tour around campus. I quickly visited the classroom where I met my wife and hung out at Espresso Roma, where I spent many hours reading and writing and drinking mochas. I’ll also probably blog about this at This Is Transmedia with more transmedia-y insights, but I’m posting this on this blog as a proud UO Duck.

Dark Inspiration from The Abyss

Inspiration is easy, it just requires being bored for a little while or reading a novel or realizing you’re going to die someday and be forgotten.

I tried to think of the things that inspire me. Not in the “What a wonderful sentiment!” way. But things that motivate me to actually get work done. Inspiration I get from staring into the abyss. That’s what heroes in stories have had to do since the beginning of time, and stories just explain us to ourselves.

For me, the creative cycle requires a dip into depressing waters. Those waters look a little like this…

  • I am going to die never achieving the things I want 
  • I am mediocre and delusional about what I’m capable of doing
  • My last (movie/story/script) was totally average and everyone understands why–except for me
  • I should have achieved the things I want to achieve already. It’s a failure I haven’t
  • Irrelevance is looming and there is no turning back once that happens
  • My failures far outweigh any successes I’ve had
  • I will work hard at what I love my entire life but it won’t be enough and it won’t be remembered
  • I am on the wrong creative track but a blind spot prevents me from seeing how to fix it
  • I’ll realize too late what I should have been doing all along

Dark thoughts. Instead of letting them destroy my creative spark, they motivate me to go prove every single one of them wrong. The abyss is helpful that way.