Posted: Sun Jul 15, 2007 6:45 pm
I don't have a set-in-stone opinion about this, just an impression, so this is subject to shift...
I have a feeling that as great as the Maddison Atkins creation has been, that there is a bit of an expectation disconnect. This is a tricky issue so bear with me.
I imagine Jeromy spending hundreds of hours thinking about, organizing, writing, interacting, etc. etc. to put all this together. Then he starts sending the results our way, and we are, at times, just not giving the response he expects.
I got this sense of this disconnect first in the way Ch 1 ended with the implication that fans did not work hard enough or fast enough to solve puzzles and "save" Maddision. During the aftermath of Chapter 1, Jeromy expressed views that certain puzzles were "easy" (e.g. regarding Mr. Zipp and the Dr. Seuss books), yet I don't think the drop materials have been fully understood or solved even in the weeks following. My sense is that part of the problem may be that as a puzzle/plot designer, it's hard to realize the incredible multitude of possibilities the audience dreams up when trying to find THE solution. Sometimes things are not as obvious to us as they seem like they should be, because we see too many possibilities.
Jeromy also said we needed to be asking different questions such as "Who?" and "Why?" and "How?" rather than just "What happened?"
Has this happened? I think we are trying, but it feels like we are not getting to the answers Jeromy intends.
So to me, there is a disconnect. And it's tricky because how do you interpret and respond to puzzles not being solved or storylines understood as expected when you are the puppet master for an ARG?
When amblyopianne complained here on the forums that we offered to help but were not really helping, that seemed like another way (like asking those who/what/where/why/when/how questions) to get fans to figure something out or take actions that we were not taking.
Is it working? If it's not, what else should we or Jeromy do to make it work?
Recently, amblyopianne in chat expressed the opinion that "Mr. Zipp" (not the killer or Joel Frady) killed Maddison and Adam and just wanted an audience for this murder. This is from the mouth of a character, so may be indirection, but the conclusion that Mr. Zipp = the killer is not one we had solidly reached to my knowledge*. Is this something we are supposed to "know" and assume at this point? (*I could have missed something, of course, so feel free to correct me here).
So I already had the impression that Jeromy was a little impatient with the audience response, and now today I read on his blog (albeit aimed at advertisers) the message
'I can't discuss publicly how I'm trying to delicately train the audience to look deeper, ask different questions, and realize that the stakes are high and we need to work faster. I can say that it helps that Maddison died last time."
I have a mixed response to that message. On the one hand, I sympathize with Jeromy and think it is great that he is so invested and wants to make the ARG exciting and engaging, on the other, the words "work faster" make me a little uncomfortable. I like to take my time, and think and discuss things carefully. A rapid pace can be exciting, but if the material runs away from (or over) the audience, that's better than being boring, but it may not be a fair (in some sense) way to proceed.
Sometimes, despite Jeromy's best laid plans and designs, and our best efforts to figure out mysteries, the audience is just not going to get the intended message. We may need a few extra hints, or more time, or outright gimmes (as in find an in-story way to just give us the answer to some questions) to keep the train on the tracks, and that's okay, and should be expected.
I'm looking forward to seeing this story and process unfold, and encourage patience and generosity on all sides!
Wednesday, July 18, 2007