Archive for November, 2008


This week, on Blackstar No Blackstar

   Posted by: thebruce

Ways to make your brain asplode:

1. Go to and watch the tourism video.
2. If and only if your brain hasn’t yet asploded, spend some time reviewing it for any semblance of meaning.

That should be sufficient to lead to imminent brain asplosion or breakage.  If however, you successfully survive the ordeal, you’ll quickly find that the video actually does begin to make some sense. In its own, warped, alternate reality, of course.

Meet Terry Nanny. He will be your guide.


The video itself is a mishmash of strange visuals. At the very least it seems as though it could just be a humorous film school project.  So what is the video really trying to say?

The website displays contact information for the Milwaukee Tourism Commission – a phone number and email.  The phone number 414-688-7035 is live, and since people have been calling, two other numbers have been revealed. Each with a real destination.  The MTC has real people who answer, most of the time (Todd and Joey – but Joey hates his job), and answer questions for those who are considering moving to Milwaukee.  Another number 414-688-8914 is the personal contact number for an MTC member, Mike Russo, who also answers questions.  A third number, 414-688-8471, was discovered hidden in a book at the New York Public Library… led people to a youtube account for the user 14251612181818198HD, who had one video posted – another strage video, containing a string of letters – a code at the end of the video: *R-RMRR AI3 .A23  This was determined to be the call number for a book in the Rose Main Reading Room at the NYPL. The name 14251612181818198HD was decoded to alphanumerically represent NYPLRRRSH84 — SH84 meaning South Hall, 1984 edition.  This led community member BigT to the book and the discovery of the last phone number, jotted on a note inserted in the book’s pages. The number led to a voicemail message asking the caller to leave a fax number.


The live people interacting on the other end of the phone numbers seem very well-immersed in this “Milwaukee”, and the videos discovered thus far appear to have a very quality creative touch.

So… what does it all mean?
Is it a new viral marketing campaign for something? Will it be a vast, immersive alternate reality game about aliens or genetic engineering gone wrong?  Is Milwaukee changing its tourist advertising tactics?

synydyne It gets more confusing once the creators of video are brought in for consideration.  Synydyne and its crew have created other videos, some containing the very same elements used in this one (like tinfoil man). Are all the people credited in the video real, or fictional?  Does Synydyne’s Hoopeston trailer have anything to do with it?  What about Nim Projects? Why was the entire Milwaukee video filmed in New York? What in God’s name is “Go.D.S.E.E.D.“, and these Godseed ‘fragments’, said to be the result of Blackstar?

In the end, which certainly isn’t the end, all these questions point either to an intricately design story and plot that will be revealed in some way or another, or one brain twisting hoax project. Either way, one may walk away with a strange craving for a hamBURger.

If your brain hasn’t asploded even yet, I’ll leave you with the lyrics to the video’s theme song, shown at the end of the video captioned over the credits (don’t get it stuck in your head!).  Enjoy!

(724kb mp3)

I keep on the side of the heart of your dream
And the light of the Go.D.S.E.E.D.
will show me the thesis
Spirit no Sanctuary
Now we look dimly,
I never forget,
and the will to improve.
Charming yasai
Exquisite ankoku
The flax seed blossom
Its oils rich and milky.
Bubblegum Millennium
Slow Jazz Millennium
Do you want this nightlife?
Bubblegum Millennium
Slow Jazz Millennium (Champion Dynasty?)
Do you dream this nightlife?

Next week, on ‘Blackstar no Blackstar’!
“Glad you found me Terry, I thought I was toast”
“Here’s your ball back, kid. Now for a slam dunk of my own!”


Categories: ARGs General, Viral General


L.A. evidence retrieved, operation archived

   Posted by: thebruce


November 18 – agents in Los Angeles intercepted an evidence package containing details incriminating a large banking corporation, the International Bank of Business and Credit.  Within the evidence package was a pile of marked blood money, and a CD labeled with the code Rgy5H4Jt8saw, with scanned documents of communications between the IBBC and Global Eyes Development Fund, and two audio recordings.  This evidence package and its contents are documented here.

Yesterday, the mail system had delivered to me a package containing an archive of surveillance carried out for the agents who retrieved the Los Angeles drop.  An official video debrief is available here, containing these assets.

(1) The package was shipped by Fed Ex, and arrived Monday November 24, 2008.

(2) Inside was a worn, sealed envelope labeled CLASSIFIED

(3) It contained an opaque black bag, with a blank Evidence label, having “STOP THE INTERNATIONAL” scrawled across its face.

(4) Inside the black bag was a letter from Louis Salinger, Chief Inspector of Scotland Yard, Division S07, and his portrait. The letter described the package and its purpose, pointing us to where we’re encouraged to help find the necessary pieces of evidence to stop “the international”.  Attached to the letter was a USB key, containing the two audio files available here, and the video debrief available here.

(5) Also inside the black bag was a sealed evidence bag, “control number S 2010382”.  It was labeled: “Surveillance photographs of Los Angeles operation. Objective: Retrieve currency and evidence drop. Mission status: Successful.”

(6) Inside the evidence bag were five surveillance photos from the Los Angeles operation, and a photo of Welhelm Dexler of Global Eyes Development Fund, on which was written: “NOT what he seems!!”.

(7) Additionally, the evidence bag contained a folded up map marked with four drop locations – Los Angeles, New York, London, and Berlin. It included a hand-written note saying: “Our informant has hidden vital evidence around the world!”   Also bundled with the map was a set of three marked bills– blood money, the serial IDs of which must be entered at

  1. USD: L21557562A
  2. Italian Lira: T8877069H
  3. Hong Kong Dollar: GR105373

To date, blood money bills have been discovered placed at numerous locations across the country and world to be retrieved and reported by those who are dedicated to helping stop the international.

Upcoming evidence drops:

  • New York, November 25, 1:00pm EST  (completed)
  • London, Date TBA
  • More to come?

Help Louis Salinger stop The International.  Help retrieve the necessary evidence to take down the IBBC and its illegal international business practices.

Then go see the movie!

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Categories: ARGs General, Movies


Every Tardy Tag Tells a Tale

   Posted by: thebruce

Wikibruce COG 700660-FC906-ELBetter late than never, as they say. Wikibruce received a Gears of War 2 COG tag yesterday – it must have quite the tale to tell, having traversed all those hills and valleys, miles and miles of weathered terrain, woretorn battlelands…

Alas, while The Last Day campaign has essentially come to a close with all locked tabs having been unlocked, all hidden COG tags around the world either found or labeled MIA, and the Gears of War 2 video game past release – this COG still has one gift to give: a unique CSID.

  • 700660-FC906-EL

This presents the DoorLogo 2 icon which, unsurprisingly, is not one of the remaining undocumented bonus downloadables.

The Last Day campaign had community members and fans runnin al around the world looking for high quality COG tags with unique codes that would either unlock a special ‘tab’ on the promotion website or pop up one of a number of special downloadable assets, from avatars, to sound clips, and wallpapers.

People on the hunt for the tags, either from GPS coordinates posted online, or through local game retailers who ran their promotional contests and giveaways, (or by mail) after receiving their COG tags would effectively provethe slogan – Every tag tells a tale. They’d share their expedition, their adventure, their trials and struggles as they pursued the ever-coveted Gears of War COG.

Its value was different to everyone; some wanted money and would sell them on eBay to the highest bidder (one sold for nearly $500USD); some wanted fame, reputation, bragging rights; some simply love the game so much, it’s a priceless commodity to add to their collection.  Whatever the reason, people around the world flew out in droves, and created tales of their own.


Every tag tells a tale.
See you on Xbox Live!

For an overview of the 1000 COG campaign run by AKQA, see “Gearing Up”.

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Categories: Video games, Viral General


Blood money incriminates international bank

   Posted by: thebruce

Not long ago, a report came in from Germany about a mysterious letter received from “Louis Salinger”.  Patrick Möller reported the mail, and the steps he was prompted to then carry out.

Pointing the browser to (‘follow the money’), he was greeted by Louis Salinger, chief inspector of Scotland Yard. After being given information about an investigation into the “International Bank of Business and Credit“, he was told to travel to Treptower Park in Berlin to meet a contact who would give them more information.  At the park, however, they discovered a CD with the words “STOP THE INTERNATIONAL” scrawled on its face (appropriately, a website bearing the same phrase is where ‘’ leads), and containing a wealth of information.  (see his photos here, UPDATE: or the very nicely composed official mission de-brief)

Earlier this week, another recipient came forward – gupfee, from ARGNet – who reports having received a very similar package as to that which Patrick was led.  Inside the package were a number of items, including a USB key with photos and a message from “Colin Newbrink”.

Download– Colin Newbrink’s Message

You’ve never heard of me, but my name is Colin Newbrink, and I’m in a bloody mess. Please, listen, I need your help. I don’t know how all this happened – I’m in hiding, my family’s in danger.  Somehow, I’ve stumbled upon a conspiracy so big and terrible.

But let me tell you how all this started.  I work with the London branch of a good works organization, called Global Eyes Development Fund. We fight poverty, remove land mines, bring aid and education to developing nations, in a continued quest to transform, to right wrongs, and help the needy.  At least, that’s what I thought for the five years I ran the office… until I went to Africa in September.

I saw something I wasn’t supposed to see. This “coordinator” from headquarters – Harriet Matar – I thought she was there to arrange travel plans. But… I still can’t believe it… I saw her give this suitcase of cash to some very bad guys. I mean bad. A group known to be seeking the overthrow of a democratically elected government.

I start digging.  Turns out Global Eyes is a front.  The real power behind it is the IBBC.  So I go to my mentor and friend in Berlin, a man named Wilhelm Wexlar, who’s on the globalized board. I told him everything – what I saw, what I discovered. He listened. He was shocked as I was. He told me he’d make some phone calls, try to get to the bottom of this. So, I have an ally.  But who knows who else is listening.

Ever since I left that office, I’ve been followed and tracked – I see eyes everywhere. Even my wife told me that strange men have been showing up around the flat in London. So I panicked. I know it sounds paranoid, but I know this is happening.  I’ve taken my wife and two children to a secure location and returned to Berlin, stashing evidence against The International to make sure I have some leverage.

If you find this disc, I pleas with you to get it to the proper authorities. I am told that Louis Salinger of Scotland Yard has been investigating this IBBC. I think he’s your man.

BCX-04 BCX-05 BCX-06 BCX-07
BCX-08 BCX-03 BCX-10 BCX-11
BCX-02 BCX-09

Since reporting these packages, people have discovered  On this website is a field where serial numbers of money flagged in their database can be entered.  There’s also a map showing specific drop locations of evidence against the IBBC – the first location being Berlin, retrieved by Patrick.  Other locations flagged for drop events are Los Angeles, New York, and London.

Los Angeles‘ drop is scheduled to occur, according to its countdown, at 1:00pm PST on November 19.

Other websites found so far to be related are, and

Suffice to say, this may well turn into a worldwide hunt for blood money, plus much more!  Others have since reported finding blood money conspicuously located near them.


Here’s the juicy bit:  There is substantial rumour this is the next project to come from the minds at 42 Entertainment (who also brought us alternate reality games and campaigns promoting properties such as The Dark Knight’s “Why So Serious”, Resistance 2, Gun’s “Last Call Poker”, and Halo 2’s “I Love Bees”)

It’s also fairly clear that this is a new campaign for the upcoming movie The International, starring Clive Owen (IMDB). The movie is scheduled for a February 13, 2009 release.

Some other recipients of blood money reported online include: Movieweb, Firstshowing, Despoiler, Patmo, ARGN

UPDATE (11/19): The Los Angeles cache has been recovered (read the first hand report).  Much like the Berlin cache, new files and images have been revealed, including the answer to the mission: find a login to the IBBC secret archive, and report it to Salinger.

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Categories: ARGs General, Movies, Rabbit Hole


Dharma Initiative Sold

   Posted by: thebruce

Early this morning, November 19 2008, recruits of the Dharma Initiative were sent an email from Hans Van Eeghan with some disheartening news. Here you can read it for yourself, and make of it what you will. (emphasis added)


I am pleased to announce that registered recruits can now log in and download your personalized Volunteer Assessment Dossier outlining your full test results as well as your position within the Dharma Initiative.

I want to personally congratulate you on behalf of everyone at the Dharma Initiative for your hard work and diligence during our testing process.

We hope that you are happy with your results. We certainly are. The tests were extremely challenging and the aptitude and excellence displayed far exceeded our expectations.

Now that you are in possession of your results I am sure you are asking the obvious question: what’s next?

Our plan was that together we would commence a glorious adventure: the revival of the Dharma Initiative using the myriad talents of all our amazing new recruits. We imagined not just fulfilling long abandoned goals but taking the Dharma Initiative to a new level of greatness as an organization promoting the peaceful social and technological advancement of all humankind.

Then the financial crisis struck.

Sadly, our benefactors were not immune to this crisis. In fact, unconfirmed reports suggest that much of the money designated for the work of the new Dharma Initiative was tied up in highly leveraged mortgage derivatives. This, however, cannot be confirmed because, I am sorry to report, the principals representing the benefactors – my employers – have gone missing. Based on bills still coming into our office we believe they are somewhere in South America.

This stunning reversal of fortune has forced us to abandon our ambitious plans. In fact, absent this funding, the Dharma Initiative was forced to make the only sensible decision we had available: we sold the Dharma Initiative to the television show LOST.

While this might strike some of you as a shock, the reason for this was not simply that they were the only bidder. As the only remaining Dharma Initiative employee who had not fled the country, I felt that at the very least the show would be able to keep the spirit of the Dharma Initiative alive and in the public consciousness until such time as a reversal of the reversal of our economic fortunes occurs.

It is with a heavy heart that I must bid you farewell. Despite my fervent commitment to the mission of the Dharma Initiative, the realities of a broken marriage, heavy casino debt and some unfounded police charges have required that I change my present circumstances. It is with great excitement that I can inform you of my pending senior sales management job at a large multi-brand auto dealership in Dubai. I have enjoyed our brief association more than I can ever express, and if you are ever in the Middle East and need a car, please e-mail me for a special “Dharma rate”.

In the meantime, you will hear shortly from LOST showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. They will explain to you their future plans for the Dharma Initiative and how these plans might affect you.

Thank you again, personally, for your unflagging commitment and support. I hope our paths will one day cross again. In the meantime may the spirit of the island guide you.


Hans Van Eeghen
Head of Recruiting
The Dharma Initiative

Could this be spelling the end of as an extended reality component of LOST?  Or is this ‘all part of the plan’…?

Watch for Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse to address the community shortly, as I’m sure they’ll have some answers.

As a parting gift, however, be sure to log back into and download your personalized Dossier certificate, indicating your position within the Dharma Initiative.  What’s your role in the Initiative?

And tune in to ABC (or CTV in Canada) in January when Lost’s new season begins.


UPDATE:  Hidden in the HTML source code of the email is the string “DSAqandaatgmaildotcom” – or:

If you email that address, you’ll receive an autoresponse about sending questions to the creators of lost (“DSA Q & A”).

Dharma Special Access with Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse.

Got a question for the creators of LOST?  Submit your question along with your name and hometown, and if selected, Damon and Carlton will answer it in a DSA announcement… that is, if you haven’t been a bad Black Swan.

Now’s your chance!


Categories: ARGs General, TV Series


Of Coverups and Deaddrops

   Posted by: thebruce

Songwraith returns.
Earlier this year in April, the Unfiction community stumbled on a trailhead they called “What If The Game Is A Coverup?“. I’d helped out by getting to a “live drop” in Toronto to retrieve an artifact for the story. Later there was another ‘meet’ in Galt, closer to home. It stalled at this point, but it’s recently returned with renewed vigour, now coined “The Game Is A Coverup“.

Once again, its activities seemed centered around south-western Ontario. Once again, a deaddrop appeared at the location of the last one. Only this time, the context was a little less ‘shady’.  So, mustering up some determination, I headed out, again, to the same location, this time guided by GPS coordinates to retrieve, what is effectively a geocache (but for an ARG, and just a pickup – a ‘deaddrop’)

dead dropnoun
A drop used for the clandestine exchange of intelligence information

In the ARG world, deaddrops are a small bite of heaven — It’s a hunt. An excursion. A task. A Quest. Gold of virtual story-telling.

Below is my tale of the Coverup deaddrop – the first likely of a few others to come for other lucky ARGers at other locations.

(As a side note, another recent campaign that made heavy use of ‘deaddrops’ is the Gears of War 2 promotion, though it wasn’t for ‘information’, but rather for limited unique GOW memorabilia which also unlocked special content online – see more in the article Gearing Up)
Read the rest of this entry »

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Categories: ARGs General