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Pardon Bungie's Dust, Superintendent strikes again

In a new encoded post on the official Bungie site a string of text teases what many anticipate was Bungie's canceled E3 reveal. Playing out like a snippet of a Hollywood script, the string of text details a conversation between a Captain - Codenamed: DARE.V.500341(S1) - following up on a squad request to an Admiral - Codenamed: SMN.ACTUAL - calling the shots from a location currently under siege.

At the time of this writing speculation continues to run wild within the Bungie Forums. Popular theories point to new campaign levels, a map pack retail disc with a new cinematic (as seen in Halo 2's map pack) or an entirely new title within the Halo Universe, specifically due to references of the MAC weapon. Some of the more interesting tidbits could easily be gleaned from scanning the string of text (available after the break). The primary, DARE, is given a code number which ends in S1 leading some to believe the string of text occurs prior to Covenant attacks during the SPARTAN-1 era (yr.2491) -- way before John-117 joins the program in 2517.

Which theory gets us excited? The mention of squads could point to a pre-Halo era tactical shooter in the original SPARTAN phase that led to the creation of Master Chief. Wild thinking and speculation but we can't wait to see where this one is going.

[Thanks to everyone who sent this in]

Continue reading Pardon Bungie's Dust, Superintendent strikes again

A Brief History of Game Ads

As the technology and approach of gaming evolves one thing has stayed the same, advertisements suck. Sure ads aren't as ... uh ... flashy as they once were, but they still take up the pages our favorite magazines and disturb our search for news on our favorite websites. has taken a look at the evolution of game ads from the last three decades, including: the simplistic approach of the 80s, the radical colors of the 90s and the boring screenshot montages of the current generation.

While not Xbox specific, the feature teaches us a little about the evolution of marketing for games and how the new generation is breaking the mold wit Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) while still phoning in traditional advertisements. A worthy read for those looking for some gaming business knowledge.

End War & Splinter Cell sites redirect to Ghost Recon, countdown to April 2 appears [Update]

Update: At the time of this story the Rainbow Six website wasn't acting properly, however it has been reported that it too is pointing to the Ghost Recon website via a similar overlay. This story has been updated to include the Rainbow Six site.

In the early hours of the day this morning one of our readers helped us spot a strange overlay on the official Ghost Recon website. Visitors of the site were treated to a smoking dossier (which might be a black box after all) but nothing could be done other than close off the overlay and scratch your head.

Today, both the End War, Splinter Cell and Rainbow Six sites have received similar flash-based marketing treatments. Each site includes an overlay of smoking items that appear to be from a wreckage which, when clicked, redirects visitors to the official Ghost Recon website -- home of the original mystery.

While it could all end there, today the Ghost Recon site updated with new information and a mysterious countdown timer.

Continue reading End War & Splinter Cell sites redirect to Ghost Recon, countdown to April 2 appears [Update]

Iris ARG: Fifth and final server unlocked

Late last night another milestone in the Halo 3 Iris ARG was achieved when persistent ARGers unlocked the fifth and (presumably) final server. Since our last ARG update-o-fun, the fourth server went live (August 9th) when ARG members used information from a fake listing, details gained from its fictitious author, and some keen fact analysis. 100 players helped unlock the server (including Richard and I ... sweetness!) when the typical video, text, file loot was spilled for members to dig through. But that was a week ago and what we consider "old hat" around these parts. The new news is that last night the fifth server went live after players used GPS information from (try "boomerang") to find three videos being projected on buildings in Seattle, Los Angeles and New York that revealed a URL to help unlock the server. Even more exciting is the fact that I was lucky enough to be one of the first 100 to help unlock it, so more swag for me. W00t, w00t! Complete up to date outline of all ARG events can be viewed here.

So now Iris ARG players have unlocked all the servers, received all the images, sound files and text files from them and just have to figure out what to do with it all or wait for further instruction. Again, we must wait. Though, we say hurry up Iris, we want all your Halo 3 secrets and we want 'em now!

Iris ARG: 3rd server unlocked and swag pics!

We've been slacking on our Halo 3 Iris ARG coverage as of late, because things are moving along at a steady and somewhat uneventful pace. But there is some excitement in Iris ARG-land geared towards those mysterious five servers (chapters) that are to be unlocked during the ARG. And since we last talked Iris, the third server was unlocked using status information from the free server monitor application and playing a sound clip through a microphone. Inside the third server was the typical sound wavs, pictures and other mysterious loot that'll hopefully help our fellow Iris followers unlock this mystery. Although, we expect nothing will become black and white until the fifth server goes live in roughly a month. Anyway, that's where things sit right now and as always we advise heading to the Iris Wiki to get learned or hop onto the Unfiction forums to participate in the fun.

And on another exciting side note, I mentioned a few days back that I was lucky enough to help unlock the second server and when that happens the first 100 unlockers (I was number 99!) receive a reward for helping. And lo and behold, the other day I received my reward! In the gallery below, we've posted pictures of the ARG swag we received for aiding in the ARG including a uber limited (and way too big) Halo 3 Iris XL tshirt, a code for a glyph gamer picture and a copy of Halo novel "Ghosts of Onyx" signed by Eric Nylund himself. It's one sweet ARG swag stash.

Gallery: Iris ARG Server 2 Swag

Free Halo 3 screensavers, ring tones and more

Get 'em while they're hot! Available over at Microsoft's MSN Halo 3 page are a few free Halo 3 web downloads for you to enjoy. The downloads are themed after not only our hero Master Chief, but also reference to the Iris ARG glyph symbol too. Anyway, the free Halo 3 downloads include ring tones, screensavers, wallpapers, Windows Live Messenger pictures and Windows Live Space images. It's almost as if Microsoft were offering these free Halo 3 downloads to secretly market the game while fans of the series think it's just a kind gesture. Actually, that's probably why they're available. Who cares though, there are free Halo 3 goodies to download, so get get 'em!

Second server unlocked in Iris ARG

Indeed, the Halo 3 Iris ARG is still trucking along with new discoveries happening daily and the second server (episode) getting unlocked. So, how did the second server get cracked? Good thing you asked, because we have all the confusing details.

Since our last update, players used the knowledge they gained from the flood containment control job listing recordings to find a website featuring a map of the United States. The map had a bunch of red dots on each state highlighting various electronic retailers and a string of mysterious text attached to each dot. Nobody knew exactly what was supposed to go down until someone noticed that the website page's title read "3463 5467k" which, if typed into a phone, reads "FIND KIOSK". So, players went to Xbox 360 kiosks at the dotted locations and discovered a hidden Halo 3 trailer that flashed text referring to the vigenere cipher. Using the vigenere cipher, player decoded the mysterious text on the map's red dots to lead them to another website where they received a code. And just like the other server, the first 100 players to enter the code helped unlock the second server spilling its transcripts, images and audio recordings. What's most exciting is that I was lucky enough to help unlock the second server by being the 99th player to enter the code (photographic proof above). The first server's lucky 100 unlockers received a thank you package with all kinds of goodies and I can only hope that they'll be doing the same with the second server. What can I say, I love free stuff.

And so that's where everything stands with three more servers still needing to be unlocked. As always, you can head over to the unfiction forums to discuss the latest news and jump on over to the Iris Wiki to get the latest recap of all the events. Until next time ... ARG out.

Time for an update, Iris ARG is still kicking

It's time for another Halo 3 ARG update and we actually have news to discuss since our last downtime report. So, here we go. On July 4th discovered a mysterious glyph symbol on a cardboard Halo 3 promo item further linking our Halo 3 to the ARG fun. July 5th brought news that the 100 lucky souls who "unlocked" the first server back on June 20th received packages from Microsoft. These packages included a sweet Halo 3 Iris tshirt (yeah, we're jealous), a gamer picture download code, and some Society of the Ancients materials. On July 6th a member on the forums used the power of Google to find numerous job listings by a company called Flood Containment Control. The job listings referenced to the glyph and listed cell number (888) 778-5672 which is a voice recording of a conversation. And that's where everything sits right now. The conversation on the voice recording is being analyzed (transcribed here) as everyone is trying to put these confusing pieces together.

This ARG has yet to kick into fourth gear and is still moving at a slow (but steady) pace. But we're watchful and hopeful that the goodness will come together soon and the missing pieces will be put into place. Until then, keep an eye on the Halo 3 Iris Wiki for up to date recapped info. And Iris, we love you too.

Halo 3 Iris ARG is experiencing some downtime

Our beloved Halo 3 ARG Iris is in a lull right now as no new info has been released, no new puzzles have surfaced, and no new contacts have been made for days. It's what ARG members refer to as an in-game lull. No, it doesn't mean Iris has been mysteriously canceled or that it sucks, because this is quite the normal occurrence in most ARGs. You see, these games go in cycles, sometimes there's a huge amount of info and work to be done while other times there's really nothing happening ... right now we're experiencing the latter. If you remember, Halo 2's ilovebees extravaganza started off rather slow with only an update once every week or so until things really got juicy and payphones started ringing. So, we just wanted to tell you that Iris is not dead, we just have to be patient, and hopefully more fun will be had when new servers are unlocked. But we agree with you, waiting stinks.

Penny ARGade digging Iris

Wednesday's Penny Arcade shows Tycho's heavy interest in the current Halo 3 ARG, Iris. His news post goes into detail about how he was an avid follower of I Love Bees back in 2004, and this time 'round appears to be no different. That being said, Gabe's little gem of wisdom does ring true when you look at the grand scheme of things, though we're not complaining. What are you thinking of this ARG so far? Is it up to I Love Bees high standard of depth, interactivity, and attention to detail? Or is it perhaps too early to make that assessment?

Open your eyes, Iris ARG continues

The Halo 3 ARG, Iris, is finally starting to get interesting. Yes, we've moved beyond mock websites and the requisite countdown clocks. Now we actually have something concrete ... sort of. The IP address revealed at ( now displays one of the "servers" pictured on Incidentally, shows that the server is unlocked as well, though clicking it produces no results. On the IP address, the floating "server" (or whatever it is) rotates. Clicking on it allows you to rotate it manually and click on certain hidden symbols, which prompt you to download certain documents (including the image above). Additionally, a symbol on the front of the object causes it to unfold and display a movie which contains cryptic messages spliced with strange footage (and a few snippets from previous Halo games).

Right now, we're not certain what it all means. Hopefully, Iris will develop into a more concrete experience in the coming weeks. Check out some of the various new documents after the break, including the video.

Continue reading Open your eyes, Iris ARG continues

Halo 3 ARG "Iris" update and it's getting good

Our once nameless Halo 3 ARG has flowered into a beautiful "Iris". Yup, that's the official name attached to our ARG per a Microsoft spokesperson who spoke with Eurogamer.

"'Iris' is a spiral campaign designed to take gamers on an incredible journey through the Halo Universe. Led by an 'unknown' hand, users will discover bits of previously unknown information about the Halos, the Flood, the Forerunners, and the true origins behind the Halo trilogy."

Sounds fun doesn't it? That description alone makes us want to play and learn more. So ... that's about it for ARG news. Wait, you want to know more? You want the dish on what has been happening with AdjuntantReflex and SOTA? Well, we're push-over bloggers and you sound sincere enough. Complete recap of what has happened in the Iris ARG (since our last update) is posted after the break. Enjoy.

Continue reading Halo 3 ARG "Iris" update and it's getting good

Progress is being made in Halo 3 ARG

Progress is being made as our beloved Halo 3 ARG has officially been kicked up a notch. And before we get into the news we have to warn you that these ARGs can and do get a confusing, but we'll try our best to recap the past few hours' events. Anyway, here we go ...

After the AdjuntantReflux went to sleep, received a little update. The website now displays five servers that are "locked" leading us to believe that our goal must have something to do with getting these servers online. But this rabbit hole gets a lot deeper. A paper boy posted a URL on the forums that he found after paging through this Sunday's Circuit City ad. The URL links to a Halo comic on that hides a IP address. This IP address is a page featuring a standard ARG countdown clock and when it hits zero, we're expecting more fun. But we aren't done. After doing a little reverse whois search a new website was found that is home to the Society of the Ancients. This society looks to be where ARG players will be registering, finding evidence, and solving this mysterious Halo puzzle of confusion. The thing is that all this progress may have been found earlier than was intended due to the Circuit City ad URL being leaked days before expected. Keep track of the latest news and details over at the Halo 3 ARG wiki.

It's late, our heads hurt, but we still find ourselves pulled in by the "game". How about you?

[Thanks, to everyone who sent this in]

Mysterious Halo 3 email makes us say ARG!

Ever since ILoveBees shoved Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) into the limelight, it seems like they're everywhere. Microsoft used one to promote the Xbox 360, one was used to promote EndWar, and now Microsoft is using it again for Halo 3. It began earlier this week with forum postings from one Adjutant Reflex -- the name of a Forerunner AI if we've ever heard one -- and it continues today. Subscribers to the Xbox Flash newsletter (including us) received a cryptic email this morning. The email warns of history repeating itself and an enemy closing in. It concludes by telling readers -- referred to as "keepers of the flame" -- to look out for signs that will lead them to victory. Given the dark, horrific description of the enemy and the warning of "history circling back upon us," we're inclined to believe the email is referring to the Flood.

The email contains three links, all of which lead to Adjutant Reflex's postings noted that "Archives/Resources will be compiled" by 1:00AM this morning. Whether or not this email is tantamount to archives or resources, we don't know. On top of that, appears unchanged at first glance. Any theories? Read the full text of the email after the break.

Continue reading Mysterious Halo 3 email makes us say ARG!

Adjutant Reflex hints at possible Halo 3 ARG

Cryptic messages have been appearing on the forums over at and from a mysterious "thing" that goes by the name of Adjutant Reflex. It talks of data, hibernation, and events related to the Halo universe all while maintaining a veil of secrecy. Just what are we talking about? Well, simply put, things are coming together that make us believe that a new ilovebees style alternate reality game is about to begin, but Halo 3 style.

Adjutant Reflex seems to be some sort of in-game AI who's data-mining the internets, responding cryptically to user's questions, and is connected to the and HBO forums. Communication, details, and knowledge about this whole Adjutant Reflex stuff is a little over our heads right now, which heavily favors the idea of a complex new ARG getting ready to begin. But what we can tell you is that this "thing" has stated that "Archives/Resources will be compiled" at around 1:00AM PST Thursday morning, so hopefully we'll get a feel for what's going on at that time. Until then, we advise checking out Hushed Casket's writeup of the events that have taken place including all kinds of links or checking out the UnFiction forums where experienced ARGers are looking into this.

If this is a new Halo 3 ARG similar to ilovebees you can count us in. We just loved the adventure and community behind the fun. But what about you? Did you follow ilovebees and do you enjoy this alternate reality gaming?

[Via Joystiq]

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