updated: 9/15/16 ... game cancelled
For those of you who know … Niantic is an awesome company. Child of Google even!
They have a project that has been envisioned since Niantic’s first game Ingress was released.
From amazon’s book a quick quote or summary:
...Google Niantic is building a mobile location-based augmented reality videogame inextricably tied to the books and mythology...
Phase 1: The bait & hook … How do you get awareness?
A book of course … announced 1/15/2014 via google plus account for niantic … Link.
The book sells to the popular media sources … Link.
“Young Adult” … a category loosely meaning PG-13 romance & R rated violence depending on which publishers you read. The teenagers of the country while having short attention spans make up for it with absolutely uncontrolled enthusiasm & virtually unlimited time compared to adults. Making a pretty ideal group to use as a vehicle to blow up the social networks, the internet, the and the households.
The press parties … Link.
Seth Rosenblatt writes … that Niantic has a book Endgame: The calling with plans for 2 more. They will target young adult readers. Which makes sense, as they are promoting a cell phone game and teenagers LOVE themselves some cell phone time. They have the potential to piggy back on The sorcerer’s appretice, Twilight, Hunger Games and Divergent to sweep both male and female teens of affluent families and the less so poverty families where cell phones are status symbols in one fell swoop.
Also floating to the top as supplementary material is the Training Diaries on Google play store, each volume is currently priced at $3.99 US for ebook.
- Training Diaries Volume 1: Origins was released 12/16/2014 … Link.
- Training Diaries Volume 2: Descendant was released 2/24/2014 … Link.
- Training Diaries Volume 3: Existence will release on June 9th, 2015 … Link.
- Barnes and Nobles is pre-selling a 464 page paperback …the complete 3 volume Training Diaries with a release date of June 9th, 2015 and sticker price of $9.99 … Link.
The movie details were hashed out in Janurary … Link.
The movie trailer …
See the movie trailer here … Link. The even have a which group do you belong too meme type web-app.
Aside: I thought Divergent was especially clever, with their use of the an Aptitude Test ... Link. I felt the Harry Potter series missed having this when they released their first movie, but then again - divergent needed to reinforce their brand as the books were not as big of a hit as the potter series. Other vendors came up with their sorting hat websites though after to cover the lack of the infamous question and what label people would have if they were best friends with the main character of their favorite book ... Link. I first saw this sort of website to media involvement for kids in Artemis Fowl around 2001, later sites dedicated to solving puzzles from books began popping up too ... Link.
Participating / Playing …
I read Frey himself was inspired to do a puzzle within a puzzle by “Masquarade” which his mother bought him … Link. Due to the book, Frey claims by the third week October, that ~20,000 had solved the puzzle … Link. The puzzle must be relatively easy, but they paid 3 MIT students to make it … Link.
There’s a problem with the books though … James Frey is a fantastic writing of fiction … but he writes pseudo memoirs of his life, not necessarily modern sci-fi / fantasy. His break through piece in 2005 was a supposed autobiography called “A million little pieces” that Oprah called him to task for lying to everyone on national TV a year later … Link. This is after a piece of fact checking by independent reporters at The smoking gun. Frey eventually changed his tune from everything is true, to this is a mostly true memoir with some fiction.
A living story … more participating …
In a hard to classify idea, the story will have a paid actor who will essentially live in character and guide you through a phase. I can only guess that she probably will have a team backing her for advice and a general script written. They state that many of the things the “players”/”fans” will do, shall be included in to the plot. Whether it be simple quotes or actual incidents like real hacks or public gatherings staged by the players instead of the company remains to be seen.
Regular events and non-storyline press items tend to go out via twitter … Link.
An event was held in Las Vegas on 2/21/2015 … youtube has a film of it … Link.
After the event “Stella” posts the user chosen mottos for each of the 12 lineages … Link.
Aside: This level of participation had a side effect of crowd sourcing money to save the Cahokia Mounds (which are essentially the egyptian pyramids or aztec equivalent of north american society) … Link.
One more reason to participate / read / play …
Amazon has carried the book since October 2014, you buy the book because of something in there that is only tangentially related to the content. (Link to amazon’s list of the book … Link)
To hedge their bet … Niantic will feature a live stream for the winner of a puzzle included inside the game …
The first book, “Endgame: The Calling,” will offer up in public a display case with a currently unknown quantity of gold in it.
Ufta I say … they are really going for broke here! Though, it’s the prizes for winning a game are the same technique used by League of Legends to gain more publicity than Dota: 2 and propel their seeming dominance in the gaming world. The gold will be on display in Caesar’s Palace casino in the city of Las Vegas until it is time to “unlock” the $500,000 puzzle prize! … the pictures of the gold look interesting … Link. The next two releases will have prizes valued at $1,000,000 and $1,500,000 for the last book…Link.
Update: Prize was claimed in 2015 – Link
It seems like the book did horribly on amazon.com … ratings are 3 stars. I noticed a few of the people writing about the Endgame in blogs seem to agree it’s fast, or minimalist. Maybe this is related to the hunger games / twilight style of thin books … it rubs some people wrong. Moving along.
Compare to the big name games of 2014 for League of Legends and World of Tanks for prizes. This is a very generous offering. Free to play M.O.B.A. games regularly off $2 million US dollars in prize pools split between their five to seven players a team, this is actually how League of Legends distinguished itself as one of the biggest free games in history. Smite and to a less extent Dota 2 followed suit. The field was so big by 2011 that World of Warcraft makers Blizzard are doing their own game too … Link. On the high end certain tournaments offer 10 million US dollars … Link
For comparison, Google search says (Your mileage may vary, mine did based on at home or my brother’s home, time of day etc):
About 1,180,000 results (0.22 seconds)
“ingress game cellphone cell phone”
About 200,000 results (0.33 seconds)
ingress cellphone game
About 64,300 results (0.40 seconds)
Endgame results for search “endgame: the calling game”
“endgame: the calling game”
About 497,000 results (0.22 seconds)
“endgame game cell phone cellphone”
About 474,000 results (0.42 seconds)
“endgame: the game cellphone”
About 276,000 results (0.36 seconds)
Note: I had to use the movie subtitle as every video game in the world uses “end game” & “endgame” which resulted in millions of false hits I couldn’t properly sort in the 15 minutes I fiddled with the Google tool for advanced search to weed out false. I’m pretty sure I did not nail all the false positives and invite anyone to share their results. These are just a quick test. Ingress has been around for 3 years, spread via viral invite system. We are just 5 months in on the push for Endgame.
An unofficial information from WiredGeek states the game title will be “Endgame: Proving Ground“.
Numerous websites already exist for playing the game, though it is not already public, one can only assume as common practice people in the previous game by Niantic are privately offered via email entry into the test of Endgame before they go beta and invite tens of thousands of people to play via mass mail.
Quick aside: Augmented realities … I really like the take from the Verve by Nathan Ingraham about his story of working with other movie, popular media & technology to hype movies or books in the past 10 years … worth a read here … Link.
But the money you say! Augmented reality will stand in the same genius, but not species as Virtual Reality. There are going to be several market divisions. Moving along …
Yes, the money we say … it’s not much, but by 2018, they claim 1.08 Billion US Dollars is the prize for Niantic and Google if they can pull it off … Link. Statistica reported that the entirety of entertainment will be worth ~ $680 Billion US Dollars. The idea is that once you have a solid platform, you are one step away from “The app” that blows everyone else away.
They are of course competing against Virtual Reality from Facebook whom purchased Oculus Rift … Link, who is designing apps as we speak for doing YouTube of the world around them in to virtual reality … Link. There is also Sony, who truly holds the a special place in most of the world’s heart for innovating mass market approaches … Link. Then we have the long obscure development of Microsoft and their Xbox VR set … Link.
Google’s got a stable of interesting projects, like Cardboard, which directly competes in the virtual reality market.
For now, we need to wait until 2015 to see what Niantic brings us when they deliver on Endgame the playable VR game …
Send me a peep if you’re in on Endgame!
(Wiki article for book http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endgame:_The_Calling)
3/15/2015 – Update – Link – “endgameishere” on google+ stated your performance on leader board would help get you in to endgame’s beta period.
3/16/2015 – Update – New information that the latest beta key hand out (how to play the game early) … Geekwire claims tracking for puzzle solving will help get you in and that the title will be “Endgame: Proving Ground”.
8/3/2015 – Update – Added deal details hashed between harper collins & fox with the Frey company near movie trailer. [Link]
8/18/2015 – Update – Interesting break downs of symbolism and language from Endgame is here blog on wordpress. If you play check this one out! [Link]