Save My Heartburn

The Alternate Reality Game called “Save My Husband” sponsored by CourtTV and Applebees is ending today, and I must say, what a massive frelling disappointment.

The company who designed the ARG is Deep Focus — not a game design company at all, but rather a publicity and marketing company for films. Obviously no one there has any understanding of how players actually play these games, much less how to create a challenging game or even how to protect their game assets. The designers were crapping their pants after Day 1 because lots of people figured out that, if Day 1’s video has the ending 1.1 in the URL, all you have to do is change it to 2.1, etc., to see the next day’s video. Within 24 hours, all of the videos and clues had been found. This meant Deep Focus had to scramble to change codes and clues so that no one could get ahead…

And, boy, did that screw things up in a hurry.

The ending is a disaster. It doesn’t remotely hang together and even the dimmest member on the Unfiction forum has figured out that something has gone haywire. And not just because of the asset liability. Some clues they never delivered (like the incriminating, missing video footage identified Day 7) and other clues were just so damned stupid (like the killer leaving a briefcase with $2 million dollars and his fingerprints at the crime scene) I wanted the last seven days of my life back. This company was paid undoubtedly a hefty sum by these fairly major corporate sponsors to create something not just below par (that might have been a requirement, in fact) but something so ridiculously flimsy that it ultimately broke a wing and waddled into the emergency room with a tapped out credit card and no insurance.

As a player, I want to kick them in the shins repeatedly. As a former game designer, I’m howling that anyone was paid for such incompetence. I’m sure DF was absolutely wetting themselves over the opportunity and didn’t think twice — like many filmmakers — that they didn’t have the skills to pull this off. Having an idea or opinion doesn’t make someone capable of doing the work.

I’m going to bed. And I swear, I’m never eating at Applebees (like I would anyway) or watching CourtTV. Life is too short.

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