Kickstarting, playtesting (and blueprinting) a new adventure

From inside the development of Adventure 1 of A Tail Of Two Cities.

Thanks to everyone whose support got us over the kickstarter finish line, whether directly through making a pledge or spreading the word through networks. It’s brilliant that there’s such a community of people intrigued and invested in the work. We’ve still got just over 24 hours and any further pledges will help us towards the blueprinting which will make it easier to make new versions for other cities beyond London. Here’s that link for the penultimate time:

Right now we’re at the beginning of the development, and we had our first playtest yesterday evening (the next one is in just over an hour, so I’m cutting this fine). For the playtest audience, the experience had begun earlier this week with a remote exchange – through email and phone – with one of my colleagues, the elusive Josh Smith. They’d uploaded a playlist of tracks onto their phone and then found their way to the starter location, waiting in a place where people tend to wait, blending in as anyone wearing earphones plugged into a smartphone will do when in the Square Mile just after work. A text message. They press play. And they’re off, guided by their phone to a particular place where they are instructed to play a particular track, telling them a story of something which previously happened here. This exploration is preparing them, ready to assemble when they receive a phone call, and make a plan of action, when the shit suddenly gets real.

You’ll notice that I am being deliberately elusive in saying what they actually did. That’s in part because yesterday was really about testing this platform, juggling them between smartphone and mp3 player while out in the field of play. We haven’t really dug into developing the story yet until we knew the platform works. Which thankfully, it seems as if it does – the excited and elated conversation in the pub afterwards didn’t mention any technical difficulties. But it’s also because so much of the experience of an adventure is based on anticipation, expectation, and surprise. We can’t give the game away.

(although here is a photo of players hidden in the crowd at some point during yesterday’s playtest).


What happens next? We’ll be doing more research and reconnaissance, working on the narrative, and then hoping to run some first performances in London in September/October.

And then after those, we’ll hope to start the blueprinting process, which is about going back over what we made and the decisions we took, and distilling those down into a set of directions as if for a new team in another city… find a place where people can assemble with at least two non-obvious security cameras, find a place with a vantage point which has public access, find an area where you feel as if you’re in public space but actually you’re on private land, etc.

And hopefully, we can later start doing that for real in new cities – San Francisco and New York have already been requested over twitter. Maybe somewhere near you?

Even in the last 24 hours, even over the finishing line, any additional support will help us take this project as far as we possibly can.

One last time –

Thanks again for all your support.

(Tassos Stevens)

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