Fanfest 2017: Kyonoke Inquest – Op Success?Jakob Anedalle
(Note: this article follows the community engagement with the ARG, not the in-game events themselves)
The Kyonoke Inquest event kicked off yesterday morning with a full event hall. The crowd took a bit to get pulled in by the opening actor, playing a Scope personality. Unfortunately the next actor stumbled, had to read his lines from a laptop, and thus did not have the same engagement with the audience. The introduction to the scenario was brief, and the crowd soon moved out into the hall and naturally to the Minmatar event site that was adjacent to the Inquest Hall – but the actors were not ready and had to draw the curtain for a few minutes to finish prep. It was not an auspicious start to the much hyped ARG for Fanfest.
I have spoken with roughly three dozen people here on the first day of Fanfest, and despite the initial stumbles the responses from players are very positive. One young man described it as “rad” and another “dope as hell.” Even more reserved players seemed to be getting involved with the event. Interestingly many of them did not describe themselves as role players in Eve, nor even role players in other games, although many had some familiarity with tabletop top role playing. The Kyonoke Inquest is set up so that players can engage at a variety of levels with the mechanics, which matches player’s comfort levels. As CCP Seagull said in her keynote “you can dip in and out” of the game.
The primary mechanic for the ARG is to talk to one of the actors and receive a mission card. Completing this mission and returning it to the actor earns tokens. The missions generally call for the players to seek out and interact in some way with other players, and the more players the more tokens you will receive.
These tokens can then be used to vote for a Resolution, of which there will be one competing set each day. For the first day there was an Amarr resolution and a Minmatar resolution. The Amarr calls for forcible application of a cure developed by their side to the infected population. The Minmatar proposes that the empires jointly pay retribution to the harmed communities. It appears that there is some potential for amendments to these resolutions, though none were brought forward through the written process. I expect that players will be amending the resolutions for upcoming days.
The secondary mechanic for the game engages on a much deeper level for those involved in the lore. A number of pieces of evidence are also turning up, and piecing these together is providing more information about the story of the Kyonoke Pit and its mysterious plague. Players are working together on these clues, which sometimes can be contradictory. How solving this puzzle will interact with the whole is not clear, though it certainly may help convince those who hold the voting tokens.
One player told me he had no interest in actually collecting voting tokens, but nonetheless he thought that the ARG was “fantastic”. His friends generally agreed that while they would play with people with mission cards, for instance posing for selfies with a player or mission card, engaging more deeply wasn’t for them. “Eve has all kinds of players” is a common refrain I heard. Despite what we sometimes see on social media, when the players are face to face with each other there is a lot of acceptance for different play styles.
Some people are really getting into it. One energetic young woman, Ariel, seemed to constantly be in the background as I interviewed players, collecting mission after mission. When I finally caught up with her she showed me a lanyard pouch full of tokens.
Even she wasn’t a hardcore Eve role player, but she loved the game constructed around the Inquest. Her nearest background was as a cosplayer. Of the people I spoke with, I only ran into one player who mentioned having a LARP background. The more I asked about the event, the more I heard the same themes:
* Players liked that they could engage with the game at the level they chose.
* Players were confused by some ambiguity in the mission cards, but generally just went with it and the actors adapted well.
* Players wanted to know the general nature of the impact they could have on the Eve Universe.
There was some disagreement on the last point, with some feeling that knowing the possible outcomes would take away the surprise, while others felt they’d engage more if they felt like they had something to gain or lose. Certainly there were people who didn’t engage – I heard mention of corpmates who had left Harpa since there was “nothing to do” until the Keynote.
Other player groups are right in the center of things. Max Singularity was parading through the hall holding aloft a piece of evidence for the game, his entourage in train. Even more central was the Arataka Research Consortium who were practically inside actors themselves, compete with booth near the Caldari event location. They even had a slot to speak at the end of the day on the second -level puzzle for the game and the mysterious “Patient Seven.”
There was some critique that the acting at the Inquest kickoff was inconsistent. By the time we got to the vote at the end of the day it appeared we had some explanation for this – the lead SOTC actor was struggling with his voice and seemed unwell, so someone else must have had to stand in for him in the opening of the event.
At the end of the day, as people filed out of the Inquest hall, spirits were high. It looks like CCP’s investment in this new means of engagement has paid off so far. Now we have Day 2 today, with a full day of panels and events. Will the players stay engaged, or will they drift away before the plot is concluded?