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 Forum index » Archive » Archive: The Haunted Apiary (Let Op!) » The Haunted Apiary (Let Op!): Quick Reference
[LOCKED] [META] Letter to Halo fans and QuickStart Info for Newbies
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Joined: 19 Oct 2003
Posts: 16

 [META] Letter to Halo fans and QuickStart Info for Newbies

Seeing all the confusion and apparant misinformation in the non-ARG boards, I thought it might be useful to write a short letter to explain what people are seeing when they log in to .

Are there any comments and criticism, before I get this letter to metastasize?


Letter to XBox and Halo fans

By now, most of you have seen the mess of a page that's over on . As most of you know, the URL for this page was flashed up for a moment at the end of the Halo 2 trailer. Since then it's been slashdotted, and discussed on dozens of online forums and fan pages which you have probably already seen.

This letter is to explain what you are looking at when you load up

WTF is this? is fundamentally an advertisement. It is probably being run by Bungie, and Microsoft is probably involved. I say probably because nobody can be completely sure who is running what here. It's the nature of the beast. One purpose of is to drum up hype and anticipation for Halo 2.

The other purpose is to provide a very different kind of gaming experience. To some people appears to be the "Trailhead" for a new ARG, or Alternate Reality Game. These games are like interactive stories and mysteries, or maybe an online version of Myst. A series of fake websites have been created - with fake webmasters; webmasters friends; e-mail accounts; AIM, MSN and Yahoo Messenger accounts and so on. These websites have been filled with puzzles and hidden depths and the aim of the game is to unravel the mysteries surrounding these websites.

Microsoft has a history of dabbling in this. They were part of the first major game of this type, the webgame created for the movie "AI: Artificial Intelligence." That game ran for several months and built up an interesting story that complimented what happened in the movie. Players cracked passwords, talked to characters from the movie, read their blogs and were even able to attend live events and phone up game characters for live chats. The game phoned them and sent them e-mails. The game twisted to react to the actions of its players, and in some cases players inspired storylines that the game masters (or "Puppet Masters"/PM's) incorporated into the plot.

The opening mystery here is "what has happened to Aunt M's site?" This will probably balloon into a much more important mystery that needs to be handled, if the ominous warning on the ilovebees homepage is to be believed. There are some clues on the page already about where these corrupted graphics, strange text and the ominous warning are coming from. For example, you may have noticed that some of the graphics are corrupted. Try saving a corrupted graphic file to your computer's hard drive and open it with notepad. You may be interested to find some readable stuff hidden in there...

In other words, this is the start of a game where there is a mystery and you play detective. One whose plot seems to tie into the Marathon/Halo back-story. (although it is set in present day) If you enjoy puzzles or you really get into the Marathon/Halo back-story (read the novels etc) then you may want to play this. If you only like Halo for the great action and multiplayer and the story doesn't matter to you, you may not find this as enthralling. That's okay.

But if you're up for something as cerebral and involving as an ARG, I recommend you play. If only because this is your only chance. ARG's cannot be repeated, and once it's over all you can do is read about what happened.

What is the connection to Halo2?

The most obvious indication that this has something to do with Marathon/Halo is the end of the trailer. Some people have also found indications that Bungie could have something to do with it (the number of 7's) but that could be purely co-incidental.
Beyond that, we have a few indications that the plot of this game will tie into the Halo world, but not many indications that it will tie into the specific plot of Halo 2. There has been a lot of speculation that the countdown timer is counting down to either the early release of Halo 2 or the release of a multi/single player demo. It's possible but there is no proof for this at all, just speculation.
Most of the connections people have found have been plot oriented - an AI, space navigation, rampancy etc. With the Network Throttling eroded, we have found new ties to the Halo World - specific ship names, character names and organizations have appeared in the ARG that are shared with Halo.
It is possible that the plot of this ARG will directly tie into the plot of Halo 2. But it's also possible that it will have nothing to do with the plot of halo 2, instead being based solely on Halo, the three novels and/or Marathon. Remember, ARGs can last months and this one has only been running for two to three weeks. These are currently only possibilities.
So don't count on getting advance information about the plot of Halo 2 through this game. It's possible but currently, All Signs Point to No. If it follows the path of previous ARGs, this game will have a story which is connected but not directly related to the Halo/Marathon storyline.

We can't be sure of anything this early in the game. This might not even be a proper ARG - it might be a pseudo-ad that runs for two weeks and then ends. Half the fun of ARGs is not having a clue at what you're looking at or where it's going to take you. If uncertainty sounds like fun, you might like this. Smile

Who and what are real, and who and what are fake?

There has been some confusion on this point.
Dana, Aunt M, "the Operator" "The Widow/SPDR" and are part of the game.
Comments by people other than Dana on are not known to be part of the game. Until more named character appear it should be assumed they are made by players.

Just because you know a person is not real does not mean you should not treat them with respect. Remember you are trying to get information out of these characters. If you keep telling them that they're fake and asking them about Microsoft, Bungie, Halo2 and Keyes they will just start ignoring you. Talk to them like real people, have some imagination and you will find this game easier.

The next line is important.
Xnbomb and SinVraal ARE NOT FAKE. They are real players who have played multiple ARGs in the past. They are real people and they don't know much more about Halo 2 than you do.

Remember: anyone posting to a public message board as Cortana, Keyes etc is more likely a fan of the Halo universe than an ingame character... treat them as you would any other user playing this game. If they are actually CLAIMING to be Cortana or anyone else from the game they are probably a hoax.

Professor James Steele is not an in-game character. He is a character created by a fan in an attempt to persuade Dana not to mess with her site. You should not bother trying to look for clues in his posts as he is a player like you.

Some people have searched the net for Xnbomb and found pages relating to Metacortechs. That's a good start, you have the right idea but it's a dead end. Metacortechs was the name of a previous ARG based on The Matrix, and it has nothing to do with IloveBees. Xnbomb played that one too. is a hoax, apparently set up by Something Awful forum goons. Nothing to do with the game, sorry. is also not an in-game site

The various Cafepress shops are all fake and contain no relevant clues. They have all been set up by enterprising Halo or ARG fans.

Things that have been discussed already

There are some topics that have been discussed to death at unforums already. The most notorious ones are...

Numerology (3's and 7's) - Most people are aware that 3's and 7's are the calling card of Bungie. We don't need to hear about any more sightings.
Hidden Text - Please check the Wiki (link below) or search the board before posting any hidden text you have found to the forums or chatrooms.
Cafepress Shops/T-shirts - As noted above, these are fake and not a part of the game.
Time to China - Both the name of the JavaScript function and the counter in the archived, uncorrupted home page.
Hacking hotmail/voicemail - Dana has requested that we do not do this, and repeated attempts have failed. General opinion is that this out of game and illegal.
Anagrams - Being open-minded I won't say that anagrams such as the "INDEX THIS IRONCLAD PREDICTION" are definitely wrong. (just probably) But we have already heard about all of the anagrams known. Please check to see if an anagram has not already been posted. This goes for the Single Player Demo Release too.

Please check to see if the info you are bringing is new or if it has already been posted on the boards. Use the Search or check the Wiki

Recommended links for more information

If you really want to find out more about I suggest the following links.

Unfiction forums for this game -
Unfiction is a website and series of message boards dedicated to this kind of online game. Many of the most serious players will gather here. The UFers are very good at scouring a site for information. So if you've found something new, there's a good chance 40 other people have, so please check before posting.
Above the message boards you will see links to guidelines, a quickstart guide and a general ARG tutorial.
The Quickstart Guide -
The Wiki -
Most of the information players have discovered is in this Wiki. It's a great way to get acquainted with what puzzles have been solved and what the results were. There is also a guide to the Story so Far on here.
The Beelog -
A moderated blog which acts as the low-volume, "confirmed-only" way to get into on what has been discovered. If you don't have much time to play but want to keep up with what’s happening, this may be a good choice.
IRC Chat rooms on Unfiction - server
#ilovebees is a good room for letting newbie’s getting caught up with what’s been happening
#beekeepers is the other room, for puzzle solving and speculating.

Comments and amendments.

I have requested that this thread be locked because some new members were posting OT messages here, as it was the first thread they saw. If you think I should amend or add anything to this message please PM me, either on the board or in chat.

edit: topic to reflect general quickstart stuff is in here too, good for more than just halo fans - aliendial

PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2004 10:58 am
Last edited by gkscotty on Tue Jul 27, 2004 9:56 am; edited 6 times in total
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Joined: 25 Jul 2004
Posts: 84

Kudos! I like the letter.
Only thing I might add is something to the effect that it's very easy to be overwhelmed with Halo-related spec right now. While speculation is good, we have only the content of two small sites officially "in-game" right now and people are likely to be short-tempered with those that insist on throwing an endless stream of Cortana, Durandal and rampancy at the clues when there is as yet no clear link to the Halo backstory.

PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2004 11:06 am
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Joined: 22 Jul 2004
Posts: 87
Location: Boston, MA

I like it! I'd also mention the term brute forcing and how that applies to gameplay. Other than that, polite, informative, and a nice invitation to come and play.

It's all about you, isn't it? Me, me, me. Put me out, I'm on fire...

PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2004 11:10 am
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Joined: 23 Jul 2004
Posts: 6

Also a note to worked up Halo fans: You've probably already seen this, but I'll put it here just in case. It was originally posted by Louis Wu, over at

I have serious doubts that this puzzle has anything to do with Bungie Studios at all. That it's linked to Halo 2 in some way is clear - after all, the URL showed up in the Halo 2 ad. That Microsoft is behind it, at least financially? Absolutely. (It's a pretty elaborate website, and it stayed up through a veritable hurricane of interest. That takes cash.) That it has, at its heart, a team involving Bungie behind it? There is no evidence for this. (There is no direct evidence AGAINST it, either - but I've got almost 10 years of Bungie-sense telling me that it doesn't feel right.) Folks point to the cafepress store selling shirts with bees on the front and a Halo 2 logo on the back, or posts by 'Cortana' in various forums, as 'PROOF POSITIVE' that Bungie is involved - I disagree; if anything, these things are proof that Bungie has nothing to do with this. (Cortana will NEVER again be used in the cryptic way she was introduced in the Cortana letters - Bungie has 'retired' that character. And anyone can set up a cafepress shop - its existence proves nothing.)

I can't help but agree with this. I would really love it if this was a Bungie thing, but my gut feeling is simply that it isn't. And I've noticed that some of the hardcore Halo fans (only some, not all) seem to dismiss these thoughts and go straight for the Halo connections. All I'm saying is this: If you find something about Halo, by all means, share it. But still keep an open mind to non-Halo related clues and findings.

Okay, I'm done.

PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2004 11:14 am
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Joined: 18 Mar 2003
Posts: 797

It's a really nice letter, and shows a lot of work put into it, but it also is presenting a lot of spec. I would personaly take out the 7s stuff, because it is really easy to be a coincidence. You might also want to put in that although it appears to be an ARG, that is not for sure at this point. It could still be a small 2-week pseudo-ad (Like the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind site).

Nice work though, and I think it's a good idea.


PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2004 11:15 am
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The BADministrator

Joined: 20 Sep 2002
Posts: 2701
Location: pellucidar

Great post, scotty! Good to see you around again. Smile I'm going to link this from the top of the page, and maybe we'll add a link from the QuickStart guide, if you don't mind.

I'm with 'Thrax on the 7s. My only other comment is that Sin_Vraal is spelled with two As instead of two Ls. Wink
Alternate Reality Gaming

PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2004 11:21 am
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Joined: 19 Oct 2003
Posts: 16

Thanks for the comments guys, I've made some changes based on them. I didn't want to get into the mechanics of brute forcing/game ethics because that would probably double the length of the letter and I was hoping that they could find info on that in the guidleines. Now I've checked it's not immediately obvious. I'll look up an ethics guide and add it to the links at the bottom.

I've been asked if I will give permission for people to post the letter at other places. That was the intention when I wrote the letter, so go ahead and metastasize it. Please do not edit the letter, as I don't want to be held accountable for things I didn't actually say. (exception is if unforums staff want to edit it to put on unforums) It depends on what mods say, but you might not want to just post a link to this letter - I don't know how the boards would handle 500 Halo fans coming here simultaniously.

PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2004 12:27 pm
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Max Damage

Joined: 24 Jul 2004
Posts: 178

Excellent thread.

Oh - perhaps mention that it's generally looked down on to sign up and proclaim that you're 'cracked it', and that SPDR is an advanced code for 'Single Player Demo Release'.

Everyone and their dog has done that, and it's starting to wear thin.

PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2004 1:23 pm
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Joined: 25 Jul 2004
Posts: 16

I, for one, think we should keep the sevens. At least, yes, they cold be a coincidense, but they could also be a nod from Bungie, showing their involvement (as with the 343). I say we keep them until the story shapes up more.
MrFluffyPants is definitive. Reality is frequently inaccurate.

PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2004 1:47 pm
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Joined: 26 Jul 2004
Posts: 92
Location: Toronto, Canada

Yeah we need an FAQ type thing on here, so that everyone can be updated to the latest happenings. Too many clueless people wandering around, and it's kinda hard to expect them to search all previous threads to see if a topic has been brought up yet.

PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2004 3:05 pm
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I just ran a google search for [ deleted ].com and they see to be trying to solve the mystery. they seem to have a lot done so far

[ no, there was nothing there. this was spam. -- catherwood ]

PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2004 3:05 pm
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I Have No Life

Joined: 02 Dec 2002
Posts: 2456
Location: South of where I used to be

number8 wrote:
and it's kinda hard to expect them to search all previous threads to see if a topic has been brought up yet.

I know this is off topic from the thread a bit, but they don't really need to search through all fo the threads, but just use the search button and enter their topic.

BTW, I like the letter. I'd say post it on all the other sites.
"I still miss him to this day and probably always will." - Todd Keeler, Chasing the Wish

"meta meta meta, I made you out of play..." ~ j5

PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2004 3:08 pm
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Joined: 26 Jul 2004
Posts: 115
Location: 'roud here.

To be brought up to speed on what we currently have, just check the wiki.
It burns with the power of lemons!

PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2004 3:10 pm
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Joined: 24 Jul 2004
Posts: 24

Might be a good idea to put in links to the Marathon Story and Halo Story pages, as background material for those Halo players who don't know about the huge backstory predating the game, as well as Bungie's predilection for pseudo-ARGs.

PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2004 3:14 pm
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Joined: 25 Jul 2004
Posts: 72
Location: Notre Dame, IN

i'd also like to add that the 7 jokes (omg that has seven letters it must be a clue, omg it has 7 in it's ap puzzle) ARE NOT FUNNY ANYMORE

PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2004 7:27 pm
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