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 Forum index » Archive » Archive: General » Low-Volume Games
[HAAS][META] Mind Storm Labs, Red Interactive Agency etc.
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theonetruebix
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[HAAS][META] Mind Storm Labs, Red Interactive Agency etc.
The Likely Puppetmasters?

Created as per this suggestion in the original EHWR thread.

Since it seems we're going to start pulling individual topics related to Ethan Haas was right out of the original thread (now at 40+ pages), here's one to discuss not the game itself but what and who is behind the game.

Here's the short version of how we got here:

* The original domain registration for ethanhaaswasright.com listed as the address of its registrant (Van Mantra) one 2205 Holly Pine Circle in Orlando, Florida.

* Google revealed one other instance of this address online, in the wedding blog of one Tom McLaughlin. (After this was discovered and posted online, that wedding blog was deleted.)

* The contact phone number for Tom McLaughlin on that wedding blog also showed up, along with his name, in a May 30 press release from the Ottawa-based Mind Storm Labs for their forthcoming table-top RPG named Alpha Omega.

That's the initial string of discoveries.

Since that time, several other pieces of evidence have been uncovered, including an image comparison between the graphics on the EHWR website and that of Mind Storm Labs.

Several things have established Mind Storm Labs as a real company, rather than potentially just another fiction of the ARG.

* Mind Storm Labs posted online in January seeking artists for Alpha Omega.

* One of those artists posted some images from his work for Mind Storm Labs -- in March.

Those are the basics, and I think the most important pieces that have been cobbled together since at least July 7.

There are other parts to this meta-game of uncovering the puppetmasters, most (if not all) of which have been posted in the previously-linked original thread. Feel free to re-post and re-establish them here.

ETA:

I forgot one other item. As reported in the original thread, the Ottawa-based MSL recently filed to do business in the state of Florida. (One theory is that they are conducted much of the ARG business out of Florida.)
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 2:07 am
Last edited by theonetruebix on Fri Jul 20, 2007 3:07 am; edited 1 time in total
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catherwood
I Have 100 Cats and Smell of Wee

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Since you put Red Interactive in the topic, might as well explain that connection too.

Their website* http://www.ff0000.com/ has a link to an external web awards site at http://www.thefwa.com/ which states that RED earned a mention for the "Favorite Website of the Day" for July 5, 2007 for their work on the main www.ethanhaaswasright.com Flash puzzle game. From RED's main menu, you can now select "The Work" and from there look under "Websites" to see that they appear to be resposible for the EHWR site in some manner. Did they do the puzzle design, Flash programming, 3-D artwork, ...? It doesn't say.

*(Note: if you go to ff0000 the site is built in such a way that a smaller browser window won't see the content on the left edge, as it doesn't side-scroll, and the menu at the upper left is cut off at the top if your browser window isn't tall enough, as it doesn't give you vertical scroll bars either.)

PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 2:17 am
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theonetruebix
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Also, just to fill in some more, the Red Interactive link demonstrates that EHWR predates the "Cloverfield" trailer with which it early and originally was incorrectly mixed up.

Brian Kessman, the "Interactive Producer" for Red Interactive spent June 27-29 posting to gaming forums with the EHWR website URL, pretending to be someone who was stuck on one puzzle or another. This was how EHWR first was seeded into public view.

Strictly speaking, this doesn't help with the "is EHWR a promotion for Mind Storm Labs?" issue, but it does explain the role of one entity responsible for producing some part of the EHWR game. It also provides us with another potential avenue for further strengthening the MSL connection: Find a link between anyone connected to MSL and anyone working at Red Interactive.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 2:21 am
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Almijisti
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Nice job setting up the Meta. I am still very sceptical about the MSL=table top RPG thing. Red Interactive is a major web/flash design studio that's worked on multi-million dollar film promotions. Having them involved would easily cost in the tens of thousands of dollars (you wouldn't believe what some studios charge companies to set up relatively simple sites).

For the time being, I'm inclined to go with the MSL, RPG thing as being IG, rather than a real thing in and of itself. MSL is a real company, we now know, but I don't think they're doing what they say they are, or at least they're not who they say they are--someone much bigger is behind this. Maybe the "winner" gets a free condo at World Quest Resorts--now that would be cool.

PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 4:02 am
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Almijisti
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theonetruebix wrote:
Also, just to fill in some more, the Red Interactive link demonstrates that EHWR predates the "Cloverfield" trailer with which it early and originally was incorrectly mixed up.

Brian Kessman, the "Interactive Producer" for Red Interactive spent June 27-29 posting to gaming forums with the EHWR website URL, pretending to be someone who was stuck on one puzzle or another. This was how EHWR first was seeded into public view.


Technically, it's not confirmed that the poster was Brian Kessman--90% likely, but not proven, AFAIK. At any rate, the first showing of the trailer was actually at the pre-screening of Transformers that took place at various locations on June 28, such as here; the first discussions on 1-18-08 began the next day. See, e.g., here.

PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 4:25 am
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theonetruebix
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Almijisti wrote:
Technically, it's not confirmed that the poster was Brian Kessman--90% likely, but not proven, AFAIK.


Somehow, I don't think it was just randomly some mysterious person who happened to have Brian Kessman's name. bjkman22 -- who posted the thing around over the course of June 27-29, had an email address beginning bkessman@.

That's not merely "90% likely". That was Brian Kessman of Red Interactive.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 4:40 am
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theonetruebix
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Re: [HAAS][META] Mind Storm Labs, Red Interactive Agency etc
The Likely Puppetmasters?

theonetruebix wrote:
* One of those artists posted some images from his work for Mind Storm Labs -- in March.


An update here.

He now reports that he never actually got hired for the job. That would make the concept art in question not images from the game.

Of course, he also says that he didn't know it was called Alpha Omega, and that it was, at the time, more of a "untitled Mind Storm Labs project" sort of thing.

But, oddly, in his posts from March, he says, "I created this image for Mind Storm Lab's [sic] table-top RPG called 'Alpha Omega'" and "Here's some recent concept art that I created for Mind Storm Lab's [sic] 'Alpha Omega' table-top RPG."

Go figure.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 1:21 pm
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LazyRegistered
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I'm starting to believe (and not just think) that the backround or meta of this game is the game, and that the presented game is merely a game within it. Kind of a 'how deep the rabbit hole goes' thing. I'm just getting that out there, in case it wasn't obvious that I've been playing it that way from the start.

PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 3:34 pm
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theonetruebix
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LazyRegistered wrote:
I'm starting to believe (and not just think) that the backround or meta of this game is the game, and that the presented game is merely a game within it. Kind of a 'how deep the rabbit hole goes' thing. I'm just getting that out there, in case it wasn't obvious that I've been playing it that way from the start.


I still don't discount this entirely.

I just don't, at this point, believe that the idea that the puppetmasters could possibly have been planting Mind Storm Labs information as far back as January is as believable as the idea that Mind Storm Labs is the puppetmaster.

I mean it would be awesome if it were the case, because that's an extraordinary amount of long-term planning, sitting fake things into place six months in advance so that MSL looks real.

Just doesn't feel tenable to me.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 3:37 pm
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theonetruebix
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Why has no one -- as near as I can find, anyway -- mentioned that the three sites containing pages from the Ethan Haas journals are hosted on the same machine as the Mind Storm Labs website?
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 4:51 pm
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waitress#2
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I thought everyone knew. I had mentioned in a previous post that you coulnd't ping it because it times out. I had never experienced this before but someone over on EHWW told me that it was probably firewalled.

They have got over 200 IP addresses on that server and I'm sure that even the 5th journal page is there, but is hidden in such a way that we can't work backwards and find the 5th star. That would be cheating anyway, right? Laughing

PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 9:06 pm
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Nighthawk
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Joined: 14 Jul 2007
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It's at a colocation facility, so who knows what they have on that one machine.

Nonetheless, random guessing isn't usually the way to go in these cases; bix found a domain that hasn't been used yet based on information I noticed several days ago, but it didn't dawn on me to make it a domain. Also, even if we knew the Divinus domain (which bix says he does, and it's either really weird or I simply overlooked it, 'cause I've tried quite a few myself), there's nothing there yet either.

So, even though the placeholders are their for their own protection and security, they haven't been revealed yet, which means we are getting ahead of ourselves.

PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 9:13 pm
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theonetruebix
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For what it's worth

mindstormlabssucks.com

also is hosted there.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 10:37 pm
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catherwood
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waitress#2 wrote:
They have got over 200 IP addresses on that server and I'm sure that even the 5th journal page is there, but is hidden in such a way that we can't work backwards and find the 5th star.

I think we may be mixing our terminology just a bit.

http://www.mindstormlabs.com/products.html and
http://www.417stjneh.com/ and
http://www.6ld9102.com/ and
http://www.279fh7691.com/
are ALL hosted at 66.244.252.37 -- that's one server box, one computer, one IP address, and yet that single IP address is set up to host almost 300 different domains. Some of those may be ingame virtual hosts waiting to be discovered; most of those will be out-of-game business and personal websites. The hosting company owns hundreds of IP addresses and hosts thousands of domains -- and a single customer will not necessarily be given the same range of IP addresses for multiple sites.

I've poked a bit with free reverse look-ups, and haven't even been able to see these journal sites listed, let alone see any future ingame domains. Anyway, wouldn't that spoil the fun to see them early?

(This was pretty close to what you said -- the meaning was the same but I was picky about the semantics)

PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 11:48 pm
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theonetruebix
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catherwood wrote:
I've poked a bit with free reverse look-ups, and haven't even been able to see these journal sites listed, let alone see any future ingame domains. Anyway, wouldn't that spoil the fun to see them early?


This is partly why I haven't been specific. My philosophy is this: Say this was actually happening in the real world. Someone trying to lead us to new information and clues would expect us to go digging through DNS records and reverse lookups based upon what we'd seen so far. They'd use that fact, that knowing we would do that, as part of their process for getting information out to us.

As I'd approach it if it were real, I approach it in gameplay.

But I also get that not everyone agrees, which is why I haven't said everything I could, heh.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 11:57 pm
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