Letting players know about new content and features in Fallen London has always been a challenge. It’s easy for players to miss announcements even on multiple channels, and there’s so much stuff in the game that new material is easy to overlook. This time, we tried an experiment. For those on Twitter and Facebook asking what all this box stuff was about, here’s the skinny.
1. A couple of weeks ago, everyone with at least a little Connected: Masters received a River in a Box, via the Living Stories mechanism. This was a charming little memento with no obvious use. Some players sold them, some players put them on their mantelpiece. A very, very few exceptionally cunning or flukey players fiddled with the box and worked out that its use was hidden in the text of its description:
A box lacquered in midnight blue. Within is a tiny model of London: cathedral spires, humped hills, the Bazaar a bulb of glim. The Stolen River is a ribbon of black glass, threaded with bridges and specked with boats. The underside of the box bears the sigil of the Masters of the Bazaar, and the single word OURS. Do the Masters feel the need to remind you of certain political realities? Is this a threat, or a mark of their regard? It’s so hard to tell, at the Feast of the Exceptional Rose.
Enough players put the box on their mantelpiece, or shared the text, that it became available to many others who didn’t have Connected: Masters.
2. At the beginning of March, the Bazaar briefly did something unusual and unexpected. This manifested as a timed event: a storylet which was available only for about three hours. The storylet introduced players to some nice nuggets of lore, and distributed some rewards, but a key purpose was to have a branch locked with a Mirrorcatch Box – a previously unknown item – and excite interest in it. I mentioned on the forums that a few people had found a Mirrorcatch Box
3. Players theorised about the River in a Box and the Mirrorcatch Box – were they connected? A twenty-six page thread kicked off, with various inventive souls trying an astonishing variety of things to solve the puzzle and find out where Mirrorcatch Boxes were hidden. Meanwhile, the Bazaar began tweeting clues and hints (and red herrings).
4. Over the last 48 hours, more players began to unlock the puzzle, which required some lateral thinking. The River couldn’t be used in game – as above, it was the description that was important. OURS was an access code – visiting http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/a/ours got you a box. It wasn’t a coincidence that I mass-mailed out an access code out the previous week, to remind players of the /a/[name] format (it was an apology for a bug, which was serendipitous, but I’d have made up some reason for an access code otherwise).
So not an easy puzzle! but a satisfying one to solve. I was tremendously impressed by the range and inventiveness of proposed solutions, and I may have been taking notes. There were only a limited number of uses for the code, so currently, only a hundred players have Mirrorcatch Boxes.
But they will be more widely available later. For one thing… well, I won’t spoil the surprise. A number of Mirrorcatch recipients have already had a hint about how, and more folk will be finding out very soon.
So it served three purposes. One, just to be entertaining; two, to attract the attention of the core player base to Mirrorcatch Boxes, their possible uses and the content they’ll spawn in turn; but three, to raise awareness of access codes, because they’re going to play a much larger role in one of our upcoming projects.
Watch the skies. Failing that, watch the ceiling.