- Wednesday, Apr. 9, 2008
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- SAN FRANCISCO
You wouldn't know it by looking at it, but The Lost Ring, an Olympics related alternate reality game, is sponsored by McDonald's. AKQA/San Francisco developed the game for McDonald's, which was launched March 3.
Edwin Veelo, associate creative director at AKQA, said McDonald's was "very excited to put out the experience that spreads an encounter of cultures. They like to extend the experience by creating a game that anyone can engage with, but they don't want to bring it out as a marketing scheme. So there is nothing related to their product in the game and they are careful to maintain the authentic experience."
The Lost Ring is a game, designed in collaboration with the International Olympics Committee, that blends online and offline clues that users can collaborate on to solve puzzles. The game is Olympics related because it centers on lost Olympic sports. "Players find out that characters come from a universe that has the Olympics sports and for the benefit of our universe it's important that we bring the sports back," Veelo said.
The game is available in seven languages with 10 characters providing clues via YouTube videos, Flickr photos and Twitter updates. AKQA created trailers that play at www.thelostring.com to introduce the game. The trailers were produced by PostPanic/Amsterdam.
Trailer 1, a one-minute, forty-one second film, starts in ancient Greece in 393 AD, where Theodosius, the Roman emperor, banned the Olympic games "and an ancient secret was lost forever. In 2008, the secret is about to be uncovered."
The trailer "is a teaser for the experience. We wanted to make sure that anyone who would consider following the story would know what the quality of the experience would be," Veelo said.
The film includes expansive scenes of corn fields, which provide a setting for the game. "We did the filming in Portugal, where they had just harvested, so they could keep the corn in a deep freezer," said Ania Markham, PostPanic's executive producer. "We built a huge set in the studio and green screened the corn." They used real corn in front with compter generated corn in the background.
PostPanic also specializes in graphics and developed a series of computer graphics to relate information about the game. "The biggest challenge was to communicate information to the players to get them started," Markham said.
The trailer began with a series of five Olympic style rings, which were created in 3D and "based on a gyroscope idea," she said.
Mischa Rozema, the PostPanic director, said the goal of the trailer was to "create excitement on a big scale for a world enveloping game. I wanted to show that it could measure up to a Hollywood blockbuster.
"The trailer had to communicate different periods of time, from ancient Greece where a runner goes through a maze to current times," he said. The production involved "different treatments with a landscape that had a biblical scale with polar mountains in the back and corn fields in front for an epic feel."
PostPanic shot the trailer with Arricam LT and Arri 4.35 ES cameras.
Veelo compared AKQA's work on The Lost Ring with the video advertising it created for the Microsoft Xbox Halo 3 game that included shots of a 1,200 foot diorama that shows a futuristic fight between the main characters. The difference is that AKQA's work for Halo 3 was advertising for the game, whereas The Lost Ring is the game itself.
AKQA created the game with help from Jane McGonigal, the Avant Game designer, and created the site the game plays on. Of course, the game can be considered advertising for McDonald's, which is using it as part of "our most innovative and probably our biggest activation ever for the Olympics," said Mary Dillon, McDonald's global chief marketing officer. The company is also planning a global TV spot and is sponsoring a reality TV-type competition show that will allow the winning children to participate in Olympics programs. AKQA is playing The Lost Ring trailers on the game site and at YouTube and video sharing sites in different countries, Veelo said.