Based On Actual Events
Patience & Product Development
I'd hinted in the past that one of the differences between our business model and some of the self-sustaining ARG attempts in the past could be described as patience: a willingness to deploy the revenue models later rather make the immersive experience itself bear that burden from the beginning. In truth, we've all understood that was a gentle dodge of the question, and most of the team members who've worked on Eldritch Errors knew the more nuanced truth and why obscuring that for a while was a strategic necessity for the experiment. We instead tried to nudge you in more oblique ways. We described you as the collective protagonist instead of the sidekick, and how the story was yours as much as ours. Characters implied how the choices you were making had huge ramifications.
Among the storytellers, we sometimes even describe the immersive experience in terms of how it will appear in later incarnations ("I can picture that in the graphic novel") and I cackle secretly in delight at how Eldritch Errors films/graphic novels/television shows can be labeled "BASED ON ACTUAL EVENTS" with complete honesty and only the smallest of winks. I can imagine that new audience's delight in discovering the story didn't stop with that last page or frame or scene, and that in fact many of those Sentries are real and have continued their efforts. Imagine their delight when they can jump in and immerse in something they first experienced through a media product that they purchased or tuned into.
This also gives us a flexibility as storytellers. If you were a participant in Book One, think about how you would have described DC and B.A. at the end of "The Providence Prophecies" and how you might describe them with what you know now after "Scream in the Mountains." If I had been selling a graphic novel of "The Providence Prophecies" before Book Two, there are details I might have needed to obscure (like who mailed the packages) that now I might no longer need to obscure. Imagine how I might construct a graphic novel that wasn't available for purchase until next summer, more than a year after the events that made up the immersive Book One. The immersive experience might already be up to Book Five by then. It is the knowledge available inside the immersive experience at the time the product is released that helps define how we can or can't tell the story that's already happened.
Who Buys? Who Creates? Who Stars?
Do I imagine that that those of you participating in Eldritch Errors right now might be among those who buy a graphic novel, or tune into a television show, or buy the DVD of a movie? Yes, but you are more the stars of the product and the collaborators in that story development behind it, with the product intended for graphic novel buyers and television show viewers and DVD purchasers. What we didn't want participants to do, though, was to feel a sense of stage fright, especially not unnecessarily, and especially not early.
By intention, none of the above gives you a specific glimpse into exactly what we have up our sleeves, but it does tell you the process by which we plan on cracking the nut. Since this is new terrain, it also seemed worth establishing what we wouldn't do or might do, as it is tied implictly to the trust we build with you. To understand it, though, you have to divide the kinds of novels/films/shows we could potentially make into at least two categories.
We could call the first division "Documentary Products": we went into "Scream in the Mountains" thinking about post morteming the question "could we have shot a short or a feature?" That would have been a documentary product, and for us the rules of engagement would have been "whatever we shoot at live events is fair game as long as the lens is explicit and we get a release form before we create a derivative product from the immersive experience itself." You won't ever be surprised that we were shooting, and if you are in it you'll never be surprised about how it gets used. We're not out to "Punk'd" anyone.
We could call the second division "Dramatic License Products". These products stem from retellings of the events, but nothing says the author of that work didn't introduce their own biases into their retellings and recreations (which might be clouded in unwitnessed uncertainty in the true documentation of the story.) Imagine the difference between how a certain camper with an axe might tell his story versus the way a Weekly World News writer might have penned the story. The rules of engagement here are fuzzier, but the need to make rush judgements is far reduced because we have less need to capture things as they are happening or lose the opportunity forever.
Our plans for Eldritch Errors involve both documentary and dramatic license products. Each of those products could spin off derivative products of their own of either type. I could imagine both a documentary product in television (a "reverse reality show" of a sort) as well a television product based upon a dramatic license graphic novel retelling of the same story. They might even live at different phases of the life of the Eldritch Errors Universe measured by years. Because the quality of the immersive experience you are engaged in is part of the ultimate "engine of authorship quality" that makes each subsequent retelling work, you can assume that we'll always err on the side of being the most protective of the immersive experience over any of those other products, even though they must ultimately reach a far larger audience for them to be viable long-term business model revenue sources.