Moustache Mysteries and Microsoft

Moustache Mysteries is a series of Shockwave interactive mysteries. The first, Lady With Brooch, was delayed in its launching as a distributor was sought.

A year later, Microsoft was developing an early portal campaign and paying content providers. It was making “shows” that would happen at certain times. Dan Zen had already done that with Gorgolon, realizing that for a multiuser game, scheduling the game to boost participation makes sense. Dan Zen had also provided daily inventions and danisms that changed every day to entice return visits.

With these techniques already innovated, Dan Zen adjusted the mystery to last for a certain period of time then say “come back tomorrow” and approached Microsoft. Unfortunately, Microsoft quickly decided that there was not enough money to pay content providers. A trend that only worsened over the years as content providers eventually had to pay portals like MSN to get on their site.

The first of the Moustache Mysteries was built while working on the McLuhan CD ROM.

Four tools were built to populate the mystery with characters, clues, rooms, and hundreds of statements. The mystery has over 3,000 lines of code including a 12 level nesting of conditionals. Within this nesting are calls out to functions that determine which statements are passed depending on secret keeping capabilities, who is in the room, odds, etc.

Lady With Brooch, was played offline at mystery parties with booklets.

The parties were very successful and four more would come – The Kula Pu Idol, The Violet Vale, The Hungarian Hunt and Baron Digbody’s Castle.

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