Vanishing Point Game: Hey Daddy, What's That Funny Light Show On T

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Daniel F.

Dean Takahashi, 04:30 AM in Dean Takahashi, Gaming

The Vanishing Point game is hitting a ridiculously epic scale. When those guys in Redmond go big, they really go big. Consider the light show hitting the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco tonight.

Today, the latest stunt in this alternate-reality game is hitting precisely at 7 pm Pacific time. In five cities, the folks at Microsoft, Advanced Micro Devices and 42 Entertainment have conspired to project big light images onto some very famous landmarks. These images are clues in the continuing quest to figure out who is Loki and who is going to win $500,000 in prizes -- including a trip into space -- for those who figure out a series of 48 puzzles in the fastest time.

Besides the Palace of Fine Arts, light images will be projected upon the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the National Gallery in London, the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, and the Victoria Theater in Singapore. Clues are embedded in the graphic and art work on the sides of the buildings.

"This is the first time anyone has done anything on this scale," said Brian Marr, group marketing manager at Windows Vista.

What some people won't do for attention. Vanishing Point, if you remember from my prior posts and the site, is a promotion tied to the launch of Windows Vista and an ARG created by the wizards at the viral marketing agency, 42 Entertainment, which created campaigns such as

Loki, the elusive character in the game, was actually spotted this week on the Microsoft campus in Redmond as part of a way to get employees excited about Vista. She left a clue saying "locate me, look out, and log in." Played by an actress, Loki is pretending to be a high-level Microsoft employee with her own office in a building on the Microsoft campus. OK, it's building 50.

Tens of thousands of fans of ARGs are following developments in the game, said Aaron Coldiron, one of the only guys who knows what's going on at Microsoft and lead program manager for Windows Vista. The top site for follows is, but there is also a lot going on at About 24 puzzles have been solved. Among them were some clues shown in the light show at the Bellagio Hotel's famous fountains in Las Vegas. In that puzzle, people had to figure out a series of airline departure times and put them in the right order so that the clues spelled out a word. Another clue involved using a sun dial.

This campaign is going full blast and it's going to wind up big as Microsoft launches Windows Vista on Jan. 30

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Peter GalliMicrosoft and AMD have created a collaborative puzzle game, the Vanishing Point sweepstakes, to celebrate the consumer release of Windows Vista at the end of this month. First prize? A ride into suborbital space. Given all of the news coming out of International CES in Las Vegas this week, I nearly missed the official announcement confirming the mysterious Vanishing Point game and detailing all the prizes. You have to hand it to Microsoft to never miss the opportunity to get a lot of product buzz going through an interesting or unusual marketing-type campaign.

But winning is not going to be easy and the competition will be fierce. Vanishing Point challenges players to solve an international game, drawing clues from events at various locations across the world to decipher online puzzles. Each week, 12 puzzles will be posted on the Web site along with footage of an unusual real-world event. Each puzzle consists of an online element and a real-world element, which have to be combined to arrive at the correct answer. Players can take part in a puzzle by either showing up at the physical location at a specific time, or by going online to view the recorded footage of the event. The action all hinges on Loki, the mysterious Microsoft Puzzle Master, and the first real-world event took place earlier this week by the fountains outside the Bellagio Hotel and Casino.

There are nearly $500,000 in prizes, and the eventual winner will get a ride into suborbital space, courtesy of Rocketplane Limited, which is expected to first take flight in 2008 with a ticket price of some $250,000 a person. The Rocketplane XP Vehicle is a four-seat fighter-sized vehicle fitted with a delta wing and a V-tail. The vehicle is powered by both turbojet engines and a rocket engine, enabling it to accelerate to speeds just over 3,500 feet per second, or 2,386 miles per hour, and reach altitudes in excess of 330,000 feet, or 100 kilometers, providing the sensation of weightlessness for 3 to 4 minutes. More information on the game can be found on the Vanishing Point wiki, while Neowin had a thread of 188 pages at the time of this blog. Fewer than a thousand people have ever been into space, so if you want to join them, you better sign up and start playing. Let me know how it goes, or just post your thoughts and comments here.


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