Endless Space 2 – E.N.F.E.R. Alternate Reality Game

Endless Space 2 – E.N.F.E.R. Alternate Reality Game

Since the very beginning of the narrative work on Endless Space 2, we loved the personality of E.N.F.E.R., the Artificial Intelligence created by the Sophons (one of the game’s civilizations). The Sophon in-game prologue starring E.N.F.E.R. While we were mulling this over, we played Event[0]… Event[0] is a sci-fi narrative exploration game created by the indie studio Ocelot Society, where you build a relationship with a lonely spaceship Artificial Intelligence. The Amplitude team knew the game designer, as he had worked at Amplitude on Endless Legend before departing to found Ocelot Society. A crazy idea came up: ask Ocelot Society for help to create an E.N.F.E.R. [Ocelot Society Team] We are a small team of friends based in Paris. We then imagined it would use the game, the GAMES2GETHER forums, and social media with its own Twitter account and even a custom-made website to communicate with players, asking them questions in order to build its own knowledge database. From there they would be able to enter hidden commands to trigger different effects, finally locking down the AI once and for all. so that the game could be released. Each of those commands was entered in the E.N.F.E.R.

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Jan 2017. Endless Space 2 is four months away from both its official release and its exit from Steam’s Early Access program. Amplitude’s marketing team is restless, wanting to give the community something special to thank them for their support during the months of Early Access.

Enter E.N.F.E.R.

The E.N.F.E.R. Alternate Reality Game was designed to give Endless Space 2 players a compelling interactive experience, but also be a way to have fun with our community while expanding the story around a peculiar character from the Endless Universe.

Since the very beginning of the narrative work on Endless Space 2, we loved the personality of E.N.F.E.R., the Artificial Intelligence created by the Sophons (one of the game’s civilizations). They developed that entity to take care of all the boring administrative tasks, freeing them to focus on what they like the most: irresponsibly audacious scientific experiments.

E.N.F.E.R. is central to the Sophons’ in-game quest, taking pragmatic (and often very disruptive) decisions that the player needs to handle with care–like declaring war on every other civilization. We wanted to bring that character to life and make the community interact with this “fun and unpredictable personality”. Check it out on Twitter here @I_AM_ENFER.

The Sophon in-game prologue starring E.N.F.E.R.

The Spark

Since the release of our first game, we we have always wanted to make interesting out-game activities for our community. The community’s response was fantastic to the very short ARG we made to reveal Endless Space 2, and we knew we wanted to make a bigger one for the game’s full release. We decided very early on that we’d like to make E.N.F.E.R. come alive, and initially we thought about putting ourselves in the role of the A.I. via our forums and social media. That way we could give players hints to discover hidden commands to unlock rewards, but it was nothing as precise and as ambitious as what it became in the end. While we were mulling this over, we played Event[0]…

Event[0] is a sci-fi narrative exploration game created by the indie studio Ocelot Society, where you build a relationship with a lonely spaceship Artificial Intelligence. The Amplitude team knew the game designer, as he had worked at Amplitude on Endless Legend before departing to found Ocelot Society.

A crazy idea came up: ask Ocelot Society for help to create an E.N.F.E.R. chatbot, based on their previous work, so players would be able to really talk with it, create a relationship, and earn its trust…

The Event[0] A.I. tool was used to create the E.N.F.E.R. chatbot.

A little chat with some friends.

Can you introduce Ocelot Society?

[Ocelot Society Team] We are a small team of friends based in Paris. The studio was born when we had the opportunity to turn an old prototype from our student years, Event[0], into a commercial game. Event[0] lets you play as an astronaut in a lost spaceship with a distrustful computer as the last crew member. You can say anything you want to your mechanical friend, so it’s up to you to convince it to bring you back to Earth… alive.

How did Amplitude approach you about the idea of doing the ARG and reusing your game’s technology?

[Ocelot Society Team] Emmanuel from Ocelot Society was once part of Amplitude (he does still like their Dust-infused beers) before he formed his own studio. At some point when he was visiting, two ‘Amplidudes’ grabbed him and put him in their secret room of cool ideas. They showed him the unrevealed trailer, told him all about the E.N.F.E.R. rebellion, and once the hype was at its climax, asked him to make it real by using the artificial intelligence from Event[0]. Two phone calls and three Dust beers later, and Ocelot Society was prodding the beast…

Were you also involved in the creative process?

[Ocelot Society Team] Yes! Amplitude has a very indie way of making things, i.e. letting every developer involved come up with fresh ideas, constantly striving to improve the project. Throughout the production, Emmanuel was directly in contact with the writers (Note: Amplitude used our own writing staff but primarily two excellent British freelancers, who found the perfect tone of disdainful snark needed for a genius AI), sharing with them his experience of chatbots, and exchanging ideas for Machiavellian features.

Were there any technical challenges?

[Ocelot Society Team] The biggest challenge for Fabien, who was the lead programmer on Event[0], was to turn a classical Steam game into a website able to handle thousands of connections at the same time. Fortunately, he was helped by the GAMES2GETHER web team and experts from SEGA. Of course, there are always unexpected technical issues and last-minute bugs, especially with…

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