Transmedia Blog

SkunkWrx – a place for code for stories

robert | July 25, 2014  ‐  No Comments

SkunkWrx_LogoHave you ever wanted to create experiences that seemed kinda magical or employed technology in ways that seemed far out of reach?

If you have then checkout SkunkWrx – part of the new Creative Hub at Conducttr. Lauching today you’ll find the first of what we intend to be many useful examples with open source code available at GitHub.

Check out this interactive YouTube experience that uses phone calls and SMS to sync and switch videos based on choices you make on your mobile while you watch.

interactive video

Our philosophy has always been to free creative minds to do what they do best – create – and not worry about the technology. With the SkunkWrx code snippets and Conducttr you can separate coding activity from the code-less Conducttr tasks. This means writers & experience designers (in our terminology we call everyone “authors”) can develop, implement, playtest, and refine amazing multiplatform experiences without becoming master coders.

Check out this video that uses bluetooth beacon proximity to trigger Conducttr and have Conducttr change the color of the Philips Hue lightbulb. The code of this Android app is at GutHub and at SkunkWrx.

Please don’t hesitate to come discuss and debate your creative ideas with us at the Community!



Transmedia Playbook

robert | June 27, 2014  ‐  No Comments

We’re delighted to release the first version of what we plan to be an ongoing work – the Transmedia Playbook.

The purpose of the book is to stimulate ideas and inspiration. It’s a small catalog of participatory transmedia storytelling experiences intended to remind, suggest, provoke and inspire creators.

Please help us by sending ideas and examples so that we might update it!

Immersion and space

robert | June 15, 2014  ‐  No Comments

ImmersionTransmedia storytellers will often include live events and real world actions in their experiences. As a company that wants to blur the boundary between fiction and reality, we spend a lot of time thinking how creators should tackle this.

The four-circle diagram showing space, goals, tactics and narrative is an info-graphic created from Hannah Rocha-Leite’s graduate dissertation in which she explores the research into what creates an immersive experience.

Some time ago I decided on a definition of engagement to mean “being in the moment”. That is, completely focused without distraction of other thoughts. Looking at the diagram we can see how these four components seek to occupy our minds and minimize distractions:

  • Space – control the environment so that it contributes to the experience and doesn’t distract
  • Narrative – give the space context so that we read things the right way. For example, a shop assistant is no longer a shop assistant but an undercover agent.. at least in our minds. She may not know she’s playing that role for us
  • Goal – the mind is occupied with the bigger picture, the purpose, the “how does this all fit together?” question
  • Tactics – the mind is occupied with the immediacy of the situation and possibly other sensory inputs like touch and sound. For example, watching a reenactment is cool but getting involved by chanting, shouting or, say, waving a flag gets the participant closer.

Of all these, Space can be the most problematic to control and related to this the portal or boundary between the real world and the fictional world. Compare, for example, the work of Secret Cinema and Punchdrunk‘s The Drowned Man. Secret Cinema experiences usually start out in the street around the entrance to the carefully selected building (the location selection for the last two events I’ve been has been spot on and I’m beginning to feel like they must find the location first and then ask what experience can we create around this place). It’s like the fictional world is spilling out into the street  – there’s a blurry boundary between fact and fiction. With Punchdrunk, I leave the street (where there is no evidence of what awaits) and then zigzag through a dark corridor or up an elevator. It’s a kind of like a diver’s pressure chamber that allows time for my mind and body to “normalize” to the fictional world and I feel like I’m leaving the real world behind.

For Canal+ we recently designed several live experiences in which the world of Game of Thrones was to come to Spain. Our fictional character, Edwyck, was to meet fans in the real world – in high streets and plazas and cinemas. But seeing a guy in costume doesn’t make an immersive experience! So one of our proposals were to erect a tent that looked like it belonged in that world and anyone wishing to meet Edwyck could step through the tent door to meet him. Hence our characters was “protected” from modern distractions like cars, neon lights etc. and the doorway provided a portal from the real to the fictional. Other proposal used pubs – a much better environment because we could convert them into medieval taverns. Using the pub sound system we could play our own fictional soundtrack to create the right atmosphere, we could use decoraons and potentially even smells.


From Transmedia LA, Hal Hefner’s recent live experience in the format of a cyber punk party, UNTHINKABLE COMPLEXITY   benefited from the darkness to obscure out-of-world distractions and maximized with with many people in costume – some LARPing – and in-world table items like documents, flyers and the fetus-in-jar lamp shown here.


Watch Dogs Location-based Game

robert | June 1, 2014  ‐  No Comments

watchdogsThis post discusses how to build a Watch Dogs-inspired location-based game using Conducttr, SMS and phone calls.

Note: the video is Rob developing an idea on the fly and you’ll see the mis-steps and retweaks as well as hear the thought process.


How its Played

Players find CCTV cameras around the city, text a unique code and watch pre-recorded video of a story unfolding at that location as seen by the CCTV camera.

To make things more interesting, players and actors wear armbands also with a unique code. Texting the armband code reveals “personal” information about that player or actor.
Some actors are agents of ctOS and will detect intrusions and disable access to the CCTV footage for 15 mins.

How You Make it

Do some location scouting, find a bunch of CCTV cameras and write a script for actors to play out within sight of the CCTV cameras. Use something like this to get the shots for cameras that are high up.

Then you’ll need either a map with the codes (location aware) or a map with cameras (location based). Players text the codes to unlock the content. In the case of the CCTV cameras it’s the scripted video.

For actors playing agents, some codes can lead to audio dramas of conversations that character has had with others or SMS “facts” or, if you have players register their phones and email you could send an email with a full written report.. maybe using the Watch Dogs inspired email template I created. It’s available at the forum.


Improving Transmedia Narratives

robert | May 28, 2014  ‐  No Comments


The purpose of this post is to communicate the importance to transmedia storytelling of a good story, meaningful choices and less effort on the part of the audience.

I  was inspired by this paper “Improving Computer Game Narrative Using Polti Ratios” by Richard Hall and Kirsty Baird to consider how I might create similar equations to evaluate the strength of transmedia experiences. Hall and Baird create three equations for assessing the strength of a narrative game..

Level of Drama(LoD)= P/E
–P = count of all Polti situations / E = events

Variety of Drama(VoD)= U/36
–U = Unique Polti situations / max 36 available

Involvement in Drama(IiD)= U/(M+5*C)
–U = Unique Polit situations /
–M = main characters
–C = minor characters

Here’s my version for transmedia which works towards a formula for “engagement” (for want of a better word) by looking at the author’s considerations when creating an experience – such as number of characters, channels of communication, touchpoints on and offline, impact of audience choices on the narrative and strength of the narrative.

Confusion Factor (Cf) = (M+C) * Ac

–Characters x Accounts
–Accounts = number of ways to contact the characters
–Goal: keep this number low (1 character x 1 account = 1 = best chance of no confusion)

Immersion(I) = P/Cf

–Count of Polti units/Confusion factor
–“Immersion” = likelihood of audience getting hooked (immersed). Assumption is that a stronger story makes for better immersion in the world. Note that confusion weakens the immersion
–Goal: Higher the better

Agency* = (Consequences/Choices)

–Consequence = (knowledge to make decision x impact of decision) x story turning points. Consequences for character ought to be consequences for audience too and vice versa. Turning point means story takes a different direction or moves towards a different final outcome
–Knowledge & impact are in range 0 to 1 where 0 = no knowledge and no impact and 1 = full knowledge and greatest impact
–Goal: Higher is better

Engagement (E) = I * A / (T1 + 5*T2)

–T1=Online touchpoints
–T2=Offline touchpoints. Note that the 5 multiplying factor is somewhat arbitrary but implies real world activities require more effort and therefore ought to pack a great reward for the audience
–(Immersion * Agency)/(Online touchpoints + 5*Offline touchpoints)
–Goal: Higher the better
Something for further inclusion and discussion is the role of time. For example, is it better for the experience to run faster than it is slower? I think this might be true. And if it is, then experiences that need to last longer need a stronger story.

*For discussion of Agency I recommend reading this paper: “Commitment to Meaning: A Reframing of Agency in Games” by Karen & Joshua Tanenbaum

Transmedia Storytelling and the Quantified Self

robert | May 16, 2014  ‐  No Comments

The presentation below is a must read for any transmedia storyteller because it highlights the opportunities for so many new ways to tell stories as experiences. Mobile isn’t just a communications device, it’s a portal between fact and fiction. We can use data from the mobile as triggers for new storytelling opportunities.

The Quantified Self is a movement concerned with tracking everything about a person’s daily activity – the places they go, the people they meet, the energy they burn getting there and so on. All that data can be used to control the mood of fictional characters, to control a fictional weather system, to build online “vitality” that can be burned in online gaming, as cues as to when to release new content….

With wearable computing technology, we can use social activity on Facebook or Twitter to vibrate our clothing or change the lights in our home. Why would we want to do that? To create ever more immersive experiences that imagine the confined console game world exploded and played out in real world spaces.

This presentation from JWT is a great round-up of what’s happening in mobile and really inspires lots of ideas!

Narrative Theory of Games

robert | May 1, 2014  ‐  3 Comments

I recently had the great honor of meeting Espen Aarseth at a transmedia conference in Granada, Spain and have since been reading and digesting his work.

This week at our Interactive Narratives meetup in London I presented his paper Narrative Theory of Games.

As expected, Espen’s model generated a great amount of conversation and reflection. One aspect of the 4-dimensional model (World, Objects, Agents and Events) that we debated a lot was whether Agents – which we discussed exclusively to be Characters – should be shown on the same dimensions as the others. It seemed to us that the top and bottom of the model is really the degree of agency that a player has – more if a game, less if a story. Yet the depth of the characters (Agents) doesn’t quite fit that axis – the consensus being that rich characterization needn’t be determined by player agency.

It was felt that relationship building with characters was a key to players having a more story-like experience (“story like” meaning expressing the views/message of the author).

What I find helpful about this model is it allows for a more informed discussion about the scope of work when creating a transmedia experience. Rather than thinking very broadly about where to draw the line between player interaction and authorial communication, this allows a better granularity. Also, in our work we’ve tended to allow players to generate their own content (creatable Objects) but that’s not impacted the narrative (the kernels) whereas some ARGs particularly have used this interaction with more fluid kernels.

Transmedia Podcast – Enter The Lodge (Twin Peaks)

robert | April 16, 2014  ‐  No Comments

enterthelodgeEnter The Lodge is a twitter sequel to the popular Twin Peaks TV series. The show ended in 1990 but the show’s character Laura Palmer vowed to see us again 25 years later. Patrick and Emmett Furey discuss the creative and production process of creating a four-week twitter show!

Interviewed by @robpratten are the writers Emmett Furey (@emmettfurey) and Patrick Furey (@trickfurey)


Download and Subscribe HERE or via iTunes

Transmedia Podcast – Wuxia

robert | April 8, 2014  ‐  No Comments

wuxiaWuxia is the story of a fox and a child that go on a journey to find a whale. It’s told through a picture book and an ipad app.

The experience is designed to develop the child and develop the parent-child relationship.

In this podcast, creator Jonathan Bélisle discusses the design thinking and world of user experiences.

Support this Kickstarter project here.

And visit the story page here.

Interviewed by @robpratten

Download and Subscribe HERE or via iTunes

Wuxia the Fox – Augmented Book & iPad app from SAGA on Vimeo.

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robert | March 5, 2014  ‐  5 Comments

Making-of-JDT-26Here’s the moment our transmedia experience kicked off with a live performance! Below is the official press release…well, translated into English, the Spanish version is here.

Using Conducttr we’re building a MMORPG that’s played out on social media and real life across the whole of Spain. In future posts we’ll have a full case study.



CANAL+ joins forces with Transmedia Storyteller Ltd., headed by Robert Pratten, to transform Spain into a huge storytelling canvas with one the world’s most ambitious transmedia entertainment experiences. Called 19Reinos, it will include, among other things, live events, a 5-episode webseries, a location-based online game and strong participation on social media.

Working from the premise “Si lo vives es verdad” (If you live it, it’s true), which is the motto of the communication campaign of the forth season of Game of Thrones in Spain, CANAL + has created an online multiplayer game that is also played in real life and that kicked off with the shooting of the video Aparición (Apparition) – one of the spots of the new season of the series in the presence of 300 fans from across the whole country. 

The project is led by Belén Santa-Olalla, senior creative consultant at Transmedia Storyteller Ltd. with extensive experience working with leading brands in the entertainment and education market and supported by Robert Pratten, CEO and founder of Transmedia Storyteller Ltd. Pratten is a world expert in “transmedia storytelling”, which aims at creating powerful audience engagement through multi-platform user experiences. The project is made possible through a technology called Conducttr, that Santa-Olalla describes as a “pervasive entertainment platform”. Pratten, CEO at Transmedia Storyteller Ltd, comments “Conducttr revolutionizes entertainment and marketing because it delights fans with fictional stories that are blended with their real lives and allows the Canal + to develop a truly converged media strategy that encompasses social media, TV, press, PR and live events.”

From the beginning of the first season of Game of Thrones, CANAL+ has built a communication strategy aimed at fans of the series that has materialized in projects such as Grito de Guerra (War Cry)Guía de Poniente (The Westeros Guide) and for the second screen Vive Poniente (Live Westeros). All with the objective of fostering the loyalty of a big community of fans and customers with more than 180.000 followers on its Facebook page (facebook.com/juegodetronos).

According to Berni Melero, Chief of Multimedia Communications at CANAL+: “Television as entertainment has not been only content consumption for years. At CANAL+ we do our best to offer and share with our customers and fans immersive experiences about the contents we have and they enjoy so much. Thanks to Transmedia Storyteller and their technology, this year the experience Game of Tronos in CANAL+ will be much more personalized and participative”


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