People love the fantasy-world of film, especially during the summer blockbuster season, and Microsoft has duly tapped into the appeal of movie magic. The company is relying on Captain Jack Sparrow and the rest of the pirate gang from the much-anticipated sequel to “Pirates of the Caribbean” to endorse its new Windows Live Messenger. With the help of 42 Entertainment, Microsoft has released an interactive online game that utilizes the premise of the movie while showcasing the unique chat features of Windows Live Messenger.
The game/adventure, called “Dead Man’s Tale,” is a blend of storytelling, chat, collaboration, and game play. In “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” coming to theaters on July 7th, Jack looks to recruit souls to man his ship, The Black Pearl. Alex Lieu, VP of Creative development for 42 Entertainment and the Creative Director for Dead Man’s Tale, tells ADOTAS that he saw this as the perfect metaphor for inviting people into the game. Players compete for a berth on the ship by showcasing their pirating skills with various activities, puzzles, and games. By incorporating Live Messenger, the player doesn’t go it alone.
“The core aspect of Messenger is communication and so we were really trying to work at some interaction that could be produced between two people,” Lieu explains. “[We] really focused on the idea of having them work together and to communicate and leverage all of the different aspects of Messenger in order to do so.”
Live Messenger allows users to play a game or open an activity in one window while having a conversation in another, creating a relationship between the activity and conversation. In Dead Man’s Tale, one aspect utilizing this feature allows players to man the ship and beat enemies with cannon fire. One player assumes the role of the lookout while a second controls the cannon, all while being at their own separate computers. Other puzzles actually pit players against each other.
The game is narrated by the film’s mascot Billy Bones, the skull in the red headdress seen on all of the movie posters. Susan Bonds, Producer of Dead Man’s Tale and VP of production for 42 Entertainment, saw Billy Bones as a solution to attracting uninformed users. “One of the challenges for people who had never been exposed to Windows Live Messenger was to give them a chaser of what Dead Man’s Tale was going to be like and the way we were able to do that was using this bot technology,” she says. Billy can be added to users’ messenger contact list and will introduce them to the various activities they will get to do.
“You have to prove you have sea legs [in the game] and he’s talking with you and leading you through that,” Bonds continues. “And then in the end he leads you through [the next steps]: ok now invite a buddy, invite someone from your contact list, to really go forward and complete the rest of Dead Man’s Tale.”
In the end, if a player succeeds in getting a berth on the Black Pearl, they are rewarded with an exclusive film clip from the movie featuring “a scene…that really shows the personality of Jack and Jack interfacing with his crew.”
While Windows Live Messenger targets all age groups, the Disney movie has proven to be similarly attractive across generations. Bonds feels that the universal appeal of both was a strong attractor for the partnership and inspired 42 Entertainment to work to include things in Dead Man’s Tale that people would enjoy at all levels.
Dead Man’s Tale also aims to connect people across the country or even worldwide through the medium of fantasy that “Pirates of the Caribbean” provides. “I think it’s great to have an opportunity to try to take something like the ‘Pirates’ property and the desires that everyone has about being a pirate and learning more about being a pirate or doing pirate-type things, and [have] entertainment experiences [that] kind of showcase naturally some of the features of Windows Live Messenger,” Bonds says. “[Messenger] is all about bringing people together and giving people the opportunity to do things together and talk together about things.”
In conjunction with its own website, Dead Man’s Tale can be accessed from the official movie portal for “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” as well as through the Windows Live Messenger website. Windows Live Today also connects users to the game, while the MSN Network will be promoting the experience with promo spots for the next six weeks.
Get on board the Black Pearl at http://www.deadmanstale.com.