i love bees
i love bees is an alternate reality game developed by 4orty2wo Entertainment used for the marketing of Halo 2. During the summer of 2004, the website ilovebees.com was used as a publicity site for Halo 2, with the site being pointed to by an advertisement for the game played alongside movie trailers. Ostensibly a beekeeper's personal site, the server appeared to have been taken over by an unstable AI whose thoughts were found scattered on the site. Players would interact with this AI and help her return to the future and save the world from the Halo Array.
On July 23, 2004, a group of Halo fans discovered a hidden URL in the Halo 2 Cinematic Trailer that led them to a website that appeared at first glance to be hacked. A message on the frontpage directed viewers to the blog of a girl named Dana Awbrey. Dana claimed that she built the ilovebees site for her Aunt Margaret and recently her site got in this bizarre state and asks if anyone could help her. Dana acted essentially as a narrator in the game, describing events for people who missed the action.
The frontpage had a counter counting down to July 27, 2004 (when "network throttling will erode"), August 10, 2004 (when "this medium will metastasize"), and August 24, 2004 (at 8:06 A.M., when it would be "wide-awake and physical") Currently, (as of 2014) there is a counter counting down to the day the Covenant will attack Earth, in 538 years' time.
On 8/10/04, a list of GPS coordinates with times were added to the site's Links page, along with a countdown to "Axons go hot." With the exception of one leading to the Pacific Ocean, all of the coordinates lead to payphones. On 8/24/04, the countdown ended as it reached the first set time. People who answered the payphones (the "axons") at the scheduled times spoke to a recording of the AI and were asked basic questions about the character. If answered correctly, an audio clip would be released and a number would be added to a counter on the Website. The audio clips, when threaded together, formed an audio drama about characters in the Halo universe. As the number reached 777, the AI, as played by a voice actor instead of a recording, began interacting with players through the payphones.
The AI would ask for their name, rank, and proof that they were human. Players would provide their usernames, choose ranks, and improvise proof (eg. joking, singing). Their names were added to the site, crediting them for activating the axons.
After the game was over, players were invited to go on a "training mission," which was actually a chance to play Halo 2 multiplayer before its release. Various sites around America were used to host the event, including movie theaters and malls. Players were told to say the phrase "The Operator left a message for me." to gain access to the event. Unfortunately, several of the hosts were unaware of ILB and thought it was just a Halo 2 event, disappointing many fans. At each event, players were given DVDs containing all of the ILB audio files, as well as deleted material and screenshots from the site.
- Main article: I Love Bees Synopsis
In 2552 an alien artifact splits up the UNSC AI Melissa into three parts. One part stays in 2552, has amnesia and is named Durga. The other two parts, the Operator and the Sleeping Princess, are sent back in time to the website "I Love Bees". Also with the latter is a Trojan Horse AI ("The Seeker") sent by the Covenant as a spy. The Operator falsely believes the Sleeping Princess is the Trojan Horse, and tries to kill her. Participants in the ARG would communicate with the Operator and the Sleeping Princess to learn details of the plot, forming different factions for either character.
Players allied with the Operator were required to go to certain payphones at certain times to answer calls from the character. Persons who answered the calls needed to show they were part of the game by answering basic questions (e.g. “What's my name?”), after which parts of an audio drama were made available on the site. Later calls were performed by a voice actor playing the Operator, with whom players engaged in role play.
The audio drama consists of recordings taken by Durga in 2552, explaining what's going on in the future. Durga is taken in by a boy named Jersey, who realizes he has “God's own spyware” and uses her to spy on the hot girl in the building, Jan. In doing so, it comes to light that her family is a lot more interesting than first apparent. Durga goes on to spy on several other people she finds interesting and eventually assembles them into her “crew”. She takes her crew to a military base to deactivate the alien artifact, which will potentially keep the Halo Array from activating, and the action causes the AI fragments to return to the future and merge back together into Melissa. It seems like everyone will live happily ever, but then the Covenant invade Earth as Halo 2 begins.
- Seeker/Pious Flea
- Janissary James
- Jersey Morelli
- Kamal Zaman
- Colonel Herzog
- Major Standish
- Thin Kinkle
- Rani Sobeck
- Sophia Bossedon
- Aiden Maki
The issue of whether i love bees should be considered canon is somewhat complicated. In the Apocalypso Chat, the minds behind i love bees say that Bungie basically let them write their own thing, but offered certain suggestions regarding storytelling devices and corrected facets such as the original idea that ONI would hang traitors, which was changed to them being rendered permanently comatose. In October 2004, this was expanded on by Joseph Staten in an interview with halo.bungie.org, who, when asked if i love bees should be considered canon, said:
|“||The Bees would not make the cut. Those guys basically did their own thing with very little Bungie input (save for massaging and approving the initial plot-treatment). While we helped define the boundaries of their fiction, we let them do what they thought best. And I think the game turned out great.||”|
However, in July 28, 2006, Frank O'Connor mentioned the revised state of canon as applied to i love bees. In answering a question about how the Halo Graphic Novel expanded the Halo universe beyond the games and Bungie's overall plans for the universe, he said:
|“||We're going to have this huge collection of canon and things that we embrace as canon, like I Love Bees and stuff like that.||”|
This was shown in the graphic novel as two characters from i love bees, Herzog and Standish as well as events in the i love bees storyline in which they took place, are referenced in a canon image. Additionally, entities introduced in i love bees, including Optican, chatters, and communications kiosks, were later featured in Halo 3: ODST. The colony Mamore was mentioned prominently in Halo: Reach. Finally, several key elements of i love bees, including Melissa, the UNSC Apocalypso and the deep-space artifact are included in the officially canon Halo Encyclopedia. In 2011, Frank O'Connor again stated that i love bees is canon.
Still, i love bees cannot be considered entirely canonical. Some elements of i love bees directly contradict more recent material of definite canon status, such as the time in which Tobias Fleming Shaw and Wallace Fujikawa were alive. Thus, i love bees could be considered as having a similar canonical level to the Star Wars series' Expanded Universe, in which i love bees should be considered canonical unless contradicted by more authoritative sources.
- Yuri Lowenthal, voice of Kamal Zaman, is also the voice of the Prince in the Prince of Persia series, and Sasuke in the Naruto series. A piece of Kamal's dialog, "People think time is a river that flows in one direction, but time is an ocean." seems to be a deliberate reference to the Prince's "Some say time is like a river that flows swift and sure in one direction, but I have seen the face of time and I can tell you they are wrong. Time is an ocean in a storm."
- Soon after ILB became popular, someone bought the domain name www.ilovepees.com and auctioned it on eBay. The person claimed whoever made it a redirect to their own site would get tons of traffic from ILB fans who would type in the address incorrectly. Their starting bid was $1,000, but when it failed to sell, they made two more auctions, each lowering the price. It was finally sold for a price close to $40.
- The "Walk-away Girl" storyline from Axon Clips Chapter 1 went through 56 revisions before it was final.
- The game was re-written in midstream in order to accommodate players who wanted to see more puzzles. Since the radio play was pre-recorded, the rewrite was what brought the live calls.
- There were 7 hours worth of script written in 5 months.
- The lack of ability to beta-test meant that 5 hours before the phone calls went live, the Puppet Masters were still trying to see if the payphones would ring.
- The Puppet Masters had not expected Weephun to rat out the Sleeping Princess so easily and had to do quite a bit of rewriting in order to deal with it.
- When they went live in week 1, week 8 was still unwritten.
- 4orty2wo Entertainment was very careful not to mention who the client was because the players would get turned off if the advertising was too overt.
- A player tried to answer a live call in the middle of Hurricane Ivan. The Puppet Master (Puppetmaster 2) broke character to tell him to run to safety: "Dude, it's a hurricane. Put the phone down."
- The countdown does not appear for Mozilla Firefox users.
- i love bees is mentioned in a Cracked.com article called The 5 Most Insane Alternate Reality Games.
- In the website's source code, the following search engine keywords are included: "honey, bees, Margaret, small busines, beekeeping, hives, retail, market, Operator, bug, buggy, virus, infestation, WTF is going on with this damn thing, parasite, strong intrusive inclination, medium, messages, shipwreck, network throttling, SOS, hoax, game, bee hoax, bee game, survivor, survive, evade, resist, escape, a little help would be appreciated, thanks and tip your waitress, sleep, is, good, install, reinstall, re-reinstall, re-re-reinstall, I, love, bees". Though the in-universe story is Dana put them in for the hell of it, some of the keywords explain that it's a work of fiction, such as "bee hoax".
- ^ YouTube: HALO 2 THEATRICAL TRAILER
- ^ halo.bungie.org: Bees... you think Ant Farm was involved?
- ^ a b I Love Bees: The Damage
- ^ I Love Bees: The Extraordinary
- ^ Unfiction: [SPEC] Analyzing the Computer Text
- ^ a b i love bees (main website)
- ^ Unfiction: [PUZZLE] AXONS GO HOT - Coordinates
- ^ I Love Bees: axon spike rendezvous
- ^ Apocalypso Chat, 18:03 - 18:05
- ^ halo.bungie.org: Joe Staten Interview - October 2004
- ^ 1UP: The 1UP Show: Episode 07/28/06 (27:49 - 27:55)
- ^ Halo Graphic Novel, page 122
- ^ YouTube: Halo: From A to Z with Frank O'Connor
- ^ halo.bungie.org: How Stupid ARE People, Anyway?
- ^ Wired: I Love Bees Game a Surprise Hit
- ^ Cracked.com: The 5 Most Insane Alternate Reality Games
Those wishing to read more about the I Love Bees ARG should visit the I Love Bees Wiki, especially: