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ILoveBees redirects here. For the blog, see I Love Bees (Blog). For the website, see I Love Bees (Website).
I Love Bees DVD menu.
Players wait at a payphone.
The DVD.

i love bees is an Alternate Reality Game made by 4orty2wo Entertainment. 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 adverts for the game during movie trailers. Ostensibly a beekeeper's personal site, the server appeared to have been taken over by an unstable A.I. whose thoughts are scattered on the site.

Contents

Background

On July 23, 2004, fans discovered a hidden URL in the Halo 2 Theatrical 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. 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 it says "network throttling will erode"), August 10, 2004 (when "this medium will metastasize"), and August 24, 2004 (at 8:06 A.M., when it will be "wide-awake and physical") – many thought something big would happen related to Halo 2. On these dates, however, it was only related to the ILB game. Currently, there is a counter counting down to the day the Covenant will attack Earth, 543 years in the future.

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 A.I. 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 (seen right) containing all of the ILB audio files, as well as deleted material.

This style of publicity is similar to that which surrounded the movie A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, which featured a grand Alternate Reality Game. Both games were run by 4orty2wo Entertainment.

Story Synopsis

Main article: I Love Bees Synopsis

Canon?

The issue of whether or not I Love Bees should be considered Halo canon is somewhat unclear. 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.[1] 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 plainly "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."[2]

However, in the July 28, 2006 episode of the 1up show, 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."[3] This was shown in the graphic novel as two characters from I Love Bees, Herzog and Standish, are referenced in a canon image, as well as events in the I Love Bees storyline in which they took place.[4] Additionally, I Love Bees items including Optican, Chatters, and Communications Kiosks were later featured in Halo 3: ODST. 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.

Still, I Love Bees cannot be considered entirely Halo canon. There are elements of I Love Bees that directly contradict more recent Halo material of definite status of canon, such as the time in which characters Shaw and Fujikawa were supposed to have been alive. Perhaps I Love Bees should be considered at a similar canonical level as the expanded universe of the Star Wars series, in which I Love Bees should only be considered canon until contradicted elsewhere. In any case, the ARG's status of canon remains unclear.

Trivia

  • 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." is very much like 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.[5] 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 surname "Zaman" means "time, age, era" in Arabic.[6]
  • The Walk-away Girl Story line 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 is because players get turned off if the advertising is 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."[7]
  • The countdown did not appear for Mozilla Firefox users, and still, to this day, does not appear for them.

References

  1. Apocalypso Chat, 18:03 - 18:05
  2. Joe Staten Interview - 2004, Halo.Bungie.Org
  3. The 1UP Show: Episode 07/28/06, 27:49 - 27:55
  4. Halo Graphic Novel, Page 122
  5. http://nikon.bungie.org/news.html?item=10131
  6. http://www.behindthename.com/php/search.php?terms=zaman
  7. http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,65365-1.html?tw=wn_story_page_next1

Related Links

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Internal

Main Characters

Misc. Items

Similar Halo Marketing

External

Starting points

Those wishing to read more about the I Love Bees ARG should visit the I Love Bees Wiki, especially:

  • Summary of events
  • The Puzzles
  • Dana and Margaret
  • Speculative story so far

Major changes in the game and summaries are documented at the BeeLog.

The game

  • ilovebees.com - The site itself
  • The ilovebees weblog

Fan sites

  • 'Fireflies' ILB wiki
  • NetNinja ILB resources
  • theBruce's ilovebees Compilations and fanfiction retelling
  • Guide to 'Haunted Apiary - Let Op!'

Communities discussing the game

Press coverage

  • First and second Slashdot articles.
  • Wired article
  • "I Love Bees" Nominated for a Webby Award
  • G4 show on the game - WMV file.

This article uses material from the "i love bees" article on the Halo wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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