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The 'PuppetMasters' Behind The A.I. Mystery Are Mad At AICN's Collective Detectives!

Hey folks, Harry here... OHMYGOD I'M LAUGHING MY ASS OFF!!!

Once upon a time, there was this collective of would be geniuses that decided to create the perfect Internet Mystery. They worked it out and mapped it on paper. They made character sheets and created an entire world. They even hid hints within the code of the pages themselves. They even wrote in invisible text. These 'Puppet Masters' thought they were being quite clever and that they were making a game for children.

However, one day when they released their game into the forest and all of the creatures came out of the woodwork to see what it was, the creatures in the forest did not behave as children. They were not artificially intelligent and did not play by the rules. Rules that were of course unwritten for human eyes. The children gathered together and became a 'Collective Detective' and brought their various abilities together to beat the Puppet Masters, who had depended upon the game lasting months... And this intelligent and resourceful group of Non-Children moved far faster than the Puppet Masters could conceive. For while the game was smart and tricky and all around ingenius, they forgot to take into account the rules of the world they were placing the game.

So... Puppet Masters, if you are listening... I have a lesson to give to you. When setting up a game such as the one you have begun, realize that you needed to place each site on a different server... owned by a different person.... registered to unrelated souls.... That each part must truly be a part and never be connected in any way shape or form. To keep a mystery a mystery on the internet, don't just put it all on the same server... Split it up... Scatter it TRULY AROUND THE WORLD... Don't claim to have a site in New Zealand.... HAVE A SITE IN NEW ZEALAND!

The world you create online can't be like the world you create on a movie screen. Sitting in my third row center seat in a movie theater, I see only the angles you choose to show me. But in the world of the internet... I am in control. The 'Collective Detectives' can peer on the other side of your facades... You have to think larger than a film world. Because online, we can see your sprocket holes and matte lines... we know who developed your telecine and your prints... It's mere clicks of a cursor.

Great game thus far, I just hope 'The Puppet Masters' don't decide to become the children of the game, and take their toys and site with pouted lips and sulk by themselves. The game is afoot, if we are too smart and wiley for you... Perhaps you'll learn and the game will become smarter than you first conceived!

Folks, here's the letter I received from Father@TheVisionary.Net, don't bother mailing him... he's taken the address offline. It was a one way message from the Puppetmasters...

listen up, big red, and i, as well as the others, would appreciate if you bestow this information upon your minions:

you're pissing off the powers that be by circumventing traditional methods. all this whois business has caused some turmoil. that group, the cloudmakers, has stirred up some attention as well. the people behind this, who i am in contact with, let's call them 'the puppetmasters', which seems appropriate -- are none too pleased with the way the game has been played to this point. because of this, the theory that information is being with held from the players might as well become dogma, because it's true.

shape up or ship out, children. i'll be in contact. this address will not receive incoming mail, so don't bother.

Oh... BTW... AICN Collective Detectives? Let's Kick Their Ass!!!


P.S. In doing a comparison between the letter from FATHER and the letter from MOTHER I found the following....

Mother's email came from

Father's email came from

Does that mean that FATHER is not a part of or associated with 'The Puppetmasters'? Is he just an 'Anti-Robot Militia kneejerk' with ideas that his way is the only way to play?

Well, I say this... They hid clues in the code.... They made jokes of the IP owners' names... They wrote with invisible letters.... And I say, we use all of our abilities... and if they don't like it... and they pull the game.... Then they've laid their king down on the chessboard.... and we win. This is the internet.... We... you and me... We make the rules... not them. After all... they all but dared us to....

P.S. BTW you might want to check out: if you haven't.... lots of the mystery put together here....

Readers Talkback
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  • April 17, 2001, 12:23 a.m. CST


    by phatjacck


  • April 17, 2001, 12:34 a.m. CST

    A word of advice to the PeonMasters

    by csk360

    I would be a little bit nicer to all us Geeks. We have ways of doing bad things to people who piss us off. Just ask Yahoo and Microsoft...

  • April 17, 2001, 12:35 a.m. CST

    Sounds to me like you're not getting their joke...

    by YodaButter2000

    I dunno, but to me it sounds like is just egging Harry on, or writing him a "threatening" letter that may be in keeping with stuff in the movie. Maybe Harry's just not getting _their_ joke.

  • April 17, 2001, 12:40 a.m. CST


    by MCVamp

    If you think that was a real angry letter, Harry, ya been had! Although I wouldn't put it past Harry trying to play along with the little "mystery" and all, maybe even with the cooperation of the AI publicists. The more hardcore geeks loovvvvvve role-playing, Harry would do it for free popcorn and a ticket to the premiere.

  • April 17, 2001, 12:40 a.m. CST

    Rock On Harry!

    by rubby

    Ha ha ha ha! That's telling them Harry! Keep up the good fight! Ain't no way, Dreamworks and WB are gonna stop the Internet movie geeks like us from trying to solve the A.I. website mystery! I admit, I haven't been much involved in the mystery but reading all of the talkback regarding the A.I. mystery has lead me to notice that the quest to solve the mystery has united people on AICN together in a way that I haven't seen since...well I can't remember when the last time everybody here on AICN was excited about something and decided to work together. That is a magnificent sign of goodwill and harmony among a place and people most known for their bad instead of their good. Yeah I know Harry says LOTR is gonna unite us all as one (everybody will love the movie says Harry) but so far the movie has yet to be released. For now, it's the quest to solve the A.I. website mystery that has got us all working together as friends, a team and that is good enough for me ;-)

  • April 17, 2001, 12:41 a.m. CST

    WFT did Stevie think would happen, anyway?

    by RyanEnder

    Poor little Stevie-Weevie got his little feelings hurt when the big bad newsgroups cracked his itty-bitty puzzle. I've got news for ya, "Father": we here at AICN have been a collective WAY longer that your little outsourced internet project has been. Anything, and I mean ANYTHING, can be and will be tore to shreds once placed in public domain. So next time, when you look down from on high in your air-conditioned office in Hollywood, realize that your power ends when the end credits disappear. The internet is where our power begins. We pump your gas, we serve your food. WE GUARD YOU WHILE YOU SLEEP. Do NOT fuck with us.

  • April 17, 2001, 12:41 a.m. CST

    the good folks on yahoo got the same message

    by wilko185 Could be a fake, anyway, no one's too fazed by it.

  • April 17, 2001, 12:47 a.m. CST

    Nice one, Harry. Want to tell the whole story?

    by danhonuk

    Hey y'all. Just thought I'd chip in. I'm keeper of The Trail ( that we at the Cloudmakers are using. Harry, we've received an email from father@thevisionary. What'd I'd like to know is why you didn't post the *entire* email. That is, the headers and *everything*. Because, you see, it doesn't say much for collective detectives if they think they're clever by using WHOIS and *don't* check their headers... Of course, unless collective detectives enjoy taking all the evidence presented to them at face value... Dan. The Trail. Read it.

  • April 17, 2001, 12:51 a.m. CST

    It is a Hoax, and Harry, stop being a jerk.

    by nikkori

    First of all, Harry, perhaps you could share with us the headers that were attached to that message? I expect you will find, as the far more resourceful Cloudmakers did, that the email has its source at the mail system of a radio station in Philadelphia. It is almost certainly fake, lacking in tact and (in this case) punctuation. You have been roped in by a troll. Second of all, Harry, back the hell off. You are being a disrespectful jerk to laugh and lord over the intelligent, creative, resourceful people who have put this together. They name-drop Beaumont and Fletcher alongside Spinoza and Babbage, they weave a world that is worthy of our respect. Nobody has actually busted up the Puppetmasters plan. We haven't found anything that jumped ahead of them. Please, don't be taken in by Trolls, and show some deference. Blowhard cockiness (especially when ungrounded) doesn't become you. I'm very disappointed.

  • April 17, 2001, 12:56 a.m. CST


    by darkforge

    Check his headers. You'll find that he sent that e-mail through a private e-mail set up through a radio station in Philadelphia, not through (Compare with the headers of the e-mail from mother, or Mephista.) If you're interested in low noise high content analysis, join the Cloudmakers. We make waves. :)

  • April 17, 2001, 1:28 a.m. CST

    Is It Me, Or Are Danhonuk, Nikkori, And Darkforge Indeed The Sam

    by Cowblaster

    I mean, three negative talkbacks that pretty much say the same thing, posted 4 minutes apart from eachother. . . sounds pretty suspicious to me. . . .

  • April 17, 2001, 1:35 a.m. CST

    They are right Harry.

    by Pupkin

    Regardless of the authenticity of 'Father', we don't win if the game stops. This is not a David Fincher movie, we lose if the game stops and putting it all on one server is not the mistake that has led to everybody knowing everything too soon. The mistake is for you to keep telling everybody everything your spies and reporters find out. Let people play the game out naturally instead of metaphorically watching the last reel of The Usual Suspects first.

  • April 17, 2001, 1:37 a.m. CST

    We are as One

    by nikkori

    Behold the power of the Cloudmakers. We've got collaborating down so good, we respond in tandem, in real-time, like... some AI or something.

  • April 17, 2001, 1:45 a.m. CST


    by darkforge

    Or an IRC chat room?<p><p> #evanchan<p> ONLY YOU CAN KNOW FOR SURE :)<p> Cloudmakers: we make waves!

  • April 17, 2001, 1:53 a.m. CST

    Harry, I'm disappointed.

    by danhonuk

    Harry. Thanks for posting the header information. I still suggest that you do a little digging, though, you've got a way to go yet. And one more thing -- your rallying call to arms that we use "all of our abilities"? Let's not do anything rash. This is a *game*. I'd hate to peg you as someone who had to cheat at everything he played to win, because that's quite sad. I know there are no "rules", and we all play by the ones we ourselves have made up... but this is a puzzle. You want to find out the answer by finding the cheat book? The way I see it, you can play two ways: you can play to discover *everything* -- you can play just to find the websites. Or you can play to follow the *narrative*. I can tell which one you want to do, Harry. Just don't spoil it for the rest of us who want to be told a story. Because that's what *films* are about too, isn't it?

  • April 17, 2001, 2:02 a.m. CST

    Cowblaster... (and PS to Harry)


    ...doubt not the Cloudmakers, dude. They work fast. And I'm not even part of their group, I've just been watching over their progress for the last 4 or 5 days. These guys (and women) are on this case like flies on... well, on Evan Chan, I would guess. Oh, and PS to Harry: I think these guys are right; this is most likely a fake. I mean, wouldn't you be most likely contacted by Miss Ghaepetto (sp?) again, if they wanted to talk to you "outside" of the game? Besides, the "puppetmasters" may very well be impressed at the efficiency of the collective, but I think we all know they're quite a few steps ahead of us. We won't know anything substantial until they want us to. "Your overconfidence is your weakness," Harry. It does you credit, but it could be made to serve the empire. (Uh... so there.) Lightstormer out.

  • April 17, 2001, 2:16 a.m. CST

    THIS is the truth!!

    by CRM114

    The mastermind of this elaborate ruse is none other than The Mastermind himself, Stanley Kubrick!! Think about it! How could he afford to live making one movie a decade when none of them were box office smashes?!? Wasn't just a little bit too convienient just days after submitting his final cut of EWS?!?! Has anyone ever seen Kubrick and Spielberg in the same room at once?!?

  • April 17, 2001, 2:19 a.m. CST

    His death I mean!

    by CRM114

    You know what I meant!!

  • April 17, 2001, 2:23 a.m. CST

    OMG, it just doesn't get any simpler than this.


    You guys ready for a laugh?? I checked out Cloudmaker's posting of their letter from "Father," (which is a little different from Harry's, but says essentially the same things,) and get this... everybody who says this originated from some shithead at some lame-ass Philadelphia radio station (let's not mention the name, lest we give them free publicity... unless we all decide as a group to torment the fucking place...) well, these folks are 100% right. The smoking gun. . . the automatic post-script from the fucking radio station's Email system is at the bottom of the letter. >>"2001 Philadelphia's New Music Alternative, ----."<< (Name removed to prevent inadvertent plug.) WHAT A DIPSHIT. Anybody else notice the irony in somebody chastising people for their abilities at snooping behind the technological "curtain," and leaving a plain-as-day calling card, when they don't expect to be tracked down??? What a fucking 'tard.

  • April 17, 2001, 2:26 a.m. CST

    Right, crm...


    Spielberg is Stanley Kubrick. Good detective work, Scooby. (And thanks for ruining it for everybody else.)

  • April 17, 2001, 3:09 a.m. CST


    by DreamWorker

    Harry, relax. I, for one, do not know how to do this "whois" thing on the sites. I've tried following this mystery in the talk backs but its just impossible. I followed it for myself and I am pleased. You yourself were creaming your shorts over this a day ago, bestowing the official title of "genius" to whoever came up with the mystery. Now you get some email that is obviously fake - why would DreamWorks breach the dreamworld they created by sending it to the one person who is BOUND to post it the next minute - and you flip out, declaring everything but war against the bearded deity. And need I remind everyone that we all got stuck? Nobody has gotten hold of those 12 and 16 digit passcodes, and we can't figure out who the hell killed Evan Chan, if anyone. So shut your fat fuck faces people and get digging for the missing links!

  • April 17, 2001, 3:20 a.m. CST

    arghhhhhhhhhhhhhh again

    by DreamWorker

    Harry, this site has been up since 1996. You have had articles printed in numerous film magazines about you (Empire one was pretty good ... hehe). And I am pretty fucking sure that Spielberg and Company would have certainly anticipated this. How could they not? Did they think ten thousand solitary websurfers would figure out the mystery just by staring at a couple of frames on the trailer? No, it would mainly start here with a handfull of inquisitive minds. DreamWorks is obviously relying on these talkback sessions to get this whole thing moving. And as for the cloudmakers list and that other page letting you know about the mystery, one still has to find out a bit for themselves. Trust me, I can see Emperor Steve sitting on his swivel chair thrown in his office right now, wearing a cloak mumbling under his breath, "Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen... bwahahahahahahahahaha!"

  • April 17, 2001, 4:39 a.m. CST

    I wonder How you guys could better spend your time

    by anghus

    Jesus, id be telling you guys to stop this geek quest if it wasnt so damn funny. I mean, even geeks are pointing and laughing at the countless hours some of you clowns are pouring into this marketing blitz. If you're enjoying it, then fine, no harm done, i cant tell you how to live your lives. But why take one of the 5 to 7 hours a day you spend on the computer and take a lap around the block, like that Jarod guy from Subway. Look what it did for him, i mean hell the guy has his own theme music performed by a Blues band. Anyway, that supposed email sounded pretty damn fake to me. How convinient, the address has been taken down. I don't think any of the marketing gurus that set this A.I. site thing up are worried. Right now they are playing the online community like a fiddle. But hey, if youd rather spend 8 hours a day jumping through the hoops of the Dreamworks marketing people, so be it. It still wont make the movie any better...

  • April 17, 2001, 5:09 a.m. CST


    by DreamWorker

    EMPEROR STEVEN: Send the marketing fleet to the far side of the web... there it will stay, until called for... DARTH KATZENBERG: What of the reported "Collective Detective" Rebellion currently cracking our codes at the AintItCool System? EMPEROR STEVEN: It is of no importance... By then, Knowles will be one of us and the Rebellion will be crushed! Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen... Everything that has transpired has been of MY design!

  • April 17, 2001, 5:40 a.m. CST

    I called that number and heard the recording of

    by Wee Willie

    a woman telling me to write to Instead of e-mailing, I went to and the same voice said "Once upon a time there was a rude and disobedient child who visited when he was TOLD TO WRITE". Anyhow, think the e-mail that went to harry is part of the joke. They had to have figured that the collective minds on the web would work round the clock. I hope it all goes deeper than this because this is kind of fun.

  • April 17, 2001, 5:45 a.m. CST

    Sounds like a setup to me...

    by brainiac(abject)

    Could it be a red herring? This whole series of events MIGHT (tho not likely?) have been anticipated... Just a thought...

  • April 17, 2001, 6:28 a.m. CST

    Phyric victory

    by lodger

    Harry-- I think this has pretty definitively been proven a hoax. But how can you possibly count it victory if they _did_ take down the sites and thereby deny anyone but your own exclusive little clique the chance to play? Sometimes...

  • April 17, 2001, 8:14 a.m. CST

    You're wrong LIGHTSTORMER!!

    by CRM114

    must typew quickly Sp'ielberg is Kubricks ku8i,>:[]-

  • April 17, 2001, 10:47 a.m. CST

    HARRY! You are officially the TOOL of the MAN! And they are m

    by AtomoPrime

    GAWD, HARRY! I always thought that you were smartter than this! But with all the fake posts that have appeared on AICN in the recent months, I am not supprised that you have again rushed into the arms of falsehood. It should seem obvious that this E-mail was sent to flame interst for this film. Sent to inflate the already massive egos that float around AICN Talk Backs. "Make 'em feel like they accomplished something. Give us overbearing names like 'Puppetmasters'...they'll feel like they're outsmarting they've uncovered a plot of some sort. Never realizing that the plot was simply to put them in the seats as we count their money! BWA-ha-ha-ha!!!" Really now, are to believe that we really ruffled the feathers of the MARKETING DIVISION! The only thing that would be more devious is if Harry is actually in on this...

  • April 17, 2001, 12:54 p.m. CST

    Y100 is my radio station!!!

    by Mstr Blonde

    I'm from the Philly area and as I was reading, I thought it was a funny coincidence that it had the radio station name in the e-mail. Thats fucked up that it's really just sabotage from someone there. I could definatly see it being one of those dumbasses at their morning show. That pisses me off.

  • April 17, 2001, 5:16 p.m. CST

    re: Y100

    by NichJay

    Y100 is a philly based radio station. They own and all their email is I'm sure if I were to tune into them in the morning on my drive to school I would hear them laughing about how theyre messing with Harry's head and everyone else that reads AICN. Besides I bet the real "puppetmasters" would love what is happening here. I first heard of the "mystery" from AICN. I'm sure they had planned for this game to get around via the chatrooms and message boards of sites like this. Unfortunately several red herrings will be tossed around by people merely for their own amusement.

  • April 17, 2001, 7:38 p.m. CST

    Once...there was a man born in the matrix. And he could change

    by kojiro

    Oh, right...well...

  • Drano, dude. Drano.---Damn, this all makes me rather annoyed that it's too close to finals for me to follow this stuff outside of the tb's. Looks interesting.

  • April 17, 2001, 7:51 p.m. CST


    by Theta

    Not even marketing execs are dumb enough to think people wouldn't team up and compare notes. They had to realize this would become much bigger than single people searching. In fact, they were probably counting on it. Not so quickly, perhaps, but they HAD to know it was going to happen. Ten gets you twenty that aside from the murder of Evan Chan, which they aren't going out of their way to hide (understatement of the year, it might as well be the tagline of the movie), we really learn nothing crucial to the plot whatsoever, that this is a blind alley. This is done because the puzzle is basically solved and they want their PR value to be extended. That's why the daemon. Simple.

  • April 17, 2001, 9:13 p.m. CST

    In the words of Jeffery Goines...

    by Jack D. Ripper

    TOO LATE, TOO LATE! I don't know if this letter's fake or not and I don't really care. I value my life too much to invest in this on-line mystery other than browsing thru the TBs, although it's kinda cool, but I just wanted an excuse to use that quote. 2nd Crazy Brad Pitt on the board. And we all know Crazy Brad Pitt's always been better than clean Brad Pitt.

  • April 17, 2001, 9:24 p.m. CST

    I Kinda Thought Some Of The More Earnest Types Out There Would B

    by Buzz Maverik

    Go figure.

  • April 18, 2001, 12:28 a.m. CST

    Tad Bit Assholic, Much?

    by Afext

    I've never insulted Harry or anything, I love your reviews and everything, but CHRIST: Could you possibly be anymore of an asshole about it? Jesus, talk about being a tad bit more confrontational and idiotic about something. As is always said about games: It's only a game! Sure, they're of course a little pissed off, but thats no reason for you to actually add fuel to their fire. I mean, really. With that attitude you WILL get the game pulled. The Cloudmakers are having fun, and with that Weakest Link Host form of attitude, you'll remove their fun and destroy something as innovation (albeit not original) game... Especially for a movie. I suggest you reevaluate your little b!tch-rant about this, and pray you didn't ruin everyone else's game by doing it.

  • April 18, 2001, 9:15 a.m. CST


    by DreamWorker

    Anyone else notice that the first A.I. talkback has been taken down...?

  • April 18, 2001, 3:50 p.m. CST

    Oh, and irregardless of whether or not this is accurate..

    by Jack D. Ripper

    Sleazy G. makes TWO good points. First, Q101 is TERRIBLE. Limp Bizkit, Korn and all those pussy white rap-metal bands are NOT alternative and so-called Alternative stations such as the aformentioned should be ashamed of themselves. Real alternative music is under-the-radar stuff like the White Stripes, Imperial Teen, Sleater-Kinney, the now defunct Soul Coughing or even more well-known artists like Beck and Radiohead. Alternative is AGAINST the grain, not the grain itself. Also, if Dreamworks was LEGITAMATELY mad about AICN'S collective detective, wouldn't they use an e-mail service like that in order to CONCEAL it? What do you want ""? Not fucking likely.

  • April 18, 2001, 6:01 p.m. CST


    by kojiro

    _If_ that was sarcasm (and I hope it was) just bear in mind that without the whole hearing of voices thing sarcasm is a tad difficult to convey sometimes. I do hope that was sarcasm man. But just in case it weren't you should know that AI is based on Dick's story.

  • April 18, 2001, 10:09 p.m. CST

    I hope the AICN brass get that the email from the Puppet Masters

    by CleverKnickname

    dont you love people that put the bodies of their statements in the subject line? because i do.

  • April 19, 2001, 4:16 a.m. CST

    It is what it is...

    by MeGaMaWaX

    It's simple folks. There's a game and this email Harry received is part of it. Maybe Harry's in on it, maybe not. Who cares? It's nice to know that these marketing guys are actually making this whole thing interactive rather than feeding us a bland pile of shit with Spielberg's and Kubrick's names on it. People always complain about studios treating us like nimrods, expecting us to lap up their leftovers (like The Phantom Menace - at least make an effort Lucas). These A.I. guys are making an effort. Sure, they want to put us in the seats and make a little green, but what's wrong with that? We should be happy that someone's actually paying attention to all the goofy little geeks out there for a change.