Laura Niven

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Laura Niven

  • New anchor of Xbox Canada's new Xbox News XBL video series
  • Laura Niven is similar in name to Larry Niven, author of the Ringworld novels, to which the Halo ring theme is connected.
  • Join the discussion at Xbox forums

Disclaimer:

This series of events is most likely not an ARG, but another campaign for the Xbox Canada community leading up to Halo Reach launch events in Vancouver and Toronto, as revealed at http://www.xbox.com/en-CA/reach/event.htm

Phase 1 - Covenant Invasion

Episode 1

  • Episode 1, uploaded to youtube on August 16th, 2010, shows a very sub-standard production, with reported news unrelated to Xbox. Suspicious!
<youtube>CI3GTRKNKnY</youtube>

Episode 2

  • Episode 2, shared to youtube on the 17th has a footer marquee containing some very blatant references to the Halo franchise.
  • The marquee text reads:
0914210 -^=1200-34*3 The Covenant is coming...attacks are imminent. A-271214.378.20104**_0 Gamers make great soldiers? Study suggests hand-eye coordination, problem solving required in game play, could help develop better soldiers. 0.10.2012:^.419.0*-+:> @UNSC_INTEL

Marquee analysis:

  • 0914210 -- September 14, 2010
  • 1200 -- Noon?
  • 34*3 -- "343"? 102?
<youtube>y3UAJq2-1Nk</youtube>

Episode 3

  • Episode 3, released on the 19th
  • The marquee text now reads:
0914210 - =1200-34*3 UNSC HAS INTERCEPTED COVENANT MESSAGES...MORE INFO TO COME A-271214.378.20104**_0 PROTECT HUMANITY. JOIN THE UNSC TO DEFEND REACH 0.10.2012: .419.0*-+: UNSC_INTEL

Marquee analysis:

  • Alterations from the previous episode, other than the plain text, include:
    • Missing characters - ^^>@
<youtube>2L7DkCgxBkw</youtube>

Episode 4

  • Episode 4, released on the 20th
  • The marquee text now reads:
0914210 -^=1200-34*3 UNSC CONTROL POINT ESTABLISHED IN TORONTO. LOCATION CLASSIFIED A-271214.378.20104**_0 PREPARE YOURSELF FOR BATTLE - THE UNSC NEEDS YOU 0.10.2012:^.419.0*-+:> @UNSC_INTEL

Marquee analysis:

  • Alterations from the previous episode include a return of the missing characters in episode 3. Only plaintext differs from the first marquee in episode 2.
<youtube>d9fm-JizGg8</youtube>

Episode 5

  • Episode 5, released on the 20th
  • The marquee text now reads:
0914210 -^=1200-34*3 UNSC CONTROL POINT ESTABLISHED IN TORONTO. LOCATION CLASSIFIED A-271214.378.20104**_0 PREPARE YOURSELF FOR BATTLE - THE UNSC NEEDS YOU 0.10.2012:^.419.0*-+:> @UNSC_INTEL

Marquee analysis:

  • No change except text
<youtube>3ggwl1zMMUQ</youtube>

Events

On August 21st 2010, Toronto and Vancouver became the hot spot for a Covenant "attack" wherein followers of @UNSC_INTEL were directed to any one of a number of GPS coordinates where Covenant contacts would be 'located'. These contacts distributed UNSC dogtags, and took contact information to be entered in a special exclusive drawing for a Halo: Reach Xbox 360 console and Legendary edition of the video game.

The dog tags grant their owners the right to VIP access to Toronto's Sept 4th Halo Reach event, and Vancouver's August 28th event. They will be preceded by a game of laser tag at the drop coordinates of the UNSC obelisks.

Toronto invasion event photos
UNSC XBC-082110-Obelisk.jpg
UNSC XBC-082110-Line.jpg
UNSC XBC-082110-Info.jpg
UNSC XBC-082110-Covy.jpg
UNSC XBC-082110-UNSC.jpg
UNSC XBC-082110-MyFirst.jpg
UNSC XBC-082110-Donate.jpg


Phase 2 - UNSC Control Point Defense

Episode 6

  • Episode 6, release on the 23rd
  • The marquee text now reads:
<< 0914210 -^=1300-34*3- REMEMBERREACH.COM * COVENANT THREAT UPGRADED TO LEVEL 5 * 1300 VANCOUVER CONTROL POINT LOCATED BY COVENANT * JOIN THE FIGHT TO DEFEND REACH 0828210*106^=>>0.10.2012:^.419.0*-+:> @UNSC_INTEL

Marquee analysis:

  • << has been added to the beginning
  • "A-271214.378.20104**_0" has been removed
  • 0828210*106^=>> has been added
  • 0828210 represents August 28, 2010 for the next Vancouver event
<youtube>0Fg7BF_BhlI</youtube>

Foursquare checkin

  • UNSC_INTEL tweeted on August 24th indicating that users should check in to the UNSC Control Points in Vancouver and Toronto between 8pm and 10pm, on Foursquare.
  • On checking in to the Toronto venue, an encoded tip is available:
UlNWUCB0byBldmVudCBhdCBYYm94IENhbmFkYSBGYWNlYm9vayBwYWdlLiBQb3N0ICJSRUFDSCIgYXMgY29tbWVudCBvbiB0aGUgZXZlbnQgcGFnZS4gRmlyc3QgNSBnZXQgbGluZSBieXBhc3Mgd2l0aCBwcm9vZiBvZiBjaGVjay1pbg==
  • Decoding the base64 string produces:
RSVP to event at Xbox Canada Facebook page. Post "REACH" as comment on the event page. First 5 get line bypass with proof of check-in
  • The Vancouver variant required "COVENANT" to be posted to the associated event page.

Episode 7

  • Episode 7, release on the 24th
  • The marquee text now reads:
<< 0914210 -^=2400-34*3- 0* COVENANT HAVE LOCATED UNSC CONTROL POINTS IN VANCOUVER AND TORONTO. FURTHER ATTACKS EXPECTED ^34*3*JOIN THE UNSC TO DEFEND REACH HTTP://XBOX.CA/REACH -^08282010*1400-^2200*@UNSC_INTEL

Marquee analysis:

  • "2400-34*3" is now 2400-34*3
  • ^34*3* is placed oddly in the message
  • the date now properly reads 08282010 with *1400-^2200*
  • 0828210 represents August 28, 2010 and 1400-2200 indicates 2:00pm-10:00pm
<youtube>q1kQq02sJjs</youtube>

Episode 8

  • Episode 8, released on the 25th
  • The marquee text now reads:
<< 09142010 -^=2400-34*3*THE COVENANT IS COMING*PROTECT HUMANITY*HTTP://XBOX.CA/REACH*ATTACKS ARE IMMINENT IN VANCOUVER*08282010*555 WEST CORDOVA ST.*4PM - 10PM*@UNSC_INTEL

Marquee analysis:

  • "0914210" is now correctly 09142010
  • date, time and address are given for Vancouver eve, not in military time
  • the time is corrected specifically to 4:00pm-10:00pm, Aug 28th.
<youtube>aQPS3V0r9i8</youtube>

Twitter

  • Considered at this point to be a hoax - the Twitter user @LauraNiven appeared and got a lot of attention, but was quickly denounced as being related to Xbox News, and most likely someone playing a prank and playing off the attention of the video series.


References

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