October 24, 2007
Producing the CSI:NY/Second Life Crossover: An Interview with Electric Sheep's Taylor and Krueger (3 of 4)

The following is the third part of an interview series being published today regarding tonight's launch of the CSI:NY television series crossover into Second Life. This interview, with Damon Taylor and Daniel Krueger from Electric Sheep, looks at the motivations, implementation, and plans for extending the popular crime drama series into a virtual world.

Sam Ford: What is Electric Sheep Company's involvement in this project?

Damon Taylor: We are the vendor working with CBS to develop this, and it all started out as a relationship between Electric Sheep and CBS, working with Anthony E. Zuiker, who has become convinced that virtual worlds provide an opportunity for television companies or entertainment companies in general to create and provide content in ways that has never been done before. This has been a six-month planning process, culminating today. Our contract with CBS is to do this for six months, so we will be operating this experience for the next half-year. With content being updated every four weeks, we will be moving this story forward, along with a second television show next year that will tie back into the whole storyline.

Sam Ford: What brings the two of you specifically to this collaboration, and what personally excites you about the opportunity to work on this unique crossover?

Daniel Krueger: I have been with Electric Sheep about a year now, nad I worked on various community projects with The L Word through Showtime, Pontiac, Ben and Jerry's, and others, and this is the ultimate in community projects on Second Life. It is super-compelling, and it is really a win-win.

Damon Taylor: I helped co-produce the NBA project we did and was asked to come in on this project along with Libby Sproat, a colleague of ours who is a co-producer on this project. Libby and I, as Dan mentioned, have helped produce this project from day one, and now I am transitioning off and Dan and Libby are moving forward with implementing this project in the future. It has been an opportunity to work with some outstanding people, through a team of 10 people who collaborated on this project.

Sam Ford: From what I understand, one of the activities involve looking further into the mystery taking place on tonight's CSI:NY show, so it's clear that there will be a connection between the television series and some of the Second Life activities. Will there be ways in which the Second Life activities feed back into the main show?

Damon Taylor: I think it's fair to say that the Second Life experience is feeding off the television show. It's unclear at this point whether or not what happens in the virtual world will feed back or influence what happens on the show in the February 2008 sequel, but that will be determined by the producers at CBS. We wanted to connect with a storyline from tonight's show for our Second Life experience, and we have three main game experiences for CSI:NY in Second LIfe. We have a mystery game, and we will release a new one about every three weeks, which involves a crime scene, a crime lab, and suspects. It will be a 20-30 minute experience, and users can go to the crime scene, pick up evidence, process it, follow leads, and then choose the suspect they they committed the murder.

The second mystery game is the Murder by Zuiker blog game. Every month, CSI Executive Producer Anthony E. Zuiker will draft a storyline. We will create that crime scene in a virtual context and invite people to visit that scene. They will thengo to a CSI:NY message board and submit a 500-word-or-less entry describing what they think happened, as we mentioned earlier. Anthony reviews them at the end of every month and then chooses the top 10 and a winner, and he will reveal what really happened in the story. There will be six of those in all, with a new one being released once a month.

The third mystery game is Finding Venus. Venus is a character from the show tonight, and we wanted to create an opportunity for a more sophisticated mystery game experience for those who want something a bit more challenging than the 20-minute games. This game will have content driven by the story in the television show and will culminate in having users try and find her secret hideout in advance of the February 2008 television show.

To reiterate, though, we are influenced by the television show, but it's yet to be determined whether or not what happens in Second Life will have impact on the show in February. For us, this is a creative opportunity to use the TV show as the context for a substantive game experience that helps connect the dots between the two television episodes in this story.

For the first two parts of this series, look here and here. The first piece looks at the background of the CSI:NY crossover into Second Life and Electric Sheep's involvement, including the creation of the OnRez platform. The second part looks at some discussion with Krueger and Taylor on the value of this collaboration for fans, Second Life, and CSI:NY.