Since our project relaunched in November 2016, we have been asked many questions about what we are, who we are, and what we are trying to accomplish. Here, we hope to answer some of those questions. We also welcome you to contact us with any additional questions you may have. Commonly-asked questions may be added to this FAQ.
What are you?
At our core, we are what you may call an "Alternate Reality Game (ARG) school." A few of us have been active in various ARGs and have heard too often players claim that they are "too stupid" to play ARGs. Whenever contacted by such people, we have always tried to explain to them that a lack of knowledge and experience does not in any way imply stupidity. There were times when all of the most talented members of our team had never heard of base64.
LEVELS was founded to spread that message, and to assist those who wish to participate in ARGs but do not possess such knowledge and experience. We will begin by providing introductory tutorials that teach the absolute most basic skills. These tutorials will become more difficult as members rise in Levels.
We also wish to offer a friendly environment for those who hesitate to interact with others. We strongly encourage interaction in our Discussion Forum and our Google Hangout, as well as anywhere else interested individuals are comfortable gathering.
We assure everyone, even the shyest individuals, that our forum is filled with friendly people who will warmly welcome you and assist with whatever is needed.
PLEASE NOTE: Our Google Hangout is quite active at times and some become overwhelmed with the notifications. These may be turned off in the hangout settings.
Are you an ARG?
Officially, no. LEVELS is a project designed to teach our members the skills necessary to participate in other ARGs. That said, one never knows what the future may hold.
Who are you?
Since the beginning, LEVELS has attempted to maintain an air of mystery as a way of attracting interest. We have since realized that this mystery distracts from the educational environment we wish to provide. So for the first time in our history, we would like to introduce you to our team.
Challenges & Tutorials
- Cami A.
One half of our puzzle team. She enjoys creating visual challenges. You can thank her for the cupcakes. (And you can blame her for the card game.) She owns three cats. She really really likes cats. We mean really likes cats. You should see the collection of photos on her wall.
- Ben E.
The other half of our puzzle team. He enjoys cryptography and creating related challenges and is determined to one day solve Kryptos. He owns two dogs. He is attempting to compete with Cami's wall of cat photos. We are beginning to fear that one day the photos on their walls will become sentient and the resulting battle will destroy the office.
- Natalie Q.
Our writer and honorary member of the puzzle team. She is responsible for creating our tutorials and other random projects that require lots of text. ["Like this one."] She refuses to take part in the battle between cats and dogs. She has a pet goldfish on her desk. Unfortunately, we fear it is unlikely to survive the cat/dog battle.
Audio & Video
- Oliver P.
Our digital media producer. He handles all of our video and audio needs. He loves showing off his creativity and will occasional slip challenges into his work, so look out for those. He has his own office. Many of us are jealous of this. Except for the times when we start hearing loud, bizarre noises coming from there. During those times, one of us will usually quietly close his door and we realize we should be grateful he has an office.
Development & Server Administration
- JD B.
Our server and forum administrator and occasional programmer. He wishes everyone to know that he is in no way responsible for the reliability of our previous server but is completely responsible for the reliability of our new one. He is constantly attempting to encourage our staff to eat healthier. He is constantly failing at this attempt. He occasionally attempts to describe things in a way that most of the rest of us do not understand. Thankfully he realizes this and translates his explanations into common English.
- Mike S.
Our extremely overworked programmer. Anything of ours that you see here or elsewhere that "does stuff" likely does so because of him. He is suspected to be the one responsible for the need for an increase in our coffee budget. He loves listening to heavy metal music while he works. For Christmas, we gifted him with some really nice headphones. He very often attempts to describe things in a way that most of the rest of us do not understand. He does attempt to translate, but he occasionally requires JD's assistance.
- Deb T.
Our "Player Communications Liaison," which is a fancy way of saying that she is responsible for posting in our Discussion Forum and on Twitter, and interacting with people there and through email. She insists on speaking of herself in the third person. She is continually thwarting JD's attempts to encourage healthy eating by bringing treats such as cupcakes and cookies to the office. She somehow manages to keep an impressive number of plants alive. Unfortunately, like Natalie's goldfish, we do not expect them to survive the cat/dog battle.
Our Fearless Leader
- Richard M.
The founder and manager of LEVELS. He is dedicated to providing a friendly, educational environment for all of our members.
This is your journey, we are but your guides.
Where are you?
Our office is located in the northeastern United States. We are in the Eastern time zone. We apologize to those who wish to communicate with us during the often-rare times we are able to manage a full night of sleep. If those in the European time zones awake and discover us still working, please feel sorry for us.
Can you clarify your collaboration rules?
By "collaboration," we mean teaching other members information and skills that will allow them to find solutions themselves, not simply providing a list of instructions that conclude with the solution. It is for this reason that we have asked other websites not to post "spoilers," or if they do, to present them in a similar educational format, with solutions hidden by spoiler tags. Our Discussion Forum is a great place for collaboration, discussion, and learning purposes.
Do you still discourage discussion of LEVELS in other places?
We had originally expressed a desire that communication regarding our project be limited to our official Google Hangout and Discussion Forum. We no longer have that preference. Feel free to talk about us wherever you like. We do ask that you respect our rules regarding collaboration and assist us with promoting education.
I registered for an account when you first launched. What happened to it?
After much discussion, we realized that a "top down" approach to educating our members did not serve our goals, as we found that many who had registered may have understood the registration challenge but did not possess other important skills. We have found that a "bottom up" approach addresses this problem by making sure that members possess these skills before advancing to the next Level. For those of you who do possess these skills and find the initial Paths too easy, we have many challenges available for all skill levels available on our website and in our Discussion Forums.
I love to create puzzles. Can I create puzzles for you?
Certainly! We have an entire section in our Discussion Forum dedicated to member-created puzzles.
Why do you sometimes delete Twitter posts?
We simply wish to remove the extra "noise" caused by posts such as updates on server issues or notifications directing people to website messages which no longer exist, as they are no longer relevant.
What should I do if I have complaints or suggestions?
We welcome suggestions and constructive criticism from both members and non-members. If you have either, we strongly encourage you to contact us. We also invite you to contact us with concerns or complaints so that we may discuss them with you directly. We cannot address problems of which we are not aware.
Why do I keep hearing that your project was cancelled?
The reports of our cancellation have been extremely exaggerated. Our project is very different now, but we are not only still around, we offer many, many more challenges and activities than we did before the project was temporarily suspended.
Much of the confusion has resulted from outdated and/or incorrect information found on forums and wikis. We encourage everyone to spread the word that we are still around and very active.
You always write LEVELS in all-caps. Does it stand for something?
"Learning Environment..." Um, no.
What's with all the quotes on your website and on Twitter?
"Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success." — Henry Ford
For those new here, welcome to LEVELS. For those returning, welcome back. You will find many paths to follow. We hope you enjoy your journey.