The armed forces often do Escape and Evasion exercises where a small number of soldiers pretend to be escaping prisoners and the rest try and catch them with dogs, guns and helicopters. I thought this would be really cool if I could translate this into civilian life (minus the dogs, guns and helicopters). 'elude' was born from that brainstorming session. It was also inspired by 20 years in the British Army, TV programs like Spooks, 24, Hunted, Alias and movies like Swordfish, Die Hard 4, James Bond, The Bourne Trilogy and countless others.
Elude is NOT played in virtual space, it is played out in urban areas (towns, cities, etc) eg in real life. The locations are real, the money is real, the equipment is real, the chase is real, the people are real and the excitement is real.
Elude consists of at least two players. One player (or more) is being pursued and is therefore referred to as the fox. The other player(s) do the pursuing and are referred as the hound(s).
Other people can play indirectly as agents, informers or contacts. They have no affiliation to the players and are therefore totally open to bribes !
A typical 'fox' mission might be to deliver evidence of a gang shooting (eg video) to a contact in another city (or even another country). A typical 'hound' mission would be to stop the fox delivering that evidence. If the fox delivers that 'evidence' to his contact, he wins the prize. However if one of the hounds stops him (by putting his hand on his shoulder and saying his code name) the hound wins the prize. Obviously the money has to come from somewhere so each player pays a small amount.
Elude consists of four groups of people :-
- Management team :-
- Exec and non-exec directors
- Developers / Marketeers / other staff
- Directing Staff (DS) to usher players and run point on location.
- Players who can be :-
- Foxes. These are people who have been given a mission and will be chased by the hounds.
- Hounds. These are people who have to locate and intercept the foxes before they can complete their mission.
- Extras. These are friendly shop keepers, barmaids or hotel staff who act as contacts, femme fatales and honey-traps. They are neutral but could be bribed either way.
- The general public. These can act as informants by selling fox sightings to the hounds or on the web site.
The business model
- Playing elude is expensive so there needs to be prize money to offset the cost.
- Players (fox or hound) pay for a mission. This forms the prize.
- Management takes 10% of the takings.
- Players pay their own expenses.
- Players can bring their own kit (Laptop, iPhone, Mobiles, GPS trackers)
- Some kit can be hired ... from us perhaps.
- Players can buy or sell information.
- Extras can buy or sell information.
- Do deals with hotels, restaurants, shops, etc
- Mission writers could get paid each time their mission gets used. (as a percentage of the prize ?)
- Most of the operations are based around a main web site elude.eu and a few friendly sites to hide clues, etc.
- The web site allows information to “leak” after a period of time between the players.
- We would need to know the home locations of all players so we can plan missions around them.
- Players are encouraged to take pictures (or videos) and post them on the main site.
- Locations need to be as interesting or exotic as possible.
- Additional players can join an ongoing mission at any time (after they pay) and the prize gets bigger.
- The missions need to be as fluid as possible eg unexpected twists and turns Missions can be concurrent and possibly interlinked.
- The elude web site will need SSL encryption as many users will be using WiFi and other sources of unknown levels of privacy.
Tracking techniques and methods
- Players need to have a very good reason to connect to the main site so we can locate them by GPS or their IP address. Advanced players will avoid doing this or use something like TOR to disguise their IP address, or turn off GPS.
- Players can download an app for the iPhone or Android mobile devices – this provides many opportunities for tracking as these have GPS built in ! Advanced players will probably turn this off !
- Crowd-Sourcing via “wanted” posters on the main web site.
- GPS trackers can be installed in packages or planted on fox. Its quite possible the fox might put the tracker on some random vehicle !
- Certain mobile numbers can be re-directed via the elude infrastructure.
- Foxes ultimately need to come out in the open to meet contacts. This is probably the best place to intercept them.
- Players pay to enter, either as foxes or hounds. This cash becomes the prize minus our cut (eg 10%)
- There is a cash prize between £500 ~ £10,000+ depending on number of players and the complexity of the mission.
- Players must not break the law or coerce others to do so.
- No physical violence or threats to be used.
- No arrest can be made while driving (or on moving vehicles) to avoid accidents.
- Bribery is quite acceptable !
- Players use their own equipment and travel at their own cost. They need to have sufficient funds to do this. The prize needs to make the cost worth it.
- Players are encouraged / coerced to use the web site (or other friendly sites) whenever possible.
- If the fox completes his/her mission they win the prize.
- If the hounds intercept the fox before he/she completes they win the prize. This would need to the hound(s) to take a photo of fox being arrested to ensure no arguments.
- Each report the foxes submit gets “leaked” (or sold) after a period of time to the hounds and vice-versa.
- For the advance levels, “wanted” posters of the foxes can be put up on the Internet allowing the public to join in too.
- Missions can be hours or days long and span many locations in many countries (including some exotic ones).
- Many missions can be concurrent, possibly inter-linked.
- Foxes and hounds can include non-members to help them – at a cost !
- When a hound puts his/her hand on the fox and says his code name – its game
This the heart of Elude. Missions must be carefully written and tested. The testing ensures the routes used aren't blocked by out-of-service roads, private no-right-of-way, out-of-service bridges etc. It also gives us the opportunity to pick out WiFi IP address locations !
Missions should be designed to be naturally fluid and dynamic to allow all players to use their imagination and wit. However they must also be written with clear boundaries and achievable goals. They must also obey the law of the land.
Missions are divided into : Beginner, Basic, Medium and Advanced. Basic missions will be short and easy to play eg quick run around London / Canterbury. Advanced missions will last several days and span counties and possibly countries.
Missions must balance the relative tasks of being the fox and the hounds. The best way is to break each mission into sections, each with a contact who supplies info for the next section. This provides more opportunities for interception.
Basic mission templates :-
- Surveillance eg taking photos.
- Deliver incriminating evidence to contact.
- Pick up package and deliver to contact.
- Pick-up and escort ex-gang member / witness / scientist and deliver him/her to contact.
- Find and intercept escaping ex-gang member / witness.
- Act as honey-trap.
- Act as contact.
Example Mission #1
Duration: 4 hours ish.
Location: London / Canterbury
Players: 2~4. Prize: £100 ~ £400.
Fox = Spy, Hounds = Security Forces
Setup: 1 Fox, 2+ hounds, 2 x DS
- Fox gets designated and moves to the start point.
- Hound(s) are designated and they move to another start point.
- At 12:00 Fox gets mission: move around London and take photos of key buildings, email them back to elude and finally end up at a designated location to meet contact.
- At the same time the hounds get mission: Find and apprehend fox. To help they get photo(s) of the fox and also get photos sent by the fox (leaked from elude)
- The game ends when the fox completes his/her mission by reporting to their contact or if one of the hounds intercepts him/her.
Example Mission #2
and an example of how it might play-out
Duration: 2 days.
Location: London / Kent
Players: 2~4. Prize: £200 ~ £400.
Transport Modes: Train only
Fox = Informant, Hounds = Contract hitmen
- Fox is at home in Chatham (Kent)
- Fox receives email / text with instructions to log on to elude.eu for his mission.
- Fox decides to accept mission and gets the details. The mission :-
- He/she is allocated the code name : Fox 2491
- Find a USB drive (containing CCTV video of a gang shooting) under a rock in Jacob Yard, Preston Street, Faversham ME13 8NY.
- Take USB Drive to a contact who be waiting at Birmingham New Street Station the following day at 09:00.
- The exact location and contact details will be provided later.
- Fox goes (via train) to Faversham (Kent) Jacob Yard to pick up USB Drive.
- Shortly after, info about the mission is “leaked” to the hounds. Their mission is to stop the fox from delivering the video.
- The hounds learn the fox is going by train and therefore can probably be found on the line between Faversham, Chatham and London Victoria.
- They wait at Chatham station so they can board the first train and search it.
- Fox learns that the hounds have knowledge of his mission but knows he is ahead for now.
- Fox reports in using NetBook, Blackberry or iPhone.
- Fox arrives in London and stays in a Hotel/B&B.
- Fox logs into web site and reports in.
- The hounds learn that the fox is staying in a hotel (from the “leaked” report) and try to find the fox there - they fail.
- A non-member sees the fox's report (on the web site) and realises she saw him/her at the hotel, she sells the info to the hounds – who fail again.
- Fox goes for a drink in hotel bar ... and wonders if the pretty lady eyeing him up is a honey-trap put there by one of the hounds!!
- The hounds decide to go directly to Birmingham and intercept the fox there.
- Fox also knows that the hounds will try to intercept him/her at Birmingham so he sends message to contact to make new arrangements.
- Fox checks out, boards train.
- Fox reports in via elude website.
- Hounds arrive at Birmingham ahead of fox and wait for arriving trains.
- Fox gets off train, manages to slip past hounds.
- Fox gives contact the USB drive.
- Fox wins !