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A captivating many-media adventure story that unfolds in 12 real-world mailings, video dispatches & digital experiences over 6 months.

A high-anticipation adventure story

Remember the joy of getting mail or the suspense of waiting for the next comic book or catalog to arrive? Remember when the answers to puzzles weren’t merely a Google search away? Remember using “antique technology” like floppy disks, VCRs, and paper maps?

Modern technologies and the internet are wonderful – absolutely – but so too are some of the invaluable experiences we had as kids:

  • surprise
  • delayed gratification
  • hands-on, real-world observations, and
  • long-term problem-solving

We want to create a journey of curiosity; a story that embraces and builds into its core the gift of anticipation, the puzzle of discovery, and a delightful interplay between physical mailings and digital experiences.

And we're not the only ones! Before posting this project we floated the concept by parents, teachers, transmedia / alt-reality game fans, and others in the Kickstarter community...

...

For parents to give their curious tweens

Whenabouts is an immersive exploration story – part book, part subscription service, part game, part video series – that unfolds over the course of half a year, delivered by way of 12 tangible mailings (yes, snail mail!) and 12 corresponding digital experiences.

As the surprise* recipient of a curious wood crate and its mysterious contents, your child/children will stumble into a role assisting the teenaged Cartier twins in their accidental quest back through time (see the story synopsis below). The key item in the box is a care-worn journal filled with technical drawings, diary entries, symbology, maps, and an astonishing – but obviously incomplete – manuscript. There are as many questions as answers!

With your son and/or daughter’s help, the twins will find and activate a series of historical “date posts”, markers that trigger subsequent dispatches - each one conveying the communications methods of decades and centuries past: diskettes, VHS, records, telegrams, hand-written letters, and so on.

(*Parents are in on the adventure too! You plant the crate for discovery – in the mailbox or under the Christmas tree, for example – and we’ll send you a heads-up/hints email before each mailing arrives. There will also be a private discussion forum to share reactions and bounce around ideas.)

...

The story: a wild ride back through time

Marie-Anne Cartier and her twin brother CJ are in trouble. Big trouble. Huge trouble. The kind of trouble that sounds like, “You mean to tell me that we just made one stupid ‘big-huge mistake’ and now we’re going to get eaten to death by dinosaurs?!”

The plan seemed pretty solid at first. Marie-Anne and CJ had watched their father using his time machine dozens of times. Surely no one would mind if they “borrowed” it; they’d be back before they even left! The twins would combine their special skills to form a brash and brainy two-person adventure squad, what could possibly go wrong?! It’s not like they’d lose their only map home, right?

(Right...?)

Of course, as nearly everyone knows, the only way to safely navigate through time is to pack a temporal map into a sturdy case that you send back to a safe time and location. Marie-Anne and CJ, unfortunately, sent their only copy a little too far back. Now your family has the map, the twins’ only lifeline as they hurtle blindly into the past, jumping decades and then centuries at a time.

Is all hope lost? Maybe not quite yet. Marie-Anne and CJ are still able to send life rafts through the mail, little “time parcels” that arrive roughly twice a month. Can you and your family unpuzzle the Cartier’s frantic clues, entering their “whenabouts” into their lost map before the twins’ temporal trajectory flings them too far into the past? Will you save the day or will Marie-Anne and CJ end up as the daily special on some Triassic-era dinosaur menu? Only time will tell!

...

How we’ll roll this journey out

The story begins with the initial wood box. We’ll deliver that to you (the parent) in December – by Christmas – for you to make it “randomly discoverable” by your daughter/son. “Hey, whose present is this? It doesn’t have a name on it...”

A few weeks later, the first of 11 deliveries will arrive by mail with subsequent deliveries arriving every 2-3 weeks after that. Each mailing includes “lost” pages from the journal, a code linking to an online video from Marie-Anne and CJ, and interactive puzzles – everything from figuring out a virtual VCR or telegraph to finding plot clues hidden in classical melodies or 15th-century paintings.

Each mailing and digital experience relate to a different historical era…

The penultimate delivery – the adventure’s reward – is an actual pocket watch (an object in the story that if found returns the Cartiers home to the near-future) and a letterpress-style wall poster recapping the journey.

...

Created by an amazing team of collaborators

Whenabouts will be produced by the creators of Warms gift boxes and gift marketing projects; a team with toy industry, web/app development, video production, and magazine publishing experience.

The story is being written by Jason Whiting, a comedian, stage actor, and author of a soon-to-be-published sci-fi book for young adults.

Drawings and illustrations by toy concepts designer Benny Dongarra.

The Whenabouts website and many of the virtual experiences will be designed and implemented by Plank, an excellent web studio based in Montreal.

The video dispatches and clips will be directed and edited by motion graphics master George Simeonidis. The pitch video above is just a taste.

Cecily Carver of Toronto's Dames Making Games is on board to develop the point-and-click game in the 10th installment.

The project is overall managed by generalist and creative producer Steve Hardy.

We’ll also collaborate with a variety of talented artists and suppliers for specific illustration, photography, songs, and game dev support. And with you, our pledgers, throughout the creative process.

...

Pledge now to support innovative storytelling

We’re offering four types of rewards to pledge for...

The MAIN package includes:

  • The starter box and its contents
  • 11 letter/object mailings (including postage)
  • 12 video dispatches
  • 12 digital experiences

Pledge now to get an even better deal with our earlybird tiers:

  • $75 for the first 75 pledgers (save 62.5%)
  • $100 for the next 100 pledgers (save 50%)
  • $125 for the next 125 pledgers (save 37.5%)
  • $150 for the next 150 pledgers (save 25%)
  • $175 for the next 175 pledgers (save 12.5%)
  • and after that the regular price is $200 each, or $350 for 2

The DELUXE package for $400 includes the same elements, plus:

  • One of the twins’ video messages will be personalized (the actors will say the recipient’s name(s) and refer to inside-info provided by the parent)
  • Your child’s name will be engraved on the pocket watch
  • Your child’s face will be drawn into the wrap-up adventure poster

[Note: The MAIN and DELUXE prices above are for U.S. and Canada addresses. Recipients elsewhere please add $75 each to cover the additional postage and preparation.]

For those who don't want the story journey but who love the idea, want to follow our progress, and wish to help us reach our goal, there's also a SUPPORTER package for $25 and a SAMPLER package for $50.

If you like this idea and its unusual, extended, participatory form of storytelling and curiosity-tapping learning please pledge. Please spread the word so that this all-or-nothing project hits its goal.

And finally, a big thank you to all of the participants in our pre-launch survey for their generous insights!

@Whenabouts

FAQ

  • A computer with internet connection and a current web browser.
    An adult’s email address (parent or legal guardian).
    A postal address (lettermail and small parcels).
    A kid with insatiable curiosity, ingenuity, and love of adventure!

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  • Yes. Mail is sent to an address that you provide. All online URLs link only to the Whenabouts website, which is closed and ad-free. Emails are sent only to parents/guardians.

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  • Yes. We’ll still need the email address and consent of the recipient’s parent/guardian.

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  • The experience is being designed for all ages - kids and kids-at-heart. Sorta like a Pixar movie.

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  • Yes, the label could say "Billy and Sally Smith" or "The Smith Family", for example. The login access will be shared.

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  • We are based in Canada and the pledge amounts listed on the right are in USD for residents of the US and Canada. If you’re located elsewhere, no problem - simply add the noted extra amount to cover international postage. Delivery times will vary by country.

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  • We’ve set an ambitious goal because Whenabouts is an ambitious project; a 1-year endeavor with numerous deliverables, material and postage costs, and multiple production and development tasks to juggle. We also have very high standards for ourselves and for the quality of the whole experience.

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  • Pledge $25 or more
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    SUPPORTER - For those who love the idea but aren't up for the journey (or don't know any tweens). Includes: a Whenabouts branded 48-page (blank) kraft-cover Field Notes memo book; a copy of the official Whenabouts wrap-up poster; insider emails (opt-in); discussion forum access; our thanks.

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    SAMPLER - A second supporter level, getting one of the mailed objects and access to one of the 12 digital experiences. Includes: a cubic hinge-top wood box; a Whenabouts pocket watch; access to one of the virtual experiences (which one? a surprise); insider emails (opt-in); discussion forum access; our thanks. International: +$20.

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    MAIN (1st tier earlybird price) - see below for details. International: +$75.

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    MAIN (5th tier earlybird price) - see below for details. International: +$75.

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    MAIN (regular price) - Includes: the starter crate and its contents (such as the "incomplete" book); 11 letter/object mailings (including postage!); 12 video dispatches; 12 digital experiences; insider/heads-up emails and discussion forum for parents. International: +$75.

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    DOUBLE - Includes MAIN times two (for multiple recipients/participants/addressees). International: +$150.

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    DELUXE - Includes MAIN plus: one of the video dispatch messages is personalized; the recipient's name is engraved on the pocket watch; recipient's face drawn into the wrap-up poster; a Whenabouts branded 48-page (blank) kraft-cover Field Notes memo book. International: +$75.

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Funding period

- (25 days)