IGN has formally been round for 2 and a half many years, and has borne witness to numerous monumental shifts in online game and leisure tradition in that point. To have a good time our prolonged tenure on this earth, IGN’s 25th Anniversary Feature series will hone in on these shifts, and the flicks, video video games and TV reveals that helped outline them. At the moment, we’re wanting again 2004’s hit TV present Lost and the way it modified tv fandom without end.
At the moment you possibly can’t transfer on the web with out stumbling over spoilercasts, idea movies, and on-line conversations about your newest favorite TV present. So it’s arduous to consider that as lately as 2004, individuals merely simply watched tv after which, at finest, spoke about it inside their shut circles the following day. Even when tv reveals reminiscent of Twin Peaks and The Twilight Zone introduced mysteries, theories and dialogue typically lived or died within the office, scholar halls, or household rooms.
However in 2004, with the rise of recent know-how and pioneering concepts, a mysterious new hit present for ABC modified the sport. It altered the panorama in how we, as followers, engaged with our favorite collection. That is the story of how Misplaced modified the way in which we watch tv without end.
Half 1: “A frontrunner can’t lead ’til he is aware of the place he’s going.”
Regardless of the outlandish funds – on the time, the costliest pilot ever shot – and the uniquely various solid, Misplaced, the present about survivors of a aircraft crash on a mysterious island, arrived on tv in a really conventional sense. The rollout of episodes adopted the sample of a long-established televisual format, dropping weekly episodes with little greater than typical promoting areas to advertise the following installment. However one thing else was percolating within the media world; a brand new medium of leisure was in its infancy, able to delivery a brand new type of fan dialog and interplay for a worldwide viewers. Podcasting.
“I had no thought what a podcast was,” says Jack Glatfelter, one half of Jay & Jack, a father-and-son hosted Misplaced podcast.
“For some purpose, I had a subscription to USA At the moment, that was one of many newspapers I had,” recollects Jay Glatfelter. “I feel it was the summer time of 2005, that they had an article about this new factor known as podcasting. I assumed ‘oh, it is like a weblog, but it surely’s an audio weblog. That is so cool.”
Jay and Jack had been enormous followers of Misplaced however had been largely restricted to discussing their theories with one another. However the delivery of podcasting introduced a novel alternative to create one thing not solely by followers however for followers.
“I actually wished to do one thing with Jack, ” says Jay. “I at all times thought he was a extremely humorous character. So I used to be like, ‘We have to do one thing with you on the forefront.’ However we form of tossed round concepts lots, after which it was in that second of us simply actually being into speaking about it [Lost]. I used to be like, ‘Oh my God, we may speak concerning the present and it might be like a discussion board, however alive.’”
Podcasting was extraordinarily new on the time, with numerous creators nonetheless attempting to grasp what kind it may and would take. However the apparent preliminary comparability was easy: podcasts might be a really area of interest, trendy tackle a radio present.
”In radio again then, conversations did not occur about area of interest subjects the way in which you’ll in a discussion board,” says Jay. “With Misplaced [we] had been capable of form of speak like a chat present, however about these extra area of interest subjects, such as you would discover if you would go in a discussion board on some subject that you simply’re actually enthusiastic about.”
“It was rather more concerning the dialog concerning the present and like, ‘Oh, hey, did you see this Easter egg?’ Or ‘What about this scene? Let’s speak about that’,” Jay provides. “And I feel that was rather more what it was, versus a evaluation of the episode.”
Like Misplaced, podcasting started to blow up in reputation. The present and the format proving to be a match made in heaven. Dozens of fan podcasts devoted to combing by way of the most recent episode started to reach, and this motion was rapidly seen by Misplaced’s official channels. Recognizing a brand new device to advertise their weekly episodes, the present’s creators began ‘The Official Misplaced Podcast’ in November of 2005.
“The present was simply the right present for a podcast,” says Jack. “As a result of after you watch the present, you are going, ‘Okay, I bought to search out out what’s The Smoke Monster? What is that this? I must get these solutions!’”
Misplaced introduced the right automobile for the podcasting world to hitch its journey on, even past an avenue to debate the mysteries followers had been keen to resolve.
“Keep in mind shippers? The people who had been into the relationships? That they had their stuff on this present,” says Jay. “You had the sci-fi aspect. You had the Easter eggs, theories and all that form of stuff. It had all these totally different angles, so that you had all these various things that you simply wished to speak about. And it was nonetheless a community TV present, so it was weekly. You had a complete week in between every episode. That is numerous time for a present like that to percolate concepts, suppose and theorize, and actually dig into each little nitty-gritty minute element. Within the trendy world – particularly with streaming the place you get – there is no huge breaks.”
Followers had been anticipating not solely solutions however extra content material. The present had turn out to be an outstanding success, and with that bred a need for details about this mysterious island and our survivors. So in an effort to uniquely ship on this salacious need, the showrunners regarded to a different media platform: video video games.
Half 2 – “You Wanted Them, And They Wanted You.”
In 2006, Ubisoft introduced that it had licensed the rights and begun manufacturing on a Misplaced online game, later revealed to be Misplaced: By way of Domus. In contrast to different video video games based mostly on tv reveals of its period, although (The Sopranos: Street to Respect, 24: The Recreation), the Misplaced online game could be a real companion piece to the present, contributing in direction of its lore and, in the end, serving the viewers’s need to search out out extra details about the mysterious island. Originally of improvement, although, how one can obtain that imaginative and prescient was slightly hazy.
“My thought, stupidly, was I wished to make a shooter based mostly on the Dharma initiative as a result of nobody is aware of what the Dharma initiative was.” says Gadi Pollock, Producer on Misplaced: By way of Domus. “ I assumed it might be a extremely cool thriller, make it actually cool capturing the place perhaps we may go into among the areas of the island. And I may leverage among the Far Cry engine know-how within the lush islands as a result of it was a no brainer, proper? But it surely was actually shot down as a result of we actually wanted to be true to the present, and we had been afraid that the viewers would not actually admire that kind of angle.”
The showrunners’ imaginative and prescient for the sport was easy; this was to be a companion piece for followers of the present to be taught extra. The choice was then made to run the sport’s plot alongside (and intertwined with) the occasions of the primary 70 days of the present’s story.
“So we created a personality that was on the aircraft,” says Pollock. “That character crashed and we constructed, by way of the eyes of this character, one other perspective within the aircraft crash and surviving the island.”
“The viewers of Misplaced may be very finicky and it needed to be precise,” he provides, “So it was not even a query that we had been going to do a derivative character, however [they also needed to be] residing the story of the particular present.”
Misplaced’s manufacturing firm, Unhealthy Robotic was closely invested on this thought and labored carefully with Ubisoft to verify every part was completely aligned.
“From a narrative perspective, they had been very, very informative. And we spent numerous time massaging the story with them,” recollects Pollock. “What was good about them is that they allowed us to make use of no matter we wished to create the expertise for the viewers. And I feel additionally as they had been evolving with the viewers and the present, additionally they advanced the story as a result of additionally they picked stuff from us, and we picked up from them. So it was a extremely true collaborative expertise. I actually loved it.”
In 2021, the concept of weaving a story by way of totally different types of storytelling may be very commonplace. It’s a part of the muse of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However in 2006, the concept of stretching your plot over a number of mediums in a primitive model of at present’s popularised metaverse technique appeared like a dangerous proposition.
“Everybody retains mentioning metaverse and all these items” shares Pollock. “However we had been making metaverses after we made the Misplaced online game with all of the totally different components hooked up to it.
“To me, it was extra content material that was associated to the expertise so that you can develop with the product,” he says. “Not simply supplementary content material to get you engaged [and] to return spend extra money on the platform.”
With detailed podcasts, webisodes (solely on-line, lore-connected clips from the present), and a online game, Misplaced was really pioneering the strategy to participating an viewers exterior of the tv display screen. However the present’s creators had one other trick up their sleeve. One that may fuse the digital and real-world expertise of watching Misplaced. Alternate actuality.
Half 3: “It was a dream, however… it was probably the most actual factor I’ve ever skilled.”
The Misplaced Expertise was an Alternate Actuality Recreation (ARG) that happened between seasons 2 and three (with extra following after its success). It engaged followers in the course of the low season break, sending them additional down the rabbit gap of mysteries the present had introduced. However what precisely is an ARG?
“It is one thing that exists in the true world,” explains Luke Smith, proprietor of YouTube channel Hydra Collectables, and passionate Misplaced fan who skilled the ARGs firsthand. “So that you’re in search of real-life clues, real-life puzzles. It is recognizing issues in the true world that different individuals who aren’t taking part in the sport would possibly simply stroll by.”
Cynically, an ARG will be seen as a contemporary advertising device, capitalising on probably the most devoted followers to comb by way of hints and puzzles teased in different advertising supplies, after which subsequently chasing the rabbit to the following clue. This all results in a (hopefully!) satisfying lore drop you wouldn’t get by merely simply watching the present.
“That was the primary time that I might ever seen something fairly prefer it,” recollects Smith. “I knew that one thing was up the minute I noticed the advert in amongst all the conventional adverts for Oceanic Airways.”
The Misplaced Expertise was virtually like a contemporary model of a treasure hunt. Clues had been sprinkled all through official merchandise, and web site hyperlinks buried in pretend adverts that despatched followers additional into the abyss. Clues had been hidden in magazines, constructed into the present’s Comedian-Con panels, and even on the within of Apollo Bars (real-world recreations of the present’s fictional sweet bars being bought in shops). These breadcrumbs provided guarantees of information to these looking for solutions concerning the Hanso Basis, the fictional shadowy firm behind the present’s mysterious Dharma Initiative.
“You went to the Apollo web site, you discovered all these little totally different clues,” recollects Smith. “They usually stated that they had been going to be doing a restricted version of those chocolate bars in sure cities all over the world.
“So on the time of getting these, we did not know what they had been truly for,” he says. “I simply caught mine in my bag, considering I’ve bought this cool merchandise, I will take it dwelling and maintain it, which I’ve executed all this time. After which I heard somebody shouting out, ‘Open them up, open them up. You will not consider what’s inside!’ And there it was, there was this web site.”
The Misplaced ARG offered a supplementary tv expertise like no different. Fascinating followers by leveraging the most recent concepts and in the end, protecting followers engaged and speaking concerning the present.
“My favourite factor about this present is thriller,” Smith shares. “And the truth that these clues had been sprinkled round that immediately led to sure features of the present. It was simply too intriguing to not go forward and do it. And what we have now to additionally keep in mind is that this existed at a time earlier than social media as we all know it. So there wasn’t any YouTube, there wasn’t any Fb, there wasn’t any Instagram. It was actually simply individuals on boards going to precise internet pages to debate what that they had discovered.”
The obtuse, mysterious nature of The Misplaced Expertise felt extremely on-brand for the present. Together with the opposite companion items of media, it solely helped maintain Misplaced within the cultural zeitgeist and produce collectively a passionate group.
“It actually did embed me within the present,” Smith says, clearly passionate concerning the ARG’s impact. “It made me a lot extra intrigued and . A lot in order that I might be recording it from the tv, simply to rewatch the episodes again and again, and even gradual bits right down to try to discover extra clues. So it actually did heighten the present’s expertise.”
Half 4: “If We Can’t Dwell Collectively, We’re Going To Die Alone.”
With each piece of supplementary media, the Misplaced fan base unfold additional and grew extra passionate. And now, with trendy means to share, focus on and discover the present’s concepts, a fan base like no different started to emerge.
“It was simply individuals actually blissful and prepared to share data,” recollects Smith. “That is from all around the world. So even when somebody would write on the boards, they’d be talking in their very own language and we must put it by way of a really early model of what we might now name Google Translate, so we had been capable of work out and discover these clues. It was the web earlier than the web existed. And I did not notice how shut anybody may actually be simply by way of these wires, by way of that web line.”
Most significantly although, and maybe in contrast to different reveals, this time it felt just like the present’s creators had been truly listening to this passionate fan base.
“Nikki and Paulo had been a working example instance, proper?” says podcaster Jay Glatfelter, referring to 2 less-than-popular characters launched in season 3 who had been faraway from the present virtually as swiftly as they had been added. “They introduced them on. Everyone hated them. Which once more, is sort of commonplace now, each time some fan franchise provides some new character, there’s at all times backlash. I feel that they had good intentions for it and I perceive the idea behind it, but it surely wasn’t taking. They usually had been studying feedback about it because it was taking place on the podcast. And so clearly there was the pivot. However the way in which they despatched them off was such a nod and wink to the followers. It was a kind of moments the place you can see they had been part of it. And you can sense that they had been feeling the disdain of the characters. I feel they even would make jokes about them in the course of the podcast on the time. After which they switched and pivoted and killed off the characters, however in a extremely enjoyable tongue-in-cheek approach.”
Followers, for the primary time, felt like they honestly had a voice. In the event that they had been loud and united sufficient, they may affect choices. It’s one thing that appears much less of a international idea nowadays within the period of Snyder Cuts and on-line petitions, however again then it was one thing new.
“That is what’s neat, they regarded to the followers as a little bit of that supply of reality,” says Jay, referring to showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. “Like virtually the odor take a look at, does this go, does this examine? They stated it would not after which they adjusted to it. Whereas now it would not at all times essentially work. I really feel like Final Jedi to the Rise of Skywalker is an instance of there was numerous pushback to The Final Jedi. They clearly did a complete bunch of attempting to pivot to what they wished. And I feel it virtually made it a lesser product. So it would not at all times essentially work. However in that sense [Nikki and Paulo], I assumed they did a extremely good job of pivoting and adjusting too. They usually most likely noticed it like ‘we tried this, it did not work, let’s transfer to one thing else.’”
Half 5 – “See ya in one other life, brother.”
Regardless of Misplaced being a multimedia pioneer, incorporating all the most recent digital varieties it may discover to stretch the viewing expertise, it additionally surprisingly (and passionately) clung onto the final intrinsic staple of broadcast tv from the earlier half-century. Together with a number of of its contemporaries, reminiscent of Recreation of Thrones, Misplaced could be one of many final bastions for one thing we’d accepted as a part of the furnishings for a very long time. Appointment viewing.
“The fact is that we wish issues immediately now,” says Pollock. “That is why every part now’s on demand. And if it is not now, and it is not at present, we’ll lose the eye span.
“You must have that area to have the ability to have that degree of engagement and interplay,” says Jay. “I feel there are reveals that rise to that degree of Misplaced, but it surely would not have that area and it would not have that must fill in that area. And so I feel there are issues which can be like appointment TV, however even the Disney Plus stuff you continue to watch it at your personal time. You’ll be able to’t put the toothpaste again within the tube on that one.”
“Yeah, the streaming side actually hurts,” says Jack. “As a result of we have executed different TV reveals and we do Stranger Issues, but it surely’s not the identical as a result of some persons are forward of the place we’re speaking about. So it form of hurts.”
Misplaced was clearly a product of its time, hitting a candy spot in tv historical past. It rode the ultimate wave of appointment tv while concurrently launching and co-opting trendy media and advertising concepts, drawing the blueprint for tv fandom for years to return. Regardless of its extraordinarily divisive conclusion, it was an enormous success on all fronts. However arguably, it won’t have labored as nicely in another interval of leisure historical past. It wanted to exist on this specific pocket of time to not solely have the choice to pioneer these concepts but additionally have the chance to really capitalise on them.
“I feel to me, it is undoubtedly set the tone for the reveals that got here after it,” says Pollock. “I feel from a narrative perspective, it actually dictated numerous the way forward for not simply TV reveals, however what gaming storytelling was about, too. I feel it’s actually one thing that we must always undoubtedly keep in mind. To me, the way in which they formed the story was simply… genius.”
Misplaced’s methods molded a fan base like no different. The group was cultivated not solely by way of the contents of the present, however the way it nurtured its viewers within the gaps. A lot in order that it constructed to a crescendo that inevitably, was at all times going to disappoint a big portion of the rabid fanbase. Hardcore followers determined for solutions they’d been craving for six, uninterrupted years.
“When the finale occurred, there undoubtedly was extra negativity,” recollects Jay. “However whereas it was taking place, it was one of many coolest communities to be in.”
“Jack and I, we have executed panels on Misplaced at Comedian-Con,” he says. “However we try this Misplaced panel now and persons are coming that did not watch it whereas it aired, they usually stream it and simply watch it straight by way of. I really feel unhealthy for these individuals as a result of a lot of the expertise of Misplaced was the group.”
“There are people who I contemplate household from these relationships constructed out of these fan communities,” he provides. “We nonetheless meet up yearly and invite a bunch of individuals to my home from these communities. Friendships from all totally different walks of life, due to that present.”
Regardless of your lasting impressions of Misplaced, there’s no disputing its legacy. What started life as premium tv in probably the most conventional kind advanced the panorama a lot that we’d by no means watch tv in the identical approach once more. It grew and vocalised fan-driven content material, drew the blueprints for contemporary advertising instruments, and pioneered cross-media storytelling. Misplaced was a present that spent its total 6-year run adjusting the system for the way a tv present may thrive, paving the way in which for the reveals and fandoms that adopted. And regardless of ending its run in 2010, its legacy will likely be felt for many years to return. And as Jacob as soon as stated, “It solely ever ends as soon as. Every thing earlier than that’s simply progress”.
Dale Driver is an IGN Senior Video Producer, and he’d prefer to thank Jay and Jack Glatfelter, Luke Smith from Hydra Collectibles and Gadi Pollock for all their assist and perception. Observe Dale on Twitter.