We tried to solve the problem of ‘unreachable’ press and content creators by sending them physical letters from the 19th century to promote the release of Turmoil. The game is based in the 19th century. So the letters had to look, feel and if possible smell like the real thing. We also wanted some link to present day.
We created a handwritten note from an old relative introducing the recipient to the idea of an adventure. We printed the letters and used a well known method to make them look old: tea and oven baking. Tip: use laser printers, as inkjet printers smudge pink when wet. Each letter was soaked in tea, scratched and rubbed to give it character. Then we baked one or two at a time in an an 180 degrees Celsius for eight minutes. This gives a lovely effect to make it look old. Every letter was then handsigned with the letter H for Henry, one of the unlockable characters in Expert Mode.
An oil deed
For the oil deed we looked at actual deeds from that era. A lot of them were printed on coloured paper – not very common at the time we imagine – and they all had nice borders. We copied that style, chose a blue paper and added a Turmoil logo. This was a logo we discarded after trying it in-game, but on the deed it worked really well. So the work wasn’t wasted! The text was a combination of actual legal text from oil deeds and a bit of our own. It contained a Steam code for “1 Turmoil fully paid and non-refundable” that was valid for 117 years from May 26th 1899; exactly one week before release of the game. It was also signed, this time by William, the banker in Turmoil.
The mud treatment
To increase the feeling of the old age of the letter we out the deed and the letter in a brown envelope. All the envelopes were treated with mud and dirt to give them texture. We bound them in old yarn and closed them with a wax seal in the shape of a French fleur-de-lis, but nobody noticed that inconsistency.
To bring the old letter and deed into present day we created a cover letter from the postal service, the American Letter Mail Company, saying that they found an old mailbag. We made it look like Priority Mail with a red border and a similar logo, but we chose a different phrase to make sure that we didn’t have to pay extra charges.
To wrap it up
Finally, we wrapped all of that in a clear, see-through envelope. This was absolutely necessary to catch the eye of the recipient. The red border, brown envelope, yarn and wax seal were all visible to appeal to any inquisitive journalist or content creator.
The codes were redeemed by 11 out of 50 recipients. Press did not pick it up, but most content creators that opened the letters also acted on it: Sips, Markiplier, Super Beard Bros, PietSmiet, GameStar all did a video on the game and some remarked on the letter. The videos alone resulted in almost 2.5 million views. But it also generated a lot of new videos and streams, keeping Turmoil relevant and on players’ eyeballs.