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'Treasure Quest''s incentive

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Sirius Publishing is using a time-honored motivator to get skeptical shoppers to cough up 50 bucks for its latest game, Treasure Quest: avarice.

In this high-IQ CD-ROM, players wander through a 10-room mansion solving a series of linguistic puzzles that make The Times of London crossword look like a Junior Jumble. Each room in the mansion contains a hidden quote; the first player to put the quotes together successfully, using the game’s sophisticated and mysterious logic — and explaining his reasoning in a 1,000-word essay — will win a cool million.

If the premise sounds a bit academic — and if a million dollars isn’t sufficient incentive for spending the next six months glued to a PC — Treasure Quest also features a marathon performance by Terry Farrell (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s Jadzia Dax), who plays 10 different characters who float around the mansion offering cryptic clues. ”It’s just like saying the technobabble on DS9,” Farrell says of the exhausting four-day shoot. ”The director will say, ‘It’s really important that you string these two words together,’ and I don’t know what he’s talking about, but okay.” Farrell has plenty of experience playing multiple roles: An equally taxing episode of DS9 — in which the symbiont Dax meets all of her previous incarnations — was what brought her to Sirius’ attention, she says.

Treasure Quest‘s combination of high-reward game play and high-recognition star has already paid off big time: Sirius shipped 250,000 units of the game on its April 9 release date and is planning to cash in further with sales of a hint book and paid subscriptions to its website (http://www.siriusnet.com). In fact, some would-be millionaires are getting a little too excited: Hackers have tried, unsuccessfully, to access the company’s computer in search of clues.

So what happens if, after all this hype, some 10-year-old wizard hits on the million-dollar solution in a week? Then, quips Sirius marketing VP Michael Weiss, ”that’ll be great publicity for Treasure Quest II.”

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