Thomas Dolby's recently released web-based game "The Floating City" is both a marketing device for his upcoming album, "A Map of the Floating City", and an interesting project in its own right. Set in an alternate version of the 1940's, The Floating City integrates both old and new music by Dolby in a narrative setting that requires the formation of tribes and the trading of relics.
The album itself will be released when the game peaks, though it's unclear what that entails, and the winning tribe will receive a private concert with Thomas Dolby and band.
Floating City Game Trailer
Thomas Dolby's now in-progress game, The Floating City, creates a mysterious environment interwoven with the artist's music. Dolby's catalog is integrated into the game with the inclusion of named characters, places and objects from his songs:
"'The Floating City is set against a dystopian vision of the 1940s that might have existed had WWII turned out a lot differently,' says Dolby. 'A global energy experiment went haywire, the Earth’s magnetic fields have been reversed, and the planetary climate system violated. Science has betrayed us: now what must the species do to survive?'"
Part of the attraction of The Floating City is in helping to create a society, in part, through trading music downloads and virtual goods. But there has been some in-game concern about the difficulty in trading virtual property which might require Creator-level intervention!
I like the fact that The Floating City is an experience as well as a marketing tool. It's a project that has the potential to take what would typically be an afterthought or grafted-on tactic and make it an integral prelude to the album release.