Archive for the ‘Episode 2’ Category
It has been about 6 months since we launched Forumwarz Episode 2!
The initial plot for Forumwarz was written quite some time ago. Based on a few meetings where the team discussed what we’d like to have in the story, Jalapeno Bootyhole wrote up an outline. (At the time we were planning on releasing the entire game in one go, where half way through you’d be forced to pay to finish the storyline.)
As we got into the development and writing we figured out that it would be a lot more work than we thought to finish the whole story before we ran out of money. We decided to split the game into Episodes. Three made the most sense, so we found logical end points and adapted the story accordingly. Reviewing the document now reminds me how far we’ve come:
You get a popup message, that refers to whatever search term you came up with.
Bottom corner: Dr. Mysterion/Johnny Anonymous/HornySanta24/AnonImus/Shallow Esophagus has added you to his IM list!
Some presence (Sentrilion? Googhole?) adds itself to your IM list. I know you were searching for pictures of monkey snatch, but: Can I talk to you for a minute? Yes/No, doesn’t matter. Singles you out for never having done anything in your life. Says you can change the world forever, just have to listen to instructions. “Why me?” etc. Not important. Asks you to destroy this forum. He’ll make it worth your while, and if not, you can block him.
Hah, part of me wishes we went with Dr. Mysterion now!
Throughout the design stage, I referred to the overall storyline as the mythology. In other words, the story that glues together the entire universe. We also introduced a lot of side missions, which are basically interesting characters with a gripe that want you to help them out for money.
Episode 3 is the last piece of the mythology, as far as we’ve written it. People keep asking me what we have planned for the game after that. Well, just because this particular storyline ends doesn’t mean we can’t create others. We aren’t about to abandon the franchise just because what we initially wrote runs out!
We are committed to working on Forumwarz as long as it is viable to do so. I’m not sure what form that will take, because we’ll likely want to take some time to imagine our options, but it might be a new storyline split up into episodes, or single one-off episodes that have shorter but self-contained storylines.
In a little while, Jalapeno Bootyhole will enter the heavy lifting aspect of the writing process. We’ll work together to create a detailed outline of the events in the game, the actor dialogue, the forums, the gameplay, etc. It will take some time, but once the ball is rolling you’ll hear a lot more about it and what’s contained.
But first, the combat revamp!
While Jalapeno is fleshing out the writing, I plan to spend some time beefing up the existing gameplay. In Episode 1, you spend so much time learning about the different aspects of the game that time flies quick and before you know it you’re finished. In episode 2, the storyline is much longer, so the limitations with the existing combat engine are more evident. It ends up playing too much like World of Warcraft, where you hit the same combination of keys on the keyboard over and over.
I have some good ideas on how to improve combat and make it more intelligent, and I want to spend some time implementing them into the existing game. I’ll need a bunch of volunteers from every class to help test the new mechanics, and there will likely be some speedbumps along the way, but in the end I think it will be worth it.
Look for more on that in the coming weeks.
The three most common question:
These are what I get asked most frequently about Episode 3.
When is it coming out?
We aren’t giving a release date because we’d rather launch it when it’s stable than push it out too soon. Based on our previous history, a release towards the end of 2009 is likely. Episodes 1 and 2 were both released in October.
How much will it cost?
We’re not sure yet. It’ll depend how long it is and how epic it feels. We are certainly not out to gouge people so it’ll stay affordable like Episode 2 was. Last time the pre-order was successful, so we’ll probably offer that again when we have a release date in sight.
Can I beta test it?
Last time the beta tester feedback proved to be invaluable. However, we made some mistakes about letting everyone into the beta at once. Once most people had finished it, they had little reason to start again and test it fresh. This time I plan to have multiple beta sessions, staggered from each other.
We’ll probably be hand picking most testers based on their feedback of the game (we even like harsh criticism) and based on their ability and willingness to spend time playing an unfinished game. However, we might end up doing a random selection of people. If we create a sign up list for random selection, you’ll hear about it on this blog!
For those who have finished Episode 2, we have partnered together with Celerysteve to build you a new mission that parodies one of our infamous forum members. The quest is only available for a limited time, so be sure it check it out sooner rather than later. You can access it on top of your character’s page.
We’ve also added some new E-Peen(tm) to the game:
I’ve been doing some work behind the scenes to create an API for INCIT, so that we can make clients on other platforms (right now we’re working on an iPhone version with one of our users.)
Thanks to Rails, creating the API is taking very little time. I was curious whether anyone else would be interested in APIs for other aspects of Forumwarz?
Nothing comes to mind right now, but if you’re a programmer and want access to our public data somehow, send me a tubmail or email with your idea and I’ll see what I can do.
Over the last few weeks I’ve received a couple of angry emails.
Here’s a sample:
“I have to PAY to play the next episode?
No Thanks. No Thanks.
I’m not going to tell you guys you suck now or anything, I understand, you need money to do what you gotta do… But I think you went about it the wrong way, and you aren’t getting my money.
It’s not even entirely because I’m not convinced episode 2 isn’t worth money. It’s because I feel like I’ve been hijacked.
Kingdom of Loathing is the only other online web based rpg I play, and they’ve probably got 50 bucks out of me over the course of my playing, why? because they didn’t create necessary plot content and then force me to pay for it. They just have cool things that are optional to pay for. I’m down with that.”
Kingdom of Loathing
I get asked about Kingdom of Loathing (KoL) with some regularity: Have I ever played it? What do I think of it?
The truth is I have played it, but only for a short period of time. I thought it was really cool, and I was impressed with the depth it has. It’s amazing how much there is to do in there.
Forumwarz has a lot in common with KoL. They’re both browser-based role playing games. They both are parodies of the genre. While it can be said that they are our “competition,” I never think of them like that.
When Jick and Mr. Skullhead created KoL, they paved the way for games like Forumwarz and we’re grateful to them. And while KoL wasn’t in my mind during the design stages of Forumwarz (the games I was influenced by were Jones in the Fast Lane, Superhero League of Hoboken and World of Warcraft. Jalapeno was influenced by Shadowrun and the Monkey Island series), we certainly took KoL into consideration when trying to figure out a sustainable business model.
I think that having another parody browser-based RPG does something to legitimize the market. There’s no reason why players can’t play both. Or one might appeal to a certain kind of players while the other appeals to another. Additionally, we can look to each other for inspiration or ideas. I’ve corresponded with Jick a few times — he’s a really nice guy. He plays Forumwarz and even bought Episode 2!
I’m not out to steal players from KoL or “best” the game on any level. I’m out to create the best game I possibly can, and I’m sure they are too.
Every time I have received an email like the one at the top of this post, it has been from a KoL player. They are the ones who object the most to us charging for content.
I think I understand why. In the KoL world, things are not done that way. Longtime players of that game have accepted this as a basic truth, and it almost seems to offend them that anyone would even consider doing something different. This is what we have to deal with when entering the market years later.
If anyone feels “hijacked”, I’m terribly sorry, but it has always been our plan to charge for Episode 2. We’ve been talking about it publicly since February. There have been countless threads on Flamebate and blog postings about it. I really think the people who have taken the most offense are those who just assumed we’d do things exactly like KoL.
The Forumwarz business model is different. Note that I’m not saying “better” here, just different. We are more like the shareware model of games, where you play the first episode free, then pay if you enjoyed it and want to continue playing. Really what we’re doing is nothing new, it’s just being applied to a new medium.
Is our method a mistake, like the person’s email says? So far, I’m delighted to say things are going great. It is far too early to make long-term predictions since the new episode hasn’t even been out a week, but the future looks bright at this point.
We are experimenting here. If it continues to succeed we will keep it up. If it fails, we will look into other methods of sustainability. I don’t want to put words into the KoL’s team mouth, because maybe they’ve decided to never, ever charge for content, but I’m sure they’re at least observing how this is going to pan out for us. This is the way businesses function: they try new things, see how the market reacts to it, then adjust based on their reactions.
Ultimately, I’ve always said that it’s your money to spend as you choose. We are delivering a product that I think is worth $9.99. If you don’t think it’s worth it, that’s cool. Plenty of other people do. Also, there are other games you can choose to play instead that have different business models. No matter what happens, as a consumer you’re going to have some awesome games around to play.
One important lesson I learned about game design in the last year is that sometimes what seems fun to you internally is not always as fun to other people. Also, it’s really hard to predict what will frustrate users and what won’t!
I know for a fact that some people love the extended introduction sequence to Forumwarz Episode 2, butI have heard from others that it was tedious. They found the middle segment too difficult (even though we made it considerably easier after the Beta!) and just wanted to get on with the pwning of forums.
Well, we listened! One of the great things about a web game is you can deploy fixes quickly. Sometimes I deploy new patches a dozen times a day! Try and do that on an Xbox 360 game :P
Tonight, I deployed the ability to skip the majority of the introduction. There’s a “skip” link in the top right corner that will jump you ahead of the difficult segment and the majority of the time you’ll spend in the intro. While I am really proud of the sequence (and how we got it to work with our cinematics engine) and I think players should spend the time it takes to beat it, I understand that some people aren’t huge fans of such heavy amounts of text. I hope this solution works — it allows the players who are enjoying the sequence to take their time and enjoy it, and the others to skip ahead.
Let me know what you think of the change!
Okay, I was bound to screw up something major with the release of Episode 2.
Unfortunately, while merging the previous weeks’ madlibs into Episode 2, I accidentally deleted all the madlibs that were submitted for the current forum build. I’m really sorry about this, but I can’t bring them back from the dead.
Because this will certainly leave us without enough material for a build, I’ve extended the deadline by a week. Additionally, I’ve reset everyones submission count, so you can submit more entries to make up for the ones that got lost.
Super sorry about this!
We launched Episode 2 last night to thousands of users hitting the F5 buttons on their browsers. It first it was a little rocky but it’s a lot smoother now.
You may notice some lag in spurts. Generally it shouldn’t delay you more than a few seconds, but we are monitoring things and will add more servers if necessary to keep up with the load past the intial spike.
We accidentally sent out new visits twice today! Consider it a present from us related to Episode 2, also to make up for any issues that are interfering with your gameplay.
We are actively monitoring and doing our best to respond to any bug reports. I promise you that every bug submitted to us is read, even if you don’t get a personal response. Please make sure to provide as much detail as possible in every bug report to help us identify and fix problems quickly.
Finally, THANKS to everyone who is supporting us through this incredibly busy period. You’re awesome.
P.S. Stop asking about when Episode 3 will come out.