I’ve been updatting Twitter a lot more lately than the blog, mainly because most updates don’t warrant a full posting. If you have a Twitter account you can follow forumwarz for more frequent updates. Actually, even if you don’t have Twitter you can just subscribe to the RSS feed there and you’ll get all our updates. Here’s some stuff you might have missed:
The site has been pretty laggy lately. We decided to finally do something about it and ordered 3 brand new servers, all of which are faster than our current server. They’re currently being set up by our hosting company and hopefully we’ll be able to switch over pretty soon.
There will be some downtime as we switch over. This is a pretty major change so it might take the larger part of a day to switch over, but it should be worth it for the performance we’ll gain.
I’ve pushed out some early upgrades to Tubmail, which should help if you have many messages in your inbox. It’s now paginated, and you get much more screen real estate to view the list of messages.
We’ve published a few ItemBuildr items already. You should check out the ItemBuildr section of the site and the store to see the awesome stuff our users have come up with.
Over the next little while I’ll be putting out many little enhancements to existing parts of the site such as Tubmail and Flamebate. If you’ve been part of the community for a while I’m sure you’ll be glad to have some of the new tools we plan to build.
We’re starting to work out a schedule for Episode 3 development, too. It’s a long way away, but we’re getting ready to get the ball rolling on that one too.
Forumwarz is looking for a great new moderator to help our team with day-to-day activities.
It’s a fun, responsible position and it’ll give you access to the secret, inner bowels of the Forumwarz engine.
If you’re interested, read this thread and tell us why you think you deserve the gig!
Today I’m delighted to announce the launch of itembuildr, our latest system for players to create content in the Forumwarz world. Whereas forumbuildr allowed players to create forums, itembuildr allows you to create items that your player can actually equip!
Here’s how it works:
Step 1. The itembuildr gnomes come up with an item type and stats.
This is done automatically, and is mostly random. The item will either be an equippable item or a junk item. It can be anything from a .moar file (in fact, our first build is a video .moar file) to a tattoo or even a special item. Pretty much anything that can be equipped can be designed by our players.
The stats for the item are generated by marrying two existing items together from a particular class, plus a little random mutation thrown into the mix. So you don’t have to worry about designing some kind of super item that’s better than anything in the game. Everything should be within the limits of what we consider acceptable.
Step 2. People submit names and descriptions
Any character on Forumwarz can submit a name and description for the item. They are told what type of item it should be and what it’s stats will be, and they can submit exactly one idea. The submission period lasts 24 hours.
Step 3. People vote on the names and descriptions
On the second day, people will anonymously vote up and down other people’s ideas. Again this lasts 24 hours. After the voting period ends, the winner is picked as the official name and description of the item.
Step 4. People submit images for the item
Now that the item name and description is known, people can submit images for it. Each character can submit one image for consideration.
Step 5. People vote on the images
Again, a new voting period occurs and people can vote on the best images. After 24 hours, the best image is picked and..
Step 6. The item is published!
The item will end up in an itembuildr store at first for a limited time, along with recently published items. People can purchase the item and begin trading it on Kyoubai (or just stockpile it for their collections.) The best items will also be moved (at the discretions of admins) into the actual game stores, so anyone playing the Forumwarz storyline can purchase them.
Working in Parallel
Now that we’ve explained the pretty straightforward flow of the itembuildr process, you’ve probably figured out that it takes 4 days for an item to go from concept to the store. That would mean about 90 new items a year, which isn’t nearly enough for our rabid users.
Instead we’ve designed the process so that we’re designing two items in parallel!
The way this works is that we’ve broken it into a two day cycle of submitting and voting. During the submitting day, you can submit ideas for items, but you can also submit images for the previous winner. Then on the voting day, you vote for both. So it still takes an item 4 days to be created, but there are always two on the go. Cool huh?
How to access it
You can start using itembuildr right away by logging in and clicking on the multiplayer tab. Today we are only submitting item ideas since it’s the first time it’s being run.
As always, we welcome feedback on the process, the interface and the integration into Forumwarz as a whole. Let us know what you think and how we can make itembuildr a great piece of the Forumwarz universe!
Thanks to a recent ad campaign, Forumwarz recently passed the 150,000th registered account mark.
When we launched Forumwarz nearly a year and a half ago, we had no idea if people would enjoy it or not, so hitting this milestone is quite meaningful.
Attracting that many eyeballs doesn’t come without a cost, though. When Forumwarz had 150 users, I would personally respond to every piece of correspondence I received, whether it was a bug report, game feedback or just people saying ‘hi!’
I remember a couple of people remarking on the fact that they’d received a reply, saying they never thought a bug report on a web site would incite a reply, from a site founder no less! It was flattering.
However, as the site grew, the amount of feedback grew with it, and it became far too much for me to stay on top of. Have you ever tried to email someone from a popular web site? Did you receive a reply? Probably not!
The thing is, is our business has changed. We used to sit around thinking “well, what next?” Now it’s more like “OMG, HOW LONG UNTIL THAT IS DONE?” We struggle with the complex issue of prioritizing.
Recently, in our chat room, someone told me they were surprised how nice I was, because he’d heard that I didn’t care much about the game. This is a site that I’ve invested thousands of hours working on and one that I spent countless hours of my day thinking about. I have even taken a huge pay cut to work on it full time. And why? Because I love it.
At one point, Forumwarz was just an idea in my head. Now it’s something that many people have enjoyed. That accomplishment is incredibly meaningful to me.
The one thing I want to convey above all else is that a lack of a reply does not mean we don’t care about your issue. Nothing could be further from the truth. We want Forumwarz to be an awesome game too!
Our current solution is a spreadsheet that lists upcoming features we want to deliver (currently about 50). We have a column for estimated development time (which is often wrong!) and a column for our best guess at the value that feature would deliver to our product. Then we came up with a formula that spits out a “score” based on those two factors. If something can be developped quickly and adds a lot of value, we do it first.
Unfortunately, as a player of our game, this might mean the feature you enjoy the most tends to not get upgraded or looked into for a while. I know, it sucks, but it’s a bad side effect of having limited resources. Larger companies than ours can afford to hire more employees to work on more features in parallel, but ours is a simple web game, and we have to make do within the limits of our current revenue steams.
Having said all that, we still appreciate all the feedback we receive even if we don’t act on it right away. Every ticket and email that falls into my inbox gets read, and ultimately prioritized.
Today we’ve added scullyangel to our moderator team.
I think having a woman on our team will ensure that Flamebate remains the most intelligent and respectful forum on the Internet for many years to come.
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:
A bunch of people showed interest in the conversation editor I showed off in the screenshots of our admin section.
I decided to record a screencast that shows off how the tool works. It’s un-rehearsed and rough around the edges but it’ll give you an idea of how we write the conversations that you play out in sTalk.