By Kieron Gillen on February 29th, 2008 at 12:20 am.
Perhaps appropriate on a day when the RPS server is visibly bulging as the Endless Bear shakes at its shackles, I’ve been playing a webgame that’s undergoing similar growing pains. It’s – the not safe for work, I stress – Forumwarz. I’d heard the name mentioned, but a thread at the ever-lovin’ Quarter to Three made me jump in. It’s a web game about the web, basically. That is, an RPG where instead of getting experience points for killing monsters, you get it by owning threads on forums.
Assuming you’ve got the sort of impervious shield of irony that may in bad light look like sociopathy, there’s more than a few kicks here. And – face it – with the evolved chitin of cynicism that covers pretty much all of us, that’s probably everyone.
It actually transfers across quite neatly. Your character gains attacks as they gain in experience, which do damage to individual threads. The threads attack back, knocking down your ego. If you’re strong, you win and gain a little cred, eventually gaining enough to take you up a level. Married to this is an adventure-game aspect, perhaps best imagined as Uplink reimagined by the average SA Goon. In chat windows, you work your way through multiple choice questions to complete your missions. These are somewhat unsavoury. You pretty much start with cybering an elderly man pretending to be a sixteen year old girl to orgasm, which sets the tone. God knows where it goes next.
Satire’s the excuse, of course, and it just about pulls it off, ableit indelicately and inprecicely. It’s particularly well done in the character classes you choose, either being an attention-seeking bra-flashing camwhore, a self-mutilating MCR-addicted Emo kid or your common-or-garden Troll. The whole game customises at this point, with the interface altering to match who you’re being, as well as opening up special moves to grind towards. I’m a camwhore, RPS-friend Dan Gril is a troll and Walker’s a big girly crybaby emo. Meanwhile, in the game, I’ve decided to be a camwhore, Gril’s a troll and Walker hasn’t started playing yet.
There’s a biz model in there somewhere too. You’re limited to four attacks on a forum a day, limiting your rate of progression. If you pay real money, you can unlock other abilities – like removing the attack-cap so you can burn through the game in an enormous forum-ravaging session or completely decorative abilities like giving yourself a new icon. Or – funnier – giving someone else an icon of your choosing for wars between friends. The game’s perfectly fine to play without giving any money over though.
There’s also a bit of user-generated content, with a section for people to design forums on a stated theme, and the most popular one wins an in-game money prize. Will Wright would applaud the concept, I suspect, but perhaps blanch at the execution. Also, for those who may just dismiss it as plain amateurism… well, there’s some actually neat little bits and pieces of design here. There’s not many webgames that actually have an integrated tutorial, let alone one half as elegant as this.
Anyway – you can try it here, and the developer is interviewed over here. And, I’ll repeat – probably not safe for work, assuming you work in a place populated by decent human beings. Not something I’d know much about, admitedly.