Interview: Josh Fisher from Urbaniacs

Urbaniacs Logo

I recently got in touch with Josh Fisher, the creative force behind the browser game Urbaniacs. We sent a few e-mails back and forth, and I managed to ask him a few questions about his browsergame:

What first got you started building browsergames?

I cam from traditional media. I spent about 8 years producing animation for companies like Fox Kids, Cartoon Network, ABC Family, and others. When Neopets first came out, I knew there was something really fun there, but I didn’t really know how to engage that world. Eventually, as bandwidth (and NeoPets) grew, it became an easy transition. While the animation market was shrinking, online game worlds seemed to be popping up everywhere. My partner Barry Collier and I decided to start one on our own, just for fun. the idea was that we both liked comic books and hip hop… so we created Urbaniacs. To us, it was a great combo of what we liked. In our world, you could be a funky urban hero or villain, play games, and meet some interesting people. It has been a real treat watching it grow into a thriving community.

What language(s) did you use to build Urbaniacs?

The site is programmed primarily in PHP.

What other game(s) have you made? What have you learned while building them?

I’ve been the producer on NFL Rush Zone, the NFL’s game world for kids, for the last 18 months. Working with their team has opened my eyes to the what is possible when you have a larger staff working together. Urbaniacs has always been a 2 and 3 person shop. It’s a lot easier to get things done in a short period of time when you have resources. The NFL has also inspired us to push the technical aspects a bit further. They have been great to work with and when someone gives you a great challenge with a great brand, it’s exciting to respond to that challenge.

Do you have any tips for someone looking to get into building browsergames, or for people just starting out?

I think the most important thing is planning. Know what you want and what you want to be before you get started. Switching gears can be a frustrating experience for the users and for your team. I’d rather spend some extra time digging in and understanding the audience, and knowing what it is we will be offering them. It’s really two things, 1 is good planning and the second is sticking to your plans and executing them in the best possible way.

Do you have any recommendations in terms of monetization or advertising strategies? There are a lot of browsergames out there to compete with.

If I had a good answer, my life would be easier. We’ve avoided VC at this point. Monetizing your traffic is the smartest money you can spend (when it’s your own money). We’ve got micro-payments and ads. We haven’t gone down the subscription road yet, but a lot of companies do well with that model. When I find one that really works, I’ll let you know.

About Urbaniacs

Urbaniacs is a comic book world come to virtual life. Transform your online self into your own funk-infused super-avatar known as an Urbaniac. Meet new “Homeys” or challenge your “Arch Enemies” to a multiplayer Battle. Each Urbaniac can be customized in thousands of ways. While the characters and styles are immediately attractive to younger audiences, the depth, clever games, and irreverent sensibility appeal to teens and adults who play. There is a wide range of humorous and entertaining interactions for anyone looking for an adventure. Direct your Urbaniac to The Streets to chat with friends and show off your funky super powers or cruise to the Arena, where you can take out some aggressions with a hilarious round of “Wedgie Toss.” You can join a local challenge to become a Boom Box master or spend some time earning Urbos (Urbanville’s currency) while playing Beat Bot Boogie. There are many compelling social community features built into the comic gameplay of the world. Once you’ve earned some Urbos you can head down to the “Pimp Out Depot” to trade them in for some fresh new gear and gadgets to equip on your Urbaniac. But be careful! At any moment, you could be faced with a challenge, assault, or battle by another Urbaniac or one of the in game characters. Scared? Don’t be. Just invite some homeys along and you and your crew could take over the city in no time.

The group elements make the site come to life. Try your best to out-rap Urbanville’s Mayor DaMan in the “Freestyle” rap forum or check out the “Newbie” posts to get some insider tips about how to play the more challenging games. Better yet, create your own forum and see how the Urbaniacs community responds. Urbaniacs is an evolving virtual world created to inspire the imagination and provide hours of fun, funny, funky entertainment and adventure to all who participate.

For more information contact Co-founder and Urbanville Mayor, Josh Fisher at


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Luke is the primary editor of Building Browsergames, and has written a large portion of the articles that you read here. He generally has no idea what to say when asked to write about himself in the third person.

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008 interview
  • Great post... I really love playing browser games to release my stress..
    Can you post some information regarding animation.. I'm studying 2d Animation now and I really want to learn a lot...

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Building Browsergames is a blog about browsergames(also known as PBBG's). It's geared towards the beginner to intermediate developer who has an interest in building their own browsergame.


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