Interview: Evil Trout from Forumwarz

Back when I asked who Building Browsergames should approach, you all commented and e-mailed with your thoughts on games you’d like to hear from. Some, like Travian, have already told us that they will not be talking to us. However, some games have responded favorably, and I am hoping to post their responses in the coming weeks.

One of those games was Forumwarz – I managed to get in touch with Evil Trout, the developer, and ask him a few questions. His answers are below, and I’m hoping that we’ll see a post-mortem soon.

Tell us a little bit about Forumwarz.

Forumwarz is a parody role playing game about the Internet. Instead of playing a wizard slaying goblins in dungeons, you can play as a camwhore “pwning” forums on a fake version of the Internet. You communicate with bizarre non-player characters via an instant messaging interface, buy things from online stores and basically laugh the whole way through.

Honestly I’ve always felt the game is better played than explained, so if you head on over to http://www.forumwarz.com and click “New Game” you can start to get a feel for the game before you even have to register for an account.

You launched a second episode of Forumwarz a while ago that was “pay to play”, and caught some flack from players. Was it what you expected?

It was always part of the plan to charge for future episodes. In fact we talked about it back in early interviews: http://waxy.org/2008/02/forumwarz/

In early 2008, we didn’t hear much about it, but as Episode 2 got closer to release we started getting a lot of feedback. As you pointed out a bunch of people had negative things to say and yes, we did expect that. People would always rather play something for free than have to pay for it!

I think a lot of people didn’t understand that it costs money to run and develop a game. We weren’t asking for money out of greed, it was to cover our costs and to continue to improve the game.

What are your thoughts on charging for your game?

I’m happy to say now that it has worked out quite well for us. A few people predicted it would be the death of Forumwarz, but things are more active now than ever! We recently passed the 120k user mark.

Is there anything you’d do differently for the next episode?

We had a very aggressive timeline for Episode 2 that nearly killed me :P I think for Episode 3 will we give ourselves a longer timeline and use that to make it even better.

One of my goals is to make the battles and equipment more varied. Pwning forums is fun, but I think it could be a lot more strategic.

What first got you into browsergame/PBBG development?

I’ve always been obsessed with gaming, and I’d been working in web development for years. It was a logical jump, I think, to try and create a browser game. To be honest I’d barely played any before, I just wanted to try out my idea of forums as a game!

What made you choose Ruby on Rails as a platform for Forumwarz?

I’d been working in J2EE for years and had grown quite sick of it. I’d heard a lot of buzz for Ruby on Rails around the web, and I downloaded Rails to just dick around with it. I didn’t think I would take to it as seriously as I did. I just loved how quickly I was able to get stuff done. It didn’t take me long to get hooked.

What was your most significant challenge building Forumwarz?

The hardest part is having all these awesome ideas and not enough time to get them done! Also, gamers tend to be very passionate about games and that makes them quite critical at times. You have to have a thick skin, because every day a dozen strangers are going to tell you how you could be doing your job better :)

What was the least significant challenge?

Probably the discipline to work on it every day. I know some people have problems committing to projects, but if you really love what you’re working on it should be easy to devote lots of time to it (or maybe I’m just a masochist.)

What plans do you have for forumwarz, going into the future?

We have a bunch of cool aspects we want to build on top of it to make it more interesting, as well as our commitment to getting Episode 3 done and to conclude the current storyline.

Do you have anything to say to budding browsergame developers?

Just work on something you really enjoy. I think the rest comes easy.

You can check out Forumwarz at http://forumwarz.com.

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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.

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Thursday, February 12th, 2009 interview
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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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