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April 14, 2010 12:19 PM   Subscribe

Echo Bazaar is a place where you can play The Greatest Game, or seek your Ambitions, or, what the heck, just Seduce an Artist's Model! Ever since London was dragged one mile below the Earth's surface -- and one mile closer to Hell -- by a huge flurry of billions of bats, finding your fortune in the city has been something of a different beast.

But whether you want to become Persuasive among the poets and courtesans of Veilgarden, Dangerous among the constables and gangsters of Watchmaker's Hill, Watchful among the corpses and spies of Ladybones Road, or Shadowy among the thieves and merchants of Spite, there's always some new mystery to explore in Fallen London.

Free, browser, text-based game. Lots of fun stuff to do and explore, with some of the best writing I've seen this side of Kingdom of Loathing. Requires a twitter account, but doesn't send you any messages you don't ask for.
posted by cthuljew (44 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
wants to connect to my twitter account... why???? No access without that???? Stuff like this turns me instantly oppositional-defiant!
posted by HuronBob at 12:21 PM on April 14, 2010


ditto. Do not pass go, in my book.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:24 PM on April 14, 2010


Does this mean MUDs are back? I never really got into them, but was sort of curious.
posted by jquinby at 12:26 PM on April 14, 2010


This twitter thing has gotten out of hand. Please if you really want to impress me STOP RELYING ON POPULAR SOCIAL NETWORKING TOOLS AND BE ORIGINAL!
posted by wheelieman at 12:41 PM on April 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


You don't need much-to-any twitter interaction -- I know some people who created accounts just for the game. It only publishes to your feed if you specifically tell it to, and you can enable or disable the game to send you private messages for certain actions. You do, however, need some twitter account, because that's how it interacts with people.

It has lovely writing within-game. The creators blog at Failbetter Games, and have an interesting series on narrative structures.
posted by jeather at 12:41 PM on April 14, 2010


So, these folks decided that alienating every potential player by reserving the right to post whatever they want on their twitter feed was worth it in order to... to what? Outsource authentication? No way. Spread the word about the game? Possibly.

After a long and seemingly-harmless incubation period, start spamming all of their players' Twitter feeds with tweets about the joys of Coca-Cola? That seems kind of likely.
posted by gurple at 12:46 PM on April 14, 2010


More like "Hey, I'm really enjoying this game Echo Bazaar check it out homies"
posted by davejay at 12:50 PM on April 14, 2010


Echo Bazaar is a place where you can play The Greatest Game

I was disappointed that it was not , in fact, a place where you can actually hunt humans for sport. It's a good thing I hadn't started unpacking for my upcoming jaunt to Somalia.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:58 PM on April 14, 2010 [7 favorites]


The Twitter-connect thing spoils the whole thing...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 1:01 PM on April 14, 2010


It's like you guys never created a throwaway email or Twitter account before.
posted by ardgedee at 1:12 PM on April 14, 2010


I was disappointed that it was not , in fact, a place where you can actually hunt humans for sport. It's a good thing I hadn't started unpacking for my upcoming jaunt to Somalia.

You're thinking of The Most Dangerous Game.
posted by dortmunder at 1:14 PM on April 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


You're thinking of The Most Dangerous Game.

You're using the wrong ammo.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:15 PM on April 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am not a particular fan of twitter, but they keep to their word; it doesn't spam your friends (if you already have an account) or force you to use twitter to tweet people (if you've never used it before). Having friends play does help, though.

Really, though, stop being so goddamn cynical, guys.

As Emily Short writes, the best part of the game by far is its quirky, interesting, and (often) deep narration. The world is detailed and each tidbit revealed shows an impressively complicated world.

Then again, if interesting narratives aren't your cup of tea, it will quickly devolve into a boring grind for you.
posted by Han Tzu at 1:45 PM on April 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


it doesn't spam your friends (if you already have an account) or force you to use twitter to tweet people

Then why do they need to connect to my account?
posted by Ian A.T. at 2:10 PM on April 14, 2010


Pollomacho: "You're thinking of The Most Dangerous Game.

You're using the wrong ammo."


You're playing the wrong Most Dangerous Game.

Echo Bazaar is kinda nice - the storylets are atmospheric, and there are some really clever ones; one of my favorites is a situation where you hail a hansom, and when you want to get on an old lady pushes in front of you. If you have the quality "ruthless" at a high enough level, you can shove her out of the way, if you have "magnanimous" you can let her have the cab, and if you have both qualities you can help her into the cab, stealing some of her jewelry in the process.

It's just a shame that the larger, over-arching quests called "ambitions" are simply not finished yet (beta, remember?), so they just suddenly stop at some point.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 2:15 PM on April 14, 2010


I discovered this a few weeks ago, and it's surprisingly addictive. While it's true that it is very grind-y, particularly in higher levels, the narrative is entertaining enough to keep me involved.

There's also the game of Knife-and-Candle ("the art of polite murder") that adds an additional aspect of interaction ... and I've heard, though I don't know for sure, that in-character Twitter interactions with the Masters of the Bazaar will lead to other interesting developments.
posted by divide_by_cucumber at 2:21 PM on April 14, 2010


The game seems to use Twitter for several reasons---the most important are game play, player involvement and yes, for game publicity.

For game play, one of the conceits of the game is that several secret masters run affairs in Fallen London. Many of these masters have Twitter accounts and will reply to direct tweets. This in itself is sufficient reason in my view. If you're only following the website, you're missing a good portion of the narration. It's the difference between a choose-your-own-adventure book and a live roleplaying session. It's a great way to bring more to that game than the (mostly) static interactions kingdom of loathing does (also a great game, but interaction tends to be less real-time). One of the interesting challenges EB has is scaling this as the game grows.

Twitter is also used to involve players. There's an internal economy of turns, limited by time. You can get a small (~15%) bonus of turns every day by tweeting a fragment of the game text. This is entirely voluntary, but is a clear trade-off: for a single tweet a day, you get a small bonus in turns. These tweets all have the #ebz hashtag, so players can find each other with it.

...which gets to the promotional aspect, these (voluntary) tweets. It's important to note that, in order for the game to send a tweet using your account, you have to click a link, then approve the tweet text with an opportunity to edit that text if you want to. It would be hard to do it by accident and you can only benefit from it once a day. It's not like the game is encouraging spammy behaviour. The game has never sent a tweet without my permission.

Gaming over twitter is an interesting idea. It's sort of a cross between a CYOA and an RPG. The automated part of the game is really well written, but the addition of near real-time replies (and consequences) is really cool. There's a lot of potential in the idea.
posted by bonehead at 2:30 PM on April 14, 2010


Incidentally, you're not told in game about the masters' twitter accounts or even the masters' names. You discover these in play, a nice meta aspect. There are spoiler sites listing all of the known ones, of course, but more are revealed all the time.
posted by bonehead at 2:34 PM on April 14, 2010


The twitter aspect turned me off this game initially, but I realised why it's a good idea after playing for a while.

All my twitter friends that also play are my 'friends' in this game. I don't have to tell Echo Bazaar who my friends are, invite them, wait for responses, get them to make an account etc.

If we follow each other on twitter, we appear to each other in game and we can interact (for mutual benefit, no less).

It's like those annoying farmville facebook games, but without being able to rip off all your personal information quite so easily.
posted by Jerub at 3:00 PM on April 14, 2010


I've really gotten caught up in this thing since I saw it mentioned on AskMeFi a couple months ago. There was a really interesting series recently on their blog about their use of narrative structure. And it's constantly evolving -- not just adding new content, but also coming up with new ways to approach the content and new interactions, and fine-tuning the experience.

They also recently hosted a live game in London that looked like fun.
posted by alyxstarr at 3:10 PM on April 14, 2010


Wow, I am addicted already.
posted by bettafish at 4:35 PM on April 14, 2010


For what it's worth, my girlfriend is totally hooked on this game. She cuts and pastes little snippets, and they're all fascinating. (I'm trying to avoid getting sucked into anything like this right now, but the storylets really are neat.)
posted by mordax at 4:46 PM on April 14, 2010


Against my better judgement I've joined EB and Twitter.

I have to say, I had a pretty negative reaction when I saw that you can, in the game's words, "Buy Fate with actual money!" I'm not saying that browser-based games shouldn't be monetized, but I have noticed that the ones that are tend to be a little skeevy, especially when they allow you to buy extra turns or in-game power-ups.
posted by lekvar at 6:15 PM on April 14, 2010


Echo Bazaar is pretty fun. The best part is the writing, like everybody's been saying... its somewhat reminiscent of Terry Pratchett, but darker. I like how many things about Fallen London are not told to you outright; you have to discover it as you play.

I took a while to join up due to the Twitter issue as well, but like others have said above it is being used as an actual gameplay device, so its somewhat justified. In addition, my general impression is that the people behind the game are more of writers and storytellers than ace programmers, so outsourcing authentication and the social aspects to Twitter might have been more advantageous to them; that way they can concentrate on what they're good at.

Give it a try, I think most Mefites will enjoy it.
posted by destrius at 7:38 PM on April 14, 2010


lekvar: Can you point out a large-scale, popular browser game that DOESN'T allow people to buy items that give them in-game bonuses? KoL does. Every German MMO does. The Facebook ones do.
posted by cthuljew at 12:08 AM on April 15, 2010


Given what we (KoL) pay for servers, rack space, bandwidth, and so on, no browser game with any popularity could possibly survive without real-money transactions. The money you'd get from t-shirts and Google ads wouldn't even come close.
posted by rifflesby at 12:19 AM on April 15, 2010


So any interest in creating an impromptu MeFi network for the game? We can invite each other to play chess and do somewhat dubious things!
posted by bettafish at 5:49 AM on April 15, 2010


I would totally play a game like this if it wasn't text-based. Sounds awesome.
posted by sciurus at 6:30 AM on April 15, 2010


I'm signed up, and if anybody wants to be Twitter-followed so we can play chess and such ... let me know!
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:26 AM on April 15, 2010


I signed up as StrikeTheViol, mostly for the game, feel free to follow.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 8:40 AM on April 15, 2010


I'm on as eskalja (game account) and also playing absentmindedly with my normal account, bettafish.
posted by bettafish at 8:54 AM on April 15, 2010


I'm jillheather on twitter, and I'm pretty much at the content boundary, so though I don't always invite, I will accept any chess games, sparring bouts, wound tendings, nightmare sharings, etc.
posted by jeather at 8:57 AM on April 15, 2010


I'm on as minagrentham, and I too welcome new friends for chess games, alibis, and the like!
posted by alyxstarr at 11:04 AM on April 15, 2010


cthuljew: Depends on your definition of "large-scale" and "popular," but while Urban Dead has a merch shop, money provides no in-game advantages. Vampires! The Dark Alleyway has a single purchasable power, but doesn't really affect gameplay.

Nexus Wars is a bad example, since Jorm shut it down due to lack of income, but I liked the monetization scheme: You could buy changes to your character, but nothing that would affect game-play. Titles, name changes, clothing that couldn't be found in-game yet conferred no bonuses.

As to KoL, it's been a while since I played, but the only item I remember paying for was a doodad that kept my character from being deleted if inactive for a period of time. Mr Item, or something t that affect, and that was mainly an incentive for donating to server costs. Has that changed?
posted by lekvar at 1:10 PM on April 15, 2010


Oh, and I'm BarronWasteland in Echo Bazaar.
posted by lekvar at 1:11 PM on April 15, 2010


The descriptions in this thread are making me reconsider my no-mmorpg stance.
posted by immlass at 1:21 PM on April 15, 2010


Oddly enough, I am cerulgalactus over there too.
posted by cerulgalactus at 1:23 PM on April 15, 2010


I had an (entirely unused) twitter account from years back which I comandeered into playing this game - I've got a lot of the Masters of the Bazaar which are NPCs that I'm following just for interest (note that they are twitterers in their own sake, and will reply to you via twitter sometimes) so if anyone wants to do whatever you do on twitter and grab their names off me you're welcome - I'm SamSparx.

The other thing that twitter friends that also play can do is interact (not much, but a bit) with you to gain certain benefits - second chances on rolls, reductions in your nightmare score etc.

I've played it entirely without using twitter so far though except as a way to get some extra turns. It started to get a bit grindy, and I haven't been playing much, so if a MeFi network springs up I'd be interested to see how that changes the game.
posted by Sparx at 2:27 PM on April 15, 2010


I'm on the game and twitter as PontifexPrimus, feel free to follow and inflict stuff on me...
I'm also on KoL as Lidon, on Vampires! as Lidon (Blood Deity! Booya!) on ForumWarz as Pontifex, and I have no life...
posted by PontifexPrimus at 3:28 PM on April 15, 2010


This has inspired me to start actually using my twitter account. I'm ookookook, because ook and ookook were taken.
posted by ook at 4:00 PM on April 15, 2010


I'm playing as "schwa". Yay.
posted by schwa at 7:41 PM on April 15, 2010


playing as rosspayton
posted by clockworkjoe at 12:44 PM on April 16, 2010


I'm playing as j3net
posted by interplanetjanet at 2:39 PM on April 16, 2010


Ok, after emshort mentioned it YET AGAIN, I finally buckled and set up a twitter account just for this (as juv3nal) will see about how to add peoples when I get home.

If Emily Short digs it enough to mention it no less than 5 times, it must be worth at least taking a look.
posted by juv3nal at 1:01 PM on May 11, 2010


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