Rest in Violence
June 6, 2023 12:05 AM   Subscribe

Blaseball is shutting down after The Game Band concluded that it wasn't sustainable. They had been tooling up for its third age, titled the "Coronation Era," and had planned mobile apps as part of the experience. They even came out of siesta for a brief time, only to go right back into hiatus after deeming their effort not up to the quality they were aiming for. Laid off staff are being given severance pay, extended health care and help in finding work. The news on: Destructoid, Rock Paper Shotgun, Gamespot, The Verge.
posted by JHarris (22 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
As someone who is, and has always been, totally out of the blaseball loop, I found this explainer quite helpful.
posted by qwip at 12:48 AM on June 6 [2 favorites]

We fought the Gods, and the Gods won.
posted by andreaazure at 1:06 AM on June 6 [3 favorites]

I loved everything I read about blaseball- old gods, new sports - but then found it completely incomprehensible as to how to join in.
posted by The River Ivel at 1:57 AM on June 6 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I tried to get into it on 4 separate occasions but seemed to catch some sort of lull or hiatus every time with no indication as to what participating/playing/experiencing/being roped into the game even looks like. I am used to ARGs where the game isn't evident but this didn't give off the signs necessary to draw me into that route either.
posted by Typhoon Jim at 4:22 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]

I got into the second go-round and even own a Chicago Firefighters hat, but the discord was...idk, too young for me? I liked it vaguer and without the expectation of more formal community engagement - like Typhoon Jim says, like an ARG. I wanted it to stay mysterious and I didn't want to see the sausage made.

It was a COVID playground and a delight but probably better closing than rotting to death.
posted by cobaltnine at 5:28 AM on June 6 [2 favorites]

Note to self: it's pronounced BLAYS-ball, not blah-SAY-ball. Not to be blasé about it.
posted by zaixfeep at 6:33 AM on June 6 [2 favorites]

One of my best memories of the shitty COVID times was cheering for the Mexico City Wild Wings on their one championship run. Just watching the games on the simple webpage and chatting it up in the Wings Discord server. Was really fun. I kinda lost the thread in following seasons and could never get caught up on the lore but would occasionally check in to see how the Wings were doing. Sad to see Blaseball go.

RIV, Wheels!
posted by snwod at 7:20 AM on June 6 [2 favorites]

Note to self: it's pronounced BLAYS-ball, not blah-SAY-ball.

Shame. I could be well into Blaséball. The referee blows his whistle. Both teams gaze languidly at the ball, with ill-concealed disinterest, before wandering away to do something fun. That's the sport for me.
posted by Grangousier at 7:55 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]

I did have fun for most of whichever season I participated in, but it got gross enough at the end that it hurt my feelings and that put me off it completely. Perhaps I would have liked it more if I would have joined in on Discord, but I doubt it.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:34 AM on June 6

I have so many good feelings about Blaseball as this impossible wonderful thing from 2020. It was wild in every sense: a dizzying ad hoc creative nexus, a weed that grew beyond all expectation, a thing that had a team called the Wild Wings (though at one point they got formally renamed the Mild Wings as a kind of cosmic punishment). I spent a lot of time in the discord in the back half of that year, being an old shitposter among the young ones, making art and music and video games. It was a perfect thing at a time when something okay would have been enough, and it will have a place in my heart forever.

And it was lightning in a bottle; they knew I think as soon as those first few seasons blew up that they had something unsustainable and that finding a way to sustain it after all was going to be very difficult. It wasn't a thing built to be so load-bearing or built to last. I'm glad that made a point at times of just stopping and taking some downtime to recover and to try and do work while not ALSO maintaining a 24/7 live community game. I'm not sure a real way to make the whole thing work was ever in the offing, when something that wasn't designed to make money in the first place needs such constant intense resourcing. I'm glad they cared enough about the idea and spirit of the thing that they didn't let the kind of money that would have maybe made it possible to afford also come along and destroy it outright.

Note to self: it's pronounced BLAYS-ball, not blah-SAY-ball.

I checked with the Commissioner (who is doing a great job) and he told me Blaseball is pronounced "Blaseball".
posted by cortex at 8:53 AM on June 6 [12 favorites]

RIV Blaseball. I got a lot of joy out of following the game in the fall of 2020. I even overcame my longstanding avoidance of Discord to join the community (and despite whatever else the Game Band said, the community really was on the Discord). The Discipline era was sublime, while the Expansion era as it went along felt like it might have been a meta-metaphor for the sustainability of running Blaseball itself as the whole thing collapsed into a black hole, and the world coming out of one as COVID vaccines rolled out, and world was opening up again.

It would have been a miracle if the Game Band could pull off a relaunch earlier this year. But, alas.

If you need me, I'll be listening to my Seattle Garages cassettes, and crying about Mike Townsend.
posted by 3j0hn at 10:30 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]

infinite tacos, man
posted by klangklangston at 10:53 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]

I am not being hyperbolic when I say Blaseball changed my life. I’ve posted this elsewhere, so I’ll try to be brief. I’m a better artist, better writer, better person because of the blaseball community. I was lucky to pick the Canada Moist Talkers because ha ha funny name, but they turned out to be the best team I could ask for. I am constantly in awe of the community and what they make, from music to writing to art to analysis tools, live streams and union organization seminars. People wanted merch, so the fans, with the blessing of TGB, made merch, selling it all for charity. An amazing band popped up and produced some of my favorite songs of all time. I made some incredible friends, watched teammates fall in love, seen some amazing collaborations. I joined a softball league! I’m playing organized sports for the first time in 25 years! I move like a dump truck, but I can still Talk Spit and Get Hits.

Cobaltnine, I totally get what you mean when it felt young. I’m about to hit 40, and I knew i was at the upper end of my teams age range (I was explaining how VHS worked to one of my friends a few weeks ago. They were born in 1999). But it never came up and it’s never been an issue.

Blaseball was an accident. It was a silly game with funny name players, held together by duct tape and spit. We all wanted it to continue, but a lot of us knew they would never be able to capture lightning in a bottle again. But while we had it, it was a bizarre, wonderful thing. My life will never be the same because of it.

Rest in Violence, Blaseball. Be comforted that the players get to rest now; everyone is Released (because we say so). The commissioner did a great job. We will always all love blaseball. Many teams, one league. And finally, Be Gross, Be Kind.
posted by gc at 12:02 PM on June 6 [5 favorites]

It was great while it lasted, but a nearly 2 year hiatus was always going to be hard to come back from.

RIV Blaseball, it's always island time.
posted by Urtylug at 2:10 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]

The Garages got a KEXP interview & airtime, which I figure is about as high of an honor as could've been hoped for for as impossible of a phenomena as they were.

+1 to the feeling of being in the moment & part of a fandom for probably the first time. It was breakneck, tripping over itself, constantly tugging at itself from all corners... and it was intoxicating to even peripherally be involved with. So much chaos trying to figure out how a community could sail itself along; and yet... it survived. To an extent I'm glad there's still spaces where intense-but-low-stakes turmoil can happen without every word being etched into the eternal memory of the Internet & the LLMs feeding off it.

For me the story of Blaseball will always be the story of Mike Townsend & Jaylen Hotdogfingers. From a disappointment & disgrace, to the first Incineration, to the frantic organizing of the teams to get the Shadow Exchange going... everyone's going to have the story closest to their heart, but theirs will always be mine.
posted by CrystalDave at 3:59 PM on June 6 [6 favorites]

I was surprised to hear this was shutting down because, from everything I'd read about it, I'd gotten the impression that it was pretty much a giant forum improv game (taking place during a period in which I had the least free time available to dig deeply into a giant forum improv game).

Not sure if I just wasn't reading the right articles, but this 2021 video explainer linked to by one of this FPP's articles opened my eyes a bit. (18min long, but absorbable at 2x speed with subtitles)

I guess creating all that consensus reality took a significant staff of writers? Plus developers to work the ever-expanding number of variables into the hourly simulation?
posted by nobody at 4:15 PM on June 6

Blaseball kind of reminded me I could get excited about things. Like gc, I picked the Kansas City Breath Mints because ha ha funny name but ended up loving the community, and like gc I think it's safe to say Blaseball changed my life. The creativity of the fans inspired me to write a full-length album at a time when I was feeling kind of creatively directionless after releasing my first album.

I don't think I've had as much giddy joy in recent memory as I had following the Mints discord when they got what was affectionately referred to as the zoomies. Someone described it best as "mints chat is like if stand-up comedy was formatted like super smash bros" and being in the chat when everyone was trying to one-up each other with increasingly incomprehensible bits was a sight to behold. Also I guess the game was pretty fun. We pulled off some good stunts and even won a championship before our whole freaking team got killed.

RIV. I'm pretty sad Blaseball's not coming back, but I must admit it's in keeping with its whole vibe that it burned brightly and then went away.
posted by valrus at 6:19 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]

The Mike Townsend and Jaylen Hotdogfingers arc is so good, and Mike Townsend (Knows What He's Gotta Do) makes me tear up every time. But there's so many other stories too that live rent free in my head.

Kiki Familia being born out of Ruby Tuesday, playing 5 1/3 innings over two games, and then being incinerated after the Talkers did an hour long lore jam sprint on her was huge. And then Kiki being picked for the Hall Stars because, as my prolific fanfic writer friend said, "the fans wanted to give her the moment she deserved," and going on to kill a god with the rest of the Hall Stars before being Released... Kiki is a Talker favorite. She'd have a retired number if we did that.

Workman Gloom, one of the best sluggers to ever play the game, getting incinerated, and then hitting a home run. They also joined the Hall Stars.

The Charleston Shuffle: Eugenia Garbage is a life long Talkers slugger, except for the 15 minutes when she reverbed over to the Shoe Thieves, bringing Lachlan Shelton back home, and then coming back in exchange for Simon Haley, all in the same game. Fan lore: When Lachlan asked her why she did it, Eugenia said, "You needed to come home."

The PolkaDot Patterson arc, the whole thing. The above-mentioned friend wrote the book on Dot (and their alternate dimension self/sibling, Alto).

York Silk, the most tragic player in the game. Lored as an 8 year old boy as a joke that stuck, York was shelled (trapped in a giant peanut shell), in a heel turn turned into a thrall as one of the Shelled One's Pods and forced to fight other teams before being defeated by the Hall Stars, dropped to the Talkers, given a group of friends and is happy. York is incinerated in season 14, and the Talkers talk about winning their season 14 championship For York. He's resurrected with a debt that makes him shell people by the Crabs, goes to the Garages and shells Oliver Loofah, and then is locked in the vault, only to have copies of himself sold to teams (Expansion Era was wild). He was just a kid who wanted to play...

Greer Lott being traded to the Pies and tanking her pitching in retaliation, until she got back to the Talkers.

There's so many of these, this is just from one team's perspective. We always liked to say that the sim told stories. And it's the way the fans spun those stories out that I'll miss. The collaboration was incredible.
posted by gc at 7:55 PM on June 6 [4 favorites]

I was wondering when this was going to show up here... I've been discussing this since the better part of Friday since I'm one of the admins of the Blaseball Wiki and SIBR (the Society for Blaseball Research.)

The news has left me with mixed feelings. To begin with, I'm not wholly surprised; I kinda thought this would happened after they took VC funding and stopped taking Patreon donations. The road to profitability was always questionable, particular since they significantly expanded their team as a result. I'm also immensely relieved, since this means something that's been a huge source of stress and all too much work will be winding down. It's still bittersweet, though, since I can definitively say that Blaseball changed my life. I've met dear friends and had the wildest conversations as a result of it.

I'll leave the rest of my thoughts behind closed doors. Play ball.
posted by Pitachu at 5:51 AM on June 7 [5 favorites]

My crew is clearing out, cleaning up, and musing over the bits and bobs of art that didn't make it into either of our zines. Gonna miss this Cultural Experience. A lot. I don't know of anything else that has led to such an intense explosion of good art.

Some of my faves:

The Precog Trio, a fabulous narrativization of an otherwise minor stat mod.

Sidelined - the Garages made a LOT of music and some of it is very good (Mike Townsend (Knows What He's Gotta Do) makes me tear up ever time) but this is the femme power-pop stuff I can't resist even for a second.

The Ballad of Workman Gloom (sung to this tune.) Also check out all of Sam's art on his Twitter feed - he was one of our zine artists and watching him develop has been an absolute delight. (He's also a pretty brilliant editor and has probably done more for my fiction writing than anything I've ever paid for.)

There's so much out there. SO MUCH. And this isn't even considering the fantastic game-design theory and data analysis and narrative theory work that it spawned. I'm terribly sad that it's over and I'm also kinda glad they didn't let the Coin win, in the end.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:26 AM on June 7 [4 favorites]

Oh, Olive’s animatics are so good. It’s incredible how much they could put in them.

Sidelined is hands down one of my favorites. It ended up being the theme of a blaseball-adjacent project I worked on. Sun 2 is another fantastic Carly song, and Solar Eclipse, specifically the Desert Bus version, is superb.
posted by gc at 10:59 AM on June 7 [1 favorite]

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