Aggro Me: Farewell Psychobabble
(Note: Please see my update to this post on AcroBabble; more updates to come soon over at Always Go Right!)
One of my favorite multiplayer online games is soon to vanish forever. And no, it's not another MMORPG that's getting cancelled.
It's Pyschobabble from PopCap Games. If you haven't heard of PopCap, perhaps the word Bejeweled will jog your memory. Bejeweled is an insanely popular little single player game that's probably cost billions in lost worker productivity.
Psychobabble is not nearly as well known a game as Bejeweled. But it's crazy fun. You join a room of 8-12 people. When a round begins, you are presented with a bunch of different words, loosely connected in meaning to the theme of the round. It looks kind of like those magnetic poetry fridge magnets that were popular for a while. You pick words and attempt to make an entertaining sentence from them. The time you have to do this is pretty short.
When the timer runs down, the voting phase begins. You vote on the sentence you find the most humorous (you can't vote for your own). You gain one point for each person who votes for your sentence and three bonus points if your sentence gets the most points. Now, you might think a strategy would be to intentionally vote for bad sentences, but PopCap solved that problem by giving you a point if you voted for the most popular sentence. That motivates you to vote for the sentence you actually think is the best. You also don't know which player's sentence you are voting for because the names are hidden until the voting is complete.
My description of the game is kind of dry, but in reality it's a frenzied rush of desperate thinking and hilarity. There are very few online games I know of in which creativity and humor translate directly to victory. And Psychobabble just works perfectly as a game, so I thought it was pretty special.
There are some negatives. It's horrible to play when the other players are horrible. And the accompanying chat room can be truly dreadful. Some of the usernames in there are reminiscent of AOL circa 1995 and so is the dialogue. I tend to ignore it completely.
But I always enjoyed playing a few rounds every week or two, so I was saddened to hear it was soon to vanish. PopCap recently posted the following statement:
We have decided to remove our Multiplayer Games from PopCap.com.
After August 10, 2006, these games will no longer be accessible. But until
then, feel free to play to your heart’s content!
We’re really sorry for the inconvenience … and disappointment. But
remember, we have tons of other fun, free games to choose from —
so keep checking in at PopCap.com.
--The PopCap Staff"
I sent them an e-mail to ask why they're removing the multiplayer games but I haven't received a response yet. I'm guessing that maybe the ongoing costs were too much and the revenue was limited. I did get some spam tells (or whispers as they're called) in the chat room while playing recently, so maybe the headache of dealing with that had something to do with it.
I don't blame PopCap for killing the relatively small online segment of their operations, but I will miss Psychobabble. I've been looking for a replacement and the closest I could come are versions of Acrophobia (some links from this wikipedia page). I suppose it will have to do, but until August 10th, I'll be bidding farewell to Psychobabble.I'll have some EQII posts when I catch up on the news.