On the fifth anniversary of Celebrity Goo Game, Scott honors the great players of the game by creating the Hall of Fame, a new feature that describes the varied accomplishments of its inductees in detail. Matthew Preston, at the time the undisputed all-time champion of the game, is the deserving first inductee, and is surprised to receive an actual trophy in the mail as his prize. Each year on February 23, another great player of the game joins the ranks, and induction to the Hall is generally the most coveted achievement among players.
Already despondent over being unhappily single, overweight, and deep in debt, Scott loses his meager job in sales and is ground down by the conviction that he is alone and has no future in the world. At the lowest point of his depression, Scott writes a suicide note on a dry-erase board, says goodbye to his cats, and gathers every pill in the house together into a drug cocktail that he intends to be fatal. Less than a minute from swallowing it, he tearfully decides to wait until morning to see if his spirits rise. Once awake, he absent-mindedly goes through his usual morning routine of browsing the web, and begins toying with parts of his web site that have aged and need maintenance. By afteroon, he has decided to ditch the old site and begin anew with something fresh. The weeks-long project slowly brings him out of depression and turns his mood around for the better, until he feels normal again by its late-September debut. Today, Scott believes he is still alive only because this site carried him through his depression.
The site is overhauled yet again, this time with a unified design that identifies sections according to color-coding. The look is inspired by the new StarTrek.com, which highlights new content daily with an attractive homepage design; Scott applies the concept to keep his new site seeming fresh on a daily basis. D. R. is the only person who knows about the overhaul in advance and encourages Scott as he reviews progress almost daily. The new site is a hit when it launches, making it feel more dynamic and more like an application than ever before. Finally having learned PHP, Scott is flush with the feeling that he can do anything on a web page, and being unemployed gives him plenty of time to add new content.
In search of a scoring system for Celebrity Goo Game that avoids randomization and encourages strategy, Scott launches the towers system: Each time a player guesses a goo, that guess is placed atop one of five towers. If it's right, the tower grows one step higher, but if it's wrong, the tower is wiped out. The first player to build five towers up to their maximum height wins the round. The rule system is popular with the players, but it suffers from the same flaw as a number of other systems, in that falling even a single goo behind the competition means that you've already lost. After a few rounds, Scott drops the system, but he is convinced to bring it back in 2009 with a few tweaks: Players must choose the tower before seeing the goo, and players who complete a tower gain a reward of their choice, such as toppling another player's tower.
Excited to run another text-based RPG on his new site, Scott combines the format of The Island at the End of the World, the setting of Bill Valentin's "Gothic Earth" game, and his own custom rule system to create Fin du siècle, a game set in a late-Victorian Earth where literary characters and horrific monsters roam the planet with the characters. Scott's eagerness to begin gets the game off on the wrong foot; he begins with four players and has to write two new players into the second post before the first real adventure can begin. Matthew Preston, Anna Gregoline, John R. Edwards, Kris Weberg, goo game player Amir Sufyani, and site newcomer Scott Baumann are the initial six players.
March 7, 1999: In the history of his site, only once does Scott pull the plug on a page due to controversy: The Young and the Lifeless, an ambitious project in which he turns his friends into characters in a trashy soap opera and intends to write stories about the various trysts, crimes, and intrigues of their fictional counterparts. Read more...
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