Seeking a way to liven up Celebrity Goo Game, Scott revisits an idea from 2004: The Goo World Tour, a series of goos from international destinations. This time, the goos are arranged geographically in a long, winding route across the planet, from Gisele Bundchen in Brazil to Keisha Castle-Hughes in New Zealand. Each new goo is announced by a large photographic header decorated with a goo game postmark, spotlighting a panoramic view of the celebrity's home country. The round is popular with players, including the eventual winner Ryan Dunn, and inspires Scott to get more elaborate in both his theme-concept plans and his visual presentation of the game. Norway's banner with a bright sailing ship is the most popular, as judged by voters in a ballot later that year.
The summer 2010 Rock Block tournament, named for Bob Dylan's classic "Like a Rolling Stone," challenges each player to push a boulder across a field. Each time they defeat another opponent, the stone rolls further along - but if they are defeated and lose momentum, they lose all progress and have to start over. Justin Woods wins often in the early phase of the tournament, but no players make substantial gains until the rules change so that no progress is lost in defeat, after which Chris Lemler and Ryan Dunn storm ahead of the pack. But the real chaos begins in the fall, when another rule change forces players to take on every opponent simultaneously instead of one at a time, and over a hundred concerts begin running simultaneously. Justin Woods, Matthew Preston, Russ Wilhelm, Ryan Dunn, and Scott Hardie all arrive at the end on the same day after a grueling competition, along with Steve West who is ineligible to win due to his 2009 victory. The finalists face off in the new "Rolling Stones" collaboration theme, with Justin emerging as the winner after only a few hours. The controversy over the frustratingly sudden ending to a months-long tournament leads to plans to handle future summer tournaments differently.
Seeking to reverse Tragic Comedy's decline in participation despite not being able to contribute more often himself, Scott launches a five-point plan to make it easier for members to interact. 1) "Exquisite Corpse" is discontinued and blogs are merged into TC. 2) Instead of the "Oddities" page collecting all funny links in one place, members are encouraged to share links as a jumping-off point for TC discussions. 3) Polls are added to discussions, to make them easier to start. 4) Members can flag whether they are interested in Celebrity Goo Game discussions only (or not any Celebrity Goo Game discussions), and the same for Rock Block, helping to reduce the clutter keeping some partially-interested members from talking more. 5) For members interested in a conscious effort to help TC grow again, an optional reminder to contribute is added to Dashboard. The effort yields results over the subsequent months as the number of new discussions picks up, led in part by a push from Steve West.
Alluding to his ambitious plans for the site's future, Scott takes a bold step by renaming it Funeratic, a made-up term intended to convey the spirit of the site. The change was partly to make the site more accessible to outsiders, since many people would not click on a link to the oddly-named goo.tc with its foreign top-level domain, and partly to give the site a clearer identity. The creation of a Facebook fan page and YouTube channel follow soon after, with more plans to come.
The theme of the upcoming GooCon: Champions Gate is Hollywood awards ceremonies, in the spirit of the annual "Predict the Oscars" contest on the site. Scott decides to give out actual award statuettes in "The First Annual Funeratic Awards for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence," and publishes a ballot inviting site members to vote in twelve silly categories: Funniest Title for a Themed Concert, Prettiest World Tour Banner, Best Argument for Promoting U2, Wildest Attack Strategy, Most Intimidating Competitor, Funniest Sentence That Would Have Made No Sense Ten Years Ago, Cleverest Goo Request, Greatest Nemeses, Best Choice for a Birthday Band, Favorite Blog, Best Negative Review, and Funniest Sentence Taken Completely Out of Context. When the awards ceremony begins at GooCon, the guests pose for paparazzi photos on the red carpet, then give offbeat acceptance speeches as each winner is revealed. Steve West claims the most trophies, with others going to Aaron Shurtleff, Erik Bates, Lori Lancaster, Nathan Quam, Scott Hardie, and Steve Dunn.
As a fun twist on the ongoing debates about whether certain bands deserve to be promoted to R10, the highest rank in Rock Block, Scott programs a ballot that will offer members a choice of two bands each day, eventually narrowing the choices down to semi-finals and finals, promising that the winner will become the next R10. Because the band U2 has been the subject of more promotion talk than any other name in the game, Scott expects them to dominate, but they are overcome by the Allman Brothers Band in the second round. Eventually, the Doors, Grateful Dead, Roy Orbison, and Pink Floyd are the final four nominees, with Pink Floyd emerging as the ultimate winner. The poll serves its purpose of having a little fun with the promotion system and starting more discussions, but it also reminds Scott of the simple power of the bracket format, influencing Celebrity Goo Game. The code template is saved and adapted for later use on the site.
For the third October in a row, Funeratic members gather in Florida for a long weekend of live fun and games. Denise Sawicki, Kelly Lee, Matthew Preston, Scott Hardie, and Steve West rent a house in Champions Gate, just outside of Orlando, and spent an afternoon at DisneyQuest, Disney's indoor theme park and arcade. Matthew runs a round of Celebrity Goo Game Live, giving Scott a chance to play; Scott wins Matthew's round and Matthew wins both of Scott's rounds. The live Rock Block tournament, "Battle of the Bands," is dominated by Denise in the early running, but Matthew perseveres to an eventual triumph. A live session of Gothic Earth has diverse strangers evict a magical spirit from a haunted house, and Gothic Earth is adapted into the Fluxx card game for an additional round of play. The centerpiece event is the distribution of the Awardies, followed by a preview of the site's future.
During the awards ceremony at GooCon: Champions Gate, Scott reveals a surprise to the guests. In a twist on the previous year's remembrances of site members who couldn't be there in person, Scott had arranged for site members to record themselves saying nice things about the guests at GooCon. Steve Dunn's praise for Matthew Preston and Aaron Shurtleff's compliments about Amy Austin are delivered with plenty of good-natured humor, while Jackie Mason's gratitude for Denise Sawicki strikes a sentimental tone. The most elaborate videos are by Nathan Quam & Raquel Hartzell, who become their Gothic Earth characters to celebrate Kelly Lee, and by Ryan Dunn, who demonstrates the stages of losing to Steve West in Rock Block. The presentations become a big hit with GooCon guests, and later with the rest of the site when published online. They also constitute Funeratic's first steps into online video.
Funeratic makes like every other reputable "brand" and gets a "presence" on Facebook to better "reach" its "audience." Scott is uncomfortable marketing to a small group of friends, but he uses the Facebook page as a way to highlight additions to the site that they might not have noticed otherwise, and it lays the groundwork for future integration with Facebook as a platform. Scott also creates a Twitter account just to lock up the "Funeratic" username, but has no use for it at the time.
If one of Funeratic's best qualities is its ability to bring people together in person, it's that exact quality that costs the site one major member when she loses the ability to partake in it. Prolific longtime member Amy Austin has struggled with her ability to attend GooCon: Champions Gate in the weeks leading up to the event. When she cancels (again) on the first day of the weekend and then re-confirms, Scott draws a line and asks her not to come at all. Due to this and other problems in the previous year, Scott regretfully insists that she not attend future GooCons. Very unhappy at the prospect of not getting to meet other site members again, Amy makes her feelings known and soon stops participaring entirely, influenced in part by changes in her personal life. Her induction to Celebrity Goo Game's Hall of Fame in February 2011 marks the likely end of a long campaign of success in the game for the player once nicknamed Darth Goo.
On the eve of a new round of Celebrity Goo Game, Scott surprises players with a completely new format to the game: A new theme of five goos each week, culminating in a brief elimination tournament with timed goos to pick a winner at the end of every three-month season. To complement the changes, Scott redesigns this section of the site with a sleek new look, preserving the previous red colors in the (condensed) navigation menu and offering a week-by-week schedule of the current season in the sidebar. Additional improvements include narrative paragraphs describing each pair of opponents in the tournament, ajax-based form submissions that show the results of each guess without leaving the page, and a re-organized Player Achievements guide that makes each feat easier to understand. Scott intends this to be the first of several redesigns, tackling each section of Funeratic one at a time.
June 14, 2005: Competition in the now-daily goo game becomes so intense that victory seems a privilege reserved for a few dedicated experts, especially Mike Eberhart, Russ Wilhelm, Megan Baxter, Jerry Mathis, Elliot Farney, Denise Sawicki, Todd Brotsch, and Steve West. Read more...
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