Eager to upgrade another section of the site after Celebrity Goo Game, Scott picks the one with the most potential for interesting visuals: Gothic Earth. First, he applies a design that looks like pages torn from a journal, with "aged" photographs depicting a skull and bizarre statues. Then, he cleans up the sprawling navigation menu, reducing it to five key items with a Reference page gathering the other errata. Finally, he puts useful information for players into the margins, like the date of the next game session and a handy, customized list of ways to earn bonus points for their characters. The new look is popular, but unfortunately makes other Funeratic members even more interested in playing a game that is almost exclusively played in the Sarasota area.
When Jeremiah Poisson joins Gothic Earth after having previously played Fin du siècle on the site, it's yet another sign that the new role-playing game has much in common with its predecessor, which itself was based on a previous game played by Scott. The ghost of Jack the Ripper, a German vigilante named Liesel Schreiner, master hypnotist Svengali commanding his own private (unwitting) army of thieves, an ill-advised raid on the Hellfire Club, and other plot elements from Fin du siècle are put into a blender with many new ideas, and become the inspiration for new plotlines in Gothic Earth. The repetition is intentional: One of Scott's intended goals with the game was to create the kind of epic adventure that Fin du siècle didn't last long enough to become.
When he announces that the 2011 edition of GooCon will be held in the St. Louis area, Scott goes a step further: He promotes GooCon to a complete section of the site by itself, giving it a green and wood-grain design with a prominent photo of the St. Louis arch on the homepage. Rather than cramming a growing amount of information into a single page in the gray nether-regions of the site, this upgrade allows lots of room for planning, with an itemized budget that gets updated as each purchase is made in advance of the weekend, and a decorated schedule that fills out the daily itinerary with an alluring preview of each activity. The third "redesign" in the series is another success.
With a long announcement on the site, Scott finally reveals a secret that guests at GooCon: Champions Gate learned the previous fall: In order to save Rock Block from copyright infringement, he has decided to transform it into a new game called Pirate Paradise. Players will still collect cards, do numerical battle on a 3x3 grid, and participate in summer-long events, but the setting will change to the golden age of piracy and a slew of new features will improve the game. Rather than spring the change on players as surprise, Scott decides (on wise advice from Kelly Lee and Steve West) to hold a final summer tournament in Rock Block to give the popular music game a proper send-off. He chooses Don McLean's "American Pie" as the theme, based on its bittersweet subject matter.
With Rock Block disappearing soon to make way for a new game, Scott launches the tournament to end all tournaments (literally): "American Pie," based on Don McLean's epic tribute to the saddest day in rock history. Players must proceed through 31 separate trials inspired by the lyrics of the song, mastering six new play rules, defeating a suped-up version of Devil, and revisiting elements of past tournaments. After months of gradual progress and several reversals of the lead position, Justin Woods pulls off victory in October and becomes the first player to win multiple tournaments. Steve West also earns praise for timing his moves so carefully as to make it almost impossible to advance beyond him, even though Justin manages the feat. If Rock Block has to end, this fun competition and walk down memory lane makes for a fine send-off.
After years of coming close to victory on the site without being able to clinch it, Justin Woods finally makes a breakthrough: He wins Celebrity Goo Game three times in less than a year, and does so handily, having plenty of extra chances to spare when he eliminates his last remaining opponents. He also wins Rock Block's summer tournament for the second consecutive year, winning ten concerts in a row to catch up to Steve West at the last minute in "American Pie" and triumph. Justin's utter domination of seemingly every game on the site earns him a reputation for being an aggressive competitor, and positions him as the player to beat when other site members meet him for the first time at GooCon the following month. He goes on to win the very next season of Celebrity Goo Game on the site despite increased determination to beat him among his opponents.
Exactly a year after the previous GooCon, Funeratic members gather in the suburbs of St. Louis for GooCon: Villa Ridge. Chris Lemler, Erik Bates, Jackie Mason, Joanna Woods, Justin Woods, Kelly Lee, and Scott Hardie are there all weekend, joined for a single evening by Carol Wilhelm, LaVonne Lemler, and Russ Wilhelm, many of whom are meeting in person for the first time. Competition is emphasized even more than in previous years as nearly every activity becomes a game with a prize, and every guest leaves with at least one. Celebrity Goo Game Live gets silly with a recurring goo of actor Scott Bakula. Tragic Comedy provides fodder for a fun guessing game called "Who Said That?" Pirate Paradise is previewed in a nearly-finished state, two months before launch. A field trip to the local bowling alley is dominated by Chris, a bowling coach in his spare time (no pun intended). Gothic Earth gives players a chase across Paris in 1898, and a chaotic card game based on Munchkin. In its fourth year, GooCon is better organized and more fun than ever.
Scott makes a small mistake with a goo and then a much bigger mistake as Celebrity Goo Game's referee, with long-lasting consequences. In trying to create a goo of eco-terrorist and arsonist William Cottrell, Scott accidentally goos an image of the similar-looking Christian rock singer Travis Cottrell. When several players guess Travis, Scott expresses his regret at gooing the wrong Cottrell, but rules the guesses incorrect anyway, because the clue specifically indicates William. Ryan Dunn rightfully protests that his tournament chances have been ruined by Scott's bad call and refusal to make it right. This incident leads to the creation of Advanced Rules in the goo game that spell out exactly what outcomes will follow in this and every other conceivable situation, which go on to prevent similar controversies more than once in the future. But Ryan leaves the game soon afterward, and Scott remains sorry for years afterwards for making such a lousy and unfair judgment call.
January 17, 2004: After years of only a few dedicated players like Matthew Preston, Lori Lancaster, and Kelly Lee participating in the goo game, finally it has taken off in popularity with strangers, and the competition takes center stage for many. Read more...
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