Ready at last after the longest development phase of any section of Funeratic, Pirate Paradise enjoys a successful debut that sees thirteen players join the new game in the first few days. Scott times the launch for a holiday weekend when activity is normally lower, so that any issues discovered by the first few players can be addressed quickly before more people come in. In the new game that is a heavy modification of Rock Block, players create their own pirate crews and do battle for treasure, learning dirty low-down techniques and seeking the ultimate prize of ten million gold coins. The game is a hit, much to Scott's relief, and Rock Block is retired three weeks later. Scott considers this the first and biggest step toward eliminating any content on the site that potentially infringes on copyright. Celebrity Goo Game celebrates the launch with a week of famous pirates.
When Steve Dunn is inducted to the goo game's Hall of Fame instead of the widely-anticipated Justin Woods, it generates controversy for the third time, after Russ Wilhelm is inducted instead of Amy Austin in 2010, and Lori Lancaster is inducted instead of Steve West in 2008. Scott's policy of inducting a single player each year according to qualification criteria that he does not share publicly, combined with well-intentioned players stirring anticipation by soliciting predictions as the date approaches each year, leads to resentment when the "wrong" person gets the honor, even though the "passed over" player is technically ineligible or Scott explains why the choice was so difficult. Tired of the hurt feelings, Scott contemplates dropping the Hall of Fame entirely, but decides to leave it alone. He does change the annual induction date to March so that it doesn't occur in the middle of the winter tournament, where it might falsely appear that he favors one competitor over another.
In the early days of Gothic Earth, players Nathan Quam and Raquel Hartzell had taken to recording game sessions on their tiny mp3 recorder and sharing the results online, to help players better transcribe the events of the plot for the game wiki. Years later, Scott is frustrated by how his own laborious note-taking slows down the pace of every play session, so he borrows their idea and begins recording game sessions on his own mp3 recorder and sharing the results with players on Funeratic. The page is inaccessible to anyone not actively playing Gothic Earth so that players can feel free to speak their minds about work or family or other opinions that they wouldn't want aired online. The resulting three-hour audio files are enormous and create an inconvenience for Jeremiah Poisson in hosting the site, so Scott eventually keeps only the five most recent files online and makes the rest available by request. The audio files not only help in transcribing game sessions and keeping better notes, but they allow absent players to catch up on what they missed. it's the first audio component to any game on Funeratic.
Tragic Comedy gains a long overdue feature: The ability to control who sees what you write, including comments, blog posts, and replies to posts. Members can choose to share their contributions with the world, or all Funeratic members, or certain Funeratic members only, or no one. They can also retroactively change the privacy settings on previous content. Scott has been uncomfortable with this kind of privacy for a long time because it hurts readability and search-engine traffic, but he relents out of consideration for other members' preferences. He wishes he had done it before the lack of privacy options cost the site several prolific commenters, including Melissa Erin and Jackie Mason, but he applies global privacy settings to their old contributions as a favor even though they've already left.
Thorough Movie Reviews enjoys a full redesign and expansion. The reviews themselves are now grouped together by movie and accompanied by a plot description provided by Netflix, and spoiler warnings protect against accidental discovery of sensitive plot details. New features include the Three Clues trivia game and a "Movie of the Month" forum (later "Movie Discussions") in which Funeratic members discuss interesting new releases. The ten best list is retired as Scott no longer wishes to continue the annual tradition. The overhaul also provides some infrastructural improvements, such as SEO improvements and index-based search results.
Days after suffering a heart attack at age 42, Dennis Wuorenma passes away, devastating close friend Sarah Kyle and touching several other members of Funeratic. A simple memorial for him in Tragic Comedy attracts kind words from Scott, Sarah, Matthew Preston, and Steve West. Dennis has played Celebrity Goo Game and Rock Block for a while at Sarah's invitation, and is the first member of the site known to have died. Others follow, including Meredith Lamb in July 2015.
Plans for GooCon: Villa Ridge 2 fall apart when Joanna and Justin Woods are forced to cancel, and Scott is unable to attract enough people to take their place, even by offering to change dates and cover the weekend cost himself. Plans for the GooCon-that-wasn't include a team-based Celebrity Goo Game, a Battleship-inspired contest in Pirate Paradise, a return of Rock Block, and several more elements that were new to the annual gathering, along with a few old favorites. Scott predicts that the lack of interest marks a permanent end to the annual tradition, but he resolves to adapt the unused games for inclusion on the site. When Scott and Kelly Lee undertake the rest of their planned October road trip north, they make a point to stop in St. Louis for one evening and have dinner with Chris and LaVonne Lemler, Erik and Pam Bates, and Carol and Russ Wilhelm in lieu of GooCon.
One of the simplest but best improvements of Pirate Paradise over its predecessor, Rock Block, has been automatic battles, which the site generates on schedule for willing participants using randomized conditions so that they don't have to keep manually creating their own battles. Nine months after the game begins, Scott expands this feature to give players much more precise control over the exact terms they're willing to use against each opponent, and automatic battles overtake regular battles as the most common form of gameplay, much to the delight of the game's lazier players, including Scott.
Pirate Paradise's first big annual event begins: In "Wrath of Circe," the sorceress sails about the open sea, transforming pirates into pigs whenever she inevitably defeats them with her magical crew. Players sail around a map of the Caribbean Sea, battling each other in pursuit of pieces of a treasure map that leads to a cave of ghosts, who teach the Handicap ability that lets the winner overcome Circe's natural advantage. After four months of play, Matthew Preston beats the rest of the pack and vanquishes Circe, turnring everyone's pigs back into pirates and earning himself a million-coin bonus in the game.
Perseverance pays off for Big Apple resident Mike Rothstein, who finally triumphs in Celebrity Goo Game after six years of playing consistently but unluckily. Along with Samir Mehta, Mike is one of the last two remaining players from a group of Duke University friends introduced to the site by Steve Dunn, including Vance Tucker, Jim Kraus, Jason Evans, Shawn Brandt, and Greg Bair. Other players, especially Steve and Samir, cheer how Mike's patience and dedication to the game finally result in an well-earned victory. To prove that it's not a fluke, Mike goes on to win the game again less than six months later.
After years of Scott writing his own "Ten Best Films That I Saw" feature at the end of every calendar year, he opens the floor to all Funeratic members, creating a virtual ballot in which everyone who reviewed movies that year can vote on which titles they thought were best, and thus determining the collective opinion of the website. In the feature's inaugural year, the collective votes of Chris Lemler, Erik Bates, Evie Totty, Samir Mehta, and Scott are tallied, and The Dark Knight Rises is declared the best film of 2012 according to Funeratic. The feature winds up generating many more reviews and discussions about the year's best movies and trailers.
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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