Scott Hardie | September 20, 2009
Recently, I've been talking about taking the goo game in a different direction. That plan goes into effect tonight, with the start of Round XLI in five hours.

The tournament is a great system for producing a fair winner, and it evolved from many other systems that failed before it. But as anyone who has been in this game for a long time knows, it thrives on regular change, because just guessing goos gets stale after a while. I've gotten pretty bored with the game lately, which is one reason I've been paying much more attention to other sections on this site. I don't know if we'll find a better or more fair system than the tournament, but I'm willing to try something different in the name of shaking up the game.

Starting tonight, we're going back to an old rule system, based on towers. Each goo will go into a tower of your choice. If you're right, you'll build that tower one goo higher. If you're wrong, you'll wipe it out and have to start over. The first player who completes five towers of ten goos each will become the winner.

Somewhere, Steve Dunn is probably thrilled with this; he and other players really liked the tower system when we had it years ago (2003-2005). What made it unwieldy at the time was that, if you fell a single goo behind, you were done, because there are too many players who play flawlessly and you couldn't catch up. (If a player got a Golden Imelda, forget about it, that player had won.) This new version of the tower system has a few changes from the old one:

- You now have to declare which tower before you see the goo. All you know at that point is the category of the goo, with nothing else to help you decide. That means a lot more risk than choosing your tower when you enter your guess, at which point you're 99% sure that you have it (or don't have it). I have a little trepidation about this change affecting new people joining the game, since it means they have to understand the rules before they start playing, but we don't seem to be getting waves of new players anyway so I'm going to set aside that concern.

- The goos will now vary much more in difficulty. Traditionally, each round sees a gradual increase in difficulty from very easy to very hard, with a few odd goos out of that sequence in order to shake things up. But if you can guess the difficulty of the goo before you try, then that helps to remove the risk, so forget about it: Any goo at any time can be any difficulty level, regardless of where in the round it falls. Expect very difficult goos more often and at unpredictable intervals (if I do it right).

- When a player completes a tower, she or he will get to use one of three rewards, their choice: Topple another player's incomplete tower, use a "free pass" to cancel a goo they had already activated, or extend another player's tower by one goo. The latter two rewards are options for players who want to play nice or not disrupt the game much, but let's face it, the first reward is the one that's going to change everything. This will cause sudden upsets, give hope to players who fall behind the leader, and shake up the dominance of the players who win frequently. It's not fair that those players start with a target on their back already, but I'm not instituting these changes for any players, I'm doing it for the game itself, and I think this change is going to make the game a lot more interesting.

- After you have at least seven goos under your belt, you'll have to wait 24 hours between guesses. This is to prevent sneaky players from creating a tower of 3 or 4 goos, waiting a week for goos to build up, and then suddenly solving all of them and finishing a tower overnight.

Players can still request their favorite celebrities, but each player will only get one request per round. You won't be able to solve your own request, so it won't help you or hurt you in the towers, only hold you back for a day.

It's possible to have a tiebreaker, but very unlikely. As soon as a player completes five towers, all new goos will stop, and the other players will have the goos already published to help them catch up. If no one can do it, I'll declare a winner right then (or whenever I get online next). If someone can catch up, we'll wait for them to try, but the person who finished that fifth tower has a chance to knock over someone else's incomplete tower, so the odds aren't in their favor. If someone manages to catch up, we'll play a timed tiebreaker goo to declare a winner.

Your feedback about the new system is welcome. This is an experiment on my part, so I'm open to your suggestions, and I expect the system to get revised as we play it and discover kinks that need to be worked out. There may also be code issues that I missed during testing, so please let me know if something seems wrong. This has already made me excited about the game again, so I hope you're looking forward to it too. As always, good luck!

Chris Lemler | September 21, 2009
Scott I really don't understand this at all. Unlike some of these players that do know what to do. This is confusing for me. But I will give it a shot tomorrow morning, cause I have to work tonight.

Erik Bates | September 21, 2009
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Aaron Shurtleff | September 21, 2009
w00t! Sounds good to me, but I think I'll need to see how the round goes before I'll know for sure. Not that I am a frequent contributor anywho.

All the cool kids are building the Sawicki Tower!!! ;)

Denise Sawicki | September 21, 2009
I probably missed a statement to this effect when solving the goo this morning, but how long do you have to solve a goo upon activating it? Also, can you have multiple goos active at once? If so, could difficulties result where someone declares more goos to a single tower than needed to complete that tower?

It is a cool change, I am not really expecting to complete any towers though since I never get the hard goos :P. Thanks for supporting Sawicki tower, Aaron. I did too. Maybe it's my big ego or maybe I just figured nobody else would :)

Melissa Anderson | September 21, 2009
i solved a do i do another one in my 'tower' ? i r confuzed.

Scott Hardie | September 22, 2009
One goo becomes active each day, lasting for seven days before expiring, so that there is always a rotating cast of seven goos active at any given time. (The exception is the start and end of the round. Since it just started today, there's only one goo right now, but there will be two tomorrow, then three, etc.)

You can activate the goos in any order that you like, but you must solve the goo that you have activated before you can activate another one. You have until the goo expires after seven days to solve it. If it expires and you have not entered a guess, that counts as an incorrect guess and wipes out that tower.

Aaron Shurtleff | September 24, 2009
This would be going much better if I had more faith in my GOO guessing abilities! I just don't want to topple the Sawicki Tower, so I don't go there unless I think I can guess it based on the category. Of course, then Steve Dunn will just topple it anyways to spite me when he completes his tower, because he's mean like that sometimes! *shaking fist*

There hasn't been any good Steve/Aaron rivalry, so I thought I'd bring that back...

Steve Dunn | September 24, 2009
Aaron, you ignorant slut.

Normally I would reserve my tower-toppling ability for someone I view as a threat to win, but in your case I might make an exception. Watch out!

Samir Mehta | September 25, 2009
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Aaron Shurtleff | September 25, 2009
The towers go ten high, not 5. Get five more, good sir!! :)

Aaron Shurtleff | September 25, 2009
To Steve:

So I am not dangerous, then?
What a shame!

Bonus points to whoever knows the random place I got that line from! :)

[EDIT] Double bonus if they never speak of the context under which those words were spoken, which has nothing to do with my feelings towards Mr. Dunn. Seriously! :P

Steve West | September 25, 2009
That's from everyone's favorite musical, Chess. Florence, I believe.

Denise Sawicki | September 27, 2009
The new format may prove altogether too exciting for me! Lying awake tonight I suddenly realized I had not checked the goo today so I got up and did so... Only to find that by the time I was done it was already after midnight on the east coast and another goo was up. Not to mention while I was web surfing I got a rather interesting e-mail that will need to be dealt with. That's a lot of excitement for one night. Normally I'm in bed by 9 (no joke :-P ) Well the new goo can wait until tomorrow I suppose.

Scott Hardie | September 28, 2009
Fyi, I'm in the process of changing the rule about not guessing again for 24 hours after you guess a goo, after seven goos. I'll explain more later this week when I'm done with it, but for now, guess freely.

Aaron Shurtleff | September 28, 2009
Dang, Steve West! I can see that the effects of the brain elixir we had at GOO Con I is still working for you. Wish I could say the same... :)

Steve West | September 28, 2009
I hunted that stuff down locally just for this occasion! However, I don't seem to be alone in that culinary strategy.

Scott Hardie | September 30, 2009
To the players trying to solve yesterday's Music goo before midnight to keep the lead: I'm very, very sorry for the frustrating evening of refreshing the Current Goos page while I had it closed for maintenance. It was necessary coding that couldn't wait, and this was the only time I could do it. This situation gave Steve West a huge advantage since he had already solved the Music goo, giving the rest of you about 10 minutes before midnight to try to catch up to him, but he will wait until later in the round to use it in light of this. I thank you for bearing with me tonight.

I mentioned a rule change about the 24-hour limit. I have changed this to a 12-hour limit on only that tower: After you guess a goo, you cannot place another goo into that tower for 12 hours, but feel free to place a goo into any other tower. (Near the end of the round, if you have only one tower left, this means waiting 12 hours period.) The point of this is to avoid abuse; without it, a sneaky player could solve 3 goos in a tower, wait until the middle of the night when no one was paying attention, and activate/solve all 7 current goos to complete the tower before anyone noticed and wiped it out. I like this modification more than forcing players to wait 24 hours period between goos; that just seemed wrong.

Thanks for your continuing feedback. I like getting it, and it helps me make the right decisions about the site.

Amy Austin | October 1, 2009
Okay... I'm pretty sure it's been 12 hours, but I can't activate the next one -- it told me to solve the other one first. I do not like this if I am required to solve one before activating any others... if it takes me all week to do so, I am effectively screwed for the rest of the game. Of course, I probably already am in this system, but... c'est la vie.

Tony Peters | October 1, 2009
I hear you amy......I have killed many goos getting impatient about whats next and just going with whatever looks good

Denise Sawicki | October 1, 2009
Yes, as per Scott's comment September 21 2009, 10:42pm EST you can only activate one at once. Kind of troublesome for me too! I guess if you select the "free pass to cancel a goo" when you complete a tower that may be the only way activate a goo, not solve it, and still see a different one.

Scott Hardie | October 2, 2009
I knew it would be frustrating to watch other goos appear on the site while you remained stumped on an earlier one. It's been interesting to see who skips the goo (sometimes entering a hail-mary guess, sometimes guessing nonsense just to get it over with) and who perseveres until the week runs out.

Regardless, I don't want to make any players unduly frustrated, but that rule is necessary to prevent players from working around a tower that should be toppled. If you activate a difficult goo and you can't solve it and your tower will be toppled, you shouldn't be able to sit on it for a few days and solve enough easy goos to complete the tower so that it won't matter when the difficult one times out. (I could change the rules so that a complete tower could be toppled this way and this way only. I'll consider that.)

Amy Austin | October 2, 2009
Yeah, but I guess what I don't understand is why I can't just start another tower with subsequent goos... since that was what I thought was behind the 12-hour limit reduction in activation. It may get me off easy now with the one I haven't solved -- but only if I've selected the right tower for it... and only very early on in the game, since by the end of the round, there won't be this many options. However... not being allowed to make use of the whole week to work on one without potentially sacrificing six others or falling *way* behind just doesn't seem right -- it's like an entire round of timed goos... and I think it's already more than well-known where I stand on that.

Scott Hardie | October 2, 2009
Good idea, Amy. I'll make it work that way. However, I won't have time for it until this weekend, so please stand by.

Denise Sawicki | October 2, 2009
That is better than my own suggestion which I had in mind which was going to be either A. being allowed to work on other towers while a guess is pending in a certain tower or B. being allowed to make a definitely wrong guess that one doesn't have to wait for Scott to confirm.

I guess I am one of those terribly impatient ones who just want to make a wrong guess and get it out of the way :)

But being able to have more than one goo active in different towers like Amy said would be better.

Steve Dunn | October 2, 2009
Or you could make each goo available for one day only.

Aaron Shurtleff | October 2, 2009
Make a GOO available for just one day?! But that's timed for 24 hours!!! Nope.

No. Can't have that. :)

Steve Dunn | October 2, 2009
Or one goo per week. Old school.

I feel stymied by the current system. This music goo is one I probably would normally let slide, but I don't even have that option. I guess I have to wait a week (or input a wrong guess, I suppose) and by then I'll only have one day for the next goo, right? (Or is that how it works?)

Scott, you're putting a lot of effort into thwarting strategies you view as unscrupulous, but given that this version of the game allows players to tear down other players' towers it might be appropriate to permit some aggressive rule exploitation, even if just for one round. If someone does something clever and sneaky, OK, props to that person and fix it for next time. Tweaking the rules in the middle of the game makes me queasy (though I admit I'd be OK with something that allows me to work on multiple goos at once).

Amy Austin | October 2, 2009
I concur.

Chris Lemler | October 3, 2009
I was thinking that maybe the most goo's you can look at is 2. Because if you open one goo then you basically have to guess to open another goo. If you open one and you get stumped you almost have to take a guess which is likely to be a incorrect answer. Opening the 2nd goo would give everybody a chance to work on that one that just appeared. If you get stumped on the first 2 then you have to try to solve those first before opening another goo. What does everyone think about this idea?

Samir Mehta | October 4, 2009
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Scott Hardie | October 4, 2009
I like Chris's idea too; it accounts for players being stumped without allowing abuse. However, by implementing Amy's solution, it becomes unnecessary. I have changed the game so that you can activate multiple goos at the same time, but only one per tower. A tower is still frozen for 12 hours after a correct guess (to keep people from completing a low tower overnight), but a tower is not frozen at all for an incorrect guess. I have also implemented Denise's suggestion; type "surrender" (without the quotation marks) to get an automatic incorrect guess without waiting for me to review it. With all of these changes, you should feel like you can play much more freely now, without the rules being altered.

I also feel queasy about altering the rules in the middle of the round. The game is still regulated the same this way, but it should be more playable. You're right, Steve, that I may be trying too hard to avoid player abuse in a system that encourages deviousness. I've gotten so used to players trying to find ways to beat the system over the years that I made the game unpleasant in the act of making it fair. Let's see if these changes help. (For what it's worth, I think the towers present a significant obstacle to getting into the game for new players who don't want to invest the time to understand them before playing. It was a price I chose to pay in order to shake up the game a little.)

If it's in doubt at all, I did not time a hard goo to be the ninth goo just to mess with players rushing to finish their first tower. My goos are pretty arbitrary; one winds up easy, another winds up hard, with no rhyme or reason to it. At first I found it pretty hard to break the mindset that early goos in the round should be easy, but I think I'm creating a better variety now. Then again, I'm terrible at predicting how hard a goo will be anyway, so this is all moot. Anyway, rushing to complete a tower without distributing your goos is a risky strategy because one hard goo can really hurt you, but spreading your goos evenly across all five towers has its own disadvantages, because you have nowhere safe to place a goo that you suspect you won't be able to solve; strategy becomes almost impossible that way. The game can be won lots of different ways, so it's really up to you.

Samir Mehta | October 4, 2009
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Aaron Shurtleff | October 4, 2009
Scott rocks!!!

Steve West | October 4, 2009
Scott, thou rocketh.

Scott Hardie | October 4, 2009
Thank you! It's no secret that the goo game hasn't commanded as much of my interest in recent years as certain other projects, but the unending love and support from the players who enjoy it so much is what keeps it going. Your happiness is mine.

LaVonne Lemler | October 5, 2009
The new "twist" in the goo game this round is great; the recent changes are terrific! I'm anxious to see how things play out....should be very interesting! Thanks, rock!

Ryan Dunn | October 22, 2009

If a player with a completed tower uses the "free pass" option, is it shown publicly? Knowing how many potential kills a player has has an impact on strategy.

Amy Austin | October 22, 2009
I knew this format would wind up severely pissing me off.

Erik Bates | October 22, 2009
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Jesse King | October 28, 2009
Greetings all. Just registered. Great game. RTFM after a couple of mistakes. Now I get it. Always a person. Hence the name celebrity goo.

Amy Austin | October 28, 2009
Hola, Jesse! Welcome to my five-year addiction!!!

Steve West | October 28, 2009
Crack. Just like crack.

Aaron Shurtleff | October 28, 2009
It takes a short while to learn. It takes years to master. I'm still a novice, so trust me on this. I see the Masters have already come out of the woodwork to greet you. Watch for those two above me! They "gots mad skillz"...

Scott Hardie | October 30, 2009
Welcome to the site, Jesse! I hope you enjoy the goo game and everything else here. If you have any questions or suggestions, talk to me any time.

Scott Hardie | November 7, 2009
Ryan's suggestion (above, October 22) about publicly displaying who has used their rewards is still up for debate. I can be persuaded for or against.

It has also been suggested privately that there be a time limit on using your reward, no more than a week after you get it. This is open for debate as well.

Russ Wilhelm | November 7, 2009
At this time, I'd have to vote nay to both. I'm curious of how the the shake-ups will shape the game, coming up in about a week or so.

If we do go for the time limit, I hope that there is a weeks notice for those that have a reward holding. Hate to just have it gone one day.

Steve West | November 7, 2009
I'd be okay with a time limit for rewards but it'd have to be waaaay longer than a week, 3 at a minimum. Personally, I'm okay with it as is.

Ryan Dunn | November 7, 2009
I definitely suggest leaving things as is for this round, and then tweaking for the next tournament.

I like the idea of publicly displaying a free pass, and am also intrigued by the time limit. I haven't seen the "extend another tower" option used yet, and can't imagine how using it would be a good strategy for winning...but we'll see how it plays out.

Overall, I really like the tower system. It takes skill, strategy, and luck to win.

A few ideas for new rewards:
- Make your next tower indestructible(not valid for 5th tower)
- See what other rewards people have used(so the idea don't see who knocked down another persons' tower or who has used a free pass unless you use a reward to "unlock" the right to see them)
- Thermonuclear War (Save up four rewards and use them all at once to knock down the tallest towers of all participants)

Just throwin' stuff out there.

Steve Dunn | November 7, 2009
I vote against any changes for this round.

Scott Hardie | November 7, 2009
What about next round? Too early to decide?

Steve Dunn | November 7, 2009
I'd say too early to decide. We have no idea how this one is going to play out.

Tony Peters | November 17, 2009
so is tonight the night Amy strolls in and takes her win?

Scott Hardie | November 17, 2009
It's not possible tonight, since she only has one tower left to finish and must wait 12 hours between guesses. But she's clearly best positioned to win, if nobody is saving up a strike against her.

Fellow nerds who have played the card game Munchkin are familiar with its endgame: Players slowly accumulate cards that will let them penalize their opponents, then when one of them is about to win, the other players toss out those cards until the leader is successfully blocked from winning for that turn. Then another player is about to win, and the same process happens. After this happens a few times, sooner or later the players run out of those cards, and some lucky player finally sneaks to victory. I predict that's what we're going to see in the goo game.

Tony Peters | November 18, 2009
oh yeah I forgot about that.........

Samir Mehta | November 18, 2009
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Amy Austin | November 18, 2009
I didn't really want to exact it... I'd actually like to have gotten out of the round with a clean victory -- but it's just not bloody likely. Or, rather, blood is likely... I fully expect to see more.

Samir Mehta | November 18, 2009
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Scott Hardie | November 20, 2009
Someone asked what happens if you don't activate a goo and it expires. So that everybody knows: Nothing happens. You're not penalized. Skipping a goo voluntarily is enough of a penalty when the game is this close and this competitive.

Ryan Dunn | November 21, 2009
I don't know. I think that could be used as an advantage.

For the next game I'd like to suggest a penalty for no goo activation.

Scott Hardie | November 21, 2009
It can be an advantage in certain situations. If it's almost the end of the round, and you're a few goos ahead of the competition, you can be pickier about which goos you activate to win, skipping the ones that turn you off. If you're really good at predicting which ones are going to be super-difficult and will trap you, it can help, but so far nobody seems to be better at that than the crowd, or else I haven't been watching closely enough to notice.

I don't mind penalizing the players who play daily, but what about the casual players who miss goos because they simply don't check the site frequently? They're already far behind. They definitely have less hope of winning under the towers system. And what about the players who join the game late? Or the strangers who sign up, guess a few goos, and then disappear? Should the penalty only apply to the regulars? (I'm probably going to be unpopular for mentioning this, but I wouldn't mind applying the penalty only to players who have already won the game before, giving all newcomers a better chance.)

Ryan Dunn | November 21, 2009
hmmmnnn...Hadn't thought of the non-active users...

NO WAY some should be penalized and others not.

Samir Mehta | November 21, 2009
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Scott Hardie | November 21, 2009
Fixed. Thanks.

Tony Peters | November 22, 2009
that was just wrong.....

Samir Mehta | December 4, 2009
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Ryan Dunn | December 4, 2009
Yup. I kept hoping somebody else would knock you down! Ah well, I guess somebody's gotta do the dirty work, may as well be me.

Samir Mehta | December 4, 2009
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Ryan Dunn | December 4, 2009
Guessing on the time...but figured that 12 hour limit was nearing its end.

Scott Hardie | December 12, 2009
We are definitely in the longest "overtime" period in the game's history. The rules were designed for a number of upsets in the endgame, but I didn't anticipate it going on this long. I don't know that it's necessarily a problem that it's going long, except for fatigue among the top competitors (and me). If anybody gave up early in the round because they toppled one of their own towers and felt like they'd never catch up, I hope this extra-long overtime has demonstrated that you can catch up if you stick with it.

One potential problem with the timing is that Kelly and I will be on vacation from December 22 to January 3, with limited Internet access. The site is programmed to stop publishing new goos if someone has completed all five towers, but that's all. Whether that player has earned a certain win and a prize is needed, or whether other players can catch up before those last seven goos expire and a tiebreaker is needed, all of that depends on me. If this round doesn't end by 12/22, I'll post another message with my plans.

I've received a number of excellent suggestions for rule changes next round to improve on the rules and avoid this kind of drawn-out endgame, all of which are under consideration. I'd like to receive any other feedback that you have, suggestions or otherwise. You're also invited to discuss your ideas here and see what the other players make of them. Thanks.

Samir Mehta | December 12, 2009
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Amy Austin | December 12, 2009
Fatigue, yes.

Samir Mehta | December 12, 2009
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Steve Dunn | December 12, 2009
The endgame is playing out pretty much exactly as I expected, and I agree it is grueling. I like it though. I think Scott accomplished his objective of adding randomness to the process - whoever wins will unquestionably deserve it, but also will be the beneficiary of luck. That said, I would be in favor of rule changes to shorten this death-march to the finish line.

Amy, I do feel guilty about dropping your tower this morning. The first time it was just "part of the game" but dropping the same person's tower twice seems a lot more personal. I hope you understand it's not personal for me at all - just playing the game. That's equally true for all the people who have dropped my towers. No hard feelings on this end.

Am I the only one who thinks Russ Wilhelm and Steve West are STILL the favorites to win this damn thing?

Steve West | December 12, 2009
Hmmmm.. Let me think... Hahahahahahaha! HAAAAhahahahhahahhhaaaaa!........HahahahahHHAAAAhahahHaaHHAAaaaa...(cough, cough, splutter)...Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah!!!(whimper, whine, snivel)

Aaron Shurtleff | December 12, 2009
No hard feelings?! Really? Cool! This isn't personal...

Chris Lemler | December 12, 2009
Here is a suggestion about the game next round If someone topples someone elses tower the players name shouldn't be revealed under the tower that they wiped out. It wouldn't have any hard feelings between players

Russ Wilhelm | December 12, 2009
Steve and I have been doing a decent job to each other to prevent that, but we are running out of viable options. I honestly thought this would be over by now, and my predictions are totally blown. ;-)

Steve Dunn | December 12, 2009
Ah, it wouldn't be a goo game grudge match without getting a tower dropped by Aaron Shurtleff! I would have demolished your towers too, Aaron, but of course there was never any need. (Ba-dum, CRASH!)

Steve West | December 12, 2009
You more than me Russ, I think. But who's counting? Seriously kidding. I second that Aaron thing. Barump-bum.

Aaron Shurtleff | December 13, 2009
Aw! You know I love you guys! :)

Samir Mehta | December 13, 2009
[hidden by request]

Amy Austin | December 14, 2009
Sigh... okay, I'm going to try to address the nature of my goo fatigue now. Just doing so is a source of fatigue in and of itself, though.

I've think I've *fairly* well kept my mouth shut about this format the whole round, but it should be no secret to anyone here how much I detest it. I refrain from repeating my feelings about it too much here, though, because 1) I've already made it known, 2) I think I may have overstated my case about such things in the past... to the point, perhaps, of making certain people uncomfortable (i.e., I know how Scott does not like to make unpopular decisions or upset veteran players, and I do not wish to exploit his good nature like that), 3) I do agree with Steve that this format does appear to have satisfied the goals of "mixing it up" and leveling the playing field (even if over and over), and 4) I hate being perceived as the big fat crybaby that I already know I am. But let me make it very clear... I would hate the crap out of this format, even if I somehow end up winning... just like I hated the timed feature in past rounds and still would have hated it had I won in that fashion. I just don't feel like there is a lot of point in bringing up how much I hate something, unless I have something better in mind to offer (and I don't -- I have spent much more energy this round in just trying to win in a fashion I dislike and a lot less in thinking about ways to somehow make it better, as I might usually be more inclined to do)... and I don't wish to seem as though I'm whining and/or trying to mold the game to my personal liking or to suit my own particular strengths, as I have uncomfortably felt in the past and which has also led me in large part to keeping my mouth shut.

I can appreciate the comments/feelings offered by Steve and Samir on toppling my towers repeatedly. Yeah, it does suck. The first time was definitely the worst... I've learned to live with it, though. I definitely don't take it "personally" in the sense that I am not thinking such things as "Ooh, that Samir... he must hate me!" or "Fucking Steve... he's been out to get me all along!" No. I do realize that this is a game and that people are trying to win it by whatever means are available to them. But to say that there aren't feelings involved would be impossible. They are many and difficult, and they are hard to describe... even among people that I've been playing this game with for over five years now.

It's no secret that there are some fiercely competitive folks in this game... nor that I am one of them, lol. I suspect that there are even a couple more who aren't quite so liberal with letting their competitive tendencies be as well-known as those of us who always seem to have a lot to say on the subject. It seems to me that there have been at least one or two quiet folks who mysteriously disappeared from the game, even though they obviously had enough skill at it to eventually win a round. And there are new players honing their skillz and upping the ante all the time -- I can't even imagine anymore what it must have been like to have less than ten people altogether playing the game at any time! It's no surprise, then, that the game has become more elaborate and difficult to play -- it simply has to.

So, to return to Steve and Samir's comments... no, I'm not over here crying myself to sleep at night each time I lose a tower and wishing for the power to take away your birthdays. Do I delight in seeing when the same thing happens to yourselves? Of course... you bet I do -- I have a good old-fashioned villainous chuckle about it, lol! (Okay... perhaps it bordered on maniacal laughter when it happened most recently... but that was just funny. ;-D And I'd be lying if I said that I didn't feel the tiniest bit guilty about it... although, for me, these things are directly connected to how I believe it's being received, too.) I even have a particular sociological interest in wondering about the lengths to which a brother will go in order to defeat the other brother... and I have no doubt at all that Ryan's tower would have been knocked down each and every time it appeared that not doing so would have removed Steve's own chance at victory. And probably vice versa, too. ;-)

So no... I'm not taking it personally like that. But I do think that I have far less enjoyment of this sort of competition than others... and I would also strongly suspect that I am not alone. There are those whom I've not yet seen taking full advantage of their rewards -- and why should they, when there are those who are clearly far less hesitant to do so for them, lol -- but whom I also wonder about what they will choose to do when the time comes, just because it strikes me as so innately antithetical to their personalit(ies) to play like that. This style of competition really does highlight certain individual traits and tendencies among us, and so in that sense... yes... the game does become a bit more "personal" to me. I am a little more sensitive to it, I think, than I'd like to be... but I guess there are enough mini-rivalries going on to distract me from it. For now.

But as far as the actual fatigue goes... it is simply wearisome to build up a week's worth of goos over and over, only to have the sense that it was all for nothing. This feeling was the sharpest when the answers weren't so "largely easy" to me, and I even missed one altogether due to the time limit overlap of having to wait twelve hours in between for my one tower... and immediately following the burn of my best streak in years, which I actually took much harder than having my tower toppled immediately afterward as insult to injury. That was another much-harder exercise in keeping my mouth shut, due to my feelings about the goo in question... and I again suspect that I was not alone in that (though I *was* alone with such a large streak). Water under the bridge at this point -- I've actually learned that this is the benefit of staying quiet when you really feel like screaming about something, so there you go... how the Goo game has also forced me to embrace personal growth, lol! I don't have to always inform everyone around me whenever I'm displeased -- it often does no good, anyway... and it can even save the feelings of those around you, if you care about such things! ;-)

So yeah... the takeaway message here: I take *everything* personally -- I don't know how else to live my life... my life *is* personal!!! But... it's not always a bad thing. I would be happy to meet anyone here in real life, hang out and have a good time and good laughs (even if at my own expense!) -- and I promise that I wouldn't steal anyone's hair to make voodoo dolls with... LOL!!! ;-) Except Steve and Samir.

Tony Peters | December 14, 2009
my opinion for what it's worth are that a person should only be able to extend and or topple each person once and each tower should only be able to have each done to it once regardless of who is doing it

Mike Eberhart | December 15, 2009
I say, keep toppling each other's towers. It's allowing me to come from behind.... :)

Amy Austin | December 15, 2009
And really... isn't that what everybody wants?

Justin Woods | December 15, 2009
I am with Amy on this a little bit, and I think that is the reason I have stayed out of everyone's way.

Aaron Shurtleff | December 15, 2009
OMG! LOL! You said come from behind!!1!

I have no problems with the current format. I had no problems with the previous format(s). I'm here for the fun and games. Of course, I am hardly the most competitive person on the site, so that probably helps. :) I think I will reserve my opinions until I see where it ends up. I think that there have been some things that haven't gone as planned maybe, and other things that seem to be doing well. It's too early for me to get too critical...yet. :)

Ryan Dunn | December 15, 2009
If I win I love the format. If I lose...this format sucks! ;)

Denise Sawicki | December 15, 2009
I take things a bit too personally in certain circumstancs so I do have a bit of a problem with the format. I would rather be victim than villain any day though. For that reason and also because, despite any appearance to the contrary, I am just not that good at this game and I'm probably going to need all my rewards just to avoid toppling my own tower, I have not toppled any towers. Yes I attempt to take the win when it appears to be within my grasp, but it's just not very likely.

Steve Dunn | December 15, 2009
I have no problems with the current format. I had no problems with the previous format(s). I'm here for the fun and games.

My sentiment exactly. I also concur with Ryan's half-joking statement insofar as my rule preferences are based largely around what I think is most likely to permit me to win. On that level, the current rules are too random for me.

I think the "endless death march" aspect of the endgame could be ameliorated if rewards had to be used immediately. I'd say not just within a week, but maybe within a day.

Amy Austin | December 20, 2009
SRSLY??? How the hell did that happen!!!

Steve West | December 20, 2009
Well that was a little anti-climactic but I'm pretty happy for you! I'm not sure what exactly I was expecting but that was just so...sudden. Congratulations!

Amy Austin | December 20, 2009
Well, same here, and thank you!!!

You know... I didn't even get here right at midnight, because I was quite certain that my tower would have already been long gone! Imagine my surprise... it was just like a timed goo for me... GAH!

Scott Hardie | December 20, 2009
Congrats, Amy! And congrats everybody who made it to 4.9 towers and got knocked down, which happened a whole lot this round. It was a marathon, and you should be exhausted. I'm tired of making goos, although I was curious to see how long this year in review thing (originally 8 goos) was going to last. Let's take a break and resume in January.

A few nights ago, I wrote a fairly long response to each of the suggestions above, but my browser crashed and I lost it. Needless to say, I think there are some good ideas that will be part of next round, and some other ideas that will need adjustment before they become part of the game. I encourage you to say as much as you'd like to sway my opinion before the next round begins. I'll comment as well, as much as my holiday trip will allow me.

Amy Austin | December 20, 2009
Thanks, Scott... and I *am* exhausted.

Chris Lemler | December 20, 2009
How about not adding the players name under who wiped out the tower. Plus have a time on the awards accept for crashing someone towers. Every player almost should now if they want to pass on a goo that you don't know. I really don't see on having extending tower. I understand that it is to stop people who don't want to topple someone tower but i just don't see the need on having the extended tower option. If anybody as any comments on this please respond. I also think that all players should open all goo's

Denise Sawicki | December 20, 2009
I'm not sure I'm a big fan of "extend a tower"; if that became widely used wouldn't that be equivalent to rewarding people for having friends? And shouldn't having friends be reward enough in itself? Personally though I would like the "pass on a goo" left as is since it's the only thing that makes the game remotely doable for me.

Steve Dunn | December 20, 2009
Congratulations Amy! You deserve it.

Russ Wilhelm | December 20, 2009
Way to go Amy. No doubt about it, you played it well, and you played it right. Congratulations and Salutations.

Aaron Shurtleff | December 20, 2009
Just missed toppling your tower! :( I'll get you next time!! :) Great job!

Amy Austin | December 20, 2009
Thanks, y'all.

Aaron: Also... I can kill you with my brain.

Tony Peters | December 20, 2009

Steve West | December 21, 2009
I'm likin' that time limit to use rewards. Within a week sounds good to me.

Walter Chesser | December 21, 2009
congratulations, Amy.
Scott, I liked this round. It was frustrating at first, but it turned out to be an interesting challenge.
The rule or limitation I don't like is having to wait 12 hours after a guessed goo is placed on a tower, to place another on the same tower. Only because I play at work and have to catch up on Monday or Tuesday.

have you considered removing this limitation? has anyone else asked?

Walter Chesser | December 21, 2009
I was just re-reading past postings and saw your reason for the 12-hour limit.
forgot about that one.
makes sense. forget I said anything. looking forward to the next round.
Happy Holidays to everyone

Steve Dunn | December 21, 2009
If I may indulge in self-congratulation, for me one of the major benefits of the endless goo round is that it permitted me to cross the 1000-goo threshold, finishing with 1001 and moving ahead of Matthew Preston for 5th overall in Goo Userrank.

I think this is as high as I will ever climb on the userrank, so I'm thrilled to get there and I only hope I can hang around and stay a while. It's a honor to appear up there on the screen in the company of players I consider way, way better than me.

Steve West | December 21, 2009
So you did. Congratulations! As an act of celebration, I knocked down your fifth tower. No real reason. Just felt like it. Congrats again!

Amy Austin | December 21, 2009
LOLOL!!! Congratulations, Steve. ;-DDD Um... I mean Steve Dunn, of course. ;-DDD

Scott Horowitz | December 22, 2009
The return of Darth Goo.....

Amy Austin | December 22, 2009
Yes... the part where it's revealed that I'm actually a pasty white guy. ;-p

Ryan Dunn | December 22, 2009
You're my father??? No. No. That's not true. That's impossible!

Amy Austin | December 22, 2009
If Ahnold can get pregnant, *anything* is possible. ;-P

Scott Horowitz | December 22, 2009
Amy.... you just referenced Junior... that's one of the 5 worst movies I've ever seen... I demand you bow your head in shame!!!

Amy Austin | December 22, 2009
I didn't say I had actually *watched* it -- I think *you're* the one in need of a head bow!!! ;-p

(And I totally take your word for it.)

Scott Horowitz | December 22, 2009
I didn't realize how much I've missed this site until I got back into it...

Ryan Dunn | December 22, 2009
Before the Junior reference, Amy made a Return of the Jedi reference. As far as I'm concerned they cancel each other out.

Samir Mehta | December 22, 2009
[hidden by request]

Richard Slominsky | December 22, 2009
Congratulations Amy!! You do deserve this win. You played very well.

I ended up taking the toppling of two of my towers at the same time from the Lemler's personally.. Oh, well.. it is only a game.

Again, you played very well.

Amy Austin | December 23, 2009
Thanks again...

Samir -- I wasn't aware of any particular bloodthirst, but... now that you mention it...

Richard -- Yeah... it is only a game. Unless you're a (bloodthirsty) crazed lunatic who must win, win, win... no matter what the cost!!! ;-D

Steve West | December 23, 2009

Amy Austin | December 23, 2009

Scott Horowitz | December 23, 2009
here's a thought... how about when you complete a tower you can "freeze it" prevent it from being toppled? that adds another level into the game... maybe freeze it for 7 days... or only allow 2 frozen towers... something like that?

Chris Lemler | December 24, 2009
Nothing personal Richard but, other players had rewards to use and didn't use them. In the middle of the game strategy changes. There is one thing that we can agree on This is just a game.

Melissa Anderson | December 30, 2009
January 18th is an eternity to wait for the next set of goos.

Scott Hardie | January 9, 2010
I agree, Melissa, but it's the best I can do. I tried to publish goos 365 days a year without a break between rounds, and I reached my limit after three rounds; I just couldn't keep going without a break. Even short breaks of a week or less aren't enough. At the risk of losing players who forget to come back or get frustrated waiting, I need to take several weeks off between rounds. (Besides, I still have some programming ahead of me to improve the towers system before the next round starts, based on the comments above.)

There's been occasional mention of someone else possibly running the game for a round. I'm up for that if someone wants to shoulder the workload to make it happen. Trust me, it's a lot of work, especially when you fall behind and must make another goo before midnight every night until you can get ahead of yourself again. But it can also be a lot of fun, and give you a new perspective on the game. And it would mean that there's no need for a break between rounds. If anybody wants to make a serious offer to do it, please get in touch with me. I'm also open to themed weeks that are created by a player, short of an entire round.

Scott Hardie | January 16, 2010
Thanks for the feedback, everybody. I've considered every suggestion made in this discussion and in private messages, and I have implemented these changes:

- You can no longer topple the exact same tower twice. If you topple, say, Amy's Sawicki Tower, then you can still topple Amy's other towers, and other players can topple Amy's Sawicki Tower, but you cannot topple Amy's Sawicki Tower a second time.

- The site no longer names the player who wiped out each tower. Chris is right; that leads to nothing more than vendettas. Maybe those are healthy for competition, but I suspect they do more harm than good.

- New reward: Reveal player information. This shows you how many unspent rewards each player has earned, and for the players working on their last tower, how long until their next possible guess. Activate it once and it will last for the rest of the round.

- New reward: Make a tower invisible. Once you activate this, you (and I) will see the tower with a blue glow around it, but everyone else will see a blank tower as if it had never been touched. This wears off when the tower becomes complete and is thus safe from interference.

The suggestion with widespread support that I haven't implement right now is a time limit on spending your reward, forcing you either to spend it quickly to to lose it. I don't think this will be necessary with the changes listed above, but I'll keep it in mind for next round if I'm wrong.

The new round will begin Sunday night at midnight. Good luck!

Steve Dunn | January 16, 2010
Oooooooh, invisible tower is awesome!

I think these sound really interesting. Thanks Scott.

Good luck in the new round, everyone!

Chris Lemler | January 17, 2010
You 2 Steve

Ryan Dunn | January 17, 2010
No thermonuclear war?!?!?!!11!!1!!

Aw,well. Should be a fun round!

Chris Lemler | January 17, 2010
Scott If you have a invisible tower and you have a blue glow around the tower that only you and the other player who has the invisible tower can see, if you end up crashing yourself on the invisible tower by guessing a goo wrong will you lose the invisible reward or does it stay the same. I assume that you will lose the reward if guessing a wrong goo.

Scott Hardie | January 17, 2010
Nope, the invisibility lasts until the tower is complete. The tower can still be wiped out by other players, but they will be guessing blindly at how many goos are in it, and you can still wipe it out by guessing wrong. Either way, the invisibility remains in effect.

Samir Mehta | January 17, 2010
[hidden by request]

LaVonne Lemler | January 18, 2010
Scott, it's good to be "gooing" again! I really like the changes you made in the looking forward to another interesting, fun round! :)

Ryan Dunn | January 18, 2010
The more I think about it...the more I love Invisibility.

Scott Hardie | January 18, 2010
I'm excited about the new round, too. Thanks for putting up with the long (but necessary) wait.

Aaron Shurtleff | February 1, 2010
OK, my GOO streak is at 30. My longest ever streak is 32. So, one of the next three GOOs will be so hard, it will make me cry. At least one of the next three... And that was making it through a Chris GOO and a Lori GOO (though I am still not sure how I weathered that storm...)

Bring it on, Scott! I am not afraid! ;)

Aaron Shurtleff | February 1, 2010
OK, I lied. I'm terrified... Especially now that I see that I am not the only one sitting at a 30 GOO streak...


Steve Dunn | February 1, 2010
I hardly ever pay attention to streaks, but now I've got MOTIVATION!

Tony Peters | February 1, 2010
well school is back in session and although its less stressful than last semester I just don't have the time, or more importantly the mental energy to search for goos so I am pretty much withdrawing from of luck everyone especially Amy lets see a repeat

Aaron Shurtleff | February 2, 2010
:( Well, sorry to hear that, Tony. I'm certain you'll be back next round if your schedule permits.

Scott Hardie | February 4, 2010
Me too. You're welcome back any time you can play, Tony. Good luck with your classes.

I ask this more innocently than it may sound in this context, but how much time does it take to play the goo game in an average day? One minute? Five? Ten? Thirty? Does it depend on how hard the goo is, or how far behind you've fallen? I'm just curious. I've seen numerous players retire from the game because they don't have time each day, and until my own schedule recently became so very busy, I haven't fully understood that. Heaven help me (and this site) if I ever have kids.

Scott Hardie | February 4, 2010
And Aaron, congrats on #33.

Steve West | February 5, 2010
Just as an indicator of how addicted I am to this site and the people here, I actually make time to visit and see what's going on. The goos themselves take usually just a few minutes to solve and those that take longer I still give waaaaay too much time trying to solve. It's an innocent diversion that keeps me away from bars and other costly pursuits. Although Brenda has expressed how jealous she is on occasion that I don't spend as much time with her as I do my computer. She exaggerates a little. But not much.

Steve Dunn | February 5, 2010
Dear Aaron Shurtleff, I have only one thing to say to you.

Lori Lancaster | February 5, 2010
[hidden by request]

Aaron Shurtleff | February 5, 2010
Somehow, I just know an "anonymous" person will be knocking over my tower soon...

Can't imagine who, but someone anonymous... :P

Aaron Shurtleff | February 12, 2010
Oh, you'll get me next time, I am sure!!! You anonymous person you!!!

Aaron Shurtleff | March 1, 2010
This round is too long. First person to complete 4 towers wins this round! ;)

Why do you all taunt me so??

Scott Hardie | March 13, 2010
When you decide whether or not to activate a goo, all of the information that you have is the category, and the requester if there is one. I have always thought it would be a bad idea to include a chart of who has solved the goo so far (as well as pending/incorrect guesses), since players could see up-front which goos were harder and avoid the dangerous ones, which would prolong the round even further. Now I wonder if maybe changing that would be good for the game, since some gutsy players would willingly go after the really tough goos just to pull ahead of the pack. I guess there are other ways to tell what's easy and hard, and sufficient ways to get out of a hard one after activating it.

Justin Woods | March 14, 2010
I just use the Towers page to see who has guessed on a goo. Isn't that the same as the chart idea?

Scott Hardie | March 14, 2010
For the most part. Invisibility and toppled towers make it partially inaccurate. I guess it wouldn't make much difference either way.

LaVonne Lemler | March 14, 2010
Denise, congratulations on your victory!! Very well done!! And on your birthday! Happy, happy day! :)

Denise Sawicki | March 14, 2010
Thanks! I hope it means good luck!

Steve West | March 14, 2010
Guess you gotta know which ones to avoid! Congrats on getting this far...

Justin Woods | March 14, 2010
Congrats Denise, I thought I had one more day to take out that tower! Well played! Happy birthday too!

Steve Dunn | March 15, 2010
Bravo Denise!

Denise Sawicki | March 15, 2010
Thanks everyone. I was amazed that I pulled it off! I am going to have to relax a bit and not work so hard on goos next round, because that was hard work.

Scott Hardie | March 15, 2010
Congratulations, Denise! What a great birthday present. :-)

In case anybody was wondering, I remained conspicuously silent all day because Aaron was capable of catching up. I was curious whether he could sneak in three more correct guesses while everybody was busy congratulating Denise, forcing a difficult tiebreaker goo. He did manage to solve one more goo, but then someone spent a reward to topple his fifth tower, and the round was finally over just before midnight.

I'm glad that this didn't happen again, and that we didn't have another "death march" to the end of the round. Thank you again, Samir, for suggesting invisibility as a reward; that was one element of Denise's gameplay that helped her win, and it helped other players do well too. It will be back next round. I haven't decided yet whether I will continue to make the act anonymous when someone's tower is toppled – rather than making the game less vengeful, it's actually making things worse, because players are assuming the wrong person toppled their tower and getting mad at the wrong competitor. I'll think it over.

As long as we're reminded of Denise's previous win in 2001, here's another blast from the past: Next round, starting on April 1, will be the second Goo World Tour. The first was way back in 2004 when the game was played weekly, but those who were playing back then may remember it fondly; it was the only round that had a single theme from start to finish. Bring your passport, because you're going to see a lot more countries this time.

Russ Wilhelm | March 15, 2010
Congrats Denise on a superb victory. This is why you have a tower. And to do it on your Birthday, just awesome.

Aaron Shurtleff | March 15, 2010
Congratulations!!! :D

Lori Lancaster | March 15, 2010
[hidden by request]

Samir Mehta | May 3, 2010
[hidden by request]

Justin Woods | May 17, 2010
damn I feel your pain Samir on my last tower too!

Justin Woods | May 19, 2010
Thanks Steve West for Wiping my tower after it was just wiped out!!!

Steve Dunn | May 19, 2010
Dude, if people are wiping out your towers I'd call that a sign of respect.

Let's just put it this way - no one has wiped out MY towers!!

Justin Woods | May 20, 2010
Just giving them a hard time...

I see I will be the only player in the top ten rank with out a win and probably the only one to reach 1000 goo's with out one too.

Steve Dunn | May 20, 2010
Again - respect! You're like the Dan Marino of the goo game. Greatest player ever without a ring!

Justin Woods | May 20, 2010
wow that is too funny! thanks for the perspective.

Ryan Dunn | May 20, 2010
At least people are taking out your towers! I on the other hand have managed to topple my remaining two towers all by myself! (Fist in air) Indonesia! (Two fists in air) Japan!

Aaron Shurtleff | May 23, 2010
I respect you, Steve.

Scott Hardie | May 23, 2010
This round looks like it's going to fall somewhere between Denise's quick win last round and the months-long "death march" towards Amy's win before that. I'll keep the goos coming from random countries until we have a winner. This is still anybody's game, so don't get discouraged.

I definitely erred in having too many difficult goos in a row in Asia. China was originally a very easy goo just to provide some relief, but Denise submitted a great request and I decided to go for it. I should have replaced one of the other ones at the same time. Kudos on surviving that challenging stretch of the game (or having good humor about it if you didn't survive, like Ryan).

Justin Woods | May 27, 2010
Well it's not going to be just anybody's because I can't even get past five in a tower, so good luck Denise, Amy and Russ.

Scott Hardie | May 27, 2010
Invisibility seems to be a curse as much as a blessing.

Justin Woods | May 27, 2010
well I guess I have one goal to work towards, beat Russ on longest streak...

So I guess I can't have my invisibility removed?

Scott Hardie | May 27, 2010
Sorry, I don't think allowing that change to the game mechanics at this time would be a good thing. But I think it's definitely a good idea for future rounds.

If you mean that you're dropping out, I'm sorry to see you go; I know it's frustrating to keep being toppled and I don't think I would take it well. But I do think that anybody can still win this; Amy was toppled many times last year and still took the prize in the end. Good luck.

Justin Woods | May 27, 2010
no no not dropping out going to try and beat Russ at his longest correct guess streak.

Yeah! it is more frustrating watching your tower be wiped out when you have only two three or four, just because when it has nine and gets wiped your at least expecting it to happen, but I guess I caused my own vendetta.

and at least if we have this game format next round I know I wont win with using all of my rewards for invincibility, but I will still play to pay back the favor to Steve, Ryan and LaVonne ;-))

Scott Hardie | May 28, 2010
I've said before, and I'll say again, to all players: Be cautious of assuming who toppled your towers, and holding a grudge against them. These assumptions are often incorrect, and you wind up mad at someone for nothing. Tower wipeouts are part of game strategy and shouldn't be regarded as anything more than that.

Scott Hardie | May 30, 2010
Several people have recently suggested privately that players should not be allowed to skip goos as long as we have this tower system, something that has been said publicly in this discussion in the past. I'm on the fence about it, and I'd appreciate your feedback.

Using a reward to cancel a goo that you have activated seems fair to me, since rewards are few and it hurts to use them. But is this simply too great of an advantage?

The other way to skip a goo is simply not to activate it in the first place, if you're confident from the category and requester and theme that you won't be able to solve it. I continue to believe that anyone who skips a goo and voluntarily puts themselves one behind is already at a disadvantage when the game is this competitive and the margin of victory this close, but it can obviously be an advantage as well. How would this rule apply – if the week goes by and a goo expires that you have not activated, one of your unfinished towers is toppled at random? And if this would make the game unwinnable for infrequent players, how would it be applied differently to them? Is there any recourse for a frequent player who is going on vacation or otherwise unavailable for a week other than completing all unfinished towers beforehand? It has been suggested that the penalty for missing a goo be loss of a reward, which seems like good incentive that won't penalize the infrequent players, but might not be applied fairly to everyone, since some people spend rewards as soon as they get them.

There's one other possibility, but I don't think it will be popular: Your towers automatically fill left-to-right, with no choice about where you place each goo. This way, your current tower is the one brought down by failing to guess at a goo. No more need to activate any goos. Bye bye strategy, except for rewards.

I appreciate feedback about this and any other rule tweaks that you'd like to suggest for next round, publicly or privately. Thanks!

Chris Lemler | May 30, 2010
Scott i really don't think going left to right automatically would be a good idea. Because if you have an invisible tower players will know right where it is almost. It would also mess up players strategy in the game. I think that the rest of the rules would be fine

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