April 23, 2012
By: Joe Bonar, Studio Head
One of my favourite things about making video games is going from desk to desk handing out final, boxed, shrink-wrapped game copies to the team. There really is nothing like the feeling of holding a physical object that you helped to make. They are the complete representation of all the thought, energy and passion you put into the product encoded on the disc. There's a few days or weeks of anticipation between approval of the gold master and the release of the duplicated disc. The cadence is known, even if the timing is not always predictable. After releasing almost 100 games on a dozen formats, including cassette, floppy, cartridge, CD and DVD, I know and treasure the feeling.
Last Tuesday though, I got a new feeling, still prickled with excitement and fear, still that same sense of anticipation, still joyous, but nevertheless different.
My first MMO went live.
The seeds of Family Guy Online germinated on a trip to my local outdoor swimming pool a little over two years ago. I bumped into Ian Verchere on a cycle path and after a moment of recognition failure (he was, of course, wearing a helmet, which he took off to talk to me) he said "We need to get together, I've got something I want to talk to you about..."
Working with him and his team to bring together Roadhouse Interactive and A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. Games has been such an incredible experience, filled with learning (MMOs are very different from console games), many successes, much joy and some pain. But in every case, worth it. Worth it one thousand times.
This launch was different from the rest.
We were ready a couple of days earlier, we had the British Columbia champagne-style sparkling wine in the fridge, we'd rented glasses (heh, we're a big enough company to need to rent champagne glasses) and had topped-up 50 drinks by about 2:45... 15 minutes before the "Go!" e-mails were due to go out. The projector was on, showing SRWV data in real-time projected on an office wall, and the anticipation was tangible.
At 3PM, I called out to the team "The Go! email is ready, they're just finishing up the final smoke test and they'll hit send in a few minutes" and everyone sat on the edge of their seats (except those who have standing desks - they just tilted forward on to their tippy toes).
About 15 minutes later than expected, the invites went out, game went Live (with a capital L) and the cheer went up - the glasses clinked and the fun began. We reached several milestones in those first few minutes, including our first sale of virtual goods to an actual real person. What a rush!
The game has been running in the real world since Tuesday April 17th at around 3PM.
It is absolutely incredible to see real people running around in the world we created, the world we've been perfecting and testing for so many months. You can jump in now and just watch them having fun, beating the paths between Quests and Quick Pops that we've been tracing for so long.
It was our world to create based on the Family Guy universe, and we made it for the public to enjoy.
It is a pleasure to make it better and better for them every month, adding more stuff to do, more things to enjoy and more fun to have.
It is their world now and they are very very welcome.
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