Posted on April 12, 2008,

I’m Obsessed with an MMO And You’ll Never Guess Which

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If I were presented with a list of all the many sub-genres that could fall under the umbrella of MMO games and was asked to order them from the most interesting to least interesting, I think I’d have the typical mainstream reaction. Orcs, elves and magic and anything of that nature will always interest me from a fiction standpoint, so it seems like I’d be naturally drawn to World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online. While I do currently play WoW, and have stints where I’ll forego sleep and food to play it late into the night, it’s a casual game for me. I might go days without playing. LotRO was my fantasy game; an open-world game set in the universe of The Lord of the Rings was honestly my one definitive dream game for many years.

So it’s now surprising, to say the least, to look back on the past several weeks at what game has occupied more of my time than anything else during that span. Goal Line Blitz is played through your browser and is almost entirely text-based; it’s basically an American football MMO. It’s still in beta and has many shortcomings. The concept is one of those things you say, “Oh, that sounds neat” about and never pay another second of thought to.

Instead, GLB is occupying my mind all the time and it’s got me glued to my computer seat.

My friend Brendon introduced me to the game, explaining it as a football MMO where you can create a character and level him up as he plays on a team with other real people. The catch is, of course, that you don’t actually play the football games themselves. You simply manage your player’s tactics and training (both of which are nothing more than a few drop down menus). I started out with a wide receiver; Brendon, a linebacker. If you gather enough Flex Points through referrals or by purchasing them with real world money, you can then create more characters, level up your current set of characters (up to three levels per season, with seasons lasting a few weeks), or buy a team. Naturally, the goal for us was to convince all of our friends to sign up with Brendon’s referral link so that within a few weeks, we could buy a team.

What started off as something I literally described as “something I’ll play with for two or three minutes a day” has turned into a $30 investment and more than a dozen hours since the start of the month. And I’m not alone; Brendon felt passionate enough to write about the game, too, and I’m pretty sure he’s bought some Flex Points, too.

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Buying Flex Points struck me as silly at first. If our friends simply made players at all the different positions, we could surely fill up our future team’s roster, maybe with the help of a few random players looking for a team or even computer-controlled players. But then, I thought, why not make a kicker? I had enough points remaining, as the different positions cost a different amount to create (with the more glamorous positions like wide receiver and quarterback costing 300 to a kicker’s 100). Brendon kept saving his points which were steadily increasing from referrals, but after a few days I couldn’t help it. I wanted more characters. How about a linebacker? Then I’ll have someone on offense, defense and special teams I thought and but no. I ran out of Flex Points, and faced with the seemingly grim fate of having only three characters, I decided to plunk down $20 for enough points to buy a team right away and to create a few additional characters.

I’m currently out of points after making a second purchase of Flex Points, although I do own a team and nine players. As I kept coming up with names to reference things (mainly The X-Files or South Park), it made it difficult to resist making just one more. My current stable includes Chris Pereira (naturally), Jim Dangle (of Reno 911 fame), the X-Files crew of TheSmoking Man, Alex Krycek, Mr X (yes, I know it’s just ‘X’ but what are you going to do when you need a first and last name?), Deep Throat and Knowle Rohrer, and the South Park referencing Crab People and Rita Poon. It was such an innocent thing, to think up names for players, but when you have a gem like Rita Poon, how can you resist making the investment of actually creating that player?

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For the average person who plays the game, chances are they’ll never own a team unless they really save up or are enough of a sucker to buy Flex Points. With nothing more than a player(s), your interaction with the game is really nothing more than altering your training (select an attribute and intensity) and tactics (things like wrap-up tackling versus trying to force fumbles, taking the risk to go for the INT or not, etc.). That’s it. You’re free to chat with your teammates in your team forum, and of course you can check the box scores and watch a very simplistic replay with an overhead view of the a green field with small circles representing the players. Sure, it’s just a circle, but it’s hard not to get excited when you see your player make a great play.

But the real fun comes in owning a team, or at least being assigned as a GM. While a lot of functionality is MIA, as the owner/GM you can set depth charts (which leads to plenty of arguing and whining among the players), manage salaries and contracts, trade and sign players, build up your stadium, set prices on things like beer and jerseys, set tactics for your upcoming game (percentage of rushes versus passes, percentage of balls thrown to your WR/TE/HB/FB, etc.), and other things of that nature.

It’s a tremendous feeling when your gameplan works out, and you shut down the opposing team’s leading rusher or manage to attack their defense’s weakpoint. But it takes a collaborative effort and you need to properly adjust the aforementioned tactics, and your players need to listen when you assign them certain assignments, like focusing on run blocking or pass rushing.

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Being browser based might seem like a drawback and after all, how much fun can you have in a browser game? (Although that’s an entirely different discussion that there’s no room for here.) But, in fact, this game being something you can load in a tab in your browser makes it much more accessible and addictive. If you’re on the computer, there’s a good chance you’ve got Firefox or some other browser open, so what’s to stop you from cycling through your tabs as you read Gaming Today and poke your friends on Facebook? It’s really a guilty pleasure to have GLB open in a tab while doing work and I’m doing just that as I type this.

When all of the different aspects of a team come together and you win a game, it’s really like you’re playing on a professional sports team. Most people will never have the opportunity to be involved with professional sports, even though it’s a dream for so many people growing up. For every disconnect the game has as a text-based game, you also can get an amazing amount of satisfaction out of doing your job properly that Warcraft and company simply can’t provide through rare drops and completed instances.

And to think, this is only a beta.

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12 Comments on I’m Obsessed with an MMO And You’ll Never Guess Which

Kanadwen

On April 12, 2008 at 12:21 pm

Interesting…refer me if you wish! I’ll go ahead and give it a try. kanadwen@gmail.com

Hawkeye

On April 12, 2008 at 6:05 pm

Actually, the video game version Blood Bowl should be coming soon. That’s based on the old board game by Games Workshop (the guys behind Warhammer) where you play as humans, orcs, elves, etc. in a football game involving spells and punches. The board game is actually quite fun and the video game should give it more of a Madden on Steroids feel.

Sir Snootch

On April 13, 2008 at 5:50 am

:evil:
Well it’s really nice of you to promote a game like this, and you can’t do anything with it. I created a guy there a short while ago, and for me I’m not going to pay to get more flex points. Now the site tells you when you log on that there are no more teams to be had. So it’s pretty much a useless thing to mess with unless you want to spend money right now. Until they have more teams open up it’s pointless. I have a guy I started right before they all fille dup. So now I don’t even get on a team. I’d say you hit the mark on it being fun. That is if it was playable.

I wish I was Joelteon7

On April 13, 2008 at 4:43 pm

Perhaps you missed our first class on how we don’t like people who impersonate regular posters to our site. Allow me to reiterate. Don’t do it.

-Editor

Brendon

On April 13, 2008 at 9:07 pm

Ah, Joelteon7 is one of THOSE people.

And don’t worry Snootch, more teams are being added the 21st after this season is over.

Chris

On April 14, 2008 at 3:48 pm

Joelteon7, may I ask what constitutes something as being a ‘game’? What sort of criteria need to be met in order for it to be considered a game?

As for this: “You sports idiots are the dumbest s alive. You hick bastards need to ing die.” I would like to say that I resent being called a hick.

Extremefajita

On April 22, 2008 at 2:34 pm

For those who create a new player and will be signed in the next few days as Season 2 revs up, here is the best piece of advice I could give you to have the most fun in the game: Do not just accept the highest salaried contract offer you get. Those owners have teams that will go broke soon and basically don’r understand the game. Getting on the right team with an active forum and owners who know how the game works is what makes it fun.

Riser

On April 22, 2008 at 2:44 pm

GLB is awesome. The game was started off as a small project and has been amazingly successful. So popular in such a short time that the creators were not ready to have that many teams available. Around 100 alpha testers played the game to make sure it worked. Then the beta opened.. and 45,000 people flocked to the game in the first month or two. For a game that doesn’t necessarily cost you anything and is spread by word of mouth.. that is nothing short of impressive. The game is addicted and has a good pace of play.

They will be adding more teams to fill in all the players. Everyone is not always a starter as the game does require 2nd and 3rd string players since players do tire out. Adjustments are being made and the creators of the game are heavily present on the forums. I’ve had no problems throwing them a few dollars for entertaining me over the course of the last month.

Feel free to check it out and play once this new season starts. Currently some tweaks are being made and the season will be starting shortly. If you’re not willing to toss a few dollars into the game, stick to 1 player so you can “Flex Boost” up to lvl 3-4. Otherwise, use your flexpoints as you want and start at lvl 1.

http://goallineblitz.com/game/signup.pl?ref=3107151

d-will

On April 22, 2008 at 5:27 pm

yes this is my favorite game on here i was one of the first ten that got to be alpha testers and was addicted since then just try it out ppl youll be amazed lol and if you want any help on this game just contact me d-will on the game

Mykel

On April 22, 2008 at 6:29 pm

This game is awesome – I definately love it and recommend it to everyone!

Here is a link to check it out if you are interested

http://goallineblitz.com/game/signup.pl?ref=6381247

daveo08

On November 13, 2008 at 10:21 pm

This is really a great game i”ve been playing since season 2.
once you get to know the game and become a GM or owner you will find yourshelf on for a min. of 4 hours a day its obsesive

dusk2k3

On May 25, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Sir Snootch, you pay Flex Points to get on a waiting list for a team. Then at the end of season rollover, you get your team. If you want to be a team owner, it’s a lot of work. I’m starting my 14th season owning my team and trust me, its a labor of love.