Born during covid, Blazeball was a weird text-only fantasy baseball simulator that essentially imagined baseball being played in a world of otherworldly horrors.
Sorry I never got to play Blazeball, and now it looks like I won’t because developer The Game Band is shutting it down. The company is laying off its staff Blazeball development team and will provide them with severance pay, extended health care and a dedicated staff member for job search assistance.
It was a remarkable example of procedural storytelling. Blazeball players can bet on the games to earn points in a given week where random encounters, Dungeons and Dragons-style can tear apart games and reality itself. At the end of the week, Blazeballthe community of can spend their points to vote on new rules for the game, and in true D&D style, anything can happen. Or at least that’s what I gather from this delightful summary of what became known as the Age of Discipline:
As a quick summary of some of the highlights, The Discipline Era saw an open mouth of hell that swallowed the desert of Moab, three ominous gods in the shape of a giant peanut, a huge floating microphone that might have been a player’s ghost or something, and, of course , a giant squid that seemed to hang around mostly, but once tried to eat someone. A powerful grand slam shattered the space-time continuum, splitting Los Angeles into infinite parallel versions of itself, causing its name to be changed from The Los Angeles Tacos to The Infinite Tacos.
After angering The Great Shelled One by disrespecting his idols, he buried the three most idolized players in giant peanut shells. The community somehow resurrected them and there was some supernatural financial mess?
Besides, there was time for crows.
Samuel Fung has created a wonderful text for On the edge which covers the season from the player’s point of view and is well worth a read.
Anyway, since its termination, Blazeballthe developers of said this:
That’s it in a nutshell Blazeball it is not sustainable to work. From BlazeballAt first we struggled with the amount of work required to maintain Blazeball true to himself while supporting the team financially and keeping the staff healthy. We’ve tried countless solutions to make it work, and we’ve come to the conclusion that this battle is not one we can win in the long run. The price, literally and metaphorically, is too high.
Blazeball developed an incredibly dedicated online fandom that even spawned a merchandise store full of fan-made clothing, Blazeball cards (ahem… TLOPPS cards), mugs and more where all profits were given to charity. The store will continue to operate until June 30, 2023, after which it will also close.
It sounds like it was a beautiful three-year run, and I’m sad that I forgot to be a part of it.