About this project
*stretch goal update*
As we approach (and exceed) our target goal, we wanted to announce some stretch goals for our Kickstarter campaign. Beyond the $20,000 that will allow us to re-launch the basic version of SiSSYFiGHT 2000 online, additional funds will help us add new game features.
- New avatar looks. If we reach $22,000, we'll create new avatar customization looks that everyone will get to use in the game. It's about time that we had some new hairstyles to choose from!
- New gameplay options. Reaching $25,000 will let us create options for players to customize their own games, including password-protected private rooms. Gameplay options will include player-created variants like Opium Den (no cowering) and Tainted Love (tattling, teasing, and lolly licking only).
What is SiSSYFiGHT?
In the mystical years of the late 90s, a little game called SiSSYFiGHT 2000 was born on the web. Hundreds of thousands of players fought as bratty little girls, teasing and tattling and licking their lollipops on the playground. An amazing community sprang up around the game, in which players became fan artists and storytellers, reporters and celebrities, criminals and vigilantes.
There was something special about SiSSYFiGHT. It was one of the first multiplayer games with real-time chat in a browser. It was a social game with actual social gameplay, long before “social games” on Facebook existed. Its stylishly primitive visual look preceded the rise of big-pixel indie games by almost a decade.
SiSSYFiGHT turned the usual tropes of gaming upside-down. Everyone was forced to be a girl, and the game playfully encouraged backstabbing, flame wars, and a ruthless mob mentality. For a taste of the project, here's a review of the game on Salon.com from back in 2000. Below are a few of the amazing pieces of fan art from the SiSSYFiGHT Museum of 20th Century Art.
The game thrived for almost ten years online. And then, due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, SiSSYFiGHT disappeared.
But now it’s back.
We are some of the original creators of SiSSYFiGHT, and we want to re-launch the game as an open source project. With your help, we will re-code the game for today's browsers and mobile devices and make it available for free online. Just as exciting, we will also release all of the code, sound, and artwork under open source licenses: the MIT license for the code, and a Creative Commons license for all the other content that makes up SiSSYFiGHT. We’re not only bringing back an important piece of Internet culture and game history - we’re making a really fun game available for everyone to play, use, and remix into whatever they want.
The funds we collect from the Kickstarter campaign will be used to support all of the programming and production needed to re-launch the game. Here’s how we will use your contributions:
- Re-code the entire game. SiSSYFiGHT was originally written in Shockwave, so we are programming the entire game from scratch in HTML5, so that it will run in contemporary browsers on desktop and mobile. We will maintain the exact same game logic and interaction, as well as the original visuals and audio. (With the exception of cool new avatar looks for our Kickstarter supporters!)
- Re-write the server. The back-end of SiSSYFiGHT also has to be re-written, to bring it up to date with today’s networks and allow us to add new art and functionality to the game.
- Open-source release. We will be fully documenting and posting the original source code, visuals, and and audio, as well as all of the new code and assets under open source licenses.
- Create new art. While the core SiSSYFiGHT gameplay will remain the same as before, we want to expand some of the game visuals - such as offering new ways for players to customize their avatars. This will require some interface and code changes too.
- Launch on Venus Patrol. We’re thrilled to have the new version of the game hosted by the videogame romantics at Venus Patrol. This will entail some server integration work. The game will be available for free at a new curated showcase of online indie games presented by Venus Patrol and QWOP creator Bennett Foddy.
- Community features. In addition to the game itself, we’ll be implementing community features of SiSSYFiGHT, including a game website with high score rankings and a strategy guide.
- And there’s more. We have plans for stretch goals that include new avatar customization options, an iOS native app, and integration with Facebook Connect, so that you can more easily play SiSSYFiGHT with your friends.
As a preview event, we’re talking with Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (L.A.C.E), which describes itself as "an LA-based nonprofit contemporary art space and creative laboratory that pushes boundaries to expand the definition of contemporary art practices and inspire the public imagination." We hope to do a really cool launch or preview event with with L.A.C.E. this fall!
SiSSYFiGHT is a game of social interaction and psychological strategy. Every player starts with 10 self-esteem points, and your goal is to reduce the self-esteem of the other players. If there are one or two girls left at the end of a round, they win.
Each turn, players secretly pick actions, which are then revealed simultaneously. The success of an action depends on what other players did. For example, TEASE is a powerful attack, but it only works if two or more players both tease a third opponent. TATTLE can be used against every other player, but if two players tattle, then both tattlers get in trouble and lose self-esteem points instead.
SiSSYFiGHT has a simple set of rules - the design is inspired by classic social games like Mafia and Werewolf, as well as bluffling games like Poker, Diplomacy, and the Prisoners Dilemma. Because so much of the gameplay depends on social interaction, games are highly unpredictable and full of taunting, scapegoating, backstabbing, and other social niceties.
The entire intellectual property of the game, including the name, code, art, and sounds, will be released under two open source licenses: the MIT License for SiSSYFiGHT's client and server source code, and an attribution-only Creative Commons license (CC-BY) for everything else.
That means anyone can make commercial or non-commercial versions of the game, as long as they credit the original creators of the game. You're free to use the game for any purpose, including making your own SiSSYFiGHT games with the original art and sound for whatever platform you want, from a console to a card game.
The new HTML5 client code and server code that we'll create if this Kickstarter is successful will ALSO be released as open source. That means you will be able to modify SiSSYFiGHT and create your own unique version of the game if you want - replacing the visuals and sounds, or maybe adding new game features. We've chosen HTML5 because it's an open standard that works across many modern browsers and devices.
Why are we releasing the game as an open source project? We're not in this for profit. Our goal is to see SiSSYFiGHT survive and thrive on the Internet - and we think that giving it away to the world is the best way to make that happen. If you love something, set it free! We're thrilled to see what will happen to SiSSYFiGHT when our creative and talented fans get hold of it.
We have put together a great set of SiSSYFiGHT rewards to thank you for your support of this project. Back in the day, the single most frequent request we got from players was to give them more options for avatar customization. So for the first time, Kickstarter supporters will be able to change not just the hair and face of their SiSSYFiGHTer, but also her outfit. From jewelry and accessories to goggles and hats to full-body outfits, higher levels of support get you bigger, better, and weirder ways to dress your girl for the playground. We've also got other great rewards, including SiSSYFiGHT t-shirts, vintage SiSSYFiGHT promotional stickers, and indie game goodies from our friends at Venus Patrol.
Booster - $5 and up
Get your name in lights! Everyone who supports the game with $5 or more will be immortalized on a special Founder’s Wall on the SISSYFiGHT website.
Future SiSSYFiGHTer - $15 and up
Looking forward to playing the game? Do you want to keep your old SiSSYFiGHT name, or claim a new moniker for your nasty little girl persona? This level of support lets you reserve an avatar name before we re-launch the game.
In the clique - $25 and up
As we mentioned, for the re-launch of SiSSYFiGHT, we are expanding avatar customization - options open only to SiSSYFiGHT Kickstarter supporters. Your SiSSYFiGHTer will look so terrifyingly cute in her jewelry, glasses, boxing gloves, and other fashion accessories. And just like in the original game, you will get to change your appearance whenever you want. Have a different outfit each day of the week!
New school locker - $45 and up
In your new school locker, here is what you will find... A beautiful new SiSSYFiGHT sticker, designed by original SiSSYFiGHT artist Yoshi Soedeka. You also get a free download of ARCADIA, a crazy little game created by Gamelab, the company that Eric Zimmerman co-founded after making SiSSYFiGHT. Arcadia is not available anywhere online, so this is your only chance to get this super-fun and super-rare experimental game! (Playable in Windows and MacOS.) You also get all of the rewards from the earlier levels of support.
Teacher's pet - $100 and up
Look sharp - in and out of the game. In addition to the previous rewards, you get more fabulous accessories for your SiSSYFiGHTer. Elf ears, pirate patch, and katana - no one will ever forget you on the playground. Plus, supporters at this level get a Kickstarter-exclusive SiSSYFiGHT t-shirt designed SiSSYFiGHT original artist Jason Mohr.
Total diva: early to class - $150 and up
If your SiSSYFiGHT simply must turn all the heads in the cafeteria, you will find unforgettable ways to outfit your avatar at this level of support. These outfits include a gorilla suit, mermaid body, and your own private bodyguard. Also includes all of the fashion options and supporter rewards from Teacher’s pet, including the SiSSYFIGHT t-shirt and a download of Arcadia.
And... There is a special bonus for the first 100 supporters that come early to class: a rare vintage SiSSFiGHT original sticker, circa 1999.
Total diva - $200 and up
This level of support is for those arriving slightly later to class. It has the same rewards as Total diva: early to class, but without the vintage SiSSYFiGHT sticker. (Sorry - we only have a limited supply!)
A/V Club - $250 and up
Hungry for more in the SWAG department? Look no farther than the AV club. Our new home for SiSSYFiGHT, Venus Patrol, is supporting our campaign with limited-edition sets of AMAZING indie game art and artifacts. Each supporter at this level receives:
- A set of five prints from Double Fine artist Scott C, featuring Great Showdowns in videogame history.
- A limited reprint edition of exp.-3, the videogame culture zine created by Matthew Kumar.
- An exclusive deck of 'Monster Mii' trading cards from comic book artist James 'American Elf' Kochalka. Utilizing the new functionality of the 3DS, each card will let you directly scan in his Miis to add to your collection and bring them over to your Wii. From there, they'll stand creepily at the sidelines of your Wii Sports Resort ping-pong matches, appear as trophies in the 3DS's Pilotwings, and do whatever else it is Nintendo plans to do with Miis in the future.
- The Moon Grotto 7", a vinyl EP featuring "hidden" music & remixes from SWORD & SWORCERY EP, as composed by SCNTFC. This is more than just a song or two: it is a little adventure in itself with hidden messages, secret codes, puzzles and surprises.
- And you get all of the Total diva: early to class rewards too - including all of the avatar looks, the t-shirt, and the rare vintage sticker!
Rule the school - $500 and up
This level of support is for the SiSSYFiGHTer with everything. You will work with the SiSSYFiGHT team to create a COMPLETELY UNIQUE avatar look that only you and your girl will ever possess in the game. What will you possibly dream up? Of course you also receive all of the Total diva: early to class wardrobe options and rewards too. The image above is a self-portrait by Dr. Beef (Cindi Geeze) and Perdita (Terry Wiley) - the two designers you'll be working with to create your little girl look.
Student council president - $1000 and up
Why stop with just your avatar? Help us name a SiSSYFiGHT school and leave your mark on the entire SiSSYFiGHT community. Schools are the game lobbies where you go to meet other players and have matches. We will be adding a few new schools with the re-launch and we’d love for you to name one! You also get all of the Rule the school rewards too, including your unique custom avatar.
Tear up the pavement - $2500 and up
One generous supporter will not just name a school, but will help us design a new one from scratch. We will work with you on the entire concept - the look, the name, the sound of the playground.... we can’t wait to see what kind of school you build! You also get the Rule the school rewards. (Fan art above by Dr. Beef!)
Visit from the designers - $5000 and up
Naomi, Ranjit, and/or Eric will visit your school, company, or other organization to give a talk about the design of SiSSYFiGHT. We take part in talks and workshops around the world and we’d be happy to speak about game design, game development, or a related topic of your choice. (Not including travel expenses outside the NYC area.) Plus the Rule the school rewards.
Core team - The three members of the original SiSSYFiGHT team that are putting this Kickstarter together.
- Ranjit Bhatnagar - Ranjit was the original programmer of SiSSYFiGHT and he will be spearheading all of the coding of the re-launch. Ranjit is a media artist who exhibits around the world. His sound sculpture will be exhibited this year at the Palais de Tokyo Museum in Paris and the Tinguely Museum in Basel; his twitter poetry engine gleans sonnets at @pentametron.
- Naomi Clark - Naomi served as producer and game designer for the original SiSSYFiGHT. Since then she's worked on games with companies like LEGO, Gamelab, Fresh Planet and many more, for all sorts of platforms and audiences. She's currently an independent game designer in New York City.
- Eric Zimmerman - Eric was lead game designer on SiSSYFiGHT 2000. He went on to found co-found Gamelab, the company that created Diner Dash and other online games, and now he creates experimental games on and off the computer as an independent designer and a faculty at the NYU Game Center.
Visual artists - The two designers who are creating all of the amazing new SiSSYFiGHT avatar looks. Fun fact: Terry and Cindi are a romantic couple who originally met playing SiSSYFiGHT!
- Cindi Geeze ("Dr. Beef") - Cindi spends much of her spare time petting cats, playing with toys and creating delicious things to eat to the delight of friends and family who are not on diets.
- Terry Wiley ("Perdita") - Terry did physics & game graphics in the 80s, and comics in the 90s - today he has a new comic called Verityfair available as an app from iTunes.
Interns - The three project interns, helping out on production and PR. All of them are MFA Game Design students at the NYU Game Center.
- Aaron Freeman - Aaron is notoriously good at rhythm games and blogs at MassivelyImmersive.com.
- Shoshana Kessock - The creator of Phoenix Outlaw Productions, Shoshana works as a Live Action Role-Play (LARP) designer, a fiction writer and blogs about geek and gamer culture at Tor.com.
- Toni Pizza - Toni works with an after school program at the Quest to Learn school and is an organizer of the first Different Games Conference.
Special thanks - We'd like to give a shout out to Brandon Boyer of Venus Patrol for agreeing to host the re-launched SiSSYFiGHT. (And also for the amazing supporter rewards he donated to the cause!) Big ups to original SiSSYFiGHT visual designers Yoshi Sodeoka and Jason Mohr for creating the t-shirt. We also want to thank Carol Stakenas of LACE where we plan to preview SiSSFiGHT this fall.
Risks and challenges
To make this happen, the biggest unknown was whether or not we could get the original code to run. The good news is that we've already crossed that hurdle. The gameplay footage in the video comes from recent games that we played using the resuscitated code.
That makes the next biggest task the re-coding of the client in HTML5. In preparation for the Kickstarter launch, Ranjit was able to open up the client source (in a 12 year-old copy of Director!) so we should have access to everything we need to re-code the logic in HTML5.
We may have unanticipated difficulties getting the new server to work with Venus Patrol, or, post-launch, in keeping up with unexpected volume of players. We have a great relationship with Venus Patrol and plan to work closely with them through any obstacles that come up.
We need to find artists with the talent and time to make new art assets. We’re lucky to have found Terry and Cindi who have proven skills and great enthusiasm for the game.
As far as releasing the original game as open source, we may have trouble finding the resources to document the original java code and director code and art. Support through this Kickstarter will help us find the time and resources to do so.
Of course, the challenges that really get you are the ones you don't anticipate. In general, we are very confident about our team. Ranjit is a coding wizard with decades of experience. Eric and Naomi are game industry veterans who have designed and produced dozens of successful games. We are already putting together an amazing team to help us make SiSSYFiGHT 2000 a living game again. We hope you can be part of it.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The original game was created by Eric Zimmerman in collaboration with http://Word.com, an NYC-based website that hasn't existed in many years.
SiSSYFiGHT 2000 had a rabid fan base, it is an important piece of internet game culture, and it's also really fun to play. We just want to see the game alive on the Internet again.
SiSSYFiGHT 2000 was dreamed up by a team that included the staff of the early web content site http://Word.com and game designer Eric Zimmerman. Our inspiration coalesced from a few places: the gender-ambiguous all-girl-army warscapes of outsider artist http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Darger; the childhood social experiences of Word editor-in-chief Marisa Bowe; a card game called http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunch_Money_(game); early online communities like MUDs and Habitat; and a board-game prototype that Eric was working on called "Fighting Babies" that involved simultaneous turn resolution.
4. Is this really a game where you play a girl whose goal is to bully and humiliate other girls? That seems a little wrong somehow.
SiSSYFiGHT 2000 was always intended as a game for adults to reflect back on adolescent struggles with dark humor, morbid nostalgia, and maybe a touch of vengeful revisionism. It was also intended to depict a very different kind of violence and conflict than most digital games of the late 90s were dealing with, with its own twisted take on gender expression and notions of gendered play. We think of it as a game where another version of the main goal is to survive a hostile social environment which encourages tearing each other apart -- the kind that innumerable girls experience growing up -- with a shred of your own self-esteem intact and with a friend by your side. Skilled SiSSYFiGHT players discovered early on that the key to doing this was trust and support between players -- most importantly, knowing who you should trust and support. Some of the best players even developed strategies (including social ones!) that could win without ever teasing or scratching another player. One of the most important lessons we took away from SiSSYFiGHT's original run was that the top players, at the heart of the community, were the ones who were forming strong friendships and cooperative strategies with other players!
SiSSYFiGHT is a entire universe inhabited only by angry schoolgirls -- or at least, little kids wearing mandatory plaid-skirted uniforms. (There's always been a range of gender expressions among SiSSYFiGHTers.) As the creators of SiSSYFiGHT, we wanted to create a very different kind of gendered space than what we saw in blockbuster games of the 90s. Digital gaming has always had many worlds where players have to assume a male persona, from nearly every game in the main line of Super Mario Bros titles to the arenas of Team Fortress 2. SiSSYFiGHT is meant to be a gleefully weird alternative where everyone has to put on a skirt. Yes, that means you too. Wear a mohawk and a scowling face, and pick a boy's name if you want -- the SiSSYFiGHT community's always had a bunch of players who use male pronouns -- but we have no intention of establishing the usual gender binary here. Is it really so bad to play as a girl? No, it's not.
We list these in detail above, but in summary: We'll use it to re-code the entire game to work in today's browsers, launch the original code as open source, and other production tasks, like adding new game art and integrating with the new game servers.
7. Will the game be free to play? Are there going to be hidden charges for virtual currency after I start playing?
SiSSYFiGHT will be free of charge. Our current plan is to make the game completely free to play in a web browser - including tablet and mobile phone browsers. That means no hidden costs for energy points or shady monetization schemes, either!
Actually, both. We are re-coding the entire game in HTML 5, so that it can be played in contemporary browswers. At the same time, we are releasing the new code and the original code as open source through a Creative Commons license.
Yes! That's one of the things we are most excited about with this campaign. The MIT and Attribution Only Creative Commons licenses mean that as long as you credit the original creators, you can do whatever you want with the game!
Venus Patrol has agreed to host our new version of the game on their website.
That's the plan. We have some stretch goals in mind that will extend the game to new platforms. But even if we don't get there, the fact that the game will be released as open source means that anyone can do it!
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