Funded! This project was successfully funded on June 21, 2012.


A roleplaying video game where words CAN hurt you.

MEGA-UPDATE: Over 100% — It's gonna happen, folks!  Now's your chance to get into the beta!

UPDATE: We made a video to give you a basic idea of the gameplay. Here it is, showing some fights, a mini-game, and various other elements of the RPG play: 

ALSO: Here's a link to the Kickstarter-exclusive T-shirt design, and links to info on game features like Milestones & Zombies, Items, Player and Monster SkillsGentleman Clack, Gramlins, and Subjunctors.  And now, back to our regularly scheduled project description...

Do you sometimes dream that you had enough tiles in Scrabble to spell "callipygian"? Or that playing an awesome word in Words With Friends would cause lightning to arc out of your fingers while you laugh maniacally?

Well, you may be a bit mentally disturbed, but you'd also probably love our new game, Word Realms. We've been developing it slowly over the past few years, and it's close to completion. And now we'd like you to get involved!

If you've heard of us before, it's probably because of our awesome (yet humble) web-based roleplaying game called Kingdom of Loathing. We've been adding content to KoL nigh-constantly for nine years, and while we don't have any intention of stopping, we also want to make something new. Since we seem to be decent at writing things that are funny, we figured that a word game would be a great project.

We decided to make a massively multiplayer online RPG where you'd fight by making words out of letter tiles (like a fisticuffs Scrabble, without a board). First, though, we thought we should make a single-player version of Word Realms to ensure that it was fun and worth doing. What was imagined as a six-month task has turned into a four-year project —  partly because we could only work on it half- or quarter-time (KoL soaks up a lot of our creative juices), and partly because the scope just kept creeping up and up.

We added one word-based mini-game, and then another, and then another, and now we have... eight? We crafted puzzles, included cutscenes, hid some Easter eggs, and commissioned an ever-increasing amount of awesome music (by Gaby Alter, who is also known as Gminor7 from MC Frontalot's band). We expanded the storyline, added multiple endings, and made an "endless" mode where you fight ever-tougher opponents and get cool randomly-generated loot.

The time has come to wrap it up, and get started on the real goal — making an MMO. And this is where you come in!  If we're going to commit to making a Word Realms MMO, we need to know that people are as psyched about the idea as we are. Show your support by pledging at least $11, and you'll be able to download the single-player Word Realms game before it goes on sale to the riff-raff known as the "general public". Or, if you want to leave a personal mark on Word Realms, you can back us at a higher level, and get some cool shwag in the process!

If we reach our funding goal, we'll know that a bunch of real people with real wallets believe in us enough to move forward. If we surpass our funding goal, we can hire more artists and programmers, and make the MMO a reality even faster. Every $50,000 could be one new person's salary for a year!

Stretch Goals

If we reach 200% funding, we will add some awesome Easter eggs to the game. I don't want to spoil too much, but maybe these mock-ups will give you an idea of what we're thinking:

If we get all the way up to 400% funding, we'll commit to hiring someone to port the game to iPad, and maybe other tablets as well. If we get that far, and you have an iPad, we'll try to figure out how to get you a copy if you support the Kickstarter.


1. What is a NUTSAQ?

Since no one has asked anything yet, we don't have a FAQ. Thus, these are Nominal Utility Tidbits Staged As Questions.

2. How will the game be distributed?

Word Realms will be delivered digitally, DRM-free. It'd be swell if you didn't pirate it, because that'd be a kick right in the NUTSAQ.  It should be playable on PC, Mac, and probably Linux unless you've got some crazy distro whose interface is a pocketwatch or something.

3. Just how many jokes are you writing for this thing, anyways?

Oh, I almost forgot to mention one of the coolest things about the game! In addition to all the story and standard descriptive stuff, we've written tons of humorous "taunts" that players and NPCs say during fights based on the words that are used to attack. One of our goals is to write something amusing for most common English words! We already have several thousand done, and  more will be written by October.

4. Will the game be voiced?

Unlike our video, the game will not be voiced. Which is good, because we are terrible voice actors. Also, those animated mouths are kinda creepy.

5. Can I hear some of this so-called awesome music?

Sure! A little bit is playing in the background of our video, and here's a sample of the main theme.

6. Hey!  Why haven't you backed any other Kickstarter projects?  Have you no love?

We just made this new Asymmetric account to launch Word Realms, but the developers have individual accounts, and have backed a bunch of projects (looks like around 30 different ones so far).  Plus we pledge to "Kick It Forward" in the future.


  • We don't really know! This is our first time making a game like this. The current build is a 20 MB file, and runs okay on netbooks. We'll be adding lots more music and some extra content before we launch though, so let's guess at around a 100 MB final size. If it starts choking on lower-power machines, we can add an option to turn off animation, or something. If your computer starts choking because it's laughing so hard while you play the game, I don't think we'll be able to help you.

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  • Yes, yes it was. That said, we are going to try very hard to release the game in October. It likely won't be bug-free, but backers should be able to play it by then, even if they aren't in the beta.

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  • Sure! Most of the game is spent battling foes, so let me describe what you see during a fight. Up top you have readouts of your health and mana. On the sides you see your attack and defense stats, as well as any active effects. In the lower-middle of the screen are your letter tiles. The number of tiles you have available is based on your character's "vocabulary" stat, and will increase a bit as you play the game.

    At the bottom of the screen, you have a hotbar of actions. Some are instant (drinking a potion to restore health or mana, for example, or casting a spell to summon some extra letter tiles), others are attacks (which use up mana) and they require you to use your tiles to create a word.

    Each tile has a point value. Add all the point values together to get your word score. The damage that you do to your opponent is almost always at least your word score, but can be increased by using different skills or outclassing your opponent's defense stat with your attack stat. Additionally, if you are attacking with a fireball, say, using a "hot" word like FLAME will do extra damage. Even more additionally, certain gear, effects, or skills can modify the point value of various tiles.

    After you submit your word, you get some new tiles and your opponent gets to take a turn. Attacks are exchanged back and forth between you and your opponent until someone's health reaches 0. There aren't any serious penalties to losing a fight, except the loss of your time and any consumables you may have used -- you can just get back up and try again!

    There is currently a timer that limits each round to a specific number of seconds. The duration (and even possibly the existence) of this timer is something that we will tune during the beta.

    Some people have wondered if anagramming tools will make trivialize the gameplay. The existence of a timer (and all the factors that impact tile value and word score) makes it a bit trickier to effectively use an anagramming tool, though not impossible. I don't know that we can prevent it, or even if we should. Some folks might like having external anagramming tools as options for the harder fights?

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  • We have built up a custom dictionary of over 170,000 words, including all the naughty ones we could find. So if you type in a valid anagram of THIS, say, or perhaps WATT, the game will recognize it as a valid word. Conversely, however, the game should never present you with a "dirty" word unbidden. So you'll only see what you already know. (Slang you make up on your own probably won't be in our dictionary, and you'll fall over if you try to use it in a combat, just like you would if you entered jibberish.)

    While we're taking some pains to keep the game relatively kid-friendly, you should be aware that there are some darker themes than you might expect from a game by Asymmetric. Part of the game is entering people's nightmares in order to fix them. In the gameplay video, for example, you might notice that Rafael's nightmare is about his childhood and his relationship with his father, which was not a good one.

    If you're concerned, I definitely recommend that you play through the game before you let your child play. And if you'll be part of the beta, feel free to give us some feedback on the choices we've made. We may adjust some things based on player reponses.

    Moving forward into the future where there will be multiplayer interaction (via PvP and whatnot), we haven't really decided how we're going to handle profanity and other potential forms of griefing. It's possible that we'll ask people who want to "see it all" to opt-in? That way you should be much less likely to see things you'd rather not.

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  • Sure! Most obviously, having a KoL account is necessary to receive the item (we'll ask you for the details in the backer survey after the Kickstarter ends). The plan is to make an untradeable item that is fun and has some cool Word Realms related content, but that won't likely be relevant to the speed game. Also, and I know this will make some people unhappy, but we will only be giving out one item per supporter. If you want one for a friend, they'll need to make a Kickstarter account and a separate pledge.

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    You will gain access to the Word Realms beta test (and listed in the credits as a tester), and a copy of the game when it's done. As a special memento of the summer we spent beta-testing together, we'll also give you a cool item in the finished game.

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    You will get an in-game item in the Kingdom of Loathing exclusive to backers of this Kickstarter, access to the Word Realms beta test and the special beta-tester item, be listed in the credits as a supporter of the game, and receive a copy of Word Realms when it's finished.

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    You will be listed as a SEXY supporter of the game (you know what they say about people with a bigger font size), plus the exclusive KoL in-game item, plus beta access and special beta-tester item, plus a copy of Word Realms (that's triple-plus good)! Also, we will personally thank you in a future episode of the Video Games Hot Dog podcast. Hear your name in lights!

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    You will get an exclusive Word Realms T-shirt made just for backers of this Kickstarter. And everything that $69 will get you, too (if you know what I mean).

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    You will get a lovingly hand-crafted CD (or two) with music from the game, plus some other awesome songs by the composer, Gaby Alter. Plus everything from the $110 backer level.

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    We will work with you to create a name for an NPC in Word Realms' Gauntlet challenge. You will also receive a signed and numbered limited-edition poster of the game's final boss, Lord Nightmare! And everything from the $230 support level too.

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    Using our character-creation tool, you'll get to decide what an NPC from the Gauntlet looks like, and we'll also print you up a custom T-shirt with a likeness of that character on it! Plus everything from the previous tier.

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    You can work directly with our artist, Roy Wasson Valle, to make a humanoid NPC in the Gauntlet challenge with a totally unique look. And we'll print you up a custom T-shirt with a likeness of that character on it! Plus everything from the $370 backer level too.

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    You can work with Roy and Wes (the artist and animator) to make a humanoid (or not, up to you!) NPC with a unique look and animations for the Gauntlet. Evil unicorn, anyone? Plus the custom T-shirt, and everything from the $370 supporter tier.

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    We will fly you out to Arizona for some mutually-scheduled weekend, and will hang out with you, perhaps in a bar, for an evening or two. Maybe play some Castle Crashers? And of course you get everything from the $2323 level. [Only folks from the 48 contiguous states, please! If you're from abroad, see the next reward tier.]

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    For those intrepid international high-rollers: We will fly you out to Arizona at some mutually-agreed-upon time, and will hang out with you for a couple evenings. We could play a board game or something. Ever heard of Risk: Legacy? And of course you'll get everything from the $2323 tier as well, you rock star, you.

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