They’re not out yet, but the Brothers Chaps, creators, maintainers, and sometimes even makers of Homestar Runner stuff, have some remakes of their old Dangeresque Flash games in the works, now with updated (in some cases completed in the first place) content, and full voice acting! Have some strong & bad Strong Bad:
Nothing says awesome earlyweb goodness like Homestar Runner, even though technically he’da say “awesome eallyweb goodness,” because he doesn’t do Rs too well. Here’s the itch.io page, where it’s still listed as only “in development.” Looks like (we’re gonna have to jump) it’s set for Steam as well!
We’re getting into some weird elements of electronic gaming here, in the form of games that are not actually electronic, but spread amongst the World Wide Web. These are two similar games that became semi-popular-ish, relatively speaking, in the naughts.
To play either, you need a deck of blank index cards, practically-speaking at least two available friends (the more the better), writing implements for everyone, and some quantity of alcohol also helps. It technically can be played by only two people, but they’re both party games, and two people makes for a rather poor party.
1,000 Blank White Cards was one of the victims of the shutdown of Geocities (R.I.P. 1994-2009), that bastion of early web culture, or whatever substituted for it. These days Neocities is a useful replacement for it, and really deserves its own post, but that’s neither here nor at a spot roughly 30 feet from me that I’m going to call “there.”
An archive of the site in PDF form was saved by someone in academia and can be found here. Warning: contains edgy early-internet comedy. Content warning for mentions of tentacle rape, ass thorns, Hitler as a car mechanic, and a crude drawing of someone simultaneously experiencing diarrhea and vomiting. You had to have been there, but in retrospect, you’re better off for not being there. None of it is intended seriously at all. It’s exactly the kind of vibe Cards Against Humanity goes for, for whatever that’s worth, although crucially you don’t actually have to play it that way, and index cards tend to be cheaper.
The point of both 1,000 Blank White Cards and Dvorak is that you customize the game as you play, building a deck for your group that grows larger the more times you play one of them.
Both games involve people drawing upon their inner Magic: The Gathering designer, and both making up and illustrating cards. 1KBWC is the sillier of the two, but Dvorak seems only slightly more serious. Both games lend themselves to cross-referential cards, like the one in the first image that refers to other monkey cards. It’s possible to get really complex with cards (“All cards with an L in the name have all the numbers written on them effectively doubles for the rest of the game, if it’s a weekday.”) but that seems like it’s going against the spirit of the play. If a particular kind of card in the Permanent Deck turns out to be really powerful, it’s just begging for someone to take it down with a later card, so games like these tend to be self-correcting over time.
Find The Spam is an internet legend at this point, like zombo.com and Homestar Runner, although it’s much less well-known. It is a game, sort of. It is fun to play, for a couple of seconds at least. I won’t spoil any more, go see it now.
You could see it as a riff on hidden object games, although it predates them by two decades. While the Wayback Machine‘s earliest archive of the site is from 2001, it already had over 1.3 million views by that point. My own recollection is of seeing the site on a Windows 3.1 installation, meaning it may go as far back as 1994.
The joke is slightly ruined on current machines. Viewed on older graphics cards (with resolutions of 800×600 or even less) the user would have to scroll down a little to see the image, and so would have time to read the intro text before it is revealed. Weirdly, on my Samsung tablet even more of the page is visible on first load, the screen seems positively anxious to spoil the joke for me.
By the way, can you tell I’ve been on an early web binge lately? You can expect more old-timey game sites in the near future….