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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What was BeerMogul?

So you didn't get a chance to play BeerMogul? What was it? I set out to build a sim game that would be 100% browser based, that people could play in 3 minutes a day, but it had to have enough depth to keep you interested if you wanted to invest more time. When players join they get $1M BeerBucks, and they can use this to buy a pub or a brewery. Features can then be purchased to make the property more productive (breweries) or more attractive to punters (pubs). Features were of varying quality and would impact the business in positive and negative ways.

Breweries could create new beer brands, then establish production schedules for them. Each BeerDay (the same length as a real day) the production schedules would be processed, and depending on the features installed in the brewery (and other random events) a number of bottles would be produced.

Brewery owners could then list their new products on the BeerMarket for immediate sale, or for inclusion in a delivery contract. Pub owners could purchase products from the BeerMarket to stock their cellars, then set the retail prices for sale.

The same nightly process that tended to the production schedules also processed events for the pubs - depending on their features (and other random events) - in order to determine how many punters would go to a given pub, and how much beer they would buy.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Tapping the Keg (Part 3)

Wow - people are actually using the system - how cool is this!

Bug reports came through thick & fast as the number of user registrations grew, but things seems to plateau at about 600 users - looking for inspiration I threw together a quick single page press release (from memory based on one produced by a real game manufacturer), and sent it off the in the hope of generating some more activity.

In a few days the registrations had doubled - gamespot were obviously syndicating their content, so my humble little press release was popping up all over the planet - I even saw it translated into Russian at one point.

Well I think that's probably enough keg tapping at this point - the game was up and running and starting to generate some serious traffic - over a 12 month period over 15,000 players would register to play the game - lets move onto talking about the actual game now...

Friday, August 18, 2006

Is there anything as good as Beermogul?

No I'm not getting too carried away - it's a legitimate question posed by symonmreynolds on Yahoo! Answers a week ago. What triggers someone to ask that question 6 years after the game is shut down?

... I think Symon is going to be interested in what's coming soon to

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Tapping the Keg (Part 2)

Once I got over the shock of having so many beta users registered for the service I got back to work on the game - filled with a new sense of inspiration.

As the weeks drew on I struggled to find time to complete the game -juggling my time between between a family which had just grown with the addition of our first child, and a demanding full time job.

The inspiration quickly morphed into obligation - I need to get something out - there are people waiting for it! Little did I know that this sense of obligation would only grow after the system went live - eventually leading to it's downfall exactly 12 months after launch - but more of that later!

I recruited my fantastically creative wife to write all of the detailed descriptions of pubs, breweries and features (...hold on, I haven't even explained the game yet so that last sentence probably doesn't make much sense - not to worry, plenty of posts to explain all of that...). She was also one of my two alpha testers that rushed through the interface and found stacks of issues to fix before release. The other? A talented software architect from work that was a great source of ideas and inspiration during the development.

It was December 1, 1999 when I finally decided that Beermogul was "good enough". I made it available on the Internet, sent an announcement email to the beta registration list (now 400 strong), and cracked the top off a VB.

I watched the site with keen interest - refreshing my view of the database - it was only minutes before records started appearing.

People in the real world were creating virtual pubs and breweries in the game that I had been slaving over for 12 months - it was done (or so I thought).

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Tapping the Keg (Part 1)

7 years - is it that long?

In the winter of 1999 I was putting the finishing touches on an Internet based simulation game that I was calling BeerMogul.

I knew I was about a month from a beta release, so I thought it would be a good idea to set up a registration page - I could get a few mates to pre-register so that it was more fun on day one - nothing worse than being the only player in a multi-player game. I added a little information about the game concept and a couple of development screen shots.

I would check the registration report daily to get an update on progress - over the next week I had about 12 registrations - pretty impressive (or so I thought). Things died down once I ran out of people to tell about the concept (or so I thought).

On one of my regular checks I nearly choked on my Grolsch. 238 registrations!

I couldn't believe it, and jumped straight into the web logs to see where the traffic had come from. It was all coming from one address - the btinternet home page! I jumped on onto the site and found the source. BeerMogul was listed as the site of the day - there was even a writeup raving about the great new game. The trouble was - the game didn't even exist yet.