The Serial Killer Roguelike Hoax

After just a week of existence, and being featured in some respectable web publications and forums (in which it got lots of feedback), it has been revealed that the Serial Killer roguelike project was fake.

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The project claimed to pursuit the development of a highly detailed (DF-Level) simulation of murder including psychological traits and dealing with the forces of the law.

Following are the possible reasons of the developer to announce the unsuccessful end of this project:

  • He was doing an university project to study the reactions of people to such a controversial theme
  • He was just a high level troll with flash skills and some spare time
  • The project raised the expectations far too high and scared the hell out of the developer
  • Personal reasons caused the developer to dismiss it, fearing it would affect his life.
  • Someone hacked all of his accounts including bay12 and youtube, impersonated him and deleted everything (that person is probably seeking him physically now, to finish his cleaning rampage)

The news has been received with both relief and disappointment. The theme was disturbing, but everybody is free to pick the games they want to play (I would not play it)

Me myself, I’m sorry there are lots of other real projects which yell for attention and feedback for years, yet never receive the kind of input it wasted.

42 thoughts on “The Serial Killer Roguelike Hoax

  1. Ebyan Alvarez-Buylla

    It’s interesting to hear that the project was a fake, but what’s particularly interesting is how much attention the game got.

    On one hand, it’s a shame that the project has come to an end since it had so many people following it, as you mention. I have been following the buzz around roguelikes in Twitter for at least a year now (Twitter search “roguelike”), and the amount of conversation this game started was nothing short of record-breaking.

    On the other hand, the fact that there were so many conversations around a roguelike is a boon to us roguelike developers at large, especially now that the project has been canceled: other games will fill the void for roguelike players, and a number of new players will be turned on to the genre. It’s no surprise that, in addition to the SKRL, the recent buzz has included other roguelikes like IVAN, NetHack, DCSS, and ToME.

    Ebyan “Nolithius” Alvarez-Buylla
    http://www.nolithius.com

  2. elig

    “Me myself, I’m sorry there are lots of other real projects which yell for attention and feedback for years, yet never receive the kind of input it wasted.”

    I feel EXACTLY the same way.

  3. elig

    Also, this wasn’t an “interesting concept.” This was a dumb, boring, irresponsible and sick idea probably inspired by JTHM, or maybe Dexter. It wasn’t even original, not even a little.

  4. The Grinning Bandit

    I’m honestly sad that this has turned out to be a hoax, or at least came to a close. Though the concept was rather unsettling, I think the actual gameplay could have been interesting and even easily turned into something entirely different, something more appealing than a serial killing simulator. While a villain-as-protagonist game as a serial killer or mafia hitman could still have at least been an interesting experiment, others have pointed out that the game could have easily been about vigilantism, simple thievery, political militancy, or any number of other things that could have worked within the gameplay model.

    tl;dr: Screw the moralistic condemnations, I wanted to see this game.

  5. Joe Larson

    At the very least I can say this has inspired another rant. “Wanna make a popular game with little effort? Step 1, find a highly popular IP. Step 2, copy it. Step 3, Do a good job of it. Step 4, make a video.” If the guy making PrivateerASCII retooled it as FireflyRL he’s make a killing.

  6. sensenet

    This guy was an absolute wacko. The amount of spins he took on why he did it… crazy attention seeking behavior.

  7. That Guy Who

    I believe this was an incredibly original idea, elig. The premise was reportedly ‘inspired’ by Dexter, yes, but a lot of games in the past have been inspired by other sources. It’s a shame this game was a hoax. I feel too many developers who try to create a gritty slasher/killer game end up mask it and make it the ulterior motive. Take Manhunt for example, the game is about some psycho making a snuff film and forcing the protagonist to commit these atrocities. A very shady concept. How did this leave the shelves? Well, the ‘victims’ in this case weren’t regular people. They were crooks, gang members and criminals. Now you’re not just a killer, you’re a vigilante. Sure, it’s in a new light(a dark and gory one), but it’s a theme we have exhausted since the old Batman flicks.

    This idea, even as a hoax, was a new idea. The game was based around killing due to a psychological urge–which is what serial killing is about. There was no reason to be killing INNOCENT people other than your whims. Sure you COULD have become a vigilante, but that was YOUR choice.

    That is why I think it’s a shame this was a hoax. I was looking forward to a morally questionable game.

  8. ido

    It sounds like sour grapes to me.

    People developed an interest in the serial killer roguelike because it was an interesting concept that we haven’t really seen much in the rl world. If the idea was “dumb” and “boring” than people wouldn’t have cared.

    The video made it seem like a genuinely interesting project and I hope the developer will come back to it at some point (if it was indeed not a hoax).

  9. Slash Post author

    Looking back through the mirror, the video is very unlikely to come from an alpha; it already has lots of details which make it feel very tailored to the specific scenario…

    I think the whole subject has left us with a lesson to somehow enhance how we are designing and marketing our games :)

    The need for a “modern sandbox” roguelike remains there, I am sure someone will cover it. I also think there’ll be at least one Serial Killer RL in 2011 7DRL Challenge :P

  10. Troshinsky

    I am happy to know this is a hoax. First, that´s pretty clever and well done. Second, I am happy to know nobody´s risking his emotional and mental health to develop this kind of experiment. I would run into a big depression if I would try to make this game. But in your place I would have pushed the lie further and see how far the controversy rises.

  11. Geo T. Hermal

    I love all the Rogue nerds complaining about how an interesting concept garnering attention in the media is some how “unfair” or “lame”.

    I don’t even really understand why this is being called a “hoax” and not just an unfinished game. Did the maker of all the hype actually come out and say the game was never really being worked on or did he just decide not to work on it? I don’t think hoax really describes this well at all but it’s what people are going to describe it as forever now because some really terrible article writer on Temple of the Roguelike (seriously, the whole article reads really badly) put “Hoax” in his article title and now TIG and all these other places are just copying it verbatim instead of really looking at what has actually happened.

  12. Slash Post author

    It’s not like it matters that much, and we are not mad (I am not mad). I’m just pointing this event out because I think it’s relevant to roguelike development, and I’m sure many roguedevs have learned from it.

    What has really happened actually, Geothermal? I think you are greatly misinformed… he never started the game. Check his latest words at this thread: (I am assuming his rock paper shotgun account is legit, which it seems, based on his posts everywhere else)
    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2010/08/29/after-murder-park-serial-killer-rogue-faked/

    “It took me less than an hour to write the flavor text for my game. Two hours for the videos. A few minutes here and there over a period of six days to reply to the comments.”

    “You are mistaken in thinking that I care if you didn’t enjoy my little joke. I enjoyed it. That’s the whole point.”.

    He also says: “I didn’t want the game encroaching on my actual life. Five days after my first post and it already spread further than I thought was possible. Hypothetically speaking, what if some psychopath actually murdered someone and the police found my game on his computer, with saved characters that echo the players real crimes. Maybe they’d want to talk to the person who made a “game” that allows you to plan and execute murders from a serial killer’s perspective.”

    Also, the article at roguetemple was poster after the “hoax” news had spread already.

  13. Adam

    I didn’t get the negative attention. I get people are uncomfortable with the concept of being a killer but hey, people slay shopkeepers and steal in all measures of MUD’s, that’s irrelevant? I don’t play a serial killer roguelike because I have some sick fantasy of murdering my family. I think it would be an interesting and unique game, something I’ve never played before, and the idea of someone playing it to, what, plan a murder? Or exercise their fantasy? Can hardly be considered a risk, games don’t make serial killers. They certainly draw the attention of people on that path, but any evidence of it encouraging is hardly credible, unless you account for the murderer playing the game AS he’s murdering people.

    At any rate, it’s a shame to see such a unique concept turned away. Happily I shall play the few gems that don’t involve killing orcs because their O is advancing at my @ quite menacingly.

  14. UsF

    Hitman the roguelike. It is just text and all in your mind. Any graphical violence can easily be found in a book with the difference that this is interactive and caused, because you pressed a button.

    I think I’d like to see such a game, if only to mess with it, chasing people around to the Benny Hill theme, recreating famous cinematic murders, doing clean and perfect assassinations…if you want gore, go play Soldier of Fortune 2. If you want something psychological, go play a roguelike.

    I hope it still gets made, if only as a Dwarf Fortress mod or an actual game, I do not care. And to the above
    “I didn’t want the game encroaching on my actual life. Five days after my first post and it already spread further than I thought was possible. Hypothetically speaking, what if some psychopath actually murdered someone and the police found my game on his computer, with saved characters that echo the players real crimes. Maybe they’d want to talk to the person who made a “game” that allows you to plan and execute murders from a serial killer’s perspective.”

    Oh noes, he learned to aim and fire a gun at a computer, he learned to stalk, kill and suppress his guilt, all by clicking the buttons on his keyboard!
    Something similar has been created already. Super Columbine Massacre RPG. Tasteless? Maybe, but definately a way to work with the thing that happened.
    The new Medal of Honor works with the current conflict in Afghanistan and people are all up in arms about the issue, that players can play the Taliban! Oh noes. What about the terrorists in Counterstrike? What about ArmA2? Oh well.

  15. BLOB

    GTA, there. One of the biggest game franchise in the world awards you for indiscriminate killings (and without being mental unstable, I might add).

    Why do people keep on insisting to taint art with morality? Is it so appalling to pseudo-experience through another medium that it doen’t need to end so Hollywoodish? Morality and art usually result in a screwedup mix, contrary of what some ‘enlightened’ people say. And of course there’s a product: people that think of themselves as information age insightful minds that do nothing more on bashing on people with diferent perceptions. I want to read, listen to music, play games (etc) that doesn’t try to shove the maker’s morality down my throat.

    I’m sad that this was an hoax and also the maker’s idea of a joke. He/she will have a head twice as big than before when some RL serial killer game appear and even then I suspect that he/she might call them copycats munching on his/her idea. But I don’t care, I will definitly play it if it’s good.

  16. D

    Sooo…. GTA, going around town throwing people into meat grinders, exploding building, selling drugs, etc, is Cool and alright.

    Beinga Serial Killer is sick.

    Mind to point out the differences? Thanks.

  17. D

    Add: Google for Cyclopean the game, with the boards located at Iron Tower, and check the Murder background, and how it works.

    You people take GAMES too serious IMHO, someone mentally ill could find motivation to kill by simple watching kids playing at a park, so, shall we destroy and close up all Park on all the Towns, on all the Countrys all over the globe? jeez.

  18. jim

    For those of you who do not see a difference between a serial killer sim and something like GTA, Nethack, Beowulf, The Odyssey, etc., all I can suggest is that you are missing out on the most vital element of what makes for a good story. Good stories always, always feature character growth. They can be violent, they can feature amorality, but they need to have the characters undergo something that changes them. That’s what separates a story from an anecdote.

    A serial killer’s emotional journey is not appropriately into his sickness, but up, out, and away from it. His should be a confrontation with his own inner demons, not a bunch of random people trying to watch TV in their own homes.

    Do you really think that no one ever THOUGHT OF THE AMAZING IDAE OF HAVING IT BE FRUM THE BAD GUY’S POV? Jesus, there are countless stories of bad guys in charge. But these bad guys still go though interesting situations that make them grow and change as characters. A serial killer necessarily CANNOT evolve over the course of their journey because they cannot conceive of other things in the universe as important as themselves. Once they do, they become something other than a serial killer. And the game ends.

    Thus, the story goes nowhere. It’s a meaningless experience. There’s no there there.

  19. Darren Grey

    Who said anything about a story? This was meant to be a roguelike, after all :P

    I still don’t get why people take the idea so seriously. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, sure, but evidently there’s plenty of us that find the idea fun. I do think it might struggle to maintain a solid gameplay experience over a long period of time, but perhaps a clever developer could create some neat ideas to keep it interesting. I’m sure we’ll see some attempts by the new year.

  20. XylonWarrior

    It’s a FACT this concept was original BY DEFINITION because it was something that had never been done before. Anyone calling it unoriginal is an idiot. You can say you dislike the subject matter, but original it certainly is.

  21. magellan

    To me labels do not originality make.
    I didn’t really follow the threads on this thing, but it read a lot like a refluffed Zombi-apocalypse game.
    He just called the zombies citizens/victims.

  22. D

    Jim you pull story into play, but the truth is, How many people play GTA FOR THE STORYLINE? jeez, you’re all a bunch of hypocrites.

  23. XylonWarrior

    I’ll say it as many times as I need to – if you call this concept unoriginal, you’re an idiot. It’s not a matter of opinion.

  24. XylonWarrior

    OIC its just a zombie game, except they replaced the zombies with people, a fictitious apocalypse with the present day real world and added things like a mafia and police department.

    In other words no, it’s not “just like a zombie game” at all and you’re still an idiot.

  25. XylonWarrior

    “For those of you who do not see a difference between a serial killer sim and something like GTA, Nethack, Beowulf, The Odyssey, etc., all I can suggest is that you are missing out on the most vital element of what makes for a good story. Good stories always, always feature character growth. They can be violent, they can feature amorality, but they need to have the characters undergo something that changes them. That’s what separates a story from an anecdote”

    Wow you sure seem to know a lot about the final state of a game that was never even made. Idiot.

  26. XylonWarrior

    my point is that you guys clearly take issue with the subject matter but are for some reason trying to instead suggest that you instead have a problem with the gameplay value of a game that was never finished or playable. Whether the concept makes for a good game is AT LEAT 99% dependent on implementation.

  27. Koja

    Killing goblins or “other” humans by the hundreds for experience points is ok, but killing people to fulfill some objective… Horrific. And you don’t even bother to call them ‘bad guys’ first! This has already been beaten to death in RPG parodies.

    It’s kind of refreshing not to have arbitrary justifications on why some sentient beings are ok to kill. Murder is bad; justifying it by rephrasing the identities of the victims doesn’t really make it better.

  28. Zyklon B

    “justifying it by rephrasing the identities of the victims doesn’t really make it better.”

    Shhhhh! Modern Empires depend on this to wage war, now we wouldnt like to mess it up for them , would we?

    :)

    People are strange.

  29. Michael H

    I actually thought this would be fun. While I appreciate the fact that some people have different opinions and don’t like the subject matter, I’m all for it; it is just a game after-all.

  30. That One Guy

    “For those of you who do not see a difference between a serial killer sim and something like GTA, Nethack, Beowulf, The Odyssey, etc., all I can suggest is that you are missing out on the most vital element of what makes for a good story. Good stories always, always feature character growth. They can be violent, they can feature amorality, but they need to have the characters undergo something that changes them. That’s what separates a story from an anecdote”

    Because Tommy Vercetti in Vice City underwent such huge character growth that he gave up the life of crime. Because Nethack has a STORY. Because Beowulf wasn’t a sociopath who was only the hero because he was less of a monster than the things he killed. The Odyssey is the only story you stated that’s even APPLICABLE to your argument, the others just make you look horribly uninformed. Did you ever READ Beowulf? That guy was a complete jerk. He never got character development. He never grew. The entire story was just about him being a dick that just happened to be the only guy who could help.

    Out of the GTA games, only two were even doing what they did for a good cause. One of them was a gang member, the other a soldier so scarred by his experiences that he could snap at any moment. The rest of the protagonists were just glorified thugs. And nethack? You cite NETHACK? Which is all about a dungeon crawl with no story whatsoever?

    Please do explain how this game, assuming it would have had no character development, is any different from the others you cited, which also have no character development? (Not even CJ or Niko, they were the same character through their games.)

  31. kongming

    And I think everyone who thinks it’s an awesome idea is retarded and has bad taste and is probably a sociopath.

  32. nigger

    only faggots would not like to play this game
    if you feel bad for killing electronic people then you are no better than those cunts who go apeshit after playing gta and go on a killing rampage
    eat shit and kill yourself pussies

  33. Otend

    I would play the ever-loving shit out of this game. The high stakes, the ramping challenge, the true test of wit… that would create perhaps the ultimate thrill. and I think I’ve proven myself a sick bastard.

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