Videogame: Go Cross Campus
An online computer videogame. The name is often abbreviated "GXC". The best way to describe this is Risk
as a massively-multiplayer online game. It is currently defunct.
Its distinctive features were:
- Risk-style maps of various real-life locales, such as company offices, university campuses, major cities, theme parks, etc.
- Later versions introduced special territories that changed the probability of victory, provided double or half units allocation for players situated there, and other effects.
- Massively multiplayer gameplay: every player received "armies" (later changed to "energy") for logging on at all, and for logging on consecutively, and for their team capturing a territory the previous turn. (There were no "continent bonuses".) Players could use these units, like they were armies in Risk, to attack and defend territories. When units were called "armies" players could distribute what armies they had on their team's territories anywhere on their board; when units were called "energy", they became attached to players' specific in-game locations; players would move automatically when their team successfully conquered a territory by being one of the attackers themselves, and could also move between continuous territories their team controlled at some unit cost.
- Unlike Risk, there was a fixed probability of victory or defeat for each unit; it was usually 42% victory 58% defeat.
- Later versions of the game introduced "fortified" territories that made it 30-70, as well as "no cover" territories that made it 58-42.
- Teams were created based largely on flavor. For example, games set on maps of college campuses, usually organized by student life officials, allowed players to choose teams based on their dorm (which often led to lopsided teams based on dorm size or participation rate; in open games, players were randomly assigned to teams to balance team sizes). In a game set on a map of Disneyland, teams included Disney Princesses. In a game set on a map of New York City, teams were Ninja Turtles.
- Spies. This began as an artifact of the game's design itself:
- Each game turn is one day (or a few minutes, in the "Lightning" games). Players log in every day to obtain more units, then give their units commands (such as to attack or defend). At the end of each game turn, all actions are resolved near-simultaneously (with individual attacking units chosen in random order for each combat front). You could see what other players of your team had assigned their units to do as of the moment you loaded the page.
- Players had to sign up with their real names and e-mail addresses, especially for school- or company-specific games. For some such games, players had to choose their team, often based on real-world factors (such as their dorm). Since this limits the number of players on each team, duplicate accounts became very popular, although illegal. However, because of the above turn-based mechanic, you could gain an advantage by signing up a dupe account on another team, not ever "using" it, but observing that team's actions. These became known as "spies", and for some reason, instead of becoming illegal, the designers effectively legalized them, by introducing a mechanic for them to be voted off the team (i.e. deactivating the account). Teams were, on the other hand, penalized as a whole for dupe accounts, which had to be voted off like spies as well.
- This gradually led to team captains being the only ones with the authority to initiate spy votes, as well as seeing what everyone on the team was doing (others players saw more limited information). It also led to the creation of "special forces", groups of players who would log on late during each day-turn so as to prevent spies from getting strategic info.
The game, and the startup company called GXStudios that operated it, was created in 2007 by a few Ivy League students. Their goals seemed to have been to sell this as a fun spirit-building tool to companies and schools, and to make it big in the online gaming market. GXC was, at one point, renamed "PickTeams", as the company tried introducing a few other minigames on their site, but the original name "Go Cross Campus" or "GXC" stuck. Unfortunately, GXStudios closed their doors
in early 2010.
The company's website can be seen here
, which gives a brief history of the game and the company.
Tropes represented in GXC:
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Just like in Risk...but now players can do this individually! Sometimes this happens because a player forgot to order an attack during an arranged swap.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Each team has a team color. Territories it controls are displayed in that color, not surprisingly, though usually with some transparency so you could see the map below it.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Happens occasionally, like in regular Risk. 1200 energy attacking vs. 40 defending. Yeah.
- Emergent Gameplay: Spies, special forces, swaps, and more.
- Red Shirt Army: If you think of your units as "armies" (or even individual troops), then yeah. The game later turned away from this trope, but changing the term for military strength units to "energy".
- "Risk"-Style Map: Being basically massively multiplayer online Risk, of course it has these. The big feature is that the designers actually drew custom maps for all sorts of places, such as college campuses and cities.
- Random Number God: Probability is used to determine the success of attack actions. Occasionally, defenses are unexpectedly overrun, or unexpectedly resilient.
- Stone Wall: While there's no Australia to take over like in original Risk, you can make alliances with other teams, have enough swapping space, all the while contributing to a heavily defended chokepoint border.
- Storming the Castle: What happens when attackers attempt to take "fortified" territories. There's usually a 42-58 probability disadvantage to any attacker (i.e. whenever an attacking unit meets a defending unit, there's a 42% chance of the attacking unit defeating the defending unit). For fortified territories, it's 30-70. Sometimes, losing teams hole up in these in order to see if they can make it to the end of the game alive. Sometimes, they do specifically because storming the castle failed and just barely enough units survived.
- Take Over the World: Well, where "the world" means your office building, or your school grounds, or something like that.
- Too Good to Last: The game was a huge thing with matches at numerous universities (and sometimes between them), and even received quite a bit of recognition from news media. However, it all disappeared after just a few years.
- Unstable Equilibrium: Played straight and averted. Strictly strategically, it would be averted, because, thanks to the inherent 42-58 attacker disadvantage, it is technically never advantageous to attack (unless there's a "no cover" territory involved where attackers have an advantage). In real life, however, people get bored, and it's no fun to rally one's troops to hold the line and keep on holding the line forever. Also, particularly long games had end-times announced after a while. So in practice, people would just go and attack stuff because that was more exciting, and you'd get stalemates alternating with dam-breaking moments where you'd have a huge battle where epic amounts of units were expended fighting each other and then stuff would happen that turn or the next.
- Zerg Rush: Since attackers have an inherent disadvantage, the only way to successfully attack a territory is to throw more than enough attacking units, each of which individually have little efficacy at the defending territory.