In this mind-bending MMO, everyone’s a baby and nothing is what it seems

 

I’m a baby and I can’t find the key to enter daddy’s room. There are no hints or clues as to where he might be, and the glowing dimension of hell around Dad’s room isn’t exactly baby-friendly. Looking for other baby gamers for advice, I try to follow them to see what they do. One leads me into a hidden room filled with blinding white light, and another – a menacing black baby ghoul with hollow white eyes – happily watches me fall from the broken walkway to Daddy’s room. Obviously, there are no friends here. Only babies.

I’m playing Let’s go! Babe! world of friends, a shared-world multiplayer game created in just four days. Its proud parent is an indie developer Feverdream Johnnyknown for the bizarre platformer The Adventures of Peeb and his lo-rez works with the Haunted PS1 community. The overly believable fiction of LGBFW is that it was once a thriving baby-themed social sim from 2001 that fell into obscurity and since “resurfaced in amateur circles,” according to its itch page.

For about five minutes, I almost believed it. Like Johnny’s other work, LGBFW is a crisp, surreal world of PS1-style graphics. You can play it by yourself, but the real beauty of the game is in the multiplayer mode.

Inspired by NiNathan and Ciscookiess Courage and ultra-weird bargain games (often for the Nintendo DS), Johnny – a full-time student studying digital media – started working on LGBFW in early 2022. “I had heard that Socpens was hosting a Twitch event where chat members could appear in a virtual world as babies, and they wandered aimlessly around a dark room until the New Year’s Eve countdown ended, jumping and emotes all the while. time,” he said. old MMO memories from his childhood – not the big name MMOs you might think, but smaller, no-frills social chatroom-like experiences. He recalls a particularly obscure experience where “everyone would just be a little jeep and you could derby in the desert for no apparent reason.”

In that same barebones spirit, Let’s Go Baby is probably the most hostile user experience I’ve ever had with a game. And in a diabolical twist, its unfathomable nature also makes it (at least for me) one of the sneakiest social gaming experiences ever created. “[Hostile user design] has always been a point of interest for me,” Johnny says of the utterly opaque nature of LGBFW. “I was tempted to make a cluttered game of status bars that have extremely oblique aims.”

There are no tutorials, no friendly NPCs to push you along the way. There is no in-game chat or any way to meaningfully communicate with other players. I spawn in a brick-walled courtyard littered with tombstones and head to a play area with a roundabout and a statue of Johnathan, one of the preset baby skins. In the distance stands a “do you have milk?” billboard.

(Image credit: Feverdream Johnny)

I can dance, crawl and create sound effects by choosing different auras – auras allow me to interact with the world, although there is a lot of trial and error to figure out what to interact with and which aura ( a YouTube streamer, for example, theorized the Hollow and Tenebris auras were the most effective in his game). “The only stat you can increase over multiple plays is a hidden ‘age’ stat that makes you bigger over time, but that’s it,” Johnny reveals.

The real magic of LGBFW is its weird little existence as a quasi-ARG that requires a real community to unravel its mysteries. Via a few videos and comments on itch.io, I discern that my goal as a baby is to infiltrate daddy’s room, unlock daddy’s console, and summon daddy. At some point, I learn that I have to produce spectrograms decode some things.

(Image credit: Feverdream Johnny)

Ultimately, and perhaps most importantly, there is no point in LGBFW other than doing something weird with other people and reveling in the weirdness of this collective experience. “I think the concept of making a multiplayer game without a real end goal has always captivated me,” says Johnny. “Most multiplayer games have at least one goal, like there’s a fundamental mechanic that you need other players for, but for a lot of these social MMOs, the only thing other players can give you is the company.”

At a time when shared online experiences and overrated metaverses are boring ways to replicate the worst aspects of real life, Let’s Go Baby, in all its mysterious glory, achieves something truly beautiful. There’s almost no barrier to entry: it’s a free-to-play browser game, which means I can easily convince several friends to open a new tab and join me, even if it’s for a few minutes.

(Image credit: Feverdream Johnny)

The server can hold up to 100 players: At its peak in the first week, there were 96 glorious babies online at once, and in a recent Patreon post-mortem, Johnny recorded a total of 15,000 demented babies passing through the hallowed grounds of LGBFW. While the first wave of gamers came from Johnny’s network, he says over time gamers skewed 12-year-olds who just wanted to have fun with their friends.

“I had to accept that because my games are deliberately goofy, they usually appeal to younger audiences who are going through their ‘lol chance’ phase and want to share it with the world,” he says. “I remember getting a review on Peeb Adventures where someone rightfully wrote ‘this game blew my mind!’ and honestly, I can’t say if I would otherwise.”

Updated: March 18, 2022 — 5:32 pm

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