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How Blaseball’s fantasy sports fever dream is embracing the future

A star pitcher is resurrected from the Hall of Flame. A Hellmouth swallows the state of Utah. Crows descend on Tastykake Stadium, pecking slugger Jessica…



A star pitcher is resurrected from the Hall of Flame. A Hellmouth swallows the state of Utah. Crows descend on Tastykake Stadium, pecking slugger Jessica Telephone out of a peanut shell. This is Blaseball, the absurdist baseball simulator that captured the most delightfully wacky corners of the internet when it launched in summer 2020.

Developed by indie studio The Game Band, Blaseball arrived at a moment of global isolation and fear. So, naturally, swaths of extremely online gamers with lots of anxiety and too much time on their hands welcomed the distraction and developed an expansive, collaborative fan community. There’s an international grunge band with dozens of members; an hour-long, original rock opera about sibling sacrifice; a Blaseball News Network posting in-depth splorts analysis (yes, Blaseball is a splort); a data analytics and research society; Houston Spies fans hosting workshops about unions; and of course, thousands of fanfics.

Blaseball is inherently a collaborative game, like a vaguely sports-themed version of Twitch Plays Pokémon, or a massive multiplayer asynchronous Dungeons & Dragons campaign.

The Game Band also developed Where Cards Fall, a more “traditional” puzzle game on PC and Nintendo Switch, but Blaseball is more of a role-playing game with randomized elements than a video game. The Internet Blaseball League’s teams, like the Charleston Shoe Thieves, Ohio Worms or Canada Moist Talkers, face off against each other in text-based, simulated baseball-like games. But passively watching these updates isn’t the fun part — its communing with fans to impact the course of the season. You participate by betting on games with in-game currency, voting in weekly elections that allow fans to dictate the plot of the game or helping your favorite team renovate their stadium (Go Philly Pies!). One stadium modification, for example, is “Ball Pit,” which declares that “Every Foul Ball hit in this Ballpark will be 5 times as Foul.”

DISCIPLINE by the garages

The game garnered 1.75 million hits in August 2020, its first full month online. Within a month, web traffic nearly doubled. It’s been more than two years since Blaseball’s explosive debut, but inside The Game Band, the game’s instant success posed an insurmountable challenge to the small, under-resourced studio.

“We were like five or six people when we first started making Blaseball,” said Sam Rosenthal, founder and creative director of The Game Band. “Talk about unsustainable. We made this as a quick and dirty prototype that blew up.”

As Blaseball inches closer to its long-awaited return, we talked to the team behind the game about how they plan to turn a viral hit into a viable business.

Image Credits: Blaseball

Rebuilding Blaseball

After ample beta testing and experiments to figure out how to keep up with their unexpectedly popular game, Blaseball went on a long hiatus (a “siesta”) in summer 2021, spare for some short tests. In the time since, The Game Band raised a $3 million seed round for Blaseball, allowing the project to increase its staff size five times over. The studio, now remote, finally has a fully built-out tech team, bringing in Jesse Raccio as director of engineering.

“Now, we’re actually writing style documents, which is unheard of for Blaseball,” joked game design lead Joel Clark. “Back in the day, it was literally just three of us in a call.”

Raccio joined The Game Band in August 2021, just as the second era of Blaseball, known as the Expansion Era, was ending.

“Blaseball was on my radar for a while, but I wouldn’t have considered myself a super fan. I definitely didn’t understand what I was getting into,” Raccio told TechCrunch. “Onboarding was like… that was quite the experience, with my first two weeks being the last two weeks of the Expansion Era, when everything was imploding.” Blaseball concluded the Expansion Era, as well as the game’s beta phase, by nullifying the existing story line and absorbing the league into a Black Hole. It was a plot-relevant excuse for the game developers to scrap everything and start from scratch.

The studio then hired a team of four full-time community managers, who also work on quality assurance. Many of these new hires — both in fan-facing roles and in engineering — joined The Game Band from the Blaseball fandom itself.

It’s taken Blaseball’s expanded team more than a year to revamp the game, which they’ve rebuilt from the ground up.

“We’ve redone everything essentially, from the core simulation that powers the game to the entire user interface of Blaseball,” Rosenthal told TechCrunch. “It is built in a way that allows us to be as fast as we were previously, but now on three different platforms, since the mobile app is coming out on iOS and Android.”

It wouldn’t be Blaseball if rebuilding the game didn’t come with its own flavor of chaos, though.

“Sometimes our tech standups go for 45 minutes, because we’re all just riffing over some beautiful thing that happened in the sim that broke in such a gorgeous way that we’re just gushing over it,” said Raccio. In recent internal tests, the team ran into a bug that caused games to spiral into perpetual extra innings, since neither team could get on base and score a run. “Every day, the engineering team would get more and more excited about the fact that this game was never ending. And we’d start to post logs of what was going on in the sim, and it just turned into multiple days of pure wackiness.”

These simulated games should usually last under an hour each, so a three-day-long game wouldn’t cut it in a live run of Blaseball. But this isn’t all too out of the ordinary in a game where you can score “unruns,” which give you negative points. And let’s not get started on fractional runs, which can generate final scores like 10.7 to 2.5.

Blaseball resembles baseball, but with a lot more chaos and… death (players can get incinerated — believe it or not, Blaseball is actually a horror game). But it’s also just pure fun. At one point, fans could modify a favorite team’s stadium by adding a “secret base.” If you can run to first base or second base, why not a secret base? In practice, this stadium upgrade let runners on second base randomly slip into the secret base, then, later in the game, they could unexpectedly reemerge, putting pressure on the opposing team’s pitcher. Also, those pitchers are named things like PolkaDot Patterson, Nerd Pacheco and Jaylen Hotdogfingers, because why not.

“And on the opposite side, right now, the games are going into triple digits — it’s like 126 to 85,” Clark said.

These simulation errors might be funny internally, but now that Blaseball actually has a tech team, The Game Band hopes that fans won’t find too many glitches to exploit, as they did in the game’s beginning. Some of the most iconic moments in Blaseball stemmed from technical errors that resulted from the game’s unexpected popularity, which overzealous fans turned into plot points.

Within Blaseball’s first month on the web, some sneaky fans hacked into the game — it was a prototype, remember? — and figured out how to give themselves unlimited peanuts, a form of in-game currency. It was almost like fans were quality assurance testing the game in real time, only the product had already been shipped. This offense may have broken the game, so Blaseball stopped game play and threw a giant, evil peanut up on the site, admonishing the thieves for committing Peanut Fraud and practicing bad “splortsmanship.”

But Blaseball folded this incident into the plot, and from then on, the main antagonist of that first era of Blaseball — the Discipline Era — was a frightening peanut known as the Shelled One.

Clark still wants fans to interact with Blaseball however they see fit, ideally without breaking the game and overturning an entire peanut economy. Now that The Game Band has right-sized itself, these hacks should ideally happen less often.

“How can we anticipate how this will break, and how can we build to plan around this more, to be ready to capitalize on things going in that direction?” asked Clark. “Now that we have a tech team, we probably won’t have infinite peanuts anymore… but I’m sure there’s going to be something that [fans] find.”

Blaseball moved so fast, even fans got burnt out

By the end of the Discipline Era, the great Shelled One had been appeased, and The Game Band took several months off to regroup and prepare for the next era of their unlikely hit. So many new features were added to the game — weather conditions like Jazz and Glitter, a school of salmon knocking players to another realm and a concession stand run by a giant talking squid — that it became hard for fans to keep up. In the real world, it was March 2021, and fans’ lives were getting a bit more busy than they were during the height of lockdown.

Even for casual fans, the game became difficult to follow. And for the fandom creators who made the game’s community feel so special, Blaseball started to feel more like a commitment than a source of joy.

When Blaseball returned for its Expansion Era, Beck Barnes co-created the podcast This Week in Blaseball with gaming journalist Giovanni Colantonio, but found it nearly impossible to recap everything that happened in each season of Blaseball.

“I burned out really hard. If I wanted to keep my podcast viable with its original gimmick (recapping one season of Blaseball an episode), I had to really think about how to scale back,” Barnes told TechCrunch. “Long-term fan content like this is a marathon, not a sprint, and it can be important to pace yourself.”

The Game Band quickly realized the problem they had on their hands and hired “The Anchor,” a YouTuber who posts comprehensive, yet comedic season recaps.

Yet the game still felt difficult to follow, especially for fans who weren’t plugged into the official Blaseball Twitter and Discord.

“The reason so many people got burnt out on Blaseball, I think, is because the splort was just so much, so fast, especially in the Expansion Era,” said Cat, a fan who runs the Blaseball News Network. “Fans would get emotionally attached and have art and [fan fiction] ready for a new player within hours of their joining a team, only to be shattered when that player gets incinerated.”

On one hand, it speaks to the impact of Blaseball that fans care so much about it that they got burnt out on making fan content. But also, fandom shouldn’t be stressful. So, The Game Band has made it a priority to make the game feel more manageable for casual fans.

“One of the main things that we’re trying to do is bring a lot of the conversation that happens outside of the game into the game,” said Rosenthal. “We don’t want you to have to follow us on Twitter to figure out how you can impact the game, or have to join the Discord and things like that.”

Again, Rosenthal was reluctant to share further details about these upgrades, but he did say that there won’t be a live chat function in the app.

“We saw that the vast majority of our fans that absolutely loved the game and stayed with it were people that joined the Discord, and are active in the community in some way,” he added. “But when we looked at the number of people that have signed up to play the game, and the people that have actually joined the Discord, a very small amount of people were in the Discord and got to see what was really so special about the communal nature of Blaseball.”

At the time of writing, Blaseball’s Discord server has over 28,000 members.

“We felt like if we don’t take a step back and and make this a lot better, Blaseball is going to continue on its current trajectory, which can be really exciting for its existing fan base but it will never get outside of that, and we don’t want that to be the case,” Rosenthal said.

The Internet League is kind of sort of almost back

Blaseball isn’t quite ready to reveal when they’re making their grand return. But they’re getting close enough to ready that they decided to speak to press about what they’ve been up to over the last year.

“The same teams that we left off with and knew from our previous league will be carried forward in the future,” Clark said. “And story wise, we’re picking up from where we left off, but we did it in a way to let us start fresh a little bit. So we’re going to be taking a new direction, but most of it’s still going to feel very familiar to existing fans.”

I imagine what a lot of fans are probably expecting is something more in line with the first few eras of Blaseball, but a little bit better,” Rosenthal added. “But this one, I think it’s more of a reboot than a straight sequel.”

The Game Band intentionally takes its time with new additions to Blaseball to avoid “crunch,” a stressful period in game creation when developers pull unsustainable work hours to meet a deadline. But as an indie studio, the devs can choose their own deadlines. Fans are eager to get back to Blaseball, but for the most part, they understand that the longer they wait, the better the game will be.

“I’m excited to see how the devs plan to handle some of the issues with Blaseball beta, especially the breakneck speed that was so signature to the gameplay,” Cat told TechCrunch. Still, fans feel nostalgic for the sublime, first era of Blaseball.

“I miss connecting with people and seeing all the wonderful and zany ways it can bring people together,” Barnes told TechCrunch. “One of the biggest allures of Blaseball is that there is so many ways you can engage with it. It really is one of those things with something for everyone.”

Blaseball will also be fundamentally different in its upcoming iteration since it will be accessible via iOS and Android mobile apps. Rosenthal said that the apps are designed to enable passive game play — you’ll get push notifications about key events, but as always, Blaseball isn’t designed to be addictive. He envisions users logging in for a few minutes at a time, interacting with the games, and moving on.

For the first time, fans will be able to make in-game purchases, helping The Game Band try to turn a profit.

“One hard line we’re taking is, no, nothing that you can pay for can affect the actual game,” Rosenthal said. “If you happen to be wealthy, you cannot spend money to ensure that the Kansas City Breath Mints are going to win the championship.” And of course, in typical, secretive Blaseball fashion, Rosenthal refused to elaborate on these monetization plans.

Despite spending a year completely overhauling the game, The Game Band wants Blaseball to retain the same feel it’s always had — the game is simple yet deeply clever, packed with surprising yet satisfying twists. And most importantly, it conjured a zany, enthusiastic fan community in a time when blissful silliness felt so elusive.

“This is a game that came out during a pandemic when we were all split from each other. And I think the game design itself is very reflective of that,” Rosenthal said. “The game is about bringing people together through chaos and absurdity, and with a lot of laughter.”

How Blaseball’s fantasy sports fever dream is embracing the future by Amanda Silberling originally published on TechCrunch

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Stock Market Today: Stocks turn lower as Treasury yield rise mutes earnings gains

A mixed set of big tech earnings, alongside modestly higher Treasury yields, has stocks moving lower into the start of the Wednesday session.



Updated at 10:07 am EDT U.S. turned lower Wednesday, while Treasury yields crept higher and the dollar building gains against its global peers as investors reacted to the first wave of mega-cap tech earnings while continuing to track movements in the bond market. Microsoft  (MSFT) - Get Free Report and Google parent Alphabet  (GOOGL) - Get Free Report kicked-off this week's run of earnings from the so-called 'magnificent seven' late Tuesday with a mixed set of September quarter results, reflecting both the power for AI technologies to boost near-term profits and the impact of surging interest rates on corporate spending. Microsoft's revenue growth in cloud computing, driven in part by its early investments in AI, lifted shares in the tech giant firmly higher in pre-market trading as it looks to add around 85 points to the Dow Jones Industrial Average at the opening bell. Google, meanwhile, slumped 6.6% following a mixed set of third quarter earnings that showed slowing cloud computing growth overshadowing record ad revenues of $59.65 billion. Facebook and Instagram owner Meta Platforms  (META) - Get Free Report posts its third quarter earnings after the bell later today, with magnificent seven stalwart Amazon  (AMZN) - Get Free Report following on Thursday. In the bond market, a muted auction of $51 billion in 2-year notes yesterday, which drew softer demand from both foreign and domestic investors, drew a line under the recent Treasury market rally, which was also tested by a faster-than-expected reading for business activity by S&P Global over the month of October. Benchmark 10-year notes yields were last marked 5 basis points higher in the early New York trading at 4.901% while 2-year notes were pegged at 5.091%, 3 basis points higher than yesterday's auction levels, ahead of a $52 billion sale of 5-year notes later in the session. The U.S. dollar index, meanwhile, was marked 0.14% higher against a basket of six global currency peers and trading at 106.41 heading into the morning session. In other markets, global oil prices drifted modestly higher in early New York trading ahead of Energy Department data on domestic stockpiles and international exports later this morning. Brent crude contracts for December delivery were marked 23 cents higher at $88.31 per barrel while WTI contracts for the same month edged 13 cents higher to $83.87 per barrel. On Wall Street, the S&P 500 was marked 42 points lower, or 0.99%, in the opening hour of trading while the Dow was down 133 points despite the impact of Microsoft's advance. The tech-focused Nasdaq, meanwhile, was down 186 points, or 1.43%, as the slump in Google shares offset a smaller gain for Microsoft. In overseas markets, Europe's Stoxx 600 was marked 0.28% higher in late-day Frankfurt trading amid another busy earnings session while Britain's FTSE 100 edged 0.02% lower in London. Overnight in Asia, reports of a new trillion-yuan bond sale from the Chinese government, worth around $137 billion in U.S. dollar terms and aimed at adding further stimulus to the moribund economy, boosted sentiment and helped regional stocks eek out a modest 0.09% gain heading into the close of trading.
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People in Europe ate seaweed for thousands of years before it largely disappeared from their diets – we wonder why?

The decline of seaweed as part of the staple diet in Europe remains a mystery.



Seaweed isn’t something that generally features today in European recipe books, even though it is widely eaten in Asia. But our team has discovered molecular evidence that shows this wasn’t always the case. People in Europe ate seaweed and freshwater aquatic plants from the Stone Age right up until the Middle Ages before it disappeared from our plates. Our evidence came from skeletal remains, namely the calculus (hardened dental plaque) that built up around the teeth of these people when they were alive. Many centuries later, this calculus still contains molecules that record the food that people ingested. We analysed the calculus from 74 skeletal remains from 28 archaeological sites across Europe. The sites span a period of several thousand years starting in the Mesolithic, when people hunted and gathered their food, through to the earliest farming societies (a stage called the Neolithic) all the way up to the Middle Ages. Our results suggest that seaweed was a habitual part of the diet for the time periods we studied, and became a marginal food only relatively recently. Unsurprisingly, most of the sites where we detected the consumption of seaweed are coastal. But we also found evidence from inland sites that people were ingesting freshwater aquatic plants, including lilies and pondweed. We also found an example of people consuming sea kale.

How are we sure people ate seaweed?

We identified several types of molecules in the dental calculus that collectively are characteristic of seaweed. We refer to these as “biomarkers”. They include a set of chemical compounds called alkylpyrroles. When we detect these compounds together in calculus, we can be fairly sure where they came from. The same goes for other compounds characteristic of seaweed and freshwater plants. To have become embedded in dental calculus, the seaweed and freshwater plants had to have been in the mouth and most probably chewed. Biomarkers do not survive in all our samples, but where they do, they’re found consistently across many individuals we analysed from different places. This suggests seaweed was probably a routine part of the diet.

Perceptions of seaweed

Today, seaweed is often seen as the scourge of beaches. It accumulates at the high-water mark where it can create a slippery and sometimes smelly barrier to the sea. But it is a wondrous world of its own. There are over 10,000 species of seaweed worldwide living in the intertidal zone (where the ocean meets the land between high and low tides) and the subtidal zone (a region below the intertidal zone that is continuously covered by water). Around 145 of these species are eaten today and in parts of Asia it is commonplace. Seaweed is edible, nutritious, sometimes medicinal, abundant and local. Although overconsumption can cause iodine toxicity, there are no poisonous intertidal species in Europe. It is also available all year round, which would have been particularly useful in the past, when food supplies were less reliable.

Reconstructing ancient diets

Reconstructing ancient diets is challenging and is generally more difficult as you go back in time. This helps explain why we’ve only just realised how much seaweed was being eaten by ancient Europeans. In archaeology, evidence for ancient diets often comes from physical remains: animal bones, fish bones and the hard parts of shellfish. Evidence for plants as part of the diet before farming, however, is rare. Techniques to study molecules from archaeological remains have been around for some time. A key method is known as carbon/nitrogen (C and N) stable isotope analysis. This is widely used to reconstruct ancient human and animal diets based on the relative proportions of these elements in bone collagen. But the presence of plants has been difficult to identify, due to their low nitrogen content. Their presence is masked by an overwhelming signal for animals and fish.

Hiding in plain sight

The evidence for seaweed had been present all along, but unrecognised. Our discovery provides a perfect example of how perceptions of what we regard as food influence interpretations of ancient practices. Seaweed was detected in chunks that had been chewed (and presumably spat out) at the 12,000-year-old site of Monte Verde, Chile. But when it is found at archaeological sites, it is more commonly interpreted as having been used for things other than food, such as fuel and food wrappings. In European archaeology, there is a longstanding perception that Mesolithic hunter-gatherers ate lots of seafood, but that when people started farming, they focused on food sourced from land, such as their livestock. Our findings hammer another nail into the coffin of this theory. Today, only a few traditional recipes remain, such as laverbread made from the seaweed species Porphyra umbilicalis in Wales. It’s still not clear why seaweed declined as a staple source of food in Europe after the Middle Ages.

What are the implications?

Our unexpected discovery changes the way we understand past people. It also alters our perceptions of how they understood the landscape and how they exploited local resources. It suggests, not for the first time, that we vastly underestimate ancient people. They had a knowledge, particularly about the natural world, that is difficult for us to imagine today. The finding also reminds us that archaeological remains are minute windows into the past, reinforcing the care required when developing theories based on limited evidence. The consumption of plants, upon which our world depends, has been habitually left out of dietary theories from our pre-agrarian past. Rigid theories have sometimes forgotten that humans were behind these archaeological cultures – and that they were probably similar to us in their curiosity and needs. Today seaweed sits, largely unused as food, on our doorstep. Making the edible species a bigger component of our diets could even contribute to making our food supplies more sustainable. The Conversation

The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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EUR/AUD bearish breakdown supported by additional China fiscal stimulus and AU inflation

Weak PMI readings from the Eurozone, an increase in China’s budget deficit ratio, and renewed inflationary pressures in Australia may trigger a persistent…



  • Weak PMI readings from the Eurozone, an increase in China’s budget deficit ratio, and renewed inflationary pressures in Australia may trigger a persistent bearish sentiment loop in EUR/AUD.
  • Watch the key short-term resistance at 1.6700 for EUR/AUD.
  • A break below 1.6250 key medium-term support on the EUR/AUD may trigger a multi-week bearish impulsive down move.

The Euro (EUR) tumbled overnight throughout the US session as it erased its prior gains against the US dollar recorded on Monday, 23 October; the EUR/USD shed -104 pips from yesterday’s intraday high of 1.0695 to close the US session at 1.0591, its weakest performance in the past seven sessions.

Yesterday’s resurgence of the USD dollar strength has been attributed to a robust set of October flash manufacturing and services PMI data from the US in contrast with weak readings seen in the UK and Eurozone that represented stagflation risks.

Interestingly, the Aussie dollar (AUD) has outperformed the US dollar where the AUD/USD managed to squeeze out a minor daily gain of 21 pips by the close of yesterday’s US session. The resilient movement of the AUD/USD has been impacted by positive news flow out from China, Australia’s key trading partner.

China’s national legislature has just approved a budgetary plan to raise the fiscal deficit ratio for 2023 to around 3.8% of its GDP which was above the initial 3% set in March and set to issue additional sovereign debt worth 1 trillion yuan in Q4. This latest round of additional fiscal stimulus suggests that China’s top policymakers are expanding their initial targeted measures to address the ongoing severe liquidity crunch in the domestic property market as well as to reverse the persistent weak sentiment inherent in the stock market.

In addition, the latest set of Australia’s inflation data surpassed expectations has also reinforced another layer of positive feedback loop in the Aussie dollar which in turn may put Australia’s central bank, RBA on a “hawkish guard” against cutting its policy cash rate too soon.

The less lagging monthly CPI Indicator has risen to an annualized rate of 5.6% in September, above consensus estimates of 5.4%, and surpassed August’s reading of 5.2% which has translated into a second consecutive month of uptick in inflationary growth.

In the lens of technical analysis, a potential bearish configuration setup has emerged in the EUR/AUD cross pair from a short to medium-term perspective.

Major uptrend phase of EUR/AUD is weakening


Fig 1: EUR/AUD medium-term trend as of 25 Oct 2023 (Source: TradingView, click to enlarge chart)

Even though the price actions of the EUR/AUD have been oscillating within a major ascending channel since its 25 August 2023 low of 1.4285 and traded above the key 200-day moving average so far, the momentum of this up movement is showing signs of bullish exhaustion.

Yesterday (24 October) price action ended with a daily bearish reversal “Marubozu” candlestick coupled with the daily RSI momentum indicator that retreated right at a significant parallel resistance in place since March 2023 at the 65 level which suggests a revival of medium-term bearish momentum.

EUR/AUD bears are now attacking the minor ascending support

Fig 2: EUR/AUD minor short-term trend as of 25 Oct 2023 (Source: TradingView, click to enlarge chart)

The EUR/AUD has now staged a bearish price action follow-through via the breakdown of its minor ascending support from its 29 September 2023 low after a momentum bearish breakdown that was flashed earlier yesterday (24 October) during the European session as seen from the 4-hour RSI momentum indicator.

Watch the 1.6700 key short-term pivotal resistance (also the 50-day moving average) for a further potential slide toward the intermediate supports of 1.6460 and 1.6320 in the first step.

On the other hand, a clearance above 1.6700 invalidates the bearish tone to see the next intermediate resistance coming in at 1.6890.

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