For almost eight and a half years already Bootleggers is the way to spend spare time on for a lot of people from all over the world, a website that is used for everybody in a different way. Some people like to play the game seriously and rank their asses off while others are here to seek friendship and be part of a huge community. Whatever the reasons are to be logged in, it’s going on for almost a decade already and it’s time to reveal who actually made this game.
For the whole picture we are going back to the year 1999. This is when a part of the creators of Bootleggers met for the first time. BSF2000, age of 12 at the time, and Fixxer both enjoyed being in a game club called 2AM Games. “He was one of those kids that asked a lot of questions and was really respectful and we always got along” said Fixxer over the “meet cute” with BSF2000. Fixxer himself unplugged the internet in 2001 and came back early 2003. 2AM Games was defunct at this point. “I searched all over the internet for info about it and I came across a message board for a game called ‘Chain of Command’, it was one of the games we featured at 2AM. I got into the board pretty deep and found out someone had a version of the old game and was hosting it pirate style on his own server. When I went in, I reacquainted myself with lots of people, BSF being one of them.” Later on someone posted a message on the board about a pretty new game named Mobst*r. Fixxer and BSF2000 tried it out and were addicted to it within minutes. A nice comparison between Bootleggers and the original Mobst*r is that teamwork is very important. According to Fixxer: “we brought a huge player base from chain of command into ‘Mobst*r’ and we were all working together and having a lot of funds at this ‘new’ style of game.” Weeks after they were settled in this new game, the management of Mobst*r decided the game would be ‘Pay to Play’, meaning the players would need to pay if they wanted to continue with the game. As soon as they heard this, they decided that they needed to create their own game that was free for every single player. Of course the Buzz also asked what BSF2000 thoughts were on this matter. “Let's see how good my memory is, hah. I used to play a similar game that started charging to even play. So a couple of friends and I decided to make one for free (later with the option to pay, but not required)” is what he told us.
In March 2003 BSF2000 (15), Fixxer, Brightstar (23), Gonzo (17) and Brand83187 (17) put their heads together and started creating the game that would be Bootleggers. Their aim was creating an American counterpart of the Dutch version they were playing earlier. Of course with the intention to keep it free to play for everybody. Fixxer and Brightstar knew each other in real life and so did Gonzo and Brand83187, so imagine a group of young people that mostly didn’t know each other and even never ever met in real life. Right after the group was formed, the first problems came ahead. “Right away brand decided he didn’t want anything to do with running the game, but he helped with ideas and other stuff along the way. Gonzo flaked out very quickly and left BSF high and dry over a money issue. Keep in mind that there was no money at this time, only the money that BSF was paying to get all this up and running”, is what Fixxer told the Buzz when we asked him about the first issues that came on their path. Eventually the group that had now only three persons left, and Brand who helped off the record, was seeking for a new member. In July they finally found that person and Dreamnid joined the group. The staff that would launch the game by the end of September was complete: BSF2000, Brightstar, Fixxer and Dreamnid. Although launching something new is mostly a good thing, this is where the real problems for Bootleggers actually started. In less than a month already they saw their dream sinking financially. The most important reason for this was the huge amount of loyal players they brought into the game. “When we launched Bootleggers, we brought a huge chunk of Mobst*rs crowd with us and we also brought our Chain of Command crowd with us. Unlike most games that start brand new and have a player base of ten to fifteen loyal players we opened up with a player base of over 100 within the first week”, is the explanation of Fixxer. It was at this point that they realized that they had to do something or Bootleggers would not make it cause of financial reasons. While the intention always was to create a game that was free to play, they had to do something now to gain some income and pay the bills that the game caused. After a few discussions within the group and also with a few people that were not staff, they came up with the feature that we know now as ‘points’. We asked Fixxer to explain the difference between their payment and the one of the game they did not want to look like. “Technically we were pay to play, but the difference is you don’t have to buy points to enjoy this game as everyone who plays knows. At Mobst*r, if you didn’t pay the yearly subscription you didn’t have access to a lot of features like stealing a car, the forum and even crimes. Basically, without paying at Mobst*r you couldn’t enjoy the game, and you certainly can enjoy Bootleggers without paying a dime” is what he told the Buzz.
Although BSF2000 has always been seen as the ‘owner’ of Bootleggers, the patent of the game has been in different hands. Not only BSF2000 himself, but also the aunt of BSF2000 and Brightstar had Bootleggers on their name for a while, this due the fact that BSF2000 was underage. The first patent of Bootleggers was registered to Brightstar. BSF2000 did not tell his family about Bootleggers, although he did rent the server in his father’s name. “We rented a server he put in his dads name, but didn’t actually tell his dad. We got hacked bad and people ended up calling his dad and causing big time drama. His parents didn’t know about Bootleggers, hence the reason the patent wasn’t in his name”, is what Fixxer had to say about this matter. After that the patent was in the name of the aunt of BSF2000 and according to Fixxer, if he remembers correctly, it was not put in his own till late 2006.
Today, in 2012, BSF2000 remains to be the only one left from the original group that created Bootleggers, still working on the dream that a small group had back in in the year 2003. A dream he is living now already for almost a decade and we from the Buzz hopes he can add another decade after that.
Writers note: the three sources I had for this article were BSF2000, Brightstar and Fixxer, although the interviews were done somewhere late 2010 or early 2011. The interviews were taken separately and I was able to ask one person more as the other. Some facts might be a bit incorrect or twisted as they all three had to dig deep in their memory and talk about something that happened almost 10 years ago.