FeralHeart

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Name(s): FeralHeart, Impressive Title, Impressive World
Abbreviation(s): FH, IT
Scope/Focus: Video Game, The Lion King
Date(s): 2008 - 2010 (Impressive Title), 2011 - present (FeralHeart)
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FeralHeart is the 2011 successor to the 2008 game Impressive Title. While the extremely different names imply that they are separate games, or that FeralHeart is possibly a sequel, the two are in reality the same game. FeralHeart is simply an updated version of the original game and runs on a different server. The player base and fans of Impressive Title are the same as those for FeralHeart and heavily overlap with The Lion King. Both games were free to play, though FeralHeart has limited registration similar to the older days of Flight Rising.

Some who play the game(s) call themselves and other players "floofs," in reference to the "floof-o-meter" (similar to the karma meter on Proboards) on the public forums.

Gameplay and Graphics

The gameplay is relatively simple and there are no quests. Similar to Furcadia, Impressive Title/FeralHeart is a furry-based social MMO, though it has more focus on ferals than anthros. Players chat to one another while moving through a 3D world as either a big cat or a wolf. They can customize their character(s) and can add a description to them in their bio. FeralHeart also has some mechanics similar to other MMOs, such as the ability to add friends, preform emotes, and add some accessories. There are several maps ("dimensions" or "dims") to play in, which are reminiscent of PlayStation 1 game maps, and sometimes there may be elements of platforming. Impressive Title had more gameplay options than FeralHeart, such as hunting prey, but they were taken away when the new game was released. The game has several maps, and while it includes a mini-map, there is no full-sized map, making navigation for newcomers possibly difficult.

The decade-old graphics are considered outdated, with the game having not had any major graphical updates since their original switch from Impressive Title into FeralHeart. The big cat model players may choose to customized mimics the character design of The Lion King. Despite being a relatively simple game, frame rate appears to drop in at least one map called the "Eastern Pass" (even when the map is empty), implying lack of optimization, or possible server issues. Maps are large and sprawling, though they are often empty of players. The majority of players hang out on a map called "The Grounds," which is one of the flattest and smallest maps in game and an be reached from the starting point of the game.[note 1]

The official FeralHeart Tumblr, in response to an ask, said that KovuLKD, the credited creator of the game, was actually only a programmer on Impressive Title/FearlHeart. It also said that, when it came to the majority of the graphics and animations outside of the models, other artists were not credited for their work. This leaves a large portion of the early graphics uncredited, and their actual artists unknown, while Kovu received the initial credit.[1]

History

Impressive Title

The game started as Impressive Title in 2008 by a coder and furry named KovuLKD ("Kovu") for his friend as a gift. Impressive Title became popular after it was announced on The Lion King Fan-Art Archive in 2008.[2] Players had the ability to do things such as hunt prey, make and join prides, fight for territory, and change their avatars after creation. Impressive Title was mod-friendly, allowing custom maps and character parts/textures. There were also a few Lion King themed maps in the game, which were later removed when the game became FeralHeart.

Impressive Title had some issues surrounding items, as players tended to fight over them. As a result, prey did not drop items. There were also several security issues, allowing players to dig into the game's code. This resulted in accounts being hacked, custom texture ("presets") stealing, and "huge" or "tiny" characters. These exploits were later fixed, though there was another hacking attempt in 2009.[2]

In 2010 the server was shut down due to the security issues mentioned above. Server hackings, account theft, item stealing and general trolling ultimately led to its unfortunate fate. According to the fan server Glasmar, the server host Razmirz and the game creator KovuLKD were at odds. In 2010 Raz took the server down and had demanded Kovu make bug fixes to the game. Kovu, either unable or unwilling, simply allowed the game to shut down. He then soon released the source code for free. This has resulted in some players who prefer the Impressive Title version of the game to make their own private or public servers with it, despite FeralHeart existing.[3]

FeralHeart

Though KovuLKD said they would not be re-releasing Impressive Title, in 2011 they released FeralHeart, which was essentially the same game with fewer gameplay options and improved graphics and security. As of 2020 FeralHeart is still open and its official forum is somewhat active with a few dedicated users and the occasional new users, though some long-time members believe the game is dwindling or already dead.[note 2]

FeralHeart got its first update on Jun 2016. The update changed some of the maps, added items and animations, and made some user interface changes.[4] Then, in 2017, there was another update to the game that released the source code of FeralHeart to certain people, with permission from the game's owner. This is also when xSpirit joined the staff. xSpirit would later go on to take the source code and make a separate version of the game called FeralHeart Unleashed (See Issues and Controversy).[5]

In 2017 the game had received another update coded by the user xSpirit. This update included a tail slider, the option to have the head, body, and tail marking colors different as these options were not available in past version. A few unfinished options were added as well. It is still unknown what was planned for those options. Despite these fun new options, the game was then riddled with various bugs and glitches, ultimately resulting in frustration from players and staff on all ends.

The official forums make reference to a hacking event that caused the staff to implement a new way of logging into the game. Instead of logging in directly through the game client, players have to open up a special page located on the game's website then log into the game client at the same time. This was designed to help thwart hacking attempts.

Despite the game being completely free and its forum public to anyone (even unregistered guests), the website has a long legal page that possibly threatens legal action to anyone who attempts to re-distribute the game or copy the look of the website.[6]

Fandom

FeralHeart is often used for other fandoms to roleplay with, particularly The Lion King and Warrior Cats. This can be seen in ads on the forum asking for pride/clan members.[7][8] Not all roleplay groups within the game/forum are based on existing fandom, though. Many are their own prides, packs, and even herds,[9] with little to do with outside fandom. Roleplay groups within FeralHeart have their own set of rules and customs, even when fandom-based. For example, some groups may require potential group members to submit a roleplay sample of a certain length while others may not. Some have their own separate forums and Discord chats as well.[10]

The staff keep up with site and community events through an official newsletter. The newsletter released on Aug 6th, 2020, reported that there had been a handful of exceptional community members and events, such as player SpicyDirt starting a FeralHeart Minecraft server, Kitterr hosting a roleplay party on old maps, and Deepfriedkokichi hosting several meet up parties. This newsletter also touched on a contest which began in spring, where members could submit to get a new podium map (the setting for the character creation screen) designed in game.[11]

The official forum is full of threads that can shed some light on the thoughts and worries of the community. A thread titled "What is FeralHeart to you?" was started on Aug 3, 2020, in which forum mod Ame88 asked: "What makes FeralHeart your second home?" Ame88 said themself that the game was like a blank slate for creativity, despite the limitations of only being able to make a lion or a wolf. Azura responded that it was a place for them to go and de-stress, and player Dark_heart stated that it truly was a second home and second family. Conversely, player Scallywag said "I can no longer consider it my second home with current situations and, until the issues brought to life are resolved I cannot feel comfortable enough to say it is again."[12]

A few other threads discuss worry about the game and community dying out, such as the thread "Is the game dying?" by BlackSunset on Aug 12, 2020. They state that where once the sever had over 100+ online at a time, now the server rarely hit 10 online. The first response was from Dark_heart, who placed some blame on "FHu drama, old maps, & October free mod (or how it's called)." Kouvinxx then responded saying that they didn't believe the community was dying, but right after another player named Groogle voiced agreement with Dark_heart.[13] A thread of a similar vein was started in the hopes of finding a way to "revive Feral Heart."[14]

Fan Servers

Impressive Title's code was released for free after it shut down, allowing players to continue the game's legacy. Some of these servers even lasted through FeralHeart's release or even still exist as of 2020. These public and private servers are simultaneously separate communities and a part of the FeralHeart/Impressive Title community. Most are hosted out of their own websites with their own forums. After Impressive Title servers, at least one person (xSpirit) had taken the code of FeralHeart to turn into a new public server. Some servers are listed below.

  • Sanctum of Eventide (SoE)- Impressive Title sever run by BloodStreamStudios and admins Maniac, Mercy, HooRah, Zoning, Xero, and Seth Aten. The server shut down in Nov 2013. It appeared to have a friendly tight-kit atmosphere, and according to a YouTube comment on a video of the sever, the game was shut down amicably rather than by result of staff drama.[15] The game was hosted at sanctumofeventide.us.[16]
  • Dragon's Den- Impressive Title sever started in 2012. Run by LazyZim. This server had "100 maps, over 1300 items to find, over 450 prey and critter type, quests as well as an RP Dimension." This would mean that this server had more gameplay options than 2020 FeralHeart itself.[17]
  • Dawn of Eternity- Impressive Title server opened in 2015. This server includes a horse character creator. It still exists as of 2020.[18]
  • Tribes of the Wild- Impressive Title server opened in 2017 by Tigg, still open in 2020. Had complex combat system, skill points, and pets. Website hosted at tribes-of-wild.boards.net.[19]
  • Azoptaos- Impressive Title server by Sparkoo, started in 2014 and closed in 2019. Website was at azoptaos.boards.net.[20]
  • Okami No Tochi/Land of the Wolves- English/French Impressive Title server by Witacha-Asukata. Opened in 2015 and still open in 2020. Originally hosted out of a DeviantART group called Land-Of-The-Wolves, it also has a website at okami-no-tochi.proboards.com.[21] Has a number of original animal models (such as the pinerf, a "cerf x lapin-" translated as deer x rabbit).
  • FeralHeart Unleashed- FeralHeart server run by xSpirit (ex-coder on FeralHeart) and staff: Calvary, AlphaEclipse, Birdie, Edolicious, Abaddon, Bunny, Cosmohause, Likuu, Morqque, Notorious, and zRichtofen. Possibly started in 2019, but not released as of Jul 2020.
  • Feral Neighborhood:FeralHeart- FeralHeart server put in place to "generate hype and keep the crowds around for FeralHeart: Unleashed."[22]

Issues and Controversies

Some threads on the forum referenced internal issues and discourse, such as "mean players," controversy surrounding FeralHeart Unleashed, and a series of game updates that were overwhelmingly disliked. A thread titled "Mean Players" was started by Oddonelynx on Jul 5, 2020. They started out by saying that FeralHeart didn't have many mean players but that there were a few instances, such as someone slapping their character's butt and a group of players calling them cringy. Azura responded that they "honestly encountered quite a few mean players in my yearS here on FH," and Dark_heart responded that they'd had a few stalkers.[23] Oddonelynx also made a thread on Aug 6, 2020, about why the player base shouldn't be mean to noobs, encouraging a friendly atmosphere to new players, but also implying that there may have been an issue with this in the community.[24]

There are at least two active FeralHeart confession blogs on Tumblr, called Voices of FH and Failure Heart. Like most confession blogs they work by accepting anonymous messages about the source material and then post them, and usually the messages are negative. And, due to that, the accusations come with no further evidence and should possibly be taken with a grain of salt. On Voices of FH one anon accused an unnamed ex-staff member of sexually harassing them when the anon was 15.[25] Another anon accused the FeralHeart website owner, Raz, of sending them NSFW content when anon was 13.[26] Then, on Failure Heart, there are further accusations that the staff have been transphobic and/or homophobic, based on an anon hearing "countless stories in the past about LGBT+ users getting kicked for mentioning gay/lesbian." They also said that, when they were upset about being called a trans slur by another player, the staff told them to "chill out" but didn't punish the other player.[27] Outside of these "confessions," there don't appear to be claims of a similar nature discussed on the forum itself, nor any players outside of anons discussing such claims. There are a few similar claims towards the FeralHeart Unleashed staff, which are on a separate confession blog and also made by just anon users.

FHU, or FeralHeart Unleashed, is "a project put together by xSpirit which uses an older version of FeralHeart's coding. It's entirely separate from FeralHeart, however."[13] This player-held server has caused a little drama in the community, and may have also been created out of FeralHeart players having issue with the staff. FHU is credited as one of the reasons why FeralHeart's player base has dwindled, though whether this means to imply FHU has syphoned members away from FeralHeart, or the FHU drama has pushed away members in general, is unclear.

There appear to be quite a few players who are disillusioned with the staff and their updates to the game, even resulting in at least one member being too afraid to discuss the concerns on the public forum of fear their post wouldn't be approved by the mods.[22][note 3] Player Torskite listed off a few of the issues (outside of the "censorship" discourse from Jul 2020) that have plagued the community. These are noted below.

  • Removal of the general chat. The general chat was a chatbox in game that allowed players to chat with one another no matter which map they were in. Staff removed it in favor of only having local chats. This may have resulted in the game's players becoming more isolated and giving the game a more empty appearance.
  • The "Hacking Incident," in which hackers were able to break in and take control over players' accounts. This resulted in the staff implementing a separate page on their website which was required to be opened in order to actually play the game. There is no mention of this requirement on the login screen of the game, meaning any new player who is unaware of it could become confused and frustrated as to why they aren't being allowed into the server.[note 4]
  • The "buttswing" animation had to be removed because players would use it to act inappropriate, even to underage players. This animation could mimic sexual acts if the character was placed in the correct position, such as on top of another character.
  • "No Mod October" was an entire month in 2018 in which the forum had no admins nor mods. The event was created by Razmirz, the website owner. Raz decided for one month players would have to self-moderate by blocking one another when issues arose, and then Raz would "assign bans accordingly." As soon as this was suggested the community overwhelmingly told them it was a bad idea.[28] A few days before October Raz made another post stating that anyone blocked by someone else would be banned, or to quote: "You seem to be wildly over simplifying its operation. I'll give you a hint block != ban or even blockx9000 != ban." Some players appeared excited about No Mod October while others remained anxious. Regardless, this was a hot topic.[29]
  • The map update. FeralHeart got its first update in 2016 which heavily changed the maps. This included adding new, bigger maps, and either removing or extremely changing old maps. Though the community had wanted more maps this was apparently another contentious hot topic among members who may have been shocked by the large, unexpected changes. The old maps which held countless memories and sentimental value for many players were now gone.
  • Let's have a talk about censorship. A long discussion thread on the public forum regarding a controversy involving the FeralHeart staff, the FeralHeart Unleashed staff, and several forum members. Forum members were banned, the staff were accused of soft doxing a member, and the staff were heavily and publicly criticized for Raz's (the server host) treatment of a previously deleted thread about suicide hotlines.

Fanart

Visual

Video

Literature

Links and Resources

Notes and References

Notes

  1. ^ Quote from the LaughingWolf: "...almost the entire poplation of the game just hanging out in The Grounds, some of them not so much as talking to eachother, just being there as far as anyone would be able to tell." (LaughingWolf, 8/15/2020). Personal experience as well; small groups of players lay around the entrance to the map and chat. Somehow, when the site claims 50 people are online, you will only see maybe 10 in The Grounds then maybe 1-2 on another map. (Patchlamb, 8/16/2020)
  2. ^ Quote from LaughingWolf: "nobody uses the forum anymore. It's dead. The only time people post are to those forum games, or when drama pops up." (LaughingWolf, 8/14/2020)
  3. ^ Forum member LaughingWolf, replying to questions regarding history. "do you want the real history or whatever Raz or staff decides to approve of? Because there's a lot they won't approve of but is history regardless of that approval." "Staff doesn't communicate anymore, and they have become a bitter set of people." "there's a long history to fh and a lot of it is not pretty. Staff probably won't allow that story to be told." (LaughingWolf, 8/14/2020)
  4. ^ I had to figure this out myself when logging into the server. Without the page up you simply get an error. To figure out why my log in wasn't working I had to Google my issue. (Patchlamb 8/14/2020)

References

  1. ^ I was wondering if there's a reason KovuLKD... FeralHeart Official Tumblr. (Accessed 10/11/2020)
  2. ^ a b Impressive Title, WikiFur (Accessed 8/11/2020)
  3. ^ What is Impressive Title, Glasmar. (Accessed 10/11/2020)
  4. ^ Feral-Heart Game Update June 2016, FeralHeart Forum. Jun 9, 2016 (Accessed 8/14/2020)
  5. ^ Some things are better kept secret..., FeralHeart Forum. Jul 24, 2017 (Accessed 8/14/2020)
  6. ^ Zimbani Pride, FeralHeart Forum. Apr 2, 2017 (Accessed 8/12/2020)
  7. ^ Clans of the Valley, FeralHeart Forum. Jun 11, 2020 (Accessed 8/12/2020)
  8. ^ The Feral Plains Herd, FeralHeart Forum. Apr 18, 2020 (Accessed 8/12/2020)
  9. ^ The Feral Plains Herd, Proboards Forum. (Accessed 8/12/2020)
  10. ^ FH Official Newsletter: Summer 2020, FeralHeart Forum. Aug 6, 2020 (Accessed 8/12/2020)
  11. ^ What is FeralHeart to you? FeralHeart Forum. Aug 3, 2020 (Accessed 8/13/2020)
  12. ^ a b Is the game dying? FeralHeart Forum. Aug 12, 2020 (Accessed 8/13/2020)
  13. ^ How Can We Revive Feral Heart? FeralHeart Forum. Feb 3, 2020 (Accessed 8/13/2020)
  14. ^ Never Forget Impressive Title: SoE, YouTube. Nov 22, 2013 (Accessed 8/15/2020)
  15. ^ Sanctum Of Eventide, WikiFur. (Accessed 8/15/2020)
  16. ^ Dragon's Den, WikiFur. (Accessed 8/15/2020)
  17. ^ Dawn of Eternity - Impressive Title, YouTube. Sept 19, 2015 (Accessed 8/15/2020)
  18. ^ Tribes of the Wild, Tribes of the Wild Forum. (Accessed 8/19/2020)
  19. ^ Azoptaos, Azoptaos Website. (Accessed 8/19/2020)
  20. ^ Okami No Tochi, Okami No Tochi Website. (Accessed 8/19/2020)
  21. ^ a b FH History Help for Fanlore!, FeralHeart Forum. Aug 11, 2020 (Accessed 8/14/2020)
  22. ^ Mean Players, FeralHeart Forum. Jul 5, 2020 (Accessed 8/13/2020)
  23. ^ Why You Shouldn't Be Mean To Noobs, FeralHeart Forum. Aug 6, 2020 (Accessed 8/13/2020)
  24. ^ I was Sexually Harassed by a Staff Member... Voices of FH. Jul 23, 2020 (Accessed 9/1/2020) (Archived 9/1/2020)
  25. ^ Razmirz has Sent Me Porn Before... Voices of FH. Jul 22, 2020 (Accessed 9/1/2020) (Archived 9/1/2020)
  26. ^ I'm Pretty Sure Staff have Iternalized... Failure Heart, Jul 22, 2020 (Accessed 9/1/2020) (Archived 9/1/2020)
  27. ^ Moderator Free October, Sept 4, 2018 (Accessed 8/14/2020)
  28. ^ A couple of notes, Sept 26, 2018 (Accessed 8/14/2020)