Get the Freight Out (GTFO) is a popular in-world game among many vehicle users. HUD-based, it allows players to “haul” cargo from by land, sea or air, point-to-point across the mainland continents of Second life, and over their connected waterways and seas (e.g. Blake Sea). In doing so, players can earn in-game (and non-redeemable) “Goal dollars” – G$ and game experience points which allow them to “level up” through GTFO.
Since its launch, the game has grown to encompass, at the time of writing, over 280 different land, sea and air vehicles, and has over 300 “hubs”- the points at which players use to collect / deliver their cargoes – scattered around the Mainland continents of the grid, presenting players with multiple opportunities for collecting and delivering cargoes, with more being added all the time.
In fact, such is the popularity of the game that many vehicle creators are offering suitable vehicles with GTFO support out-of-the-box; no need to convert them for game use, all that’s needed is the game HUD. There’s even a “trial” HUD available for a refundable L$1 for those wishing to try the game; this offers all the features of the “full” HUD, but is limited in how far a player can level-up. All experience points and Goal Dollars earned while using it remain valid should the player go on to purchase the “full” game HUD (L$699).
Originally created and run by Rez Gray, the game changed hands early in 2018, when Rez and Cinn Bouchard (cinnamonmousse) reached an agreement for him to sell her GTFO, including the core assets of the system – the databases, LSL and PHP coding – together with the in-world assets such as the game HUD, GTFO dock system, groups, etc, together with the rights to expand the game in certain directions. Since then Cinn and her in-world business partner, Syler Avon (Jaiden Nexen), have been working with a small supportive group of people for the last several months to overhaul GTFO without changing any of the established game mechanics.
That work is about to come to fruition, and I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Cinn and Syler at the new GTFO in-world headquarters to discuss all that’s been going on since the purchase of the game, and what players and those interested in GTFO can expect to see in the very near future. However, we started the discussion on how they came to be involved in GTFO in the first place, with Cinn providing the background.
We found out about GTFO accidentally after I introduced Syler to sailing in SL. In mid-2017, we got some coastal mainland just off Blake Sea and built a house with a marina with room for all our boats, and we started noticing people arriving in the marina and then leaving, and I got a little nervous about what was going on. So Syler went to ask some of them what was going on, and they said they were loading and offloading cargo for the game, and that’s how we first heard about it.
– Cinn Bouchard on how she and Syler Avon became involved in GTFO
Curiosities piqued, Cinn and Syler sought out Rez Gray to find out more. At the time, Rez was – as Cinn put it – “up to his eyeballs” in trying to run and expand GTFO and handle other projects. As a result, they threw themselves in trying to help him with moving things forward. In particular, Cinn, using her background in programming, web design, and coding, became very heavily involved in the game’s back-end support: working on the database alongside Rez, learning how things worked, adding hub locations and vehicles to the games, etc. Syler, went out and placed dock systems, talked to new hub providers, and in group chat, finding out what people were interested in seeing with the system, and growing the sense of community among players.
Over time, Cinn and Syler built a small team of helpers, which they informally called the GTFO Ops Team, who gradually took on more of the general running of the game. A major contributor to the team was Keif Denimore, who overhauled the processes for adding new GTFO hubs and new vehicle APIs (used to identify vehicles and their freight capabilities) to the system. Eventually, with Rez keen to pursue other projects, the arrangement was reached that allowed the game to be transferred to Cinn’s ownership.
Since taking the game on, the team has been focused on three areas: providing a more robust and capable back-end to the game, complete with a new website; to prepare the way for adding new in-game activities such as smuggling, and adding support for space vehicles; and to expand GTFO’s in-world presence and establish new partnerships. In addition, and as a related project, the GTFO team have been working to expand a more defined sense of community among GTFO players, and present opportunities for informal role-play alongside of the game.
One of the things we decided in taking on GTFO was to keep the game play going as it had been. We didn’t want to cause any major disruptions to people’s enjoyment, so we’ve had a slow transition over to new back-end infrastructure that will allow us to both run the game as people expect it, and expand it a lot more.
– Cinn Bouchard on some of the core decisions made in taking over GTFO
Critical to the initial transition was Ven (VenKellie), as Cinn noted. “His expertise with servers has been invaluable, and helped us move forward in ways I’d only hoped to one day achieve. We’re now developing everything on a cloud-based infrastructure, and we’ve completely overhauled the game on the back-end.” One of the major outcomes of this is a general move away from HUD-centric LSL processing, in favour of back-end processing.
At the time of our conversation in mid-July, most of the transitional work to the new website had been completed, and work was in-hand to get the game’s databases up-to-date, as Cinn and Syler look ahead to deploying “GTFO version 2”. This will introduce the new HUD, mentioned above, and offer opportunities for more real-time linkage between the website and in-world – such as in-world maps showing all available GTFO hubs.
Also being introduced with “version 2” is a new means of determining freight capacities in vehicles. GTFO currently uses a simple but workable approach to vehicle capacities: small, medium and large. Using the smallest individual unit for carrying goods, the GTFO duffel bag (designed by Analyse Dean) as a baseline, Cinn has developed a means to more calculate the cargo capacity for different vehicles based on the concept of the “Freight Unit”. This should better inform players about the kind of GTFO jobs their vehicles can take on, and enable GTFO hub operators better understand / choose the kind of traffic type they can bring to their hub.
The deployment of “version 2” will also pave the way for future additions and improvements to the game. “We’re planning to increase the game mechanics and add further value to the in-game G$,” Cinn explained. “We’ll be introducing things like a leader board for freight haulage amounts and team / business play, to add a little competitiveness to activities. We’re also planning to expand the in-game use of G$.” The latter is hoped to include an in-game “G$ wallet” and the means for people to use their G$ balances more broadly within the GTFO game (again, G$ cannot be converted to L$ or anything else).
As well as the technical updates, the team is also looking to introduce more in the way of informal role-play. Part of this involves building broader partnerships with Mainland groups and communities, as well as enhancing the existing GTFO community directly. Bull Hui, for example, who Cinn acknowledges was a huge help in redesigning the GTFO logo and graphics and helped in the move to using CapserVend systems, has designed a build on his land that is sympathetic to that of the GTFO headquarters area, allowing freight to be hauled overland between the two via Route 8.
There has also been an outreach to other Mainland communities as well, such at Bay City. “TJ Hooker is our contact with the Bay City Alliance,” Cinn said. “We are developing a microcosm of GTFO specific to Bay City and in keeping with their theme and setting – such as using vehicles in keeping with Bay City’s period.”
Syler has been responsible for developing more of the social elements of the game, and he explained his thinking to me.
I’ve always seen GTFO as a social game. I would sit in my chair near the delivery area and greet the captains as they’d come by. Chat with them and get to know them. I’d also be in the GTFO group chat trying to coax more people by with cookies! But now we have people chatting it up, throwing parties and just generally having a good time. I’m looking forward to the future of GTFO and seeing those green sky signs all over the grid.
– Syler Avon on the community / social aspects of GTFO
These community elements of the game also touch on the the idea of adding informal role-play to GTFO. As a side project to developing version 2 for example, the GFTO team have been developing a small township alongside the in GTFO in-world headquarters. The idea here is the people with Premium accounts will be able to donate their 1024m2 of free tier to the GTFO group in return for a property with 350 LI for them to use. The town – together with facilities as the local fire department and warehouse facilities at the docks – will hopefully grow into a hub for local, informal role-play. Plans are also in development to extend the role-play into a local harbour patrol as well.
Some of the community / role-play aspects will eventually extend into the game, such as through the long-awaited “smuggling” elements, which will be appearing in the future. “GTFO has been, and will remain, primarily a PvE [player versus environment] game, rather than a PvP [player versus player] game,” Cinn told me, “but we have some interesting ideas around the whole smuggling aspect I’m not quite ready to talk about yet, but they will be coming.”
While all of this might sound geared towards GTFO players interested in actually hauling freight around SL, it shouldn’t be taken to mean GTFO hub providers are being ignored. The team is very much looking to increase hub providers’ involvement in the game – there’s even thought being given to offering a hub provider’s HUD.
With the hub provider’s HUD, I had an idea of making something for people who enjoy building more than running freight. I had a fun time building our marina and greeting people as they came by, and seeing people enjoying it was exciting. So I wanted to give others who provide hubs a bit more game play: being able to request certain types of cargo to be brought to them, building up supplies before they can upgrade their hub to the next level, that kind of thing. It’s still more of an idea than anything in actual practice yet, but as we have more and more people building hubs for everyone to use, I thought it might be a nice gift for them.
– Syler Avon on the thinking behind the GTFO hub providers HUD
I wondered what had, and continues to, drive Cinn and Syler in their efforts to grow GTFO. “Well, we really enjoy building communities,” Cinn replied. “Syler has really driven this for GTFO. I should also say that a LOT of creators have been and continue to be very helpful in being a part of moving GTFO forward – too many to mention here. And there is the sheer enthusiasm among all of the people already playing the game; the support and ideas they’ve shown throughout GTFO’s life.”
One of the fun aspects of GTFO is that even if the haulage aspect of the game doesn’t hold huge appeal, it offers a means to explore the waterways and continents of Second Life by water, air and road. When driving, for example, you can hop to a Mainland continent rez zone, rez your car (or other vehicle), then simply use the GTFO HUD to locate a hub you can drive to…. and then from there pick another hub… and so make your way across the continent. A similar technique can be used in boating / sailing, allowing people to plot their way around the mainland waterways and seas.
For those interested in trying GTFO and who haven’t already, HUDs can be obtained using the links below – and remember the “trial” HUD can be swapped at any time for the “full” HUD, with no loss of progress made in the game while using it. There’s also a free minivan available from the GTFO HQ which new players can use to ferry cargo by road between the local hubs and gain further familiarity with the game. Finally, and for those interested, I’ve written a brief GTFO Getting Started tutorial.