Indie Dev “Smuggles” An Entire Pokémon-Like Game into Twitter Video

Familiars.io does indeed look familiar, but has a super neat trick.

Twitter has been used to create games before. Though I usually think of fun, light choose your own adventure experiments created by artists — like the one Adventure Time cocreator Pendleton Ward ran for a while way back when. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an entire, interactive, multiplayer video game run through the website itself. That’s exactly what’s happening with Familiars.io, however, which was just tweeted out (literally) by user @ClayLoam. They just “smuggled” the whole browser-based experience into an embedded video on the social media platform.

It’s immediately clear upon booting up the game that the titular familiars are basically Pokémon. Familiars.io has mild Undertale vibes in the visual department, but plays like the turn-based monster battler. You can even collect more creatures in the wild using items simply called “balls.” You select a look and a starter (I got a little corncob ghost), target type weaknesses, level up, collect items, and explore a surprisingly large world.

Oh, and the whole thing is massively multiplayer. Running in a Twitter embed.

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I don’t actually know how difficult this is from a technical perspective. My game design career ended when my Computer Science project partner showed up to class in his pajamas, when we were supposed to explain to our professor why we hadn’t made jack shit that semester. It’s certainly the first time I’ve ever seen someone do this sort of thing, though. Besides which, Familiars.io is cute, so I wanted to try it out and shout it out anyway. This is me doing that!

The game supposedly has PVP in addition to the simple battles against wild familiars. I can’t confirm how well that works. I haven’t been able to find any other bean people flagging themselves for competition. There is a dedicated “Howdy” button, though, which is all the multiplayer I need. It just makes your little nugget say “Howdy!” to nearby players. Video games have peaked.

The multiplayer does lead to one issue. The game keeps erroring out. @ClayLoam explains in their replies that they keep “having to restart” the server, which isn’t accustomed to hundreds of players participating at once. That makes sense! The game saves your progress automatically anyway. So I’ve been able to jump back in whenever I lose connection. Only “progress” might not be the right word, since there doesn’t seem to be much of a goal besides leveling up and battling. As a cute and cheeky little experiment, though? It’s worth looking into!

If for some reason you can’t play through Twitter (it works on mobile as well), you can simply search for the game’s title. The phrase Familiars.io doubles as a URL where you can play the browser game in a more conventional sense. Here’s hoping Twitter leaves this little portal open for a while, though. It’s just very cool!

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Steven Strom

An obsessive writer broadcasting to you live from the middle of nowhere. Thinks cute things are good, actually.

One Comment

  1. I vaguely remember that ~5 years ago there was a period of about a month where embedding HTML5 in tweets worked, or something like that. I remember that Internet Archive games specifically could be embedded in tweets, but it was shut down very quickly.

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