Browser-based role-playing game Kingdom of Loathing began in 2003, and in its tenth year, has proven you don’t need fancy graphics or a serious story to enjoy a good grind.

In a world where role-playing titles are getting more and more graphically advanced, to the point that other aspects of the game suffer, and a series installment in genre stalwart Final Fantasy can turn into a straight-line run from start to finish, it’s reassuring to know there are creators who know how to craft a world that’s involving and worth regular revisits, even if that world may have originated as a joke.

Created in a week by Zack Johnson as a personal challenge, the less-than-serious effort ended up blossoming to a user count of 300,000 within its first year. This sudden success led to Asymmetric Publications, the team formed by Johnson and his friend Josh Nite, devoting the bulk of their time to expanding upon the game’s peculiar brand of humor and delightfully low-fidelity, stick-figure visual style. Despite being free-to-play, the game actually thrives on user-submitted donations, which net donors special items over the $10 threshold, and sees some additional income via official merchandise.

Confronted with their long-running success, having helmed a game long enough for it to be near puberty were it a living, breathing child, the Asymmetric Publications boys could only muster the following letter addressed to Kingdom of Loathing itself:

“Hey, kiddo. Geez, you’ve gotten big! I still remember when you were just three zones and a handful of items. Now I hear you’ve got thousands of items and dozens of zones, and you’ve entertained millions of people over the years! I couldn’t be more proud of you.

Now, look here, kiddo, I know you just turned ten years old, or you’re about to turn ten years old — I gotta admit I don’t know for sure. Your old dad’s got a lot on his mind these days, but we both know that the exact date you turn ten isn’t the point, right? It’s that I love you, and I wouldn’t trade you for the world. And I know what you want most in the whole world is a brand new pony, so here’s what I’m gonna do: this year, I’m gonna give you three real Sacajewa dollars and a $5 gift certificate to Gopher Gary’s Pizza Palace. Remember when we used to go there? Well, I’m too busy to take you, but the gift certificate will remind you. Maybe you could go with some of your friends, eh? I mean, even if they don’t play with you much anymore, they could come back around and see how big you’ve grown!

And you know we’ve always liked the number eleven more than ten around here, right? So next year we can go for broke with the big party and the presents. I promise. Your old man’ll make it up to you next year. Happy Tenth Birthday, little Kingdom of Loathing. You’ve done your Pa proud.”

Those who’ve somehow not stumbled upon Kingdom of Loathing at some point during its ten-year run can sign up for free at the game’s website. Everything’s completely browser-based, and should work fine with whatever program you use to peruse the web.

Source: Rock Paper Shotgun