April First

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Apr 1, 2015

Filed under: Notices 110 comments

April Fools day kind of has two faces: There’s the “prank lies” face and there’s the “do something silly” face. The prank lies are the things where a news site will falsely announce that Half-Life 3 is released, Obama is going to be in the next Call of Duty, or that id Software is working on a licensed Dirty Dancing videogame. The “something silly” idea is where people metaphorically put on a silly hat for the day.

I do not like the prank lies. Either the lie is just a little too plausible and thus confusing or annoying, or it’s not plausible enough and it’s just dumb and pointless. All too often the punchline seems to be laughing at all the “dumb” people who fell for it: As if trusting usually reliable sites is some kind of character flaw. If they don’t have April Fools day in your country, or if you lose track of the date, then you become the butt of the joke. This is just no fun.

But I do kind of enjoy the obviously silly stuff. For those of you reading this in the archives or via RSS: As of this writing the site is decorated with a huge “My Little Pony” backdrop. (For posterity, I’ve used a smaller version of the image as the header of this post.)

Although, now that I’ve seen it: I do like the idea of having a large fixed image in the background. I mean, not this one, obviously. But something might be nice. I feel like I’m getting tired of these dice. Or maybe having an image that changes weekly or monthly might be worthwhile.

Anyway, this post is just your friendly reminder to be careful out there today. Beware the fools and mountebanks.


From The Archives:

110 thoughts on “April First

  1. Da Mage says:

    I actually looked at the blog after you changed the background, but before this post went up and actually did a double take. I too prefer the ‘silly’ changes for April fools, the faked lies are just boring because they mean nothing and you can ignore them.

    1. General Karthos says:

      What’s worse than the fake lies is the fake lies that persist online so that when you’re looking for ACTUAL news on something, the fake lies show up, and since it’s not April Fools’ Day, you don’t even consider the possibility that they could be false. (At least, no more than you consider the possibility that a news story could be false anyway.)

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Blizards pranks are usually fun.Plus,didnt they start the panderan brewmaster as an april fools joke,and then made him a thing?

        1. Wolf says:

          Pandaren as a race in WoW were an april fools in 2003 and allegedly strong fan adoption of the idea inspired the later actual addition of the race.

          Blizzard tends to put a lot of work in their april fools though. I can see how a shoddily executed tonedeaf attempts might sour people to the concept.

          1. Kylroy says:

            Also, Blizzard tends to dive straight into “wildly implausible” territory, which to my mind crosses over with “do something silly”.

            Example from the April 1st patch notes:

            “”¢Blinding Light now causes affected players to rev up like a deuce, whatever that means.”

            1. Trix2000 says:

              The played their jokes a little more straight a while back, but even then it was pretty clear they were just having fun with things.

              They can always be expected roll out a couple silly-looking new functions every April 1st, complete with screenshots and everything.

      2. Tom says:

        It doesn’t help that a colossal proportion of online sources (and often the really big ones) STILL don’t put the damn date of publication on articles, blog posts, etc.

  2. General Karthos says:

    How about dice that change color and roll on a constantly strobing, changing monochrome background? Or would that be a little too “geocities” for this day and age?

  3. Jarenth says:

    I am intrigued by that giant purple dragon and his dashing grease coiffe / Fu Manchu combination.

    1. doran says:

      You mean Steven Magnet?

    2. krellen says:

      He first appears in the second episode, so you don’t have to go too far to get context if you want it.

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I mean, not this one, obviously.

    Why?You have something against ponies?You ponophobe!

    1. Jacob Albano says:

      Surely you mean equinophobe.

      1. Zak McKracken says:

        … that would be afraid of horses, not just ponies, and I’m not sure if ponies would like being put in one basket with all horses.
        To be honest, your lack of effort in acknowledging the difference is part of the problem here …

        1. The Latin name for ponies is equus ferus caballus, but since the MLP characters are significantly different than more terrestrial one, why not a compromise and use the name of where they’re from? Equestria.

          So it’d be Equestriophobe, yes?

          And just because it came up whilst I was all a-Google, here’s how to translate the title of the show into Latin. I wonder if someone could do a full translation and sing the them in the style of a Gregorian chant?

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Well if humans can be terrans,sure they can be equastrians.And I guess the pegasi would be their protoss,and the dragons would be their zerg equivalent?

            1. Nixitur says:

              Weeell, the dragons are too rare to be the Zerg, really.

              1. MelTorefas says:

                Changelings have a queen, and there seem to be a lot of them. Maybe they’re the zerg?

              2. Alexander The 1st says:

                For every one you see, there are two you don’t.

  5. Some of the black or dark blue text that has a transparent background (there is only the background image beneath the text) is a little hard to read.

    If some opacity percentage could be set for the text background then that would help tired eyes.

    I kind of like the background too (the idea, I’m not a Bronie so)
    Maybe you could swap as you say monthly between backgrounds.
    Maybe a Good Robot background one month, the next this awesome picture you took with your camera, and so on.

    Also “Obama is going to be in the next Call of Duty” you never know, stranger things have happen.

    Another issue with 1st of April though is that there are a lot of legitimate business announcements going on then too. It’s the start of a another quarter (financial Q3 in the US)

    1. MelTorefas says:

      For the record, you can like the show and not be a brony. Brony is a subculture, from what I understand (and I frequently see it referred to as such). Liking the show just makes you a fan.

      (Not that I have any particular problem with bronydom, mind.)

      1. Trix2000 says:

        To be fair, the lines there are very blurry. The point at which one passes from just liking the show to being a brony is not well defined (and arguably, there is no specific point this happens).

        But then this sort of thing could apply to any fandom label. Really, it’s a term people use as an identifier, so whether or not it applies is… up to the person themselves.

    2. I have a script for one of my comic strips that actually mentions something along the lines of how it’s only a matter of time before an ex-President makes an appearance in a CoD game in a sort of Nixon-esque “Sock It To Me” moment.

  6. Wolf says:

    “Either the lie is just a little too plausible and thus confusing or annoying, or it's not plausible enough and it's just dumb and pointless.”

    If it is plausible of pointless it is just a bad April fools news story, but I would argue that the concept can be fun. For me an ideal April Fools news story should start sufficiently silly to be doubtful and then slowly ramp it up until it finally ends on a truly outrageous note. It should also be either independently funny (WoW for Atari 2600 is a good example), make fun of some current trend by overdoing it (Obama in the next CoD could work for that) or introduce some sillyness with deadpan humor (As you could have done for the new page layout).

    Essentially I see April 1st as the one day the entire newsworld tries to do satire. With mixed results.

    1. NPR usually has some good ones during All Things Considered and Morning Edition. Some are obvious from right off the bat, others are a little more subtle and require hearing the whole “news” story to get.

      One I still love for the name of a profession they included was a bit about how maple trees in New England were going untapped, filling with too much sap, and exploding. They interviewed someone I think was referred to as an “Arborial Demolitionist” or somesuch.

    2. Zak McKracken says:

      Agreed. For me the “good” April fool’s stories are not about humiliating anyone. They work independently, even if I know noone else who noticed the story.

      The good stories start a little weird/outrageous and then slowly and elegantly start crossing through absurd into hilarious. The thing I enjoy about them is the moment when I realize they must be fake, and then realize how well the whole thing was crafted, how long I fell for the story without noticing the obvious hints (kind of like watching the 6th sense a second time). If this is done well, it can tell the reader a lot about themselves, and even get points across you could otherwise not bring across. Also, if the story is good every reader has seen the piece for what it is before the end, and there is no humiliation.

      These good stories are of course few and far between, and I agree that too often people people are just trying to play pranks, which, yes, is rubbish. But I guess the ratios between bad/entertaining/meaningfull movies/songs/games is rather similar, so I wouldn’t kill the art form because 90% of it is crap.

  7. Grudgeal says:

    Speaking as someone who has spent *way* too much time today playing PAC-MAN on Google Maps…

    …I’m not sure if i disagree or agree on finding the ‘silly stuff is okay’ part.

    1. Zak McKracken says:

      oh man, that sucked. It zooms in so far that there were too many places with no escape route, and on European roads I got stuck on every other street corner because I couldn’t figure out whether up or left would get me on the 45° road… Should have tried Manhattan, I guess.

      1. Grudgeal says:

        I tried playing my neighborhood. It didn’t go well — it’s like a maze and too many one-way dead ends.

      2. Bubble181 says:

        Manhattan is fairly trivial. City centers in Europe are a horror because of the controls.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      After trying out that….thing…I definitely disagree with the “silly stuff is ok” sentiment.Its definitely not ok.It is,in fact,AMAZING.

    3. Nixitur says:

      Try out the Magic Roundabout in Swindon. It’s really, really silly.

      1. Grudgeal says:

        So it is. Well, what else can one expect of Swindon?


        On a more ‘serious’ note, the guardian posted a top 10 list, they’re all pretty fun.

        As someone who went to holiday to Sweden last summer I would like to add the Old Town of Stockholm; place is a maze and they’re all viable for the Pac-Man.

  8. Jack Kucan says:

    Archive Today link for visitors from the future: https://archive.today/c0vh3

  9. Nixorbo says:

    What about Thinkgeek’s prank lies? They often become truths.

    Awesome, awesome truths.

    1. Did they ever create the 5 1/4″ bay-sized EZ Bake Oven? If not, it remains their worst lie ever. :(

  10. Galad says:

    I’m digging that mustachio’d pony in the lower right portion of the screen, and thinking it’s somehow Reginald Cuftbert’s incarnation in the ponies’ universe :V

    1. RCN says:

      That’s a river dragon…

      I’ve watched a season of it with my younger (only 3 years younger) sister…

      (EDIT: Actually, you might be referring to an actual pony, just realized that you might be getting another image if your resolution is larger than my own in my laptop)

  11. RCN says:

    Oh, it is an April Fools joke. I just reloaded the Experienced Points post and got caught completely off-guard.

    In my country there is April fools, but it certainly isn’t as big a thing as it is in the US. Also, it is kind of overshadowed by the military coup of April first in 1964 that led to 20 years of Brazilian Anti-Communist Military Dictatorship… yeah… not a fun topic.

    On less bleak topics, who gave you the MLP idea? Your daughters?

    1. Shamus says:

      My son likes MLP once in a while. But the idea came from:

      1) Hm. What’s uncontroversial?
      2) What’s colorful?
      3) What’s widely recognizable?
      4) What will require the absolute minimal effort on my part?

      Probably not in this order.

      1. RCN says:

        Right on then. Should’ve mirrored my question from the Experienced Points post (where I added at the end “Your son? (I won’t judge)”)

        Though I’d argue a bit about what’s uncontroversial. Regarding some unwanted attention the fandom and bronies brought upon themselves. Still, uncontroversial enough I’ll admit. Eh, I should be focusing on how awesome it is that you don’t give your son crap for what he likes. Generation 4 is a charming animation overall, after all.

        And it does make your site much more colorful. It is kind of wonderful. You really could take this idea and run with it using a new theme every month.

        1. Syal says:

          Even if it’s controversial, it’s grandfathered in now; the whole reason there are dice in the background is because the April Fools for that year was floating pony heads and everybody wanted it to stay.

          …I’m not sure if the talk about changing the dice background is an in-joke or not.

      2. krellen says:

        Aha! It actually was me!

  12. karln says:

    Hey why /not/ this one?

    I guess it really needs to be re-cut to include Rainbow Dash. And not Rarity. Not ever.

    1. RCN says:

      This reminds me there’s at least one webcomic of MLP called “Friendship is Dragons”… Made on the same style as Shamus’ “DM of The Rings”.

      So one could say it’s come full circle. (Dash is a chaotic evil Barbarian and Rarity is an evil Rogue)

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Are there any called “friendship is bromance”?

      2. swenson says:

        Oh, I love that comic! Not as much as I love DMOTR or Darths and Droids, but it’s excellent fun.

        1. RCN says:

          Another one I love made in the same style (should we come up with a name to it? Screen cap comics? DMOTR clones? Shamooze Comix?) is Grand Line 3.5, based on One Piece.

          I love the idea that the (ridiculously) more powerful characters like Ruffy and Zoro are munchkin power players.

      3. Nixitur says:

        Ouh, that comic is really good.
        But the best part of that comic is definitely the reader comments where a lot of people share stories from their own campaigns.
        Here’s a few of them read by the comic creator.

    2. Peter H. Coffin says:

      Licensing issues, maybe..

    3. Phill says:

      Is that not Rainbow Dash down next to Pinkie Pie? (Damn, I know way too much about MLP thanks to my kids). And what’s your beef with Rarity? Aside from the name and the vapidness?

    4. Mormegil says:

      Everyone wants a pony that’s Rarity on the streets and Pinkie Pie on the sheets.

      1. Phill says:

        That may be the most disturbing thing I’ve read today

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Why?I regularly eat pie in my sheets.Though you should probably change them afterwards because they could get really sticky.

          1. Do you want to get ants? ‘Cause that’s how you get ants.

    5. krellen says:

      Shame on you. Rarity is the best pony.

      1. swenson says:

        angel or get out

        (and before anyone says “but Angel is a rabbit, not a pony!”, I’m certainly not going to be the one to contradict him. He’s scary.)

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Angel is a vampire.And he may be cool,but everyone knows spike is the coolest one.

          1. Syal says:

            Angel’s got nothing on Bunnicula.

      2. MelTorefas says:

        Indeed. Rarity is awesome. Though I will always vote Pinkie Pie for best pony, especially since that musical ep with her and Cheese Sandwich (Weird Al Yankovic) in season 4. (Pinkie Pride, I think)

      3. HiEv says:

        Bah. You’re all wrong.

        Fluttershy is clearly the best pony.

        How can you look into those big blue eyes and deny her that honor?

  13. poiumty says:

    2011 called, Shamus. It wants its dank pony memes back.

    No I did not warn them about any natural disasters. I’m not a charity. I’m just the messenger, here.

    Could’ve at least used something topical, like doge. Much twenty, such sided. Wow.

      1. MintSkittle says:

        Hey, thanks for reminding me.

        Shamus, it’s been two years, and I can’t remember any significant tabletop gaming articles appearing since then, so I think the ponies have to stay.

  14. Hal says:

    Aw, the dice are the last connection to the “Twenty Sided” name and tabletop gaming on the site. Taking that off would truly mean the end of an era.

    1. Nah. Shamus could just say he’s rolling out the 5th Edition of his site or something.

      1. tzeneth says:

        Actually he’s referencing Ponyfinder. A modified enough for copyright, MLP Pathfinder setting.

        1. And they could devote a Spoiler Warning season to revisiting one of their Bethesda favorites with the “Fallout: Equestria” mods installed!

  15. Alex says:

    I also hate the lies masquerading as jokes, and have given a yearly PSA on that subject.

    On the “Do something silly” side, I made a very basic video game, as you can see here.

  16. StashAugustine says:

    On the subject of April Fools pranks and your Chirpy article a few days back


    1. SpiritBearr says:

      Thing is that EUIV and CKII need a better direction giver. Chirpy Sucks but they could be on to something.

    2. Grudgeal says:

      As a regular Paradox grand strategy addict, I’m struck by the appropriateness of those messages.

  17. Sleepyfoo says:

    I note that the background image is “too large”. the actual background of the site cuts off after gilda’s beak on the right and after the wonderbolts glasses on the bottom (or the horizontal line right over derpy’s head). A Slightly more specific reference is the upper left parasprites mouth is exactly where the cut off is.

    I note this purely for consideration of future background images, though it was hilarious to show up today to Ponies.

    Peace : )

    1. krellen says:

      I use a much smaller resolution than you; the image stops on the moustachioed dragon’s head immediately in the bottom right for me.

      1. Grudgeal says:

        Same here.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        You can always zoom out the comments to get something like this:


      3. Sleepyfoo says:

        My home Monitor is catches even more of the image. I’ve got the buffalo chief in the lower right on this one. : )

        It’d be an interesting problem for Shamus to work out if he decided to go the single image route in the future. Finding an image that would work decently regardless of resolution, or getting the background to stretch/shrink without issues.

        Peace : )

  18. Eruanno says:

    I actually kinda like this background. It’s a little hard to read some of the free-floating text but it’s colorful and nice.

    1. Bryan says:

      It’s … er … completely impossible, actually, (for me) to read the text describing how to post (that is, everything from “comment / thanks for joining the discussion; be nice, don’t post angry, and enjoy yourself”, on down) unless you’re replying to an existing post.

      Anyone trying to start a new post has either been here for a long time, or is going to be very very confused at how this whole posting thing is supposed to work on this site. This particular background (for people from the future: it’s a city-builder game image; this is after the pony-crazytown) makes it really, *really* hard to read the text down at the bottom of the page… replies work pretty well but new comment “thread”s really don’t.

      Unfortunately I don’t really even know how to fix the problem… :-/

  19. metalupis says:

    The two sites that I think so April 1 the best are think geek and fark

    Think geek has great ideas that occasionally become actual products

    Fark puts in place a bunch of silly word replacement filters in its forums and usually does some other small things, like this year there is a small chance that when you load a page the fonts will all be comic sans and everyone’s avatars is randomly replaced with cartoon characters

  20. So which ponies (or other canonical entities) represent each member of the Spoiler Warning cast?

    Alternately, someone could create fan art giving each Pony-persona its own custom cutie mark.

    Then Rutskarn could come up with the fanfiction… :)

    1. Phill says:

      I’d say
      Shamus: Pinkie Pie (manic party animal)
      Josh: Rarity (fashion conscious and genteel)
      Mumbles: Buttershy (so very very quiet and shy)
      Chris: Rainbow Dash (all action, doesn’t really think things through)
      Rutskarn: Applejack (good ol’ southern gal, more brawn than brains)

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        You mixed Chris and Mumbles.Chris is the shy quiet one,and Mumbles is the punchy actiony one.

      2. Gruhunchously says:

        If I was being serious, I’d reckon

        Shamus as Twilight Sparkle (take-charge and bookish)
        Josh as Rainbow Dash (brash and impatient, doesn’t always think things through)
        Chris as Fluttershy (really smart and really shy about it)
        Mumbles as Applejack (practical, down to earth heavyweight)
        Rutskarn as Pinkie Pie (wordy, energetic, only mostly tolerated by the others).

        1. Phill says:

          That’s what I’d have gone with to if doing it ‘properly’

        2. Nixitur says:

          Oh wow, that actually kinda makes sense. Especially with Josh.

    2. Trix2000 says:

      Somehow this made me think of a pony/Persona (SMT) crossover.

      I’m not technically a brony, but… I feel like I’d go for it anyways.

  21. Kdansky says:

    I fell for one of the prank lies today because it was believable enough (a gouvernment agency that is pretty well known for stupidity doing something stupid which would have affected me very directly) and got really pissed off about it. I was already formulating plans on how to resist that decision on a community scale, when a co-worker pointed out that it’s probably fake.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Did they decide to pump dihydrogen monoxide into the water purification system?Because that stuff is seriously bad for the pipes.Corrodes the metal ones and clogs the plastic ones regularly.Yet cities still do it all the time because its the cheapest way to clean their installations.

      1. MichaelGC says:

        Where I’m from they use amphoteric dihydrogen monoxide! Madness.

        1. Bryan says:

          I know, right? That stuff even has a hand in electrocuting people! THINK of the CHILDREN!

    2. Lisa says:

      You’re not from the Northern Territory, are you?

  22. Retsam says:

    See, I guess I enjoy the “prank lies”, because I don’t see them as being that different than the “do something silly” approach. I don’t see Microsoft’s announcement of MS-DOS Mobile as being any different than a MLP Twenty-Sided background.

    Sure, there’s probably a couple people who will forget what day it is and get confused by the joke announcement, but I don’t think that’s the point; but then there’s equally the chance that someone would think that MLP really is the site’s new theme.

  23. John says:

    My favorite prank of the day thus far is a brief Economist article which reported that the president of Ukraine had challenged Vladimir Putin to single combat for Donbas and gradually got sillier from there. It took me way too long to (a) get the joke and (b) remember the date.

    Is it wrong that I actually want to see Angela Merkel arm-wrestle the Greek finance minister? Because I think she can take him.

    1. somebodys_kid says:

      I saw that, too! I was thinking, “This is gonna be so aweso* oh wait it’s April 1st.”
      And the arm wrestling just might accomplish more than whatever the hell it is they’re doing now…
      Also, did anyone else read the NewEgg spam advertising their new Crypto Currency?

  24. drlemaster says:

    My favorite gag, which was technically a prank lie that was so silly it veered into do something silly territory, was an email Redbox sent out a few years ago. It announced they would also be selling sandwiches, and included a picture of two Redbox containers with a thin slice of bagel and piece of balogna, respectively. But I agree news sites should shy from the pranks, as it is the opposite of their job.

    And I like the idea for occasionally switching out the background. Feel free to leave this one up for a bit, it is sufficiently pleasant.

    1. I got an advert today for Redbox’s new kiosk, “Petbox,” for movies your dog would watch.

  25. Mersadeon says:

    Yeah, I agree on the April Fools Pranks. The only lie that will get you is the first after you’ve stood up, making all afterwards pointless.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Ah,but what if you go to bed somewhere around 3,4am,then wake up in the afternoon,and are still sleepy enough to forget that its still april 1st?Then there are TWO jokes that will get you.Three if you wake up at some point for a quick bite and something light to read.

      1. General Karthos says:

        Also, if you’re in England, or Japan, or somewhere that isn’t the United States, you may still get April Fool’s jokes on April 2nd.

  26. DrCapsaicin says:

    I like the idea of different backgrounds each day/week/month or whatever. As a starting suggestion, how about cool screenshots from some of your projects? Pixel City, Project Octant, Good Robot, etc?

    1. Richard says:

      I like that idea – you’ve done some really cool stuff over the years, show off a little!

  27. 4th Dimension says:

    Gajin, the maker of Warthunder is sort of famous for the silliness they do on 1st april. Most of other gamemakers simply publish a silly news on their main site and call it that. Gajin doesn’t stop there. They then actually IMPLEMENT the silliness into the game. So far they have implemented:
    – PonyThunder: you could fly ponies as a faction against WWII era planes. Ponies flew like jets and had cannon and rocket pods stuck to them. And didn’t fire bullets but sparkles and rainbows. It was silly and amaizing. http://www.pcgameshardware.de/screenshots/811×455/2013/04/warthunder_pony_02.jpg
    – Gajinzilla: You could participate in a battle to stop a dangerous Gajinzilla a giant snail (the logo of Gajin is a snail) destroying a city.

    and now they are giving us walker MECHS to fight against tanks and other MECHs:

    and a mode that basically ridicules World of Tanks. Here tanks have hitpoints like in WoT, but you are driving an inflatable Sherman tank propeled by bycicle power and are firing potatos and carrots at the enemy.

  28. Richard says:

    I quite like this one in the “Something silly” category:


    Complete with product launch video. (The guy playing guitar is the CEO)

    – They even made a datasheet and application sheet.
    And presumably this footnote in case someone got too taken in:
    “The numbers above mean absolutely nothing. Nothing. It doesn't matter, though,
    because this isn't real.”

  29. Malkara says:

    The image you chose is not big enough for a 2560×1440 monitor. There’s a huge bar at the bottom that’s really, really distracting. Screenshot: https://www.dropbox.com/s/om9woynbvzo5jt6/shamusexample.png?dl=0

  30. I can count on two hands the number of times I’ve seen the word ‘mountebanks’ in my life.

    I can count on no hands the number of times I’ve heard it spoken aloud.

  31. Amstrad says:

    And just a reminder to those of you who might have actually /enjoyed/ the prank background you can install the browser plugin Stylish or Greasemonkey and use this script I originally created for the 2013 prank: https://userstyles.org/styles/85429/twenty-sided-ponies
    It’s been updated to allow you to select either one of the previous prank backgrounds, or even an image you yourself would prefer to see.

  32. Rodyle says:

    I’m surprised no one mentioned the CERN or the Nature one yet. I thought those were exceptionally funny.



  33. Nell says:

    and now they are giving us walker MECHS to fight against tanks and other MECHs:

    and a mode that basically ridicules World of Tanks. Here tanks have hitpoints like in WoT, but you are driving an inflatable Sherman tank propeled by bycicle power and are firing potatos and carrots at the enemy.

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