A giant world of post-apocalyptic intrigue – bombed and obliterated to perfection by Fallout lead designer Chris Taylor, no less – seems like an excellent setting for an MMO, no? So it’s with a heavy heart that we bring you word of said MMO’s potential cancellation, courtesy of the dream-destroyers over at Bethesda – who may or may not be within their rights to drop the axe.
See, back when Bethesda first nabbed the Fallout property from Interplay’s hobbling, not-quite-dead-yet form, Interplay retained the right to develop a Fallout MMO – but only under the condition that it somehow amass $30 million and enter full scale development within two years. That agreement was made two years ago. Unfortunately, Bethesda’s calendars seem to be in working order.
“Interplay recently received notice that Bethesda Softworks, LLC (‘Bethesda’) intends to terminate the trademark license agreement between Bethesda and Interplay which was entered into April 4, 2007 for the development of FALLOUT MMOG. Despite the fact that no formal action is currently pending, Bethesda claims that Interplay is in breach of the trademark license agreement for failure to commence full scale development of same by April 4, 2009 and to secure certain funding for the MMOG,” reads an Interplay performance report.
“Interplay adamantly disputes these claims. Although the potential damages are currently unknown, if Bethesda ultimately prevails and cancels the trademark license agreement, Interplay would lose its license back of the ‘Fallout’ MMOG and any damages resulting therefrom are unknown at this time.”
According to a recent SEC filing, Interplay entered 2009 with little more than tumbleweeds in its bank account, so things aren’t exactly looking good. Then again, the potentially penniless publisher recently entered into a partnership with Masthead Studios, so at least something’s brewing over there.
Here’s hoping – and really, this is about the only time we’ll ever come to our deity of choice with this particular wish – this terrifying vision of the nuclear apocalypse eventually sees the disheartening, gray light of day.
Looks like Blizzard’s shadowy new MMO is kicking it into high gear. Today, World of Warcraft lead designer Jeffery Kaplan finally typed /gquit of his own accord (and didn’t end up naked in the middle of Orgrimmar) – leaving behind World of Warcraft in favor of Blizzard’s “unannounced MMO.”
“I wanted to take a moment to let the community know that I’ve switched roles here at Blizzard to work on our upcoming, unannounced MMO. World of Warcraft has been such a central part of my life these past six and a half years, and it’s success would not have been possible without the tremendous community around it, so I wanted to say thank you to all our players who’ve shared this amazing experience with us so far,” Kaplan said.
Does this mean that WoW is taking an exceedingly slow drive over to the retirement home, though? Kaplan said no, but in a far less succinct manner.
“I still plan to be very involved with the future course of World of Warcraft, but will leave the day to day operations of World of Warcraft to my partners in crime, Tom Chilton and J. Allen Brack.”
Unfortunately, if Blizzard’s “one frontline release per year” strategy holds up, we probably won’t actually play this game – or maybe even hear anything about it – until at least 2011, assuming StarCraft II hits in 2009 and Diablo III in 2010.
In other words, don’t cancel your WoW subscriptions just yet, folks.
Wrath of the Lich King may barely be ripe for the picking, but Blizzard's already hard at work on its next attempt at supplanting real life. Blizzard COO Paul Sams recent spoke with VG247 about the second generation of its MMO monarchy, and long-time WoW players will be both happy and relieved to hear that this game certainly isn't WoW 2.0.
“We want to create a great game,” Sams said. “Something that’s cool, and new, and different, and kind of next generation in terms of look and feel and gameplay. That’s a challenging endeavour.”
But as a dab of disappointment for WoW players' flagon of infinite joy, the new Blizzard MMO is still deep in the grimy pits of development, with no release date in sight.
“We’re definitely at the beginning, in the first half of development,” Sams continued.
“When we’re building a new game from the ground up, what happens is that it’s slow going for the first bit, while the team goes round and round and round figuring out how it’s going to look and feel, what the player experience is and what the differentiators are, and then the speed at which we then bring in the content and polish and actually get to the finish line…"
"I think the second half of the process is always substantially faster than the first half of product development,” he added.
Find out why it'll be quite some time before Blizzard gives fans an eyeful of its new MMO after the break.
SOE does what Blizzardon't. The online-focused branch of Sony's empire is trying its darndest to wed console and PC MMOs with its upcoming title, The Agency. However, the bride and groom to be aren't exactly hitting it off.
First up, PC games are much more susceptible to hacks and 'sploits than their console brethren, and "Being able to manage that is no simple task," said Executive Producer Matt Wilson.
Second, the mouse-keyboard vs. controller feud continues to rage, and neither side seems interested in saluting the ol' white flag.
"We can do things to equalize them, whether that's aim assist on the console or other things on the PC, but when we've actually done focus group testing and so forth, you're always going to have the console players versus the PC players," Wilson noted.
However, the final hurdle is definitely the tallest. Wilson explained:
"MMOs live and die by their updates, and we need to be able to update our product frequently," says Wilson. "The console requires a certification process, while the PC does not. And so it's going to be really difficult for us to maintain that synchronization across both platforms, and make that work really easily with the value of the MMO."
Assuming that SOE satisfactorily solves all of these issues, would you even want to play a PC-PS3 MMO?
Our help was needed—again. Such is the fate of a hero. In the world of Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures all manner of fishermen, pirates, merchants, guards, beer wenches, and assorted ne’er-do wells require assistance. This motley cast of characters imbues the game with a vibrant sense of life; we just wish that they showed even a bit of initiative and took care of some of their own problems. We were tasked with passing along loads of messages in order to drive the story forward, but in truth, we quickly lost interest in the game’s narrative, as it simply took away from the game’s finest achievement: its fighting system.