MMORPGs - 2006 in Review - Part 2 of 4, the Dead and Dying
Dec 07, 2006 11:43:44

This week we're taking a close look at the state of MMORPGs in 2006. In Part One we looked at the unspectacular launches of 2006. Today, we'll look at the titles that are dead and buried or on life-support.

The fork has been stuck in it:

  • Asheron's Call 2 - By all accounts this is a game that too few people had the opportunity to enjoy. There is a very positive and nostalgic buzz around this now defunct game, but having not played it myself I wonder if those positive memories are the result of the game closing down. Turbine clearly wasn't happy with the performance of this game, and ended up using it as a tech demo for DDO and LotRO. It is too bad that AC2 became the sacrificial lamb for those efforts. Subscription estimates lead us to believe that there are other titles performing much worse that are still in existence, but Turbine clearly had no tolerance for AC2's poor numbers. That is something they might want to get used to. (/sarc)

  • Seed Online - This non-combat MMORPG redefined the importance of 'RPG' but never took off. I've hardly seen a player review of this game anywhere, which is mostly because there weren't many players. Seed was somewhat doomed from launch because they were attempting a new paradigm in MMO design on a budget that couldn't convince anyone to swallow it. Seed was also pushed into production well before it was completed for budgetary reasons. Unfinished, under budgeted, no marketing, innovative play style = no surprise it didn't survive. This is the kind of scenario that can kill innovation confidence within other studios, but Seed didn't fail because it was a new brand of MMO. It failed because no one knew Seed existed aside from the MMO fanatics like us, and the publisher couldn't afford to wait for this niche game to catch on.

    Has a gun to its head:

  • Saga of Ryzom - Currently Nevrax is in receivership (meaning they're broke and about to be dismantled) but it appears that Ryzom may be rescued from death. No one knows who is going to attempt a rescue, but it seems inevitable at this point. This is another example of a solid game backed by an insufficient budget or an obtuse marketing department. With a stronger quest system and a some UI improvements this game could be one of the best MMOs on the scene. Maybe its next owner will be able to address these issues and build it into a success.

  • Horizons - Horizons has been owned by virtually everyone in the game industry at one point or another and it changed hands again this year. Unfortunately, Horizons left the loving but under-funded hands of Tulga and entered the maniacal and shady hands of an unloving publisher, EI Interactive. Horizons players should brace themselves for the worst and enjoy their game while it still lives. Something tells me this title will not survive another ownership transfer.

    Continue reading: MMORPGs - 2006 in Review - Part 3 of 4, the Living Dead

  • Submitted by Brent on Dec 07, 2006 11:43:44 CST (comments: 9)


    Comments:


    'A note on Horizons' by Psyik
    Submitted on 2006-12-08 01:11:32 CST
    Something that needs to be addressed about this game is its history. Most people don't know because you had to be following the game for a long time, but this game went the way of Dark and Light during the development stage.

    When it was first being developed, it had incredible ambitions. Many more races, with many special features on some of them. The land was going to be immense, with a large underwater portion for the underwater race. Tons of game mechanics that dealt with very unique racial ideas, national/political organization and conflict, and even some interesting ideas for the engine.

    Then came the "blackout." For a few months, no new information. The website just died. I don't remember if the forums were taken down, but I believe after a bit they were. When the game came back up, more then half the races were scrapped, key mechanics were changed, many ideas just thrown out; the new FAQ was like a stub of its former self. Obviously, the game was far too ambitious, and things had to be cut. Unfortunately, too many cuts for me, so my knowledge basically stops here. I remember playing the open beta, and being completely unimpressed as to what the game had become.

    The game still had fans and subscribers, and they’ll disagree with me, since most of them are post-blackout or just diehard. The only interesting race they kept was the dragons, because that was the key lure to most people. The Lamurians (mer-people), Angels and Demons, Dryads (they were added a few years in), Ku’lak (four-armed, four-legged insect people that I was to play), Vampires (non-cheesy), and a few others were scrapped. I don’t even know if Dragons can pick people up and drop them, or let others ride them anymore. I don’t know if there are ships anymore.

    Sorry for the rant. Just need to yell a bit about the blackout. Because it really tore me up; like the canceling of UO2. That something that would have been great was just forgotten, because of some industry drama. And because I’m afraid that it will happen to Darkfall too. It’s the same amount of innovation and work. The same high promises of being everything many could ever hope for. I can only hope that history does not repeat itself; that greatness is either abandoned for the simpler alternative, or forgotten altogether. To me, Horizons took the fatal wound long before it even released, it just bleeds slowly.



    'I'm sorry...' by Heartless
    Submitted on 2006-12-08 11:20:30 CST
    But any company can come up with a feature list for an MMORPG and draw attention. Horizon just occurred during a time when there wasn't much else on the horizon. If it came out today with that feature list and started development no one would give a hoot.

    The whole "blackout" theory is stupid. It's called a REALITY CHECK. They hyped something they knew they couldn't make. That is something that separates the WoWs and Horizons of this world.

    Business first. Product second. Feature list not required.



    'Horizons...' by Brent
    Submitted on 2006-12-08 11:58:33 CST
    I have no idea what this "black out theory" is.

    Looks like you're disagreeing with something that I said, but for the life me I can't figure out what it is. All I said was that it has fallen on hard times. Which appears true.



    '...' by Heartless
    Submitted on 2006-12-08 12:22:21 CST
    Disagreeing with the first comment submitted by Psyik.

    Don't always assume I disagree with ya :P Unless you are trying to sell someone on Everquest...

    Not much I can disagree with you in this post anyways, but I'll find something just for you. Seed was a joke and you give it far too much credit :) There... happy?



    'quotes' by Brent
    Submitted on 2006-12-08 12:29:47 CST
    I need to add a quotes thingy in here to clear that up.

    Good call on Seed.

    :)



    'Regarding AC2' by Saylah
    Submitted on 2006-12-08 12:46:39 CST
    AC2\'s closing is one of my bitter gripes with Turbine. As you said, other games with fewer numbers are still in production, yet AC2 is not. At times it seems like AC2 was an experiment for them - just some sort of testing ground where the players ended up funding their research. It was a good game, but they didn\'t treat the players very well. That experience is one of the chief reasons I won\'t EVER pay Turbine for another game.

    I paid for, tried and abandoned Horizons, GW, Lineage and others for games that just didn\'t appeal to me. But I didn\'t leave any of those games feeling cheated or angry at the publisher. The one exception is Turbine. Blizzard pisses me off too, but I\'d try another Blizzard game if the features appealed to me, whereas Turbine and any game it produces, is dead to me.



    '...there wasn't much else on the horizon...' by Psyik
    Submitted on 2006-12-08 15:50:33 CST
    I actually don't disagree with anyone. All I did was rant a bit too much about how Horizons didn't turn out the way they promised early on. Yes, anyone can make a huge feature list. Yes, it was a reality check on the dev's part.

    And it wasn't "the blackout theory." That's just what we called it. One week the news was still flowing, devs where still putting out logs once in a while, then it just stopped. Nothing happened or a few months. And when it they returned, some devs were changed and a TON of features were removed. It wasn't just a reality check. It wasn't just, "well, I don't think we'll be able to finish this or that by launch," it was "hey, we might have to completely redesign the game RIGHT now; keeping only the engine, a bit of the land, and a bit of the races we've worked on."

    Basically, I already agreed with both of you. My long rant can be distilled to: well, they had a some high ambitions during development, and I believe that the game failed when they cut more then half the features out of the game. And Heartless, it's just what we called it because of how it happened. It wasn't a cut here and there over the course of a few months, it was radio silence for months, then a completely different product when it returned. Not unlike what's been happening with Tabula Rasa.



    'Saga of Ryzom ' by Dathmar
    Submitted on 2006-12-12 17:32:55 CST
    I agree on the Ryzom front....hopefully a new owner will employee a new head of marketing....and also task the developers to create some in-depth missions and as you say the interface needs a little bit of TLC - I would add one other thing - a new Launcher (this is only game I go and make a coffee while I wait for it to load)

    However the game engine, models, terrain, mobs and animations are top notch, so with some minor improvements and the right management this could really be a success



    'Dathmar...' by Brent
    Submitted on 2006-12-12 22:38:54 CST
    I'm hoping the same. It deserves a day in the sun.



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