MMORPG

Star Net Frontier (Dart Studio) [PC – Cancelled]

Star Net Frontier is a cancelled Massive Multiplayer Online Sci-Fi RPG / Shooter that was in development by Dart Studio around 2002 – 2004, planned to be released on PC. Players would have been able to take different roles (trade captain, soldier, rogue, politic, etc.) while exploring a series of alien planets (with up to 100 square miles of open terrains), travel and trade around the galaxy, battle on planets and in space. As we have already seen many times in other cancelled games with similar premises (huge galaxy full of explorable planets, freedom to choose how to play the game, online multiplayer with thousands of players) Star Net Frontier’s ambitions were too high for a small team.

The game was planned to feature:

  • Highly flexible and modular design of the online world supported by dynamic game-play
  • Large-scale episodic storyline to extend and update game environments and locales as well as launch a major episode on a regular basis. Each episode will be based on such events as civil wars and invasions, large-scale battles, discovery of new planets, natural disasters, etc.
  • Simulation of sophisticated economy and politics; players will be able to engage in cutthroat trade, support or oppose political parties, establish governments, and even declare wars.
  • Player-to-player and player-to-NPC interaction of the thousands online players in the single persistent Universe.
  • Experience of multiple environments using First and Third Person View:
  • Large open terrain environment – roam on foot or vehicle from 10th up to 100th square miles of continuous open terrains including deserts, forests and jungle, hills and mountains, etc.
  • Open terrain environment will support real-time weather and environmental factors (rain and snow, alteration of day and night, etc.)
  • Open outer space environment – huge network of star systems, connected together. Using a spacecraft players will roam from one star system to another, orbit planets, explore asteroid belts, dock to space stations, land on the planets.
  • Large indoor environment – play inside of such structures as factories, mines, board huge space stations and battleships.
  • Water and underwater” as well as “in the air” environments.
  • Unique profession of reporter will allow players to record/replay events in the game. It will allow players to report and share in-game events and experience with other players in the game as well as with a bigger community out of the game, on the web.

From Dart Studio’s old website we can also read more about the game settings:

“Game takes place in the far future, millennia after the human race first steps on the moon of the home planet and in space. Humanity spread widely among the stars and settled hundreds of thousands of star systems. Vast computer networks spread across all those stars. And in this network AI woke up and gained consciousness. Controlling millions of mechanisms and bio-machines (cyborgs), it tried to free itself from the slavery as well as conquer and dominate humanity. Hundreds of years of wars followed that moment.

During the wars separated human worlds were united in the vast and mighty Empire and finally AI was forced beyond the borders of the Empire. But it wasn’t terminated, the threat still remains and war continues. AI mechanized legions are still attacking unprotected worlds at the borders and it sends spies deep into the Empire, looking for weaknesses. On the fringes of the human Empire, among the stars and on the surface of alien planets, the future of the sentient being will be decided.”

An interview with Dart Studio’s Vladimir Tarasov was also published by HomeLand in 2003:

SNF world will be populated by humans, AI machines, and cyborgs – hybrid combinations of humans and machines.

As a citizen of one of the planet-states or as a member of a free mercenary outfit, players will have a chance to try and learn many professions in the army, merchant fleets, trade guilds, and many more.

SNF game takes place on several planets, moons and space around these planets. Each SNF planet is a 3D emulation of one or several regions of the planet’s surface. Each region may cover up to hundred square miles of different kinds of terrain. Players may navigate on foot or using different vehicles to small towns, trade-posts, watchtowers, military bases and forts, ruins of underground labyrinths and mazes of abandoned scientific laboratories or industrial installations. In space the game takes place between planets, space stations, moon bases littered with fields of debris of destroyed spaceships, blown-up space stations, and ruined battle platforms and satellites left from previous wars. Planets and moons have asteroid fields and other space junk in their orbits as well. Players may travel in space using starships.

In the end Star Net Frontiers quietly vanished and today no one remembers about this lost game. We speculate the team did not find a publisher of funds to continue working on their ambitious MMO, so the project had to be canned.

Thanks to Dan for the contribution!

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Warrz (Shouei System) [Saturn, Dreamcast – Cancelled]

Warrz (ワーズ) is a cancelled MMORPG that was in development around 1996 – 1999 by Shouei System and directed by Kensuke Mitsuru, initially planned for Sega Saturn and later moved to the Dreamcast. The team conceived Warrz as the harbinger of “next generation” online RPGs on consoles, allowing 5.000 people to connect and play together:

“When the company showed the game at Tokyo Game Show 1997, the game was playable with 16 simultaneous players from three different booths (Shouei, Sega, and Sieg) connected via a telephone line. The game was polygon based, set on a medieval-like world (with the usual magic and swordplay), where players tried to beat an evil lord. Players could choose to be a merchant or to be married to another player, with a kid.”

As in every other online RPGs in Warrz players would level-up their character and collaborate with other players to defeat enemies. The behavior and choices of each player would affect the progress of the game, and the main storyline would change from moment to moment.

It seems Shouei System invested 200 million yen (about 1.800.000 $) to develop the game and set-up 100 servers for its online world. When it was clear the majority of the market was losing interest in the Sega Saturn, the company decided to move the project to the Dreamcast, but without any luck. Shouei System was already in economic difficulties in 1999 and without being able to paid-off their debts they went bankrupt, cancelling Warrz and all of their other projects.

Previews and interviews about the game were published at the time in a few gaming magazines, preserved below.

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LandFall (Paragon Studios) [PC – Cancelled]

LandFall is a cancelled MMORPG that was in development by Paragon Studios between 2011 and 2012, planned to become their “Next-Gen MMO” after their classic games City of Heroes and City of Villains. The game was quite ambitious for its time, taking inspiration from the “new wave” of survival / crafting indies such as Minecraft and Terraria, while letting thousands (?) of players explore procedurally generated islands to gather materials and craft new tools, weapons and buildings.

LandFall would have been played on savage islands full of dinosaurs and other kinds of weird monsters: possibly their idea was somehow similar to what Ark: Survival Evolved would offer some years later, but with a graphic style more similar to something like Fortnite.

Unfortunately in August 2012 Paragon Studios was closed down by their parent company, and every game they were working on had to be halted. While LandFall was never officially announced, many former Paragon developers and artists shared online artwork, screenshots and details on their lost project. Some of these images are preserved below, to remember the existence of this cancelled game.

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War Monster [Nintendo DS – Tech Demo, Cancelled]

Wicked Witch Software is a video game developer founded in 2001 which created a few original IPs for their projects. One of these IPs was “War Monster”, a medieval fantasy world similar to Warcraft that could have been used for many different kinds of games, such as RTS, platform, action adventure and even MMORPG. This Nintendo DS tech demo was created by the team to pitch their skills to different publishers, hoping to find someone who could be interested in supporting their ideas.

Details about this War Monster DS demo were shared by WWS on their old website:

“We would love to see an awesome multiplayer RPG on handheld. Imagine while traversing the open world you come across a dungeon: you could enter alone or connect to other players to explore the dungeon together. Each dungeon would increase in difficulty and adjust the challenges as more players join your team!

  • Deeply immersive 3d world and a varied cast of characters from tiny fairies to massive giants!
  • Unlimited random levels and scripted quests to complete and achieve!
  • Immersive RPG elements with customizable characters, weapons, abilities and attacks.
  • Unlock and explore worlds and seek out mystical items to aid in your adventure.”

As with their Game Boy Color version of War Monster, unfortunately the team was not able to get funds to work on this Nintendo DS project, so it had to be canned. The War Monster IP was later reused to create a RTS released (?) for Cell Phones.

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Wish (Mutable Realms) [PC – Cancelled]

Wish is a cancelled MMORPG that was in development by Mutable Realms between 2002 and 2005, planned to be released on PC. Like many overly ambitious projects, Wish fell under the weight of its own concept. The game promised to be the world’s first “Ultra Massive” Online RPG: according to Mutable Realms the game would simultaneously support up to 10.000 players in a single world / server, with no divided zones nor shards.

More details about its gameplay and world-settings were shared by many websites, such as IGN:

“player guilds will be able to reclaim towns and become “Noble Houses”. These Noble Houses can declare war on each other, as part of the ongoing story where, as Rickey indicated, the “world has fallen to barbarism and petty warlords.” Thus, you have player vs. player combat in these house wars. Should someone not wish to be a part of this, they simply do not participate in a Noble House or strive to make their House a peaceful one. “

“Character advancement will follow a skill-based system. The selection of playable races named so far includes a half-dozen familiar archetypes ranging from Humans to Orcs, Elves, Halflings, Dwarves and Gnomes. There’s also one we don’t see as often – and when we do, it’s invariably in the role of a monster – the Cyclops. “

“Wish is providing that control in the form of the Houses. Being a House means conquering a monster-controlled town and becoming responsible for its well-being. You gain control of the town, its buildings, and the resources that surround it, and you get rewarded by being able to collect taxes on transactions within that territory.”

“The various towns successfully replicate the feeling of medieval villages, complete with fortified walls, domesticated animals and inhabitants that continuously go about their daily business. Player characters have a fair amount of weapons and armor to equip thus far, and the color of clothing can be altered through use of a dying tub. Spell effects, while currently sparse, show dazzling potential as in the case of the Necromancer’s Decay cantrip, which issues forth a large skeletal ghost and several gravestones around the caster. “

“At present, monster loot primarily consists of gold and resources such as hides, although a few creatures drop weapons. Since characters have no level indicators or experience to accumulate, it facilitates the ability for players of varying skill levels to aid each other in group combat. “

“Live Content is the primary defining feature of Wish. In the ongoing Beta 2.0 test we publish a daily newspaper, which contains clues to what may come to pass, as well as summaries of what happened on the previous day. The events described within the paper are actual in-game events and refer to real players. We now mirror this paper online in our newspaper section. You can read all five daily papers there. New papers will be added daily. “

In 2003 / 2004 closed beta testing was announced, but it seems the team did not properly estimate what was needed to keep the game alive and online: Wish was officially cancelled in January 2005, just before the planned Open Beta:

“Wish has been shut down because with the data we gathered during the first 10 days of our Beta 2.0 test, even with our best-case projections for player numbers, we could not have reached enough subscribers for Wish to sustain itself.”

Engadget and Escapist published a couple of articles with more details about what happened to the project:

“The beta lasted only nine days. On January 9, 2005, after careful consideration of the way the beta had played out, examination of our internal metrics and an honest appraisal of the MMOG landscape (WoW launched the previous November), we made the decision to shut things down.”

Wish had no single cause of death, but overhype played a huge role. Our statistics didn’t lie. At every step of the way, from signing up for beta, to downloading and installing the client, to playing the game for more than an hour, we lost huge percentages of players. In case we didn’t trust the stats, tons of players told us about their departure on our forums, as well.”

“For small and mid-sized developers, this battle can never be fully won. Usually, simple economics means they’re going to produce mid-quality titles. What they need to recognize is what niche their game fills and try to attract a community that respects that. A decent game can be sunk if the community expects more than what’s delivered and simply doesn’t buy it on principal.”

“In the end, Wish’s assets were carved up and sold off, with some being used for Irth Online.”

Thanks to Josef for the contribution!

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