MMORPG

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.

Images: 

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!

Images:

Videos:

 

M.O.S. (Military Occupational Specialty) [PC – Cancelled]

M.O.S. (Military Occupational Specialty) is a cancelled “Massively Multiplayer Tactical Role Playing Shooter” (M.M.T.R.P.S.) that was in development around 2003 – 2004 by SharkByte Software, planned to be released on PC. It was an ambitious online FPS / RPG hybrid, conceived to become the “next genre of online gaming”, featuring a huge 42.987 miles² explorable planet, which is quite unbelievable even by today’s standards if you compare it to such open worlds as Final Fantasy XV (700 miles²),  Just Cause 3 (400 miles²) or Fuel (5.560 miles²) .

Players would take the role of a soldier sent to an alien planet called Balia, to combat for one of the available military factions: The Dominion, The Divine Separation and The Sovereignty. As in other MMORPGs Players VS Players and Realm VS Realms would have been available, you could drive different types of vehicles and

Details on SharkByte Software’s hopes for M.O.S. can still be found in old interviews and in their (now offline) website:

“The Idea for M.O.S. game about because we all liked playing FPS’s and tactical shooters such as Rainbow Six. We also like some RPG’s especially the online ones, so we thought man would it be cool if we could play Rainbow Six but in an Everquest setting? From there we started laying out the details of how this type of game might work. Now we are working on making that happen.

We currently have two server technologies that are being used and I can say that one will support approximately 30k per world and the other should allow for everyone to play together (obviously not in the same square inch :) ).”

“The initial game world covers approximately 142 kilometers by 193 kilometers. When you add the uncharted continents, seas, and oceans, the entire game world will encompass an area of 260 kilometers by 430 kilometers. This translates into an area of 161 miles by 267 miles.

A player will have three ways to develop their character. Since this is a military game the first method of advancement is in rank. A traditional rank system is being used. Secondly, the player will hone his skills by means of missions. Skill points are awarded which the player uses to develop the character skills. Thirdly, since this is a role playing game, the player will accumulate valuable information on which the players’ ability to decipher and implement what is learned can affect the outcome of the game.

The overall aim of the game is to establish and maintain the superiority of the player’s own shard. Within this framework the player will amass personal wealth and advance in rank with the successful completion of missions.”

“Killing of players within one’s own shard is also allowed although highly discouraged. As in any society, the attempted killing of an unarmed or peaceful citizen carries severe consequences. Friendly fire, on the other hand, may be unavoidable in the heat of combat.

Shard vs. shard attacks will be available. It is highly recommended that a player build up his skills before going into battle to increase his odds of survival.

A Shard is a group of military personnel under the rule of a General. There are 3 Shards on the planet: The Dominion, The Divine Separation and The Sovereignty. We chose the term Shard because it emphasizes the splitting of a single object.”

“Initially you will have to join a shard. Since this is a military type game and the player is recruited to serve on this planet the player is obliged to serve for a period of time. After fulfilling the obligation the player will have the option to continue within the system or make their fortune on the frontier.

A player will have access to use of vehicles as part of items necessary for use in missions. If a player can afford the cost of a vehicle, it is available to him.”

The team just showed concept art and a single 3D render from the game, so we don’t know how much was really done before its cancellation. As it usually happens with these ambitious MMORPG from the early ‘00s, we can assume the team underestimated the efforts, skills and budget needed to develop such a game and never find a publisher interested in helping them.

Thanks to Dan for the contribution!

Images: 

Mythica (Microsoft MMORPG) [PC – Cancelled]

Mythica is a cancelled MMORPG based on Vikings folklore and Norse mythology that was in development by Microsoft Game Studios between 2002 and 2004, planned to be released on PC. At the time most big gaming companies tried to launch their own massive online multiplayer games, as it was quite a lucrative market (at least until they over-saturated it). Mythica boosted impressive graphics for its time, and Microsoft also promised fun gameplay mechanics.

As we can read from their official 2003 press release:

“When playing ‘Mythica,’ players will feel like genuine Norse heroes on a personalized journey unique to them,” said Adam Waalkes, studio manager for role-playing games at Microsoft Corp. “Through ‘Mythica,’ Microsoft Game Studios will revitalize the massively multiplayer genre by putting the focus where it belongs: on gameplay.”

In the quest to become the one true hero in a vast gaming world, players may adventure with a band of fellow immortals into huge, populated public spaces or enter a Private Realm. “Mythica’s” Private Realms Technology envelopes players in story lines and environments that react to their actions in private areas of the world. Here players become the central characters in a heroic tale where actions have lasting consequences in their own persistent game world.

The Private Realms are spread across several traditional planes of existence from Norse mythology, from the grassy fields and eternal spring of Asgard to the fiery heart of Muspellheim. Using godlike powers, players can dispel droves of menacing monsters with a single blow or battle massive, monstrous beasts such as the Midgard Serpent.”

In 2011 Justin Olivetti wrote a great article about why Mythica could have been a great addition to the MMORPG market:

“No matter how similar MMOs may be to each other, each one needs a “hook” that devs and marketers can bandy about to capture the imaginations of gamers. […] With Mythica, the hook was “Let players be gods.

[…] Each day, players would get to choose whether they wanted to adventure in an open world setting or in personalized “private realms” that would change the game according to their deeds. In private realms, what you or your small group of friends did would have a lasting impact on the game world — as long as you were in that version of the game, that is.”

Mythica’s development team consisted of about forty people, but most of them were fired in 2004 when the game was officially cancelled. Just a year before Microsoft already faced another sudden problem: Mythic Entertainment (developer of popular MMORPG Dark Age of Camelot) sued Microsoft, seeing in the similarity between their name and Mythica. We could speculate it was just a way to get some money from Microsoft or interfere with their game, seeing it as a potential competitor in the same genre as DAoC. In the end Microsoft just recognized the MMORPG market was over saturated: it would have been risky to proceed with Mythica’s development, so the project was canned.

Thanks to Josef for the contribution!

Images:

Videos:

 

Blackstar (Spacetime Studios) [PC – Cancelled]

Blackstar is a cancelled Sci-Fi MMORPG that was in development around 2005 by Spacetime Studios, planned to be published on PC by NCSoft ( Lineage, City of Heroes, WildStar, Guild Wars). The team was composed of experienced developers who worked on such projects as Wing Commander, Star Wars Galaxies and Ultima Online, but unfortunately they were not able to complete the game after NCSoft dropped their support in 2008.

As we can read on Spacetime Studios’ website:

“Spacetime Studios’ Blackstar MMO concept featured a unique combination of space flight, real-time shooting and role-oriented (RPG-style) combat. In Blackstar, players piloted heavily-customizable starfighters through evocative space environments, battling a universe of exciting foes with a combination of weapons, defenses, and other abilities that improve through experience and gameplay.”

A new breed of game, Blackstar resurrects the dream of online space combat with real-time spaceflight featuring fast and nimble fighter-craft loaded with devastating sci-fi weapons.

You aren’t limited to the canopy: get out of your ship and hit the deck for fast paced ground combat on the surface of alien worlds and aboard enemy ships.

Fly your spaceship to exotic locations: blasting through cunning enemies and dreadful space creatures. Leave your ship and take up the quest, exploring mysterious planets, derelict space stations, and force your way onto enemy ships.

Live as one of four races: ranging from heroic humans and beautiful aliens to warrior robots and undead horrors in an epic science-fantasy universe where advanced technology clashes with ancient demonic power.

Combine spell-casting with real time shooting as you blast through enemies, collect loot, and gain levels in a variety of unique alien environments.

Join up with your friends in maneuverable fleet formations to take on capital ships and enemy starbases in epic large scale battles.

Play as a member of one of two galaxy-spanning factions: the hopeful and technologically advanced United Colonies or the dangerous, prophecy-guided Scorn Empire.

Choose your role in the fight from a variety of powerful classes: From deadly Assassins operating behind the enemy lines, to powerful Crusaders who shrug off damage and unleash volleys of blistering fire, pick the role that matches your style of play.

Participate in a rich story as the forces of futuristic technology and mind-twisting magic clash in a battle to decide the fate of the galaxy.

Declare war against other players and destroy them in action packed player-vs-player combat that serves all levels of skill from the freshest cadet to the deadliest ace.”

Some more details can be found in old interviews by TenTon Hammer and Engaged:

“Our team has a great history… Cinco and Anthony (Sommers) have worked together since QA/ CS waaaaaay back in the old Origin days, Jake (Rodgers) and I both worked at Digital Anvil many years ago, and all four of us worked together on various aspects of Star Wars: Galaxies and SWG: Jump to Lightspeed. That’s just the founders… our team has an amazing amount of experience building, shipping, and running MMO’s as well. Collectively we have shipped three MMO’s under our belts (Ultima Online, Shadowbane, and SWG) as well as a vast multitude of single-player titles.”

Space flight and space combat will be an integral part of our game… it is what we are passionate about and what we know best. It is safe to say that the game will take place primarily in outer space. At the same time, we feel that a strong avatar component is essential as well.”

“Take the best of Wing Commander and Descent. Add some kick-ass ground combat. Play a lot of PvP to polish the hell out of it until it hits the right balance of easy to play/difficult to master. We are unconstrained by the existing fiction of a licensed product and free to attempt the artistic purity that can truly define a franchise. There’s nothing like it and we don’t see anything on the horizon.”

In 2011 Spacetime Studios were able to regain control of the Blackstar IP and its concepts became the inspiration to create Star Legends: The Blackstar Chronicles, a quite different MMO for mobile phones.

Images: