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The Top Five MMOs That Never Were

Everyone that follows MMORPGs can probably list a handful of games that have died an ignoble post-launch death, but what about the games that just didn’t make it? We followed these games that, for whatever reason, never made it to release. Some had their licenses moved on to other companies, some are pipe dreams of franchise fans and some just faded into obscurity, never to be heard from again.

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#2 Imperator

Imagine a parallel universe where Rome never fell and advanced not only to the modern day, but beyond, moving on to spread its empire across the stars. Now, imagine this in the guise of an MMORPG. This, my friends, would have been the game from Mythic Entertainment (Pre-EA) known as Imperator.

Originally announced in 2002, this ambitiously premised MMO would have been the first successor to Mythic's Dark Age of Camelot. Unlike its predecessor, Imperator was supposed to turn away from the company's RvR roots and focus more on a PvE background.

In terms of game mechanics, some may be surprised to note that Imperator was designed to use a skill-based advancement system rather than the typical level-by-level MMO fare. Space combat wasn't going to be a part of the game as is the case in so many science fiction themed MMOs currently on the market and in development. Instead, the game would focus on the people, the story and the setting.

On July 13th of 2005, Mythic published a press release announcing the postponement of Imperator. CEO Mark Jacobs cited the game's failure to meet a triple-A standard. Employees, we were told, had been shifted to Dark Age of Camelot and the company's recently announced Warhammer MMO project. The game would never see its scheduled 2006 release date.

Final Thoughts

From all accounts, Mark Jacobs seemed pretty personally invested in this particular project. It was ambitious and I personally would have liked to see what Mythic could do with a PvE-centric title. One thing to remember about this game though is that it has never officially, technically been cancelled. Instead, the game remains "postponed", so we may yet see the interstellar expansion of the roman empire in some form.

Also, come on, it was Romans... it was Space... it was Sci-Fi. Romans with big freaking space guns.

#1 Ultima X

Ultima Online is well recognized by many as the father of the modern MMORPG, so it shouldn't be a surprise that the idea of making a second game in the franchise has been kicked around a few times.

The first time, it was Ultima Online 2 or Ultima Worlds Online: Origins. When an announcement was made in 2001 that Electronic Arts was putting an end to the game, thoughts of an Ultima sequel were pushed to the backburner Until August 22nd, 2003 when EA and Origin announced that they would be making Ultima X: Odyssey. Here's what the original announcement press release had to say about the game:

"Powered by the latest version of the Unreal Engine and based on the renowned Ultima(TM) single-player role-playing series, UXO will enable players to create personalized legacies in a massive new online world and will be one of the first of its kind to offer private areas on demand within the game."

Ultima X would have been the first Ultima game to be developed without Lord British Richard Garriott at the helm.

EA announced the cancellation of the game on June 30th 2004, stating that they felt that they needed to focus their resources on the game that started it all, Ultima Online.

Final Thoughts

With Ultima Online still trudging along (now under the Mythic banner) after more than ten years, at least it can be said that when EA announced that they were throwing their full support behind Ultima Online, they must have meant it.

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