This past week, Multiverse announced that they had obtained the rights from FOX to produce an MMORPG based on the Firefly, a sci-fi show with a tremendous cult-following. As you can imagine, the announcement spurred our members into action on our forums. Some are already anxiously awaiting this new incarnation of a favorite franchise, while others are undeniably skeptical of the game's possible success.
"This is great news for all Firefly fans," says Tymora in the News Discussion thread created for the announcement. "I loved the show and the movie (Serenity). I seem to remember that not so long ago there was a topic that had some discussions about Firefly possibly becoming a mmorpg, and most people thought it would never happen. I'm so glad that it has potential to turn into a mmorpg now,..."
Member Jade6 had a different opinion, "Agreed, worst crap I ever saw. It won't make a good MMO either since there was no actual world in it."
Most of the reaction to this announcement though has been mixed. Many of our users seem to feel that, while they were fans of this show, that an MMORPG could really go either way.
"I thought Firefly was great," said anoma7y, "but as an MMO? Maybe, if they enable the players to have real characters interacting on the ground and not just typing chat in space."
Honestly, I don't know exactly what I think personally about this announcement. I've always said that, in theory, the Firefly universe would be an excellent basis for an MMORPG. The reasoning is simple. The show only lasted one season.
I have to agree with Ponico, who said, "I think this is good news. The Firefly universe is simple and yet very sophisticated."
To expand on that, I think that one season was enough to give the audience a taste of what the universe was all about, but leaves enough of the lore unexplored to allow the game's developers the chance to stretch their legs and create some new and interesting content. In fact, it's the short-lived nature of the show that actually gives the game a significant advantage over other sci-fi MMORPGs like Star Trek Online and Stargate Worlds, which run the risk of getting so bogged down in the lore of their television predecessors that the fans will pick the games apart and turn away from them.
Another issue to consider is that the Firefly Universe is populated by humans. One playable race can lead to lots of character customization options, not to mention the emphasis that could be put on classes that have already been defined by the series.
Kopema puts it well in saying, "The crew of Firefly were a pretty interesting bunch of characters, but they weren't on any kind of epic quest to save the galaxy (not that they knew of anyway!) More importantly, the characters were all EQUALLY interesting. It was no harder to identify with any character or any "class" than any other."
One of the problems that I have heard mentioned with other popular Sci-Fi franchises in MMORPG form is that people on the whole aren't as interested in playing within the universe as they are in playing as the existing characters from the series. Who wants to be Ensign Riley when they could be Captain Picard? Who wants to be Joe Smith the trader when you can be Han Solo? Firefly has the potential to look beyond the characters themselves and into the rich universe.
So far, what I've said has been pretty shiny and happy in terms of this game's future, but the truth is that there are a few marks against it as well. First of all, there was a reason that the show was cancelled in the first place. What I mean by this is that sure, there were many people who enjoyed it, especially after the DVD release, but it didn't have the mass popularity of a Star Trek or Stargate.
Still, whatever the future of this game, I think that I can say for certain that there a re a lot of people out there, myself included, who will be watching with interest throughout the development process.