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Editor's News Year In Review

Jon Wood Posted:
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Editor's News Year In Review

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September 10th, 2007

South Park was presented with an Emmy award for their MMORPG-themed episode “Make Love, not Warcraft”. This year also saw TV appearances from games like Second Life and an episode of the Simpsons dedicated to the genre as well, contributing to the growing mainstream acceptance of video games as a whole and of MMORPGs specifically.

September 14th, 2007

Adam Carpenter, the Lead Designer for Auran’s PvP game Fury, announced that the company would no longer be using the term Realm vs. Realm to describe the style of their games. As it turns out, the phrase is trademarked by EA Mythic and can not be used outside of that company.

On a side note, by the end of the year Auran has announced that nearly all of the Fury dev team has been let go and that the game will continue as a free to play game in the future.

September 25th, 2007

Ultima Online, one of the first and certainly one of the most enduring MMORPGs of all time turned 10 years old. In honor of the anniversary and likely to prove that there was still life in the old game, EA Mythic also used 2007 in order to launch Kingdom Reborn, a complete graphical update of the game.

October 10th, 2007

Perpetual Entertainment unexpectedly announced that an “indefinite hold” was being placed on their history and mythology themed MMORPG, Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising. The announcement came after some signs of trouble at the company in the form of layoffs. Still, the MMO world was taken by surprise when the company announced that the game would never see the light of day.

The decision was made, according to Perpetual, in order to devote the company’s resources entirely to a stronger IP in Star Trek Online:

“Moving forward, we're shifting our collective focus, resources and development efforts to Perpetual's Platform Services division and Star Trek Online, thereby ensuring that the game lives up to the high level of expectation set by the dedicated Star Trek fan base.”

The sudden cancellation left a number of fans and critics concerned about the future of Star Trek Online as well as the credibility of the company developing it. As 2007 draws to a close, the future of Perpetual and their franchise MMORPG are cast in more doubt as news that Perpetual Entertainment is being sued by their former PR company for fraud in the game’s cancellation.

Look forward to more news on this story in 2008.

October 11th, 2007

Electronic Arts announced that they had made a deal to acquire both Bioware Corp. and Pandemic Studios. This announcement had reverberations throughout the video game industry, but is of specific interest to those of us who follow the MMORPG genre because the announcement means that EA are now the proud owners of two of the most highly anticipated MMORPGs, one in the form of EA Mythic’s Warhammer Online (EA acquired Mythic Entertainment last year and took away our News Story of the Year award) and the other in the form of the mysterious MMORPG being developed by Bioware Austin.

As 2007 comes to a close, speculation has reached a fevered pitch that Bioware’s mystery project is a Star Wars-based Knights of the Old Republic MMO. Only time will tell, because Bioware isn’t talking.

October 19th, 2007

A relatively unknown video game news site at www.primotechnology.com posted a story “confirming” that the mysterious MMORPG being developed by Bioware Austin is indeed based on Knights of the Old Republic.

The article stated that an unnamed “source close to BioWare” confirmed the long-standing rumor. While the unnamed source may not have proven concrete, that didn’t stop word from spreading quickly within the MMO community.

While Primotechnology was willing to call the rumor confirmed, many news outlets reported the “confirmation” as rumor, preferring to wait for more official confirmation. Still, the public’s interest has been piqued, making the announcement of Bioware’s MMO title one of the most anticipated events for 2008.

November 2nd, 2007

NCsoft announces the official launch of the sci-fi MMORPG, Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa. The first MMORPG to prefix its title with the name of a developer, TR had been in development since 2001. The high-fantasy MMORPG that was envisioned back in 2001 bore little resemblance to the sci-fi shooter-hybrid MMORPG that launched this past November.

Richard Garriott, best known as Lord British from the Ultima series, designed a game that combines the control and look of a third person shooter with the conventions of an MMORPG to make a unique contribution to the MMO world. The launch, however, was seen by many to be disappointing with elements of the game feeling somewhat incomplete.

Garriott spoke out at the Independent Game conference, citing the fact that they invited too many beta testers into the game when too many bugs were still present, giving players a false impression of the game. Commentary on the game seems to have borne out at least some of the gap between the quality of the game during beta and the final launch product.

Garriott’s comments should be considered as we enter an exciting 2008 launch schedule and should serve as a warning to developers and players alike about beta tests.

November 6th, 2007

NCsoft announced that they had taken full control of the superhero MMORPGs, City of Heroes and City of Villains. Previously, custody of the game was shared by the publisher and the original developers of the game, Cryptic Studios.

As a side note, this year also saw the release of three new free updates, cleverly called “Issues”, for the duo of games.

December 1st, 2007

News broke that Activision and Vivendi Games had announced a merger that would see the two companies merge into an estimated $18.9 billion dollar company known as Activision Blizzard.

December 5th, 2007

CCP launched the biggest free expansion ever to hit the sci-fi sandbox MMORPG. The update included new ships and content but was highlighted by an enormous graphics upgrade.

Unfortunately for CCP, the original download of the expansion included a bug that saw boot.ini files deleted from some players’ hard drives, leaving them unable to reboot their computers. The issue was quickly addressed and removed by CCP staff.

December 12th, 2007

Blizzard, the aforementioned creators of the top MMORPG World of Warcraft, officially announced that they are currently working on a new MMORPG. While speculation abounds about a Diablo Online or World of Starcraft, no title has yet been released.

December 17th, 2007

Livegamer.com announced via their website that they had partnered with a number of different MMO developers for their RMT (Real Money Trading) venture. The companies of interest are 10tacle Studios, Acclaim, Sony Online Entertainment and Funcom.

Through further investigation, we learned that Funcom’s involvement with the company would have nothing to do with the highly anticipated Age of Conan and that while SOE has not finalized the specifics of their participation, they referenced their current Station Exchange program.

While this probably isn’t a full list of the major events of 2007, they were certainly moments that stood out in this journalist’s mind. With the ups and downs of 2007, many MMORPG fans are looking to 2008 to provide a new and exciting gaming experience. With many of these stories still lacking a resolution, and any number of new stories waiting in the wings, it’s probably safe to say that 2008 will be an interesting year for everyone.

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Jon Wood