Cartoon Network has done fairly well for itself with its IP-centric FusionFall. In fact, the words 'wildly successful' may come to mind when you take into account that FusionFall has already gained over 4 million registered users since its January launch. Having a TV network to promote the game is advantageous, of course, but with that many kids running around in the game's world, it was inevitable that some of them would get up to mischief.
This topic came up in an interview conducted by MMORPG.com's Carolyn Koh with FusionFall community director Richard Weil. It's interesting to note that some kids are basically testing the limits of the game world by finding ways into the "Wastelands" -- vast in-game areas where the developers test aspects of FusionFall. These players have managed to find holes in the game code and slip into these off-limits areas that were thought hidden and inaccessible to them in the first place.
What do kids who manage to find their way into the Wastelands find? Odds and ends in some cases, says Weil. Perhaps a few buildings to be put into a town, bits of machinery. In some cases there are entire areas of the game that are replicated and remain there for testing purposes. "Remember that kids want to show off?" Weil asks. "They have been infiltrating the Wastelands and taking screenshots, then posting it on the forums and bragging about what they've found." The very existence of the Wastelands provides a challenge for these little explorers, who are playing the game in ways that the developers didn't intend.
So far it's all been a situation where the game's creators reward (or at the very least haven't punished) successful deviance. For instance a player discovered "Cheese" from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends and spread the word among the FusionFall playerbase. In light of the discovery, Turner Networks confirmed (or perhaps greenlighted because of the reveal) Cheese as a character to be introduced in a future expansion.
The developers haven't seen fit to ban any of the players for peeking behind the curtain, but they have cautioned these players about what could go wrong. Weil says,"There's always a possibility that their character falls down a hole so deep that we can't retrieve them, or they sustain damage we can't fix. We've been gently discouraging them, and we tell them that. But do they listen? No. It's a badge of honor to them; to find new ways to get into the Wastelands."
Have a look at Carolyn Koh's interview with community director Richard Weil for more on what kids are getting up to in the Wastelands and some hints about what's on the horizon for FusionFall.