Nevertheless, I've armed myself with an enormous cup of coffee and plundered the archives of Massively and general press releases for MMOGs that seem to have dropped off the radar. Are they still under development? Will we see some movement on them in 2011? Will it take a Chuck Norris-level feat-of-strength and all-around badassery to pull them back from the developmental abyss they appear to be in? Join me behind the break as I run down some of the MMOs we're still waiting for word on.
When this MMO was initially announced on December 8th, 2006, Browncoats everywhere were excited to hear that Joss Whedon's all-too-short space western was to be reborn as a high-flying MMO. Fox licensed Firefly to be developed under the Multiverse platform. Finally! We would get a chance to see the story continue! But after the initial announcement and their statement about delays, news dried up. It seems that the once-in-a-while Firefly comic has published in a more timely fashion than this particular project's PR agency, and that's unfortunate because the story certainly had quite a bit of potential -- much like the series.
Another one of the beloved Joss Whedon properties was again targeted by the Multiverse platform developers on September 3rd, 2008; after Fox agreed to it, it similarly disappeared from the face of the earth. The Multiverse site itself doesn't list either the Buffy or Firefly MMOs in its list of worlds under active development. In fact, all I found about Buffy on the Multiverse main site was the one lone press release, and it was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet, stuck in a disused lavatory, with a sign on the door saying "beware of the leopard" (if you get this reference, you are one very hoopy frood).
With that said, considering the intent to reboot the Buffy IP in the near future with another movie -- one in which Joss is in no way involved -- it's probably for the best that this MMO seems to have been staked through the heart and left for dead. (There's more than enough nerdrage going around about the movie at the moment.) It would be hard to justify a world where you could throw a rock and hit a slayer -- and I'd bet that very few people would want to get stuck playing a scooby.
It's a book! It's an MMO! It's a book dealing with an MMO-like series of virtual worlds! Talk about obscene amounts of potential. Otherland could go on the mother of all meta recursive meme loops until your head explodes. Imagine a cyberpunk-type world where virtuality is reality and everything is mutable, because hey -- so is the internet. This promising MMO based on Tad Williams' novels of the same name seems to have gathered initial steam through a pairing of new indie studio RealU and publisher dtp games. After the release of a few interviews and previews in October of 2008 and a shiny website in April of 2009, all transmissions about the game entered an eerie state of silence.
Currently, the RealU site still lists the Otherland MMO as the studio's main project, and there are still job openings listed (different ones from those on the last archive on the wayback machine, even). However, the long silence, a projected release date of 2011 per the sidebar on Tad Williams' site, and no listing for it whatsoever on the dtp site leave us wondering just what kind of strange virtual development limbo this game is currently stuck in.
Since we're talking about fascinating sci-fi game concepts that have gone quiet, I'd be remiss to skip over Infinity (not to be confused with the free-to-play title, Infinity Online). While this project has updated more recently than the others above (the last being a dev diary video back in May of 2010), the news has been sparse overall. Considering it promised to be a procedurally generated, persistent, skill-based sci-fi MMO that would blend both interstellar and planetary interactions in a fluid, seamless game, we're hoping things are still on target. If this little indie studio can pull off its incredibly lofty goals, Infinity is going to prove to be one hell of a contender in the MMO space race.
The Mummy Online
No, we don't mean Battle of the Immortals, which features heavy Mummy references in the opening desert area, but rather The Mummy Online, under development by Schell Games and set to be distributed by Bigpoint. Yes, you too can thrill to Brendan Fraser's tousled hair whipping about in the desert wind as he coins witty phrases like "that happens a lot around here," and "rescue the damsel in distress, kill the bad guy, save the world." Or at least that was the plan. This Unity-engine-based MMO was supposed to have launched in winter 2010 after announcing its presence on June 3rd of this year, but as with everything else on this list, it has also gone deathly quiet in recent months. The Mummy teaser site is still up, but as there's been nothing else to indicate any movement on a game that was supposed to have launched by now nor any listing of it on the Schell Games site save in a lone press release, we wonder whether it hasn't fallen prey to a terrible, ancient curse -- or, you know, been conveniently buried under a sand dune somewhere.
As for other games that escaped mention? Well, it's too soon to declare the two worlds being tied to Entropia Universe -- Planet Michael and the Universal Monsters planet -- in any real danger as yet, despite the silence. Also avoiding mention thanks to at least some recent news are Planetside Next, World of Darkness Online, The Agency, Stargate Worlds, The Secret World, Blizzard's Titan MMO, Red 5's Firefall, and a handful of others. With that said, if any of those titles go dark for a long period of time, we'll be sure to chase them down next year and ask where the heck they've wandered off to.