Arden, the MMO supposedly based around "the world of William Shakespeare," has been released... kind of. I've been waiting for this one for a while-- who wouldn't want to walk the halls of Kronborg Castle with Hamlet, or visit Banquo's banquet with MacBeth? But unfortunately, "released" is a little strong a word here-- the "game" consists of a Neverwinter Nights module, so you've got to have the NWN toolset up and running to even check it out, and even then, I'm not sure it quite makes the definition of an MMO.
I'm hesitant to actually call Arden vaporware, but I don't see how a Neverwinter Nights module can help "test political and social theories." Over on Terra Nova, Edward Castronova (who's running the project), admits that they didn't make it fun, and laments that testers wanted "monsters" to turn the thing into a game. So he's planning Arden II:
I take a little issue with the fact that he thinks only "monsters" can make a "gripping game experience," but seeing as I don't have NWN installed at the moment, I'll have to leave my analysis at that. If you get a chance to check out Arden, let us know what it's like. I'm sure there is a lot of interest in a "gripping" virtual world full of references to Shakespeare, but by the creator's own admission, it seems that Arden probably isn't it.