Ryan Shwayder has apparently decided that typical development studios are simply too cumbersome, so he's looking to start his own studio and, taking a cue from Blizzard, reduce the business model from raid-sized to the much friendlier 10-man format. Evidently, this will help keep development costs well under the $1 billion mark recently cited by Activision's Bobby Kotick as the magic number it would take to dethrone WoW. The new studio, known as Mad Alchemist, is already hard at work designing a project code-named Vernal Equinox, which will be the culmination of their minimalist design philosophy.
Of course, if you want to tighten that belt, you have to lose some fat. Consequently, Shwayder's team had to cut some features from the Vernal Equinox design doc in order to accommodate their design philosophy. Since players always have so many complaints about things like the level grind, gear acquisition, class balance, and things like that, they're going to do away with them entirely. In fact, because downtime can also be so frustrating for players, they've decided to do away with multiplayer entirely. Vernal Equinox will be the first offline MMO!
We've got to give props to Ryan for delivering one of the first April Fools' blog posts today to actual make this blogger chuckle.