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Unraveling the mystery of John Deere Online

Eliot Lefebvre

Scott "Lum the Mad" Jennings, well-known blogosphere participant and game designer, has recently been working on a game that is now sadly canceled. This is bad both for the natural sadness of a game having been canceled and the voyeuristic MMO fan impulse to ask, "Well, what was it going to be?" We don't know. The only reference made was to the cryptic in-joke name of John Deere Online. In his own words: "As a condition of my severance I can't discuss a great deal, and anything I say here will most likely be picked up by the MMO news sites (wave, wave!)."

Well, he's right about that last part. But neither waiting for him to change his mind nor camping outside his front door has yielded any new information, so perhaps we can take a look at more pieces of information and speculate? After all, we know of at least two of his co-workers. From them and from the little which Scott Jennings himself has said, we can derive the following bits of information: that they were working for 2K Games, developing an MMO based on an existing franchise, that the game would have been strategy-based, and that it might possibly have had something to do with tractors.

Considering that Jon Jones mentions on his LinkedIn page that he "created a series of low polygon highly optimized building models with a small set of textures that can be reused across that nation's entire series of buildings appropriate to that age," it's difficult to argue with the conclusion that the team was working on a Civilization MMO. But 2K Games also could mean Elder Scrolls projects... which might be pertinent, as both Jon Jones and Matthew Weigel have been working on Dungeon Runners. It's all idle speculation, sadly, and for all we know the game really would have been a massively multiplayer tractor simulator. (In which case it might even be for the best - lawnmowers would probably have been totally overpowered against seeders in PvP.)

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