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Gods & Heroes returns from the dead

Shawn Schuster

How many here remember Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising? We're hoping most of you, as the highly-anticipated MMO was near completion before it was scrapped in 2007. Perpetual Entertainment, who was also developing the first incarnation of Star Trek Online at the time, officially shut its doors in 2008, presumably killing any chance that Gods & Heroes would see the light of day. Until today.

Heatwave Interactive has announced today that it has acquired the intellectual property rights and all assets for Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising to further production and pick up where Perpetual left off. We were able to sit down for a brief interview with Heatwave co-founder and CEO, Anthony Castoro, on this acquisition news. Keep reading after the jump for more information on Heatwave's plans for the game and more like it in the near future.

Massively: Will the Heatwave version of Gods & Heroes be different from what beta testers saw back in 2006-2007?

Anthony Castoro: What we're going to do is spend the next couple months looking at the game, where it was back then and deciding what things can stay and what things might need to be updated. We might make some changes. Our goal is still to get it out and not take three of four more years, or anything crazy like that. But we also want to make sure it's up-to-date.

We're not talking about any specific changes right now, but we are going to be asking anyone who's interested to go to the Heatwave website and let us know what their favorite things about the game were and what they'd like to see changed.

So you're incorporating the community into the decisions?

Yeah, absolutely. We have a private player advisory board that's kind of exclusive, it has around 30 people on it right now, but we're going to be opening that up. We're always asking the community for info.

Since Heatwave seems to focus more on social networking -- with the iPhone app, etc. -- is that something that you're going to integrate into Gods & Heroes?

Yeah, and it's funny to hear what people think that Heatwave does. While we do those types of products, that's not necessarily our main focus. Everything we do is online. But absolutely, I would expect to see tie-ins with social networking and films in the near future. The company's really about taking video games as an industry and really using it to make products that can reach across all forms of media. We're all video game guys, but we really believe, and we focus on, an IP that could make a television show or make a movie. Not that we're going to go make a movie, but it's just kind of silly in this day and age, not to take that kind of approach with our games. We felt like this game in particular could meet that criteria. So not just games, not just mobile phone apps or social networking games. It's really whatever makes sense for the IP.

Since the press release says that you have acquired development tools and engines which will "serve as the technology foundation for Heatwave's planned roster of MMOs", are there plans to make more MMOs and an entire platform?

Absolutely. We have a lot of projects under wing, and we were either going to need to build and license solutions for those online games, so this acquisition allows us to do that without the need to build it ourselves or use a third-party engine in the way that most people license games. We have the source code license, and we own all of the game technology, so yeah, it's going to give us a shot in the arm in the development of some of these other projects that we haven't announced yet.

Tell me about how Heatwave obtained this IP.

I can tell you a little bit. I've worked in the online gaming business for quite some time, and I know Chris McKibbin and Joe Keene, the guys who started Perpetual. So I've been following the game and following the progress of the project, and it was disappointing to a lot of people when the company went under. People were just jazzed about the concept of the game. So a little while ago I found out that it had become available, the assets had become cleared and someone had ownership of it, so we made the move to get it.
Keeping other MMO shutdowns in mind, and the fact that most of them will probably never be revived, was this a difficult process to acquire the assets and rights? Or was it basically a matter of knowing the right people?

Massively multiplayer online games are probably the hardest things you can make in the video games business, so I don't think there are a lot of people who could do what we're doing. So, it's not easy, but we have a lot of really great talent here. We have folks from Sony Online, from Origin and EA, from NCsoft, and none of these guys are doing this for the first time. For most of them, this is their third or fourth MMO. We're set up to make sure we can tackle a big project like this. We have all of the assets and we have every bug that was ever entered into the bug database. It's a daunting task, but we've hired a few folks in and they're working really hard right now. It's already running in the office, so we can play it right now. It's a lot of fun.

I hope the fans are really excited about this, because it's not too often that a game gets to closed beta, and a lot of people are actually looking forward to it coming out, and then it doesn't come out. So I'm really excited to be able to do this for the hundreds of thousands of people who are interested in it. Hopefully they'll be vocal and participate with us to make sure that Gods & Heroes comes out even better than they had hoped when it was alive previously.

One of the questions you asked me earlier, which is part of the reason that we're doing this announcement now. We're about to put out some of our other products that people are already aware of, like the Platinum Life game or the iSam Jackson, some of the mobile stuff we've done. That stuff really is a prelude to doing full, triple-A online games and other products. There are going to be a few more announcements over the next couple months and people should pay attention. We're doing some fun stuff.

Thanks for your time!

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