What Happened To... (Part 3)
Not every lost MMOG of the past is gone forever. In todays edition,
Ill be looking at a few titles that may have fallen off the radar, but
arent necessarily out of the running. Although their current fates may
be pinned to nothing more than hopes and promises, each of these games
are still clinging to the few fans they have left and dreaming of
Imagine a world encased in solid stone where, when you peer into the
sky, all you see is the unfeeling rockface of your worlds gigantic
prison. This is the world of Spellborn. Originally developed by
Spellborn International and later taken over by Acclaim, the style="font-style: italic;">Chronicles of Spellborn
promised a few intriguing features that had many MMOG fans considering
it as a candidate for the next big thing.
The games generic fantasy feel was familiar enough to warrant mild
speculation, but it was really the combat system that drove
imaginations wild. It featured a unique combination of manual targeting
(such as those seen in first-person-shooters) and the familiar hotkeys
of standard MMOG fare, which joined forces to create a series of
mechanics that have not been seen before or since in a published MMOG.
Additionally, CoS included a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7gafTARsR0" target="_top">robust
customization interface that allowed players to tailor every
detail of their avatar, including their actual visible equipment.
Upgrades to your equipment would be later obtained via sigils and
"bodyslots" which had no effect on your appearance, allowing all
players to appear exactly as they wanted to from the day their avatar
was born into the game world.
these innovative features did not override the blandness of the title
as a whole. After its initial UK release in 2008 (2009 in US), reviews
ranged from lukewarm to cold, often mentioning a bland color palette
and a lack of depth in quest design, as well as the lack of key PvP
features that were supposed to make up the bulk of the games high-end
But it wasnt just the content that garnered such a lack of enthusiasm.
The game itself was released as a free-to-play title (supported by
microtransactions) with the promise that it would href="http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/spellborn-mmo-to-go-free-to-play"
target="_top">eventually be re-launched as a full-featured
title. However, shortly after this release, the client
download, then the patcher, then the client itself all slowly ceased to
function as stand-alone applications, requiring 3rd-party workarounds
and "hacks" to keep them operating. All bug reports and additional
correspondence to the developers and customer service departments went
completely unanswered, leaving players feeling abandoned.
In June of 2009, just 3 months after the US release, Spellborn Works href="http://curatoren.nl/fo/verslag_faillprofiel.php?id=128655"
target="_top">announced their bankruptcy, and just
two months later it was made public that href="http://spellborn.wikia.com/wiki/Shutdown" target="_top">the
servers would be taken offline at the end of that month.
During this period of time the operation of the title was href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/84654" target="_top">sold
off to Playdom, who almost immediately href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/87376" target="_top">sold
it to Disney, leaving none of the original staff available to
support the title, or its players.
To most, this series of unfortunate events would have foretold the
final doom, but Acclaim spoke out about the title just before closing
their doors, claiming that Chronicles
of Spellborn would be re-launched by a still-unnamed
publisher at some point in 2011. Time will tell if this mystery
publisher will be up to launching such a risky project, but href="http://spellborn.org/news/r-i-p-the-chronicles-of-spellborn-%28for-now%29-the-e-mail-from-frogster-%28updated%29/msg174/#msg174"
target="_top">many hope to once more adventure under the
stoney dome of Spellborns world.
Until the eventual re-launch, you can learn more about the stories of
this title, as told by a former community manager at Acclaim. His blog ( href="http://www.thehistorian.org" target="_top">www.thehistorian.org)
is an ongoing tale of the behind-the-scenes events, told from his
perspective, leading up to the downfall of his former employer.
Despite its name, which implies a generic fantasy setting, there is
nothing generic about the gameplay mechanics featured in the world of style="font-style: italic;">Darkfall. From
skill-based advancement, to full-loot PvP, territory ownership and city
promised to be a PvPers paradise, and a world teeming with rich
player-driven interaction and conflict of every type imaginable.
list of features like that, it is entirely understandable that style="font-style: italic;">Darkfall gathered a
faithful fan base long before its eventual release became a reality. So
rabid were these fans that most of them held on despite the enormous
suffered during its development cycle.
SA announced beta signups in 2005, but the proposed beta test
never took place. Darkfall
showed up as an invitation-only press demo at E3 2006, where it
received target="_top">mixed reviews that ran from panning
it as a complete failure to enthusiastic encouragement for an eventual
release. It was another six months before any beta updates were given,
claiming that a href="http://forums.darkfallonline.com/showthread.php?p=691938#post691938"
target="_top">small external beta was now in operation
(what many developers now refer to as friends & family beta).
Then another delay, as a beta date of summer of 2007 was offered in href="http://www.warcry.com/articles/view/devjournals/darkfalljournals/3323-Darkfall-Developer-Journal-9-The-Beta-Question"
target="_top">May of that year. But as summer came
to a close, Aventurine officially announced that href="http://www.warcry.com/articles/view/devjournals/darkfalljournals/3320-Darkfall-Developer-Journal-12-Progress-Update"
target="_top">no public beta would begin until a
publisher for Darkfall
had been secured.
Finally, almost 3 full years after the first beta sign-ups were posted,
Aventurine announced that a publisher had been found. At this point,
the game was considered feature-ready for release, but it was almost
another full year before Darkfall
released to the European public in January of 2009.
Along the way, Darkfall
began to href="http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Darkfall"
target="_top">gain a reputation as being an MMOG
equivalent to the infamous Duke
Nukem Forever -- a highly-anticipated feature-rich title
that would never see the light of day. Funny how the future unfolds,
despite disappearing from most folks radar during these massive
delays, the game finally launched in the first half of 2009 and is
currently alive and active and even offers href="http://www.darkfallonline.com/trydarkfall/" target="_top">a
free 14-day trial for prospective players. href="http://forums.darkfallonline.com/showthread.php?t=264102"
target="_top">According to recent forum activity,
server population is fairly low, however, which can lead to
frustration in a game that is so PvP-centric at its core. But if youre
seeking a more dangerous, and some might even say hardcore experience,
you cant go wrong by downloading the trial.
Maybe the current MMOG scene just isnt your style. Maybe youre more
of a shooter fan. Then maybe, just maybe, style="font-style: italic;">Huxley is the game
you should keep an eye on. Combining the persistent character
advancement and social areas of an MMOG with the fast-paced combat of a
FPS, developer Webzen Games Inc. sought to follow in the footsteps of
games like Neocron
and make a name for itself in the under-populated and under-appreciated
subgenre of the MMOFPS.
very loosely by Aldous Huxley's Brave
New World, players are fighting for their
survival in a post-apocalyptic future of our modern planet Earth. The
planet, and the human race itself, have been changed dramatically by a
series of natural disasters, resulting in the emergence of a worldwide
culture that vies for dominance through combat.
calling itself an MMOG, the adventuring side of style="font-style: italic;">Huxley is arguably
nothing more than a series of individually-spawned instances and
skirmishes. Its a stretch of the imagination to call supporting 64
players on a map by the name massive when other modern games can
boast supporting several thousand simultaneous players in a similar
region. But only the adventuring maps have such limitations - Huxley
does have cities that are said to support numbers ranging in the
thousands, but these cities are little more than a graphical
matchmaking system for spawning instances and a place to upgrade your
If all of these mechanics sound intriguing, I would encourage you to
keep an eye on the developers website, located at href="http://www.webzen.com" target="_top">Webzen.com.
The game enjoyed a modest success after launching on the social gaming
in 2009, but was recently removed from that site. NHN USA (proprietors
of ijji) made an announcement just last month that href="http://forums.ijji.com/showthread.php?t=967675"
target="_top">Webzen would be self-hosting the game from now
on, but it has yet to show up on the games list on their
website. While several fear this could mean a quiet death for style="font-style: italic;">Huxley, hope still
remains that it will resurface under Webzens rule and once again be
available for the enjoyment of frag lovers around the world.
... and so much more!
As we continue these strolls through the archives of our MMOG past, we
continue to stumble across more and more stories of games and
developers that struggled to break into this difficult industry, or are
perhaps even still struggling as we speak. Its an amazing journey that
Im thrilled to be taking, and invite you to continue at my side. If
theres a title youve been wondering What Happened To... feel free
to leave a comment. Premium Members at Ten Ton Hammer can also join the
target="_top">ongoing discussion on this topic
already underway in our forum. Perhaps together, we can even
dig up enough interest to resurrect a few of these forgotten worlds.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Huxley Game Page.