In the fourth and final installment of “What Happened To...” we’ll take
a look at a perpetually re-launching phenomenon, and a game-changing
up-and-comer. But first I’ll be digging into the details of a game that
just might be considered the perfect example of how to fail at
launching an MMOG.
Dark & Light
Development of Dark
originally began in 2002 by NPCube, and
publisher Farlan Entertainment announced a prospective release date of
2003 shortly thereafter. This was not the first outlandish promise that
would come from this team, and far from the last that would be met. The
for DnL still reads
like a wishlist for any MMOG and includes features that have to this
day never been successfully executed in any title.
fantastic claims were DnL’s bread and butter during the bumpy
development cycle. Promises of mounted dragon flight and a massive
to explore created so much hype that even
after repeated major delays and a lack of beta announcements, the
launch of their official forums is said to have resulted in more than
500,000 registered users over the first week it was live.
The hype they’d built up could not overpower the failure that the game
turned out to be, however. Upon the launch in 2006, the servers and
client were each so unstable and bug-ridden as to render it largely
unplayable. The few brave reviewers
that risked frustration
and repeated crashing to render judgement on the title universally
rated it poorly, citing primarily the instability and bugs, but also
the complete lack of more than half of the promised features that
caused players to buy into the title to begin with. And as if the
technical and gameplay glitches weren’t enough to frustrate the average
gamer, billing errors were also a common occurrence.
The situation was so bad, and received so much negative press, that
Farlan Entertainment publicly announced
in April 2006
that any existing subscribers would be receiving 90 days of free game
time. Included with this announcement was the public admission that,
“Farlan Entertainment now acknowledges that the game was released
prematurely due to pressure from its investors and from the gaming
Way to blame your players, Farlan. Thumbs up!
Despite receiving a steady string of bad press, and suffering badly
from server instability throughout its entire run, DnL managed to limp
along and remain in operation until 2008, but then it all came crashing
down. A lawsuit against NPCube was filed by virtual terrain engine
, claiming "software
counterfeit, non-respect of the right to credit and paternity, unfair
competition and parasitism." In a startling turn of events, NPCube
actually had the gumption to counter-sue on the grounds of “unfair
competition and damage to NPCube’s reputation” but this counter-suit
would get them nowhere, since it was later discovered that they
actually had used VWorld’s terrain generation software to create much
of the world of DnL. The resulting financial damages
in the ruling against NPCube caused them to be unable to support
further operation of the DnL servers, and in mid-2008 the servers came
down and the game quietly ceased to operate. No announcements, no
In retrospect, maybe it was unwise to bank on a game being developed by
a company located on a tiny
island in the Indian Ocean...
Approximately two years have passed, and most DnL followers have given
up hope on ever hearing from this apparently-deceased title again. But
it seems that the few who have hung onto their memories and hopes are
about to be rewarded. Chinese developer Snail Game recently announced at the 2010ChinaJoy event
that Dark and Light
would be joining their future line up of games, though with a drastically
as well as significant technical improvements.
No launch date is currently available, and there is no word on
international availability outside of China.