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Blacksmiths of Intellectual Property: The Rise of Originality in MMOs - Page 7

Updated Mon, Jun 08, 2009 by Cody Bye

So will the use of horribly limiting IPs to create MMOs ever disappear? Probably not. Internet MMO communities are constantly creating lists of the "best untapped properties," which leads to even more fascination with the development of MMOs in known worlds. With worlds like those found in Harry Potter, the Wheel of Time, the Malazan Book of the Fallen, the Forgotten Realms, Dune, Pokemon, and so many others, we will always have development studios striving to find the sweet spot that really calls to MMO gamers.

In an almost laugh-inducing moment, while I was writing this article, I found a piece of information that was truly intriguing. Ironically, the first true graphics-based MMO was actually developed around a licensed IP. The original Neverwinter Nights (available on the early AOL) found its way onto store shelves due to the fact it was based on the Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying game. With a foundation built squarely on the back of a licensed IP, these MMO blacksmiths have certainly come a long way in stretching the minds of gamers into realms that are not only perfect for MMO gaming, but also full of ways for gamers to become the hero.

To end this article, I’ll let your panel of developers give you their closing comments. As my final question to the panel of developers, I asked them all what they’d like to tell the gaming public about original IPs. I’ll let the developers speak for themselves.

Steve Danuser:

Making an original IP from the ground up is not for the faint of heart. [Developers] need a strong guiding vision and a talented team capable of turning that vision into something tangible. [The team should] identify the pillars that the IP is built upon and use those as a razor to determine which ideas fit and which need to be cut away. Most of all, remember that there is no detail too small to ignore. Attention to detail is what separates excellence from mediocrity.

April Burba:

Play more games! The original IP you play today may be the Halo of tomorrow.

Erling Ellingsen:

Embrace them. Give them a try. To me, games are sort of like wine. There are several well-established brands, and whenever I sit down for a nice meal at a restaurant I have to admit I often go for that Chardonnay I always enjoy. Sometimes, though, it can be hugely rewarding to try something new, something I've never heard of, and suddenly the whole bottle is gone! It's the same with games – often there comes a long something that you've never heard of before, but then you decide to give it a try and you end up playing it into the wee hours of the morning.

David Allen:

Everything at one point or another was original IP. It all has to come from somewhere. What happens when we simply sublet all of our future products based on the focused creations of others? We lose our sense of creativity and innovation IMO. Don't get me wrong; you can take other IP and do something unique with it, but that's more the exception than the rule. At the same time, there's nothing wrong with taking something people like and giving them a way to experience it in a whole new way. But creating something people have never experienced before also has its value.

Nathan Knaack:


We would like to remind the general gaming public that some properties are easily converted into online games, but some are not. Instant recognition brings with it the shackles of cannon.  Global Agenda, on the other hand, was built from the ground up to be an enthralling, entertaining, and rewarding experience for its players, not an homage to finicky fans of some existing intellectual property.

However, we do reserve the right to contradict everything we just said in this interview in the indeterminate future, singing the virtues of using well-developed, existing IPs if we ever announce Global Agenda 2!

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