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Jul 14, 2005



Some speculation I heard was that with Imperator looking more and more like Warhammer 40,000, Mythic might be planning to get Warhammer done and then turn Imperator in to a Warhammer 40K game.


An additional bummer here is that the newbie world in Imperator was named Terra Nova -- I'm sure it wasn't a tribute to us, but it was a cool serendipity nonetheless...


On a complete tangent, Marvel and Microsoft have announced a deal for a superhero-based MMOG to be developed for the Xbox 360. Story is at Newsarama.com.


Imperator was sounding like one of the most original projects in development. RIP, I guess. Too many of the original ones die.


Too bad, *Imperator* was a very cool project, and very well thought out. (Short pitch: alternate history where the Roman Empire never fell.)

Gee, all that great IP just sitting there on some servers, with no place to go now. I wonder if there's some user-created 3D online world out there where some Mythic folks could try re-building their MMO, and still retain their IP rights over all the assets? Hmmmmm....


I'd say that the Imperator concept really didn't do anything for me and I MUCH prefer MMOs to any other time of gaming experience (not sure why I still do since every one has failed to live up to my hopes)...


Ditto Artheos, a roman empire based game seemed thematically limited to me. They'd have been better off with an open ended fantasy game. Just how much can you scale 'Roman' content?


Mythic Entertainment to Postpone Production of "IMPERATOR" MMORPG (July 13, 2005)

Company to focus development on "Warhammer" MMORPG and "Dark Age of Camelot"

The news release on the Mythic website does say "postpone" as opposed to "cancel", although the quote from Mr. Jacobs in that release is less than encouraging. It's legitimate to suspect whether they will ever get around to "un-postponing" it, I suppose, but the two words do mean different things.

The little I've been able to find on specifics about the game does makes me lament it's delay/demise. The description of the combat system at MMORPG.com, for example, sounded intriguing.


It's always possible that this was a cost-cutting gesture and we'll see layoffs down the road, or that it was just about avoiding product confusion between the Warhammer license and the Imperator design, but I'm inclined to take what Jacobs says more or less at face value. Which I think makes this something to celebrate: a developer looked at a design that was too far down the road to really change the fundamentals and said, "Meh. This sucks. Let's toss it in the garbage". That's good. I can think of at least three major MMOGs where I wish the developers had pulled the plug when it was clear they'd screwed the pooch.


That could not have been an easy decision; the game seemed pretty far along, and Mythic of course realizes that any substantial postponement turns into an expensive overhaul to catch up with the competition. The technology and graphics arms race eats its dead, after all.

Although I'm not sure of the mass appeal of Imperator's IP, I'm all for variety. We're all aware of the glut of elves-in-tights MMOGs, and it looks like we'll have a showdown between three superhero titles in a couple of years (four if you count City of Villains separately from CoH).


With DAOC tanking, I think Mythic really didn't have much choice. They just don't have the resources to develop Imperator and Warhammer at the same time. Warhammer has a much larger potential audience and is a logical replacement for DAoC, so it just makes sense for them to divert their remaining DAoC revenue stream to Warhammer development before it dries up.


I was much more excited about the possibility that the Mayans were getting some play in an MMO. Even though it felt like they would be presented as villains of a sort, their culture represents a fascinating counterpoint to our Greco-Roman inspired civilization that we live in today.



"Warhammer has a much larger potential audience...."

Eh, not sure of that -- at least the "much larger" part. Warhammer games have never been hot sellers on the PC and there's no telling how many Warhammer miniatures fans will want to play a PC game.

I agree with the idea that Mythic may not have had the resources to do both Imperator and Warhammer and continue to make content for DAoC so something had to be cut. It also wouldn't help Mythic to put out a lackluster game, even if it did generate additional revenue.

I also wonder how much of Imperator's "no-PvP" design may have had to do with it? At the time Imperator was announced, making a 100% PvE game didn't seem like a bad idea. Now the market seems to expect MMOs to have some kind of PvP.


I confess to having acquired a little bit of inside information on this, which is probably worse than none at all.

My sources indicate that Mythic was not pleased with Imperator as a game. They had been making system design changes (such as overhauling the character class and advancement system), and probably were planning more. When a game is well into the "production" phase, it's a red flag if "pre-production" system designs are being changed. You immediately worry about the cascading effects of root design changes on animations, equipment, mob spawning and teaming behaviors, etc. In short, you'll probably be redoing a lot of expensive work if you let the production phase continue while core systems are changing.

My sources also indicate that Mythic was struggling to find or hire all the resources needed for two major MMORPG development teams, plus maintaining the DAoC team. Taken together, it was just good business all around to halt Imperator. That allowed Warhammer online to move forward without all the problems associated with massive hiring, while at the same time not risk further money in Imperator until the design issues were resolved.


That sounds plausible, Arnold. And also speaks of a mature organization facing the realities of large game development.


> Timothy Burke wrote:
> I can think of at least three major MMOGs
> where I wish the developers had pulled the
> plug when it was clear they'd screwed the pooch.

I can't stand it. I tried to resist asking, but I cannot.

Which three?

As for the decision itself: I can't help but think DAoC losing about half its players over the last year is a major reason they cannot do both. That is an enormous loss of revenue.


My sources also indicate that Mythic was struggling to find or hire all the resources needed for two major MMORPG development teams, plus maintaining the DAoC team.

I confess to being curious. What types of resources were they having trouble locating, and what qualifications/restrictions were being applied?

As someone who has 20 years experience in development outside the gaming industry (way outside, apparently :) ), and an long-term interest in breaking in (but no luck so far in doing so), I'm interested in what is being searched for.

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