Hey there, fellow gamers, and welcome to this week’s edition of MMO Weekly.  In this week’s installment, we’ll do a lot of poking around.  We’ll poke into games thought long dead, games that maybe should be dead, and games that simply refuse to die.  Of course, as we go along, we’ll poke fun at pretty much everything we see.  It’s part of the fun. 

    The big story this week sprang upon us out of the Games Developers’ Conference.  Korean developer Webzen had a rather impressive display at which they showed off the long delayed, seldom seen, and rumoured dead MMOFPS Huxley. 

    Huxley is a futuristic shooter, with a significant number of MMO aspects incorporated into the game.  The fact that Huxley was even mentioned at the GDC was shocking enough: up until this point in time, “Huxley” has been practically considered a synonym for “vapourware”.  Hell, the game is practically considered the Korean cousin of Duke Nukem Forever.  Nevertheless, Huxley was on display for all to see at the GDC, and it’s evident that Webzen has been working, quietly and (evidently) quite hard on the game.

    We got a chance to play Huxley waaaay back at E3 in 2006.  The backstory in the game was much more vague; the graphics were good, but not fantastic; the idea that the game would be playable on both PCs and the 360 was innovative, but not earth-shattering.  Quite frankly, the game was simply a shooter.  A fun shooter, to be sure, but nothing truly exceptional.  It was also a popular shooter, as the Webzen booth was full of people playing Huxley. 

    The game struck me, at the time, as being a lot like Unreal Tournament.  More than most of the other shooters I was familiar with, it just had a UT ‘feel’ to it.  It was all run-and-gun, fast paced action.  I returned to the Webzen booth several times at E3 to play Huxley. 

    The game had a few oddities about it, both at E3 and as time went on.  To be honest, I couldn’t find any evidence of the existence of any MMO aspects to the game, though Webzen assured us they existed.  The fact that PC players and 360 players would coexist was interesting, but the details of how that would work out were nonexistent.  It was a futuristic MMO, and the background story was supposed to be somehow important; for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what the background story even was.  Even more vague were Webzen’s reps when it came to a release window – that information was simply unavailable.  What’s more, I played a number of shooters at that E3: Quake Wars, a vaguely remembered  iteration of UT, and Battlefield 2142, among others.  Every single one of those games has come and, to a large extent, gone by now.  Huxley was the one game that never launched.  It simply disappeared. 

    Now Huxley has reemerged, and everything that was generic about the game is highly refined and, apparently, very sharp.  The graphics are fine tuned and look great.  The interface looks very good, the characters look sharp, and action is fast and fun.  The world has a retro-futuristic feel to it; kind of like some elements from Fallout, mashed up with some from BioShock, and then some Blade Runner thrown in.  More than anything else, however, the game is actually beginning to look like an MMO.

    The game takes place in a dystopian future.  A planet-wide cataclysm has left the world devastated.  Two races of human descendants have emerged from this holocaust, the sapiens and the alternatives.  The sapiens are a technologically advanced race of humans with “pure” bloodlines.  The alternatives are larger, muscular mutants, altered by the cataclysm.  Other NPC races – not fully understood at this juncture – also exist.  The hatred the sapiens feel, both for the alternatives as well as many of the NPC races, is the impetus for the ongoing conflict featured in Huxley.{PAGE TITLE=MMO Weekly 04/07 Continued}

    First, you choose a side, sapiens or alternatives, and then you choose a character class. So far, that appears to be either a light, a medium, or a heavy kind of soldier.  You customise his appearance and, as he levels up, his skills.  The game consists of a series of battlegrounds, against either NPCs, or against the other side.  As your side gains territory, you gain additional advantages.  As you level up, you unlock new skills.  The game is twitch-based, which means that there are no hidden, number crunching mechanics at play.  If you aim well, you’ll hit your target.  If you don’t, having the Uberblaster of the Vorpal Void won’t do you a bit of good. 

    Judge for yourselves. A lengthy walkthrough of the game can be found here, and it gives you a very solid feel for what’s in store when Huxley finally releases.

    In complete contrast to Huxley, it seems that a game that was both highly anticipated and thought to be very much alive may, in fact, be dead.  Of course we’re talking about Stargate Worlds.  We wrote about this in a prior issue of MMO Weekly: the symptoms of the game’s impending demise are all there.  The developer  hasn’t paid their employees since before Christmas, they’re being sued for unpaid bills, they haven’t released any significant information about the game for months, and they can’t get something as simple as PR right, even when it would benefit them to do so. 

    Now it seems that someone very close to the Stargate IP is wondering what’s going on as well.  A producer for the television series, Brad Wright, was recently asked about the game, and his response was telling.  “We don’t know,” he said bluntly.  “It’s a shame. If it doesn’t happen — and, let’s be honest, it should be happening now if it was happening. It’s a shame. It’s a terrible shame.”

    The bottom line is that no one knows what’s going on over at Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment, the developer behind Stargate Worlds.  Is the game dead?  Is Cheyenne going out of business?  Will the IP to Stargate Worlds be sold?  We’d love to know, and Cheyenne is, for the time being, being very tight-lipped about this highly anticipated MMO.

    Finally, we have information about the MMO that no one is actually talking about, Copernicus.  38 Studios has some big-name talent working on Copernicus, that much is clear.  Of course, that big name talent is famous for doing a wide variety of things unrelated to gaming.  Playing baseball, for example.  Or doing comic book art.  Or writing fantasy books.  There are also some folks involved that may have worked, in one capacity or other, on other MMOs.  Trust me when I tell you that you’ve never once heard of those folks in your whole life, no matter how hardcore an MMO fanboy you are, but we hear that at least some of those folks are working on the game, too. 

    Can a baseball player, a comic book artist, and an author make a great MMO?  We sure don’t know, because 38 Studios has a looooong track record of refusing to discuss their game.  Don’t get me wrong, they love to give interviews and presentations, during which the panelists or interviewees talk primarily about themselves.  That’s a subject they find endlessly fascinating, and they think you should, too.  Well, this week we got another fine example of that kind of thing, when Curt Schilling, the founder of 38 Studios, announced his retirement from baseball during the Games Developers Conference.  Why Curt announced his retirement from sports, then granted interviews on the subject at a video games conference is simply one of the ongoing narcissistic mysteries that 38 Studios provides us every month or two. 

    Will we ever learn about Copernicus?  Who knows.  Unfortunately, like so many others, as 38 Studios continues to waste everyones’ time with this kind of endlessly self-absorbed drivel, I find that I’m beginning to not care.    

    And on that happy note, fellow game geeks, we bring this week’s edition of MMO Weekly to a close.  For now, ciao!

    Paul Younger
    Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Founder of the world's first gaming cafe and Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.

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