Nuclear Holocaust Is Awful Popular Today

Zomg! Run!

Zomg! Run!

Who knew the end of the world was so popular? Ever since Doom ignited a fury of scandal decades ago, the concept of surviving in the remnants of a society decimated by war has been a persistent game genre. From Fallout to Duke Nukem, Bioshock to S.T.A.L.K.E.R, Resident Evil to World in Conflict…you get the idea. Developers love playing with our fears about a post-apocalyptic world.

The latest contender is Fallen Earth.

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Not content to just be another “Fallout” knock-off, Fallen Earth LLC and Icarus Studios LLC are trying to beat secret project “V13” (mentioned earlier today in my blog) by becoming the first MMO set in a terrible future. According to the official Fallen Earth website:
Fallen Earth is a massively multiplayer online game mixing first-person shooter style action with traditional role-playing game design.
Set near the Grand Canyon in 2156 after a deadly plague wiped out most of humanity, the game features six factions, a classless advancement system and a unique crafting feature in which players can make 95 percent of game items.
With 70 towns, real-time settings and interesting character modifications—woven together in a post-Apocalyptic plot—Fallen Earth provides ultimate player-versus-player and player-versus-environment experiences.
Where will you stand in the fight for Fallen Earth?

Game Informer Online was able to get the inside scoop last week at the GDC. Their in depth article is available here. Go read it. I’ll wait.

So Fallen Earth is what you get if you mixed the tv show Jericho with the Fallout franchise and add a dash of Tanith Lee’s “Biting the Sun“. (On a side note, both Jericho and Biting the Sun are excellent and should be tried ^_^ )

With the exception of EVE Online, the MMO genre is in sore need of more diversity and Fallen Earth certainly fits the bill. But…honestly I’d probably be more excited about this if I hadn’t already blogged about the possibility of a Fallout MMO looming the future. This just seems like a case of getting Snorks instead of Smurfs, you know?

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Back to Vault 13: Fallout MMO In The Works

project_v13

Not is so many words of course. Interplay and and Masthead Studios aren’t just going to come out with trumpets and scream “FALLOUT MMO OVER HERE!” But the pieces are pretty easy to put together.

First there is the press release today, announcing Interplay (creator of the Fallout IP) has signed a binding contract with developer Masthead Studios to work together on a project codenamed V13. Interplay has been working on the game since 2007 and Masthead agreed to come on board, saying:

“This arrangement is ideal because it leverages the technology our professionals have specifically built for advanced Massively Multiplayer Online Games into what we expect will be a groundbreaking Interplay gaming title.”

Now hold on you say. If they didn’t flat out SAY they’re working on a Fallout MMO, what makes you think that? Glad you asked.

A little digging around in the News section of Interplay’s website brings up this little gem from back in September of 2008 (bits in bold are for emphasis only):

The company also announced that Chris Taylor, a game designer who was a part of the original Fallout game development team at Interplay in 1994, has rejoined the company. Taylor will serve as Lead System Designer for “Project V13,” the working title of Interplay’s next generation Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMO) currently in development. Taylor joins other original Fallout team members on staff at Interplay’s internal game studio, which recently opened an office in Irvine, Calif. Additional development staff members continue to be hired as the project ramps-up.

One of those other “original Fallout team members” was Jason Anderson; one of the co-creators of the original Fallout game. Though in March of 2009, Anderson abandoned the Interplay project to work as Creative Director for inXile Entertainment.

On top of that, V13 seems like an extremely shoddy codename. It’s like making your password ‘swordfish’; anyone with any pop culture ties could figure it out. Vault 13 was the name of the vault that you (the Vault dweller) appeared from in the original Fallout game.

The original Vault 13.

The original Vault 13.

And with Fallout 3 selling so well, the iron is hot to strike with a MMO. That and the MMO genre is practically begging for a WoW like title that doesn’t take place in a high fantasy setting. Or maybe it’s just me begging for that. Hard to tell.

The only real snag now is that Bethseda (the makers of Fallout 3) currently own all the rights to the Fallout IP. With neither Interplay or Masthead Studios being associated with them, how are they able to work on this title? Maybe it’s all a huge red herring and the MMO is a new game. Internet sources (I know, Google is not the best source but its all I got) say that when Interplay sold the rights to Bethseda, they left in a clause.

While Bethesda now owns the rights to the Fallout MMO IP, clauses in the purchase agreement allow Interplay to license the rights to the development of the MMO.

With all things said and done, until a marketing rep makes an official announcement, everything anyone says (including me) is pure conjecture. But you have to admit, the circumstantial evidence is there.  Getting to kill irradiated ants and making friends with ghouls (or BEING one) online in the near future is tantalizing.

For more information, check out the user created Project V13 FAQ.

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