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The Perfect Ten: The sadistic shopper's list for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Fury, RF Online, The Matrix Online, Hellgate: London, Tabula Rasa, All Points Bulletin, Humor, Promotions, Perfect Ten

With the holiday shopping season upon us, gamers are hot for great deals and cheap entertainment. As my wife's logic goes, if something is 80% off, you buy it, even if you didn't really want it in the first place. It's the principle of the thing, an automatic 80% dose of smug satisfaction at being a savvy shopper!

Not every deal should be pursued, however. Although most video games are playable for years and decades after release, not so with MMOs that have had their service shuttered. It's recently come to my attention that even though these games are completely unplayable -- rendered nothing more than a few cents' worth of a DVD and cardboard packaging -- online retailers haven't kept up with the times and keep these products on the virtual shelves long past their expiration dates.

That's not to say you should avoid these products at all cost, because studies show that a large percentage of Massively readers have a sick and twisted sense of humor. What would make a better gift this Christmas than a multi-million-dollar-budget MMO that died a horrible death years before?

So don't be the typical gifter who settles for a Blu-ray player or an iPod -- give a package of misery, disillusionment and broken dreams! Hit the jump for 10 items that absolutely belong in your shopping cart if you wish to be feared!

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Behind the Curtain: Take a look back

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Fury, Culture, Events (In-Game), Expansions, Game Mechanics, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, Warhammer Online, Opinion, Tabula Rasa, Behind the Curtain

Brace yourself for the obligatory 'New Year' post. I'd resolve to lose weight, tone up and be kinder to my fellow man, but I'd be lying. Not because I'm weak and won't follow through on them, but because I don't need to. I'm practically perfect in every way.

Except not really. I'm lying. I also hate Mary Poppins with a cold, implacable hatred. But that's neither here nor there.

It's been a year of ups and downs in the MMO world. We've seen World of Warcraft go from strength to strength with an expansion pack which knocked the socks off of Burning Crusade. Say what you will about Blizzard, but it's always good to see a company that's willing and able to learn not only from its past mistakes, but its past successes. We've seen the long-awaitied launch of Warhammer Online, but we've also seen some downers, with Tabula Rasa going down the tubes, and Fury falling over. Although, not as many people were upset about Fury, given that it was terrible from start to finish.

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Are all MMOs just extended vaporware?

Fantasy, Horror, Fury, MMO Industry, Opinion, Hellgate: London

Massively multiplayer online games can be a difficult industry to break into and succeed. For every Blizzard or Sony Online Entertainment, there are several smaller companies brimming with ideas about how to inject change into the MMO market. Some succeed by breaking from the World of Warcraft paradigm. Most do not.

Writer James Matson writes about these titles that begin full of promise but ultimately meet a chilly reception by MMO gamers, in an article at Atomic. He touches on the fact that the sometimes high price of the box sale paired with monthly MMO fees, sustained over some months, leads to some serious disappointment when the MMO fails and the servers go dark. Matson specifically cites the examples of Auran's Fury and (what is currently Namco-Bandai's) Hellgate: London. "This would appear to the be the first tendrils of a new kind of gaming plague that's arrived with MMOs, games that can be rendered useless due to mismanagement, poor sales or just bad luck," Matson writes.

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Fury MMO shuts down

Fury, Business Models, Events (Real-World), Forums, MMO Industry, PvP, Server downtime, News Items, Free-to-Play

It has happened again. Another MMO with a unique idea is shutting its doors for good. Sadly enough, it's not the first and won't be the last. According to the official announcement made today in the forums, Fury has reached their time limit for finding a solution to keep the servers open. Since no solution has been found, the servers and website will be shut down in 48 hours from the time of the announcement. Interestingly enough, they say they've also informed all stores more than a month ago to remove the boxes from their shelves, and plan to refund all purchases made within the last month.

We wish the Fury developers and everyone at Auran the best of luck with future products. It's a highly competitive market out there for MMOs, and you did your best.

The Daily Grind: Which MMO has the best combat?

At a glance, Age of Conan, Fury, Game Mechanics, PvP, PvE, Opinion, The Daily Grind

The upcoming release of Age of Conan has brought this question farther into the light, with its foray into real-time battle. Sure, there have been others -- the late, not-so-lamented Fury being a great example -- that have tried to redefine what MMO combat can be like, but many games are content to offer the tried-and-true click to attack model, with slight variations.

When it comes to fighting in games, surely the biggest defining factor is, or should be, "Is it exciting?" Given that singular criterion, then, which game has the best combat? Which one gets your blood racing? Which MMO really lets you, as the kids used to say, throw down?

Games that shouldn't be MMOs

Fury, Culture, Game Mechanics, New Titles, PvP, Opinion, Humor

Here's a corollary post to an earlier story. Our cousin site, Cinematical, has brought teh funneh with a post about which board games would make awful movies. In that spirit, we now present to you a list of games that would make terrible MMOs, in no particular order.

Please note that these are merely our particular opinions, and we're not saying that a cleverer-than-thou developer couldn't make a great MMO out of these games ... but for reasons we'll state here, it's highly unlikely. Then again, sometimes the best-sounding ideas turn out some awful games themselves (*cough* Fury *cough*), so it all evens out. Excelsior!

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Auran wants to make you their bitch

Fury, Business Models

John Romero and Mike Wilson might be indulging in increasingly childish verbal fisticuffs over the famous "John Romero's about to make you his bitch!" advertisement, but all of that testosterone-laden scuffling kind of glosses over the fact that antagonizing and belittling your players is not a great way to gain a solid following. Especially if your players are over ten years old.

Well, according to Signe at F13, Auran (or whoever's really in back of the game Fury these days - funnily enough it appears to be Mike Wilson's Gamecock) wants you to suck it down and stop being such a shameful girly loser in what has to be one of the outright worst MMO incentive emails I've seen so far, endearingly titled "LOSER! LOSER! LLLOOOOSSSSEEEERRRRR!"

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Fury receives a positive review for a change

Fantasy, Fury, PvP, Reviews

Before everyone permanently erases the memory of Fury from their minds, you may want to check out TechDomain's review for the other side of the story. They've written what they say is "a fair review that accurately reflects the state of the game". The game has not received much praise from the media, but TechDomain's review paints it in a much more positive light, and also includes input from a few vocal community members from Fury's forums.

In the end, their verdict of the game is that it needs polish and has a lot of minor cons that may deter new players from sticking around, but "the core game is functioning and functioning well". If after checking out the review you'd like to decide for yourself whether Fury is worth playing, keep in mind that the basic version of the game is now totally free to play.

My 2008 MMO hopes and wishes

Fantasy, Real-Life, Sci-Fi, Fury, Pirates of the Burning Sea, MMO Industry, Pirates of the Caribbean Online, Opinion, Second Life, Mythos, Massively Meta, Virtual Worlds, All Points Bulletin

2007 was an incredible year for MMOs, with tons of updates to existing games and a benign rash of new titles as well. I'm not much for predictions, but I'll tell you what I'm hoping for in 2008, since you all asked so nicely:

Blizzard to out-Diablo Mythos with their new MMO -- Let's face it, playing Mythos is ten kinds of fun, and most of that fun revolves around the type of gameplay that the original Diablo invented, and Diablo II refined. Mythos currently fills the gaping void left behind by Blizzard's continuing not to update the Diablo universe with a new game, but wouldn't you like to see it done up properly?

Google to provide some real competition for Linden Lab -- Right now, Second Life is the only cat of its breed, and it's snoozing in the sun. The ability for users to create their own content is arguably SL's biggest draw, and it's fueled many careers, but the interface issues, rolling restarts, updates that fix things only to break other things, and age verification problems leave me wanting someone to learn from these mistakes and bring us something better. We know Google's working on something ... here's hoping it's a Third Life.

A new genre
-- So far, we've had Fantasy MMOs rule the day, with Science Fiction a close second, and a hodgepodge of other titles kind of experimenting with concepts a little bit. And pirates. But I'm looking for something new. Something that combines my love of cryptography with Cthulhu, perhaps. Or something that lets me relive my days playing cops and robbers. Whatever it is, this is the year to strike!

Resolutions? Hmm. I guess I resolve to keep playing those smaller MMOs and telling you what I think of them, and trying not to be too dismissive of those I find lacking. Ooh, that's gonna be difficult -- I'm quite fond of the snark, I am. What are your New Year's MMO hopes and wishes?

Fury still being sold in retail outlets, but who's buying it?

Fantasy, Fury, Business Models, Forums, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play

There's a forum post at atomicmpc.com that involves itself with the fact that Fury is still being sold in retail outlets (Electronics Boutique specifically named, though apparently there are others), when the game is free to download and free to play. As written here, though, it's not quite so cut-and-dried, as there is a slight benefit to owning the physical disc.

My question, however, is this: given the depth of negative press Auran has gotten for Fury, is it worth paying for at all? Across the board, Fury's gotten nothing but horrible reviews, and I'm surprised the game exists at all. This is an industry story on the level of Duke Nukem Forever, or Daikatana. Is the disc worth owning for any reason other than a White Elephant gift?

Former Auran producer defends staff, management

Fury, MMO Industry, Opinion

By the power of Grayskull!The entire Auran staff may have been let go earlier this week, but former Producer David Gillespie has a post up on his personal blog that defends Auran's staff, and the decisions made by management. This is the "Game flopped and the entire team was laid off, but the staff were the best!" law -- a far too frequent occurrence in the gaming industry. This law works in opposites, too. Sid Meier eats babies.

David Gillespie left Auran long before it went into administration, but he obviously had a lot of respect for everyone there. I didn't know Auran were the same developers responsible for 90's RTS classic Dark Reign, though. And there's an industry lesson to learn from this -- no matter how talented your team, how great your working environment, how successful your studio has been up till now -- if you make a commercial MMO that's a failure, you're in a whole world of trouble.

Maybe now that Fury is free, I should download it just to see what it was really like-- but on second thoughts, I think I'll pass for now.

[Via warcry.com]

Auran goes into voluntary administration, entire staff let go

Fury, Business Models, Economy, MMO Industry, News Items

Sad news for the Australian games industry. GameSpot has the scoop on Auran, the Aussie developers of Fury, going into voluntary administration (meaning an independent and qualified party will take complete control of the company to attempt to resolve financial difficulties in the best manner possible). From here, subject to a meeting with the company's creditors, they will either be restructured or liquidated. But one thing is a certainty: all staff members, nearly 70 employees, have been laid off.

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Fury introduces free-to-play option

Fantasy, Fury, Business Models, Economy, Patches, Free-to-Play

Auran and Gamecock Media Group have made a press release announcing that a new free-to-download and free-to-play option for Fury will be available with the upcoming "Age of the Chosen" content update on December 14th. Those downloading the game for free (known as "Chosen") will be able to play as much as they want and not be charged anything, but will earn essence and gold at a reduced rate, and cannot trade with other players.

Chosen players can purchase gold with real-life money, or pay to upgrade their account to "Hero" status and earn more gold and essence and have trading privileges. Buying Fury from a retail store will now give you a Hero status account straight away. The Age of the Chosen update will also introduce a 1v1 Elimination mode, and a Carnage mode that involves two teams slaughtering NPC bots and not each other.

The changes to Fury's business model come amidst recent doubts about the game's future -- which were later quelled by Auran CEO Tony Hilliam -- and a painful reception from critics.

[Via GameSpot]

Scott Jennings on how to make PvP not suck

World of Warcraft, Fury, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP

haha u died lolJust in case any of us design a PvP ruleset for a massively multiplayer online game, Scott Jennings has helpfully posted a 13-step guide to "PvP done right" on his personal blog, BrokenToys.org.

It's a potent mixture of common sense, personal opinion, and thousands upon thousands disagreeing that classes are needed. It's a great primer, aphorisms or not, and written wonderfully. Put simply, PvP in a game needs to work -- if it's an impossible concept or impossible to implement, nothing else matters. Personally, I'd go as far as to say the simpler the concept, the better the execution -- of course, that's a huge sweeping statement, but be it Team Fortress 2 or World of Warcraft or Chess, the depth doesn't come from the rules, it comes from the implementation. Except Cricket.

All decisions will upset someone. It's just about having a realistic, well-defined goal for PvP in your game and going from there -- and accepting that there will always be an awful lot of criticism, rage, and Fury.

Fury not dead, just on life-support

Fury, Business Models, MMO Industry

Last week we reported on a widespread rumor that, due to Fury's commercial flop, Australian developer Auran was going to be the subject of a big lay-off, and that a significant chunk of Fury's development going forward was going to be out-sourced to China. Auran CEO Tony Hilliam recently addressed these concerns, and his comments were posted on Auran's official forum.

While promising to revolutionize the way PvP in MMOs works, critics have lampooned the game for its muddled combat, and the fact that it only loosely qualifies as an MMO in the strictest sense. Interestingly, though Hilliam tries to take an upbeat tone in his remarks, he really doesn't deny any of rumors he claims to be debunking, saying, "The future will focus on a smaller, more agile core team of Fury developers." That's fairly transparent executive speak for "all non-essential personnel are being laid off." He also confirmed rumors that much of the future development is being out-sourced to China.

Perhaps the only solace for these non-essential Auran developers is that neighboring Aussie developer Tantalus is looking to snatch a few of them up to help develop DS and Wii titles. That's at least one bit oh holiday kindness, amidst a pile of bad news.

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