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Great Licenses, Great MMOs

Wednesday, May 10, 2006, 10:55AM EST

"There's lots of great licenses out there, but very few of them would ever make a good MMO," Eugene Evans, vice president of marketing for Mythic, says. "Warhammer is a great license, a great license for an MMO. It is, in itself, a community-driven property. It's a product that pulls people together to play."

Warhammer Online brings the popular, almost 25-year-old tabletop and pen-and-paper game to PCs. The game brings a massive six-race conflict to life, with greenskins--orcs and goblins--battling dwarves, elves fighting dark elves, and the forces of the empire battling chaos. "War is everywhere," Evans says. "Everything about the game, from the design of the quests, from what your character does from the moment he steps into the game is all about war being everywhere."

The game will have 33 zones when it launches in 2007, with each of the three major conflicts taking up 11 apiece. It will be possible for any player, however, to venture outside of his conflict to fight new enemies, allowing for an elf take part in a human campaign and so forth. In addition, the game will have a host of different quest types, including ones internally called "Christmas quests" that require travel but are also quick, easy, and lead to a large monetary reward. "An example of one of these that we've written right now," Destin Bales, the game's content director, says, "is a goblin wolf rider is sitting out there, way off the beaten path. When you find him, he tells you his wolf is starving, that he'll do anything to feed his wolf--he'd give his right arm. So you kill the goblin, take his arm, feed it to the wolf, and get a lot of money for it. What we want to do with these is to encourage people to go out and explore the world, but not because they have to."

It's a buccaneer's world after all when Disney Online releases Pirates of the Caribbean Online. The PC game, which is being made by Disney's VR Studios, will see release this summer, the date to coincide with the release of the film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Grog-friendly and parrot-laden sea dogs can band together to sail ships, bury treasure, and battle undead pirates.

Turbine and Midway have Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar on tap for 2006. Here, players will take the role of the good guys (elves, dwarves, hobbits, men), fighting against the many and persistent forces of the dark lord Sauron. Would-be world saviors can participate as champions, guardians, captain, minstrels, hunters, burglars, and lore-masters, with each class having its own inclinations and weak spots. In addition, sites mentioned in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series will be included in Angmar, and players can expect, say, to trudge through the Barrow Downs mentioned by Tom Bombadil in Fellowship of the Ring.

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