Kicking this website off to a start, we at MMOCrunch will begin a weekly series entitled “Before the Now”, where in, we will be taking a look at various MMORPGs and how they have evolved from their past into what we see today. Usually, in most games, only minor changes have taken affect but other times you’ll get a game that has completely changed everything, even the developer/publisher. One such game is Warhammer Online.
Warhammer Online was not always being developed by the DAoC-famed Mythic Entertainment. Before Mythic the game was being developed by Climax Online and published by Sega. It was quite a different game back then having promised features that most MMORPGs still do not have.
Starting development in 2004, Climax took some bold steps to differentiate their newly acquired IP from other like-minded fantasy MMOs such as Everquest 2 and World of Warcraft, both of which were months from release. The game was promising the ability to play as a total of 5 different races (Human, Elves, Orcs, Dwarves, and Halflings), and almost 100 different careers. There were NO levels planned for this game, everything was to be based off the skills of your chosen career. Should you decide to switch careers, you could, and you could keep using those skills from that previous career too. Neat idea huh? Too bad its never been carried over to other games.
Their PVP system was proving to be rather unique as well. Unlike the current Mythic rendition of the game this one was not promising any realm vs realm PVP. No they were developing something completely unique, which I’ve decided to term career vs career PVP. You see, the game was being developed so that most, if not all, careers had an equal opposing career (witch, witchhunter). These career characters, if they saw the other on the field, could attack eachother. No matter where they were; town, castle, cave, they were open to PVP. Such careers being planned for this were the Bandit and City Guard careers, as well as the Priest and Cultist careers. In addition to this style of PVP the game was planned to include the usual all-out PVP areas of the map as well as a more traditional dueling PVP-mode (like WoW).
Unfortunately, this game never really made it passed its’ first year in developement. GamesWorkshop (owner of the IP) decided to pull its funding from Climax in June of 2004. Climax attempted to go it alone with its’ own funds for a while but it eventually closed down for good in late 2004 due to trouble in securing a publishing agreement, presumedly with Sega.
On May 18th, 2005 Mythic and GamesWorkshop secured a deal that would allow Mythic to recreate the MMO franchise from scratch and now we have the game the is currently being developed with a release date scheduled for early 08′. The original game had a lot of fresh ideas, and although were probably not ideal for the Warhammer world they could have definitely been used to spark up interest in a new IP. Unfortunately that never happened and Climax is now back to developing console-specific games.
Come back next week when we take a long look though the history of Tabula Rasa. The game that went from a hardcore fantasy MMORPG to a casual Sci-Fi MMORPG.