Ensemble Talks MMO Plans on Next Generation concludes their whirlwind tour
of Dallas by talking with Ensemble Studios, learning from executive producer
Patrick Hudson that the developer is investigating expansion into the massively
multiplayer marketplace, though nothing is certain at this point:
idea was proposed to Ensemble right after Ultima Online came out. 'Why don't we
do an MMO?' At the time, Ensemble was in no position to be thinking about it.
But Fischer persisted ever since.
"After we shipped Age III," Hudson says, "We started diving up the studio to do
more games than we've ever done, and get beyond Age of Empires." A small team
was put around Fischer to start working on a prototype.
"And that's where those guys still are." Hudson says. "A pretty small group,
just noodling away on ideas, a long way away from anything substantive and
shipping anything, that's for sure. But it's fun to explore."
"It's always been a risky kind of market to look at." Hudson admits. "And then
you see WoW come out, and turn the industry on its head, and you start to
reevaluate. 'Wait a minute, there's a true business case out for a game like
"Maybe it's not crazy to go spend thirty or forty million bucks to actually make
one of these things." Hudson points out, "At some point, they'll get tired of
WoW and want to play something else."
"We haven't settled on anything," Hudson cautions. "It's safe to say we won't
be chasing the fantasy genre. It seems like there are so many coming out.
[We're] still pretty far out from even thinking of taking that prototype to a
As for monthly subscription fees: "Yeah, I think that's the business model we
mostly believe in," Hudson says. "There could be things that come along and
change our mind, but there's a lot of people trying different things... If
anything, WoW is charging too little, not too much."
#5 - Best game idea evar. You could call it "Game Online Developer!", or GOD for the all important acronym. Then when your friends ask what you are doing, you could say "I'm playing GOD." Which isn't all that far from the truth...