Firefly MMO: Hopes & Fears

So there's a Firefly MMO coming. It could be fantastic, or it could be terrible. The present state of affairs is that Multiverse have the licence, but that the development team has not yet been found.

There are a few possibilities bound up in that already - it's not inconceivable that some of the people who've already written or thought about producing a Firefly game might pull things together enough to talk to Multiverse about it. It's not clear to me yet what qualifications are needed for the developers - whether a team of dedicated amateurs would be allowed in, or if it'd need to be an actual games company using the Multiverse platform.

It's becoming clear pretty quickly, though, that recreating Firefly itself as an MMO is not going to work. There are only so many places on Serenity's crew, and it makes no more sense for players to be involved directly than it would for them to be on the Millenium Falcon in Star Wars. So what's needed is to re-create the universe in which Firefly could happen, paying very careful attention to flavour, look and feel, as well as the mechanics.

I'm in favour of skill based games for science fiction settings; the class-and-level mechanism in use in most fantasy games just doesn't suit as well. It's clear, too, that the power levels in the Firefly universe just don't allow for differing levels of capability - even though Mal is a war veteran and a ship's captain doesn't mean he has a lot more hit points than River, for example. They're just humans (well, maybe not just, in River's case) with differing skills.

Whatever mechanics end up in use, though, they're just a framework. Right now, looking at the screenshots from the Multiverse client's Demo World, they look very like Second Life, which is notorious for a clunky, difficult interface. That worries me. Firefly is already enough of a niche setting; a difficult interface or ugly graphics will put people off, and loss of numbers will kill the project stone dead.

My hope is that the game comes out with EVE Online's capacity for trade and player-driven economy, Warcraft's ease of play, and with the setting carefully translated to make sense as a game, and be consistent with the source material.

Posted by Drew Shiel at December 12, 2006 12:57 PM

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