Mein Gott in Himmel, is this actual CONCEPT ART? Our cup runneth over.
Maynard, Massachusetts-based developer 38 studios is making an MMO: They will not tell you anything about it ---how it will play, when it's coming out, or even what it's called
, but they will repeatedly tell you that this alleged game in clandestine development that you know nothing about is going to be REALLY good. If that weren't enough, their website goes so far as to boast that 38 is going to "bring to life an epic new intellectual property to redefine conventional multi-player gaming as it exists today, and nothing less."
Generally speaking, anyone who's name doesn't end with "izzard" doesn't get to make statements like that and expect to be taken seriously. However, when the developer in question is made up of proven MMO professionals, including former World of Warcraft UI designer Irena Pereira and seasoned art director Thom Ang, you tend to find yourself in the novel position of taking them rather seriously.
The 38 team was there in full force at New York Comic Con on Saturday, and besides informing con-goers about their frigid snow-belt studio and unusual design philosophy (it's all about teamwork, kids), they did a hell of a lot of apologizing for the fact that they were unable to disclose any information about their game at NYCC for the second year running. Apparently the 38 team feels that building expectations prior to the game's release is more harmful than helpful, and if they make a good product, the lack of early publicity won't end up mattering when the game ships.
I have mixed feelings about this approach: You have to respect their desire to deliver product rather than hype, but for such an experienced group, it seems a little naive for them to bank on the fact that building a good product alone will be enough. I've seen enough beloved games suffer unnoticed in a crowded marketplace to know that quality is not always rewarded with sales. Of course, if this blog is any indication, the fact that they're being such secretive bastards about it is a kind of promotional tactic in and of itself.
This is a studio founded by Red Sox Pitcher Curt Schilling, author R.A. Salvatore, and Spawn-creator Todd Macfarlane (seriously), so I guess it's possible that they're counting on that rabid Red Sox watching, fantasy-reading, 90's comics fan demographic (although if the concept art released thus far is any indication, they aren't letting MacFarlane anywhere NEAR this puppy.) Considering the fact that Blizzard was originally concerned about WOW ever turning a profit, you can never predict what's going to happen in the bizarre world of MMOs.
For those who would like to know the exactly two pieces of information released about the actual game at the con, the art direction is aiming for a look that Ang calls "Storybook Reality", and the world of the game will have a hand-painted look.