Basic design elements were still being fought over just a few months ago.
By Patrick Klepek, 11/14/2007
Since we first broke that Microsoft, Marvel and Cryptic Studios' Marvel Universe Online was facing death, 1UP has received received a number of troubling game details that suggest why Marvel Universe Online has been, as one source put it, "in the ****ter for a LOOOONG time." The folks at Next-Gen corroborated our original story this morning, citing an additional source relaying the MMO's demise should be announced within weeks, unless something "drastic" occurs between now and then.
No one likes to see a game cancelled. Running off the success of Cryptic's City of Heroes (and Villains), Marvel Universe Online had loads of potential that may now never be fulfilled. Multiple sources have come forward to 1UP to confirm the basic details our original report -- the game is half a step from :-\ complete cancellation -- and one source very close to 1UP actually saw the game in action earlier this year.
Considering the project hasn't been publicly shown in any form since the teaser trailer at Microsoft's X06 event, the following constitutes some of the first-ever details revealed about the game. Our source viewed Marvel Universe Online while visiting Microsoft roughly six months ago and didn't come away with a positive first impression. "It reminded me a lot of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. Running at 5 fps," they said. "[The game] kept crashing and apparently hammered the h*ll out of both the console's hard drive and Live infrastructure."
To Cryptic's credit, performance issues are one of the last areas of development and single-digit frames-per-second could be an exaggeration. Most frame rate issues are ironed out in the last few months of polishing, anyway. However, the troubles don't end there.
As of just a few months ago, the design team had yet to decide on the game's combat system. Part of the team wanted a deep "Virtua Fighter-esque" system, an idea that's yet to be tried in an online game, while another faction championed one-button instant combos. In the past, combat in MMOs has largely been handled behind-the-scenes through stats, dice rolls and player-assigned assigned skill trees.
In City of Heroes, users were able to craft their favorite comic superheroes through the dynamic create-a-character system. Expectedly, our source tell us, you wouldn't have that option in Marvel Universe Online, and "there was bickering back and forth about how much the "real" Marvel heroes would play a part (you can't be Spider-Man, but you can be member #478 of his best friends club and follow him around all day), and scaling it for that many players at once was causing the Live team headaches."
Perhaps the most troubling sign for the project, however, is our source relaying that the keyboard attachment, pitched earlier this year to gamers as a way of chatting faster via Xbox Live, was "pretty much exclusively designed" for Marvel Universe Online. Of course, Microsoft seemed to realize the MMO was some time off and decided to recoup their losses and released it conjunction with added MSN support on XBL.
Hopefully the game wont be canceled. :-\
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