Wanted Dead or Alive
Location: The Faroe Islands - Thorshavn
News: Mythica Cancelled
Microsoft pulls the plug on its Norse-mythos-based MMORPG. We talked to Chris Lye, Microsoft's product manager for the game, about why it was cancelled.
The battle to halt Ragnarok won't happen. When GameSpy broke the news last April that Microsoft was using an in-house development team to put its own stamp on the MMORPG space, we felt that their initial offering had some serious potential. Playing a fallen Norse hero who becomes a god trying to forestall Ragnarok actually had some appeal. No more killing bunnies to get your experience points. Other concepts such as worshippers and private realms for small party exploration helped add to the game's mystique. Unfortunately, after some "serious analysis" by Microsoft, the game was cancelled yesterday. We cornered Microsoft product manager Chris Lye to find out why.
GameSpy: The official site mentioned that Mythica was being cancelled "after careful evaluation of the MMORPG landscape." Go into more detail about how that influenced the decision.
Chris Lye: The massively multiplayer genre is a hugely crowded and competitive space. We didn't want to spread ourselves out over multiple MMORPG projects. We analyzed all the projects in the works and decided Mythica was the one to go. This wasn't about Mythica specifically. There were a lot of good things about the game. But, we had to make hard decisions about where we placed our assets.
GameSpy: Microsoft invested a lot of time in community involvement, particularly parties for Mythica fans at GenCon. Was the buzz for the game not what Microsoft had hoped?
Chris Lye: We were very pleased with the amount of support we had for the game. The fan community really rallied around the game and we got a lot of positive publicity from E3 and other showings. Buzz had nothing to do with it. I don't want the fans to think that the support wasn't there. We had a great community and buzz was great.
GameSpy: What will happen to the staff of 40, such as executive producer Matt Wilson, senior designer Hal Milton and lead designer Joel Manners?
Chris Lye: The entire team has been invited to explore other opportunities at Microsoft Game Studios and also Microsoft. All of the positions on Mythica have been eliminated, but we want to retain as much of the team as possible at Microsoft.
GameSpy: The game has been in development for more than two years. Any chance of using the huge story/art bible in a future non-MMO?
Chris Lye: The technology, art and the Mythica IP is owned by Microsoft Game Studios. We can do anything we want with that down the road. But it is a little premature to decide how that will be handled.
Mythica's compelling visuals won't make it to store shelves. GameSpy: What about the engine that was developed in-house? Will it ever see the light of day?
Chris Lye: With the other MMORPG projects in the works, there may be some value from looking at that code. There are currently no plans for using it, but if the other teams think it may be useful, then we will consider it.
GameSpy: Did the Mythic lawsuit have any bearing at all on the decision?
Chris Lye: Absolutely not. The timing is purely coincidental. We were in discussions with Mythic about the issue, but they are now moot.
GameSpy: Based on the "evaluation of the MMORPG landscape," in MS rethinking True Fantasy Live Online for Xbox as well?
Chris Lye: Plans for True Fantasy Live Online are the same as always. They are completely unaffected. •