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Firefly made it to just 11 episodes before Fox cancelled it. Joss Whedon’s creation was only 14 episodes in total but this western style sci-fi show garnered a huge cult following. Angry fans demanded some resolution and they eventually got it in the shape of the movie Serenity. Despite the belated success of the series no further seasons were ever made and this rich universe has been left to hang in stasis….until the 2006 announcement that an unknown company called Multiverse had signed a deal with Fox to produce an MMO game based on Firefly.
The initial excitement provoked by this announcement has been tempered by the complete lack of news on the project since then. In fact the latest statement from Multiverse is that the Firefly MMORPG is on hold because they have begun work on another Joss Whedon property licensed from Fox, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If you are interested then you can read more about the Buffy MMO.
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Who is Multiverse?
Multiverse was founded in 2004 by several ex- employees of Netscape. Their vision was to create a middleware platform for MMO game development. They give the code and tools away for free to developers and expect to make cash by taking a percentage of the income generated by finished commercial games. This is a great approach for removing some of the barriers to entry for developers. They claim there are hundreds of games in development on their platform. You can see some examples on their website, though they don’t look very impressive.
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What about Firefly?
Well initially Multiverse said that since they weren’t a developer they would find a partner to work with on the project. They promised it would be more than a “reskin of World of Warcraft or Star Wars Galaxies" but provided no further details. When the MD for Multiverse, Corey Bridges gave an interview about the Buffy MMO he also mentioned that Firefly was on hold but that some work had been done on it. He hinted that they were working with a development team but would give no details on the game.
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Will it make a good MMORPG?
All of Joss Whedon’s television series have been strongly character driven but with Firefly you can start to imagine how the universe would work well as an MMO game. There are distinct races and factions battling one another, there are various planets with different characteristics and there is lots of potential in terms of technology and spacecraft. Firefly certainly looks better suited to MMO adaptation than Buffy does. Buffy was set more or less in the real world, sure it had its own mythology but in terms of environments and faction warfare it will require a great deal of clever design work to build it into a decent MMORPG.
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The Future for Firefly MMO
Now that the game is on hold it seems that the future is bleak for Firefly. The more time passes the less likely it is that this game will ever see the light of day. There is no official news but I would hazard a guess that if the first few releases on the Multiverse platform don’t go well or the Buffy MMO fails to live up to expectations then Firefly will be quietly buried forever.