Firefly Universe Online Apparently in Development, and That Is Not a Good Thing

June 26, 2011

Yesterday, a new website appeared for an apparent MMO set in the universe of Joss Whedon’s popular show, Firefly.  At first glimpse, this should be an awesome new IP as many gamers, myself included, were huge fans of the series and would love any return to the series.  But then one starts to realize that this is in fact a very poor idea.

For starters, what made Firefly so interesting was not so much its universe, but rather the specific characters.  Now, this problem wouldn’t inherently make a Firefly MMO a bad idea, but it is around this point when you notice, in large red letters under the core logo a very bad word.  “Unauthorized.”  Yep.  So this game would be based off of a character centric universe and could not get any of the characters to return.  In spite of their claim that the cast will be modeled into the game, without a license, they can’t legally change or use the characters.  So you wouldn’t be recruited by Mal.  You couldn’t hire Inara.  And you certainly couldn’t live out your Shepherd Book fantasies.  So the core of any potential real or licensed game and the entire reason we watched and loved Firefly is gone.

Frankly that isn’t even the worst part of this.  Because this is unauthorized, getting anyone involved with the show to help write for the game would be next to impossible, so there is an actual call on the front of the webpage for fanfic authors to help write the story to the game.  This is a tragedy in its own, as you would know if you have ever read or attempted to read a fanfic.  They are not pretty.  Most are not coherent.  Few, if any are even good.  Without any guidance from the actual writers of the series, or Whedon himself, this project is inherently doomed to failure by the people writing it.  Firefly in itself is actually a pretty standard black and white universe, given color by Whedon’s influence.  To lose that would pretty much kill what made the series so excellent.

Essentially the game is one big, convoluted act of fan-fiction.  The developers themselves describe this entire project as a fan based opportunity.  Something I would normally find cool if it didn’t also seem so misguided.  The company, DarkCryo, on their website states that they are a group of “professional indie developers,” but they neglect to mention any specifics as to projects that any of the staff member’s formally worked on.  That doesn’t exactly inspire hope in their abilities, especially when combined with their essential begging for artist and author assets.  Further, if you do provide assets, you are promised “an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) in addition to a promissory note of remuneration. The more you contribute, the greater the potential of financial return for you.”  The reason that this strikes me as unreasonable is that the company, in their FAQ admits that they have no formal base of operations in the United States, with their servers located in China, the Netherlands and Panama.  Good luck trying to enforce that note and get paid for your time if they do decide not to pay you.  Sorry, but that whole part just sounds like something of a scam, and not something professional.  They claim to be professional developers, but often mention how informal they want it to be.  That rarely, if ever works out well.

Luckily for us, this likely wont actually pan out, as they are entirely unlicensed by Fox or Joss Whedon, or anyone who apparently had anything to actually do with the show.  I expect Fox will send a Cease and Desist letter soon, and for the first time in a very long time, I am happy that a company is trying to protect themselves from fan projects.  As much as I wish to try to like this project, it just does not feel right, and despite all of their claims, it seems more like a cash in on the backs of Firefly fans than a true project made in tribute to the show.

Source: Firefly Universe Online

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Scott Lipowitz

Scott just graduated from Law School. But he didn't let that stop him from gaming, a hobby that he has stuck with ever since he received his NES at age 5. His favorites are Metal Gear Solid, OutRun, Half-Life, Deus Ex, Ratchet and Clank and most recently, the Mass Effect series.

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