What Copernicus will not be…

Copernicus, 38 Studios’ upcoming MMORPG, has been the talk of our community lately.  Todd McFarlane let it slip that Copernicus is coming later this year.  This lead to questions on the FoH boards asking Curt to comment on the release date.  While he never did make mention of when Copernicus is coming out, he took the opportunity to actually let loose on some interesting Copernicus facts.

[Copernicus] will NOT be an ability based sand box game, it just won’t. So those of you that want that need not continue following this thread[on FoH]. Apologies if that was what you were hoping for.

It won’t reinvent the wheel in many ways, but I do believe it will introduce some things promised, yet never done, and some things thought un’doable’. It may not be your cup of tea, but I am betting, roughly 40mm of my own money, and crap ton of others, that we will change the MMO space forever.

It will not be a twitched based combat system, it will have classes, it will have things I think MMO players love, and it will do them as well as anyone ever has.
I do believe we will move the genre forward, how much we do will likely be on you, the players, to determine on your own if we did what you had hoped, or did not. [Source]

Copernicus Concept Art of TreesThis sounds to me like we won’t see Reckoning‘s style of combat or fate system, and that the world will not be a sandbox in any way.   The big question that I see raised now is whether or not this will go the route of themepark game like World of Warcraft or find a niche yet-unnamed like Dark Age of Camelot and EverQuest.  There is still room for Copernicus to be the type of game I enjoy, despite so many doors being closed by Curt’s comments. That leads me to my next point.

Curt probably made a mistake by being so free with his words here.  I can imagine 38’s PR or marketing team freaking out right now. Before the game has even really had -any- information released, let alone a name, the head guy is telling some people to stop following the game.  It doesn’t matter if that’s not what he meant; that’s how people will take it.  Even if it’s not going to reinvent the wheel, that’s not something you drop on people like a bomb.   This may be the marketer in me, but I would emphasize what Copernicus does well and let the fact that the wheel is not being reinvented float by unknown or uncared about.

In the context of the FoH boards where this comment was made, a thread of over 12,000 replies, Curt is addressing the old guard wanting their in-game freedoms back and a game that isn’t a themepark.  He’s also addressing a very volatile group.  He’s possibly saying one of two things: (1) Copernicus will be a themepark, but you’ll like this one, or (2) We’re going for something closer to EQ.  I can see both being implied.   Curt is/was a huge EQ fan.  Many of us are still hoping for a game closer to EQ than WoW.     IF he’s making an EQ style game, tell us that instead of telling us a list of things it won’t be with a handful of hyperbole — especially on the FoH boards.

Bottom line, it’s what he flat out says Copernicus -won’t- be, in the context of the FoH thread, that gives people a bad impression of the game direction.  He’s deflating excitement and expectations; I’ve already seen it on our forums and in ventrilo.  I understand the concept of under-promise and over-deliver, which I detected in his words, but I think he may have gone too far. There are better ways to say what he said.  It just sounds bad the way it came out.

Anyway, I expect a response in the form of lots of positive information hitting the news sites to give players perspective on what we can expect.

[Edits made for clarity.]

Update: The more I think on the subject, the more I come to the conclusion that Curt should have said it entirely the other way.

He should have said “We ARE reinventing the wheel.”

If I understand what Curt is trying to do, he’s trying to incorporate a lot of great ideas from the past and bring them to the present market. He’s going to take a lot of great things he knows MMO players love in the current market, and toss them in too. Then he’s going to, hopefully, going to include ideas that have been talked about but never reached fruition.

That, in my opinion, qualifies as a new way of looking at “the wheel”. That is “reinventing” the wheel. It’s not “inventing” the wheel. The wheel was invented. It’s a new wheel, a new version, a new way of wheeling.

 

  • “I want to have fun again, in some way feel like I felt when I played EQ, 10 years ago.” Schilling posted that the other day on the 38watch.com forums. It’s just a sentiment, of course, but it’s a constant one, and the source of the hope I can’t help but feel for this project. I actually believe him when he says it. It’s a fairly unique situation.

    Of course that doesn’t change your analysis of his words. I doubt he’d argue with you that he’s a great PR guy, and I’ve uncomfortably heard him stick his foot into his mouth on more than one occasion on a variety of subjects. I think it stems from a desire to be honest and straightforward, which is nearly impossible when your subject matter is veiled in secrecy, and the results end up being less than optimal.

  • What?

    I don’t understand the sentiment of this post at all. What he’s saying is that it won’t be EVE or Darkfall, and that’s basically it. The “old guard” of themeparks aren’t actually accounted for at all in that statement; in fact, I daresay what he does promise is something more akin to EQ or DAOC by making that statement.

    And, frankly, it’s a lot better than stupid bullshit hype by a PR department. God forbid he frankly addresses the community rather than spouting crap that will come to bite him in the ass later.

  • I’m with Dril. As you say yourself, Curt Schilling is a huge Everquest fan. The reason he decided to do this with his post-retirement years rather than something else is presumably because he wanted to replicate his EQ experience. I’ve been hoping for a 21st century EQ from Copernicus and the quotes above seem to be right in line with that.

    Looking forward to it more than ever now.

  • I’m still totally looking forward to learning what Copernicus is, but the way he’s going about telling people about the game is too edgy. FoH is not, in my opinion, the place for these types of conversations to happen. He’s already alienated people. I’ve seen it on forums and some of my friends are now borderline uninterested.

    People who were hoping for a sandbox are now feeling shunned.

    People who were hoping to see something “different” are now feeling like they should look elsewhere.

    People who were hoping for Reckoning in MMO form need not hope anymore.

    Now there are two camps you can be in.
    1) It’ll be like EQ
    or
    2) It’ll be like WoW

    He’s left the door open for both. The tone of the post, however, does NOT come across like “I’m remaking EQ”. It sounds to me like he’s going to make a game that the mass market will enjoy. After all, he’s dropped 40 mil of his own money into it.

    The sentiment here is that this is not the right way to introduce your game, especially when there is so little known. We don’t even have a name for the game yet.

  • The quote is a little awkward to read without the context of the conversation that was ongoing in that thread that Curt posted in. Basically people were commenting on how they “wanted their freedom back” and not be led down linear paths that current themepark MMOs have been doing.

    The conversation wasn’t specific to Darkfall or Eve or even Sandboxes. Just freedom of play. Curt’s response of not trying to “reinvent the wheel” was in response to that.

  • @Phandy: A response of “[Copernicus] will NOT be an ability based sand box game, it just won’t.” in response to people wanting their freedom back is disconcerting and reinforces peoples fears about a themepark.

    The comment in context is worse. To reply like that implies “we’re making a themepark, but you’ll like it I promise.”

    It almost doesn’t matter if that’s not what he meant. That’s how people will take it. OR. They’ll take it like Bhagpuss and think this is going to be EQ. He never once said that, either.

  • What Curt is getting at is that story and personal advancement in form of storyline/quests will have a big presence in Copernicus. Think WoW/GW2 I guess.

    Let me remind you guys of the mantra for the game; “Live the story, change the world”

    They’ve said that there will be iconic characters along the way of our leveling experience but the PC will grow considerably in strength and that will be reflected in how he is perceived and how he interacts with the world.

    I do agree though that being so outspoken on what the game WILL NOT be can be negative PR. Since we know so little, it’s VERY easy that people read into it too much and think it’s not for them for no reason. ¨
    But at the same time it’s positive interaction with the fans and followers. No bullshitting or deceitful wording.

    I think they’ll show the game soon though (San Diego CC or something), so we’ll have all the answers soon enough.

  • If the budget for this game is in the $50-100 million range (which looks confirmed), it’s almost certainly going to be a theme park. Having a single investor willing to put that much on the line may give them a bit more flexibility, but the projected revenue you would need to make that money back in a reasonable amount of time just isn’t consistent with writing off the entire theme park demographic.

    The only possible alternative would be to do what Darkfall did and actively play up how this game doesn’t want WoW players or their money, and can afford to do so because Curt’s willing to spend his money on it. If they were going in that direction, having him roll out on FOH would be precisely the correct play, only he’d be saying exactly the opposite of what he said.

    If, for the sake of argument, it turns out that Copernicus is a theme park, is it really better for the overwhelming reaction on the day the beta NDA drops to be “hey, I thought this was going to be a sandbox”?

  • Frankly I find Curt’s bluntness refreshing. I wasn’t particularly invested in Copernicus being any particular thing to begin with, so being told what it isn’t really doesn’t affect my excitement in any way. Similarly, the fact that the primary force behind the company is not taking a slick marketing approach to it suggests to me that the company’s priority lies somewhere other than making a perfect marketing push. Let the product do the talking.

  • If he came out and said “Copernicus will be exactly like WoW” would you be praising the bluntness? People seem to be okay with what he’s saying because he’s only narrowed the options down without coming right out and saying anything. It seems clear which direction the game is going, though. It’s interesting to see the mixed reactions.

  • Would you really prefer David Reid-esque level of nonsense and doublespeak?

    I have no investment in any of this – I have no idea what Fires of Heaven even is or why Shilling is posting there – but I will take “bad PR” over “good PR” any day of the week.

  • I think I am looking forward to this game, and I’m not even sure why. I couldn’t really get into Reckoning. Although I plan on giving it another shot down the line.

    Basically I have almost no reason to be excited, but I am.

    Huh.

  • @Azuriel: I’d just like honesty, which he Curt is being, but honesty about what a game is rather than what a game is not.

    @Shadowwolf: I’m excited to learn what a former EQ veteran/fan has in store for us. It’s his game to mess up. If he gives us WoW, yet again, I’ll really have to wonder who will be left in the world to make a game that isn’t a themepark.

  • Keen stated:
    Now there are two camps you can be in.
    1) It’ll be like EQ
    or
    2) It’ll be like WoW

    Which leaves me out. Ohh well I was really hoping for some sort of open-ended- exploration centric sandbox. Hell I would take some sort of themepark if it replicated some of the combat and class designs of Kingdoms of Amalur. But for EQ1 and WoW (both of which I feel are way to similar to one another then different) leaves me with out a glmmer of hype.

    Ohh well I am begining to think that a spriritual successor to my beloved Asherons Call will never be made which is f***ing sad!

  • There are too many Themepark MMO’s out there. Unless this one is head and shoulders better I can’t see it suriviing.

  • Maybe Richard Garriot’s secret “Ultimate MMORPG” will be that sandbox we are all waiting for… or Archeage…

  • I find it refreshing that he came out and said what the game isn’t. Too often developers try to keep everyone interested, even though they know players will be disappointed when they actually see the game.

  • Regardless of what his comments are, this is eerily reminiscent of Brad McQuade’s posts on FOH. (The timing and such, not necessarily the content.) And the expectations are very similar to what people had for Vanguard.

    I think it’s best for the community to not expect a “Jesus game” at all and just let the game instruct us when we get to play it.

    You can’t kiss a girl for the first time ever again. Same with your first MMO.

  • Sounds to me like yet another tired WoW clone. Sorry, that’s just how I read it – I hope I’m wrong.

  • I’d never heard of the guy until the build-up to Reckoning but in the interviews I saw around that and in this message I very quickly grew to like him because he’s just so damn honest.
    He may have upset the marketing people but a new game is now on my radar.

    And $40m of his own money – just how much does he have!?

  • “”And $40m of his own money – just how much does he have!?””

    -He made over $110 million in base salary alone during his 18 or so seasons of playing baseball. He’s also done a fairly good job of leveraging that money in political, charitable, and business matters.

    Jergis

  • “I’m still totally looking forward to learning what Copernicus is, but the way he’s going about telling people about the game is too edgy. FoH is not, in my opinion, the place for these types of conversations to happen. He’s already alienated people. I’ve seen it on forums and some of my friends are now borderline uninterested.

    People who were hoping for a sandbox are now feeling shunned.

    People who were hoping to see something “different” are now feeling like they should look elsewhere.

    People who were hoping for Reckoning in MMO form need not hope anymore.”

    But why does this matter?

    I don’t honestly understand where you’re coming from in thinking it matters in any way at all whether or not these people get alienated now or get alienated when the game goes into public beta.

    If his statements alone are enough to deter people without actually trying the game, then I sincerely doubt their drive to play it in the first place would’ve been very high. Besides, at no point in the past have they actually said that Copernicus WOULD be any of the things he’s listed, so I’m baffled as to why you see this as edgy or problematic.

    And again, you can’t have it both ways. Do you want Bioware hype bullshit or straight-talking interaction? I know which one I prefer.

  • @Dril: There’s a difference between “straight-talking” what a game WILL be and “straight-talking” what a game will NOT be. Of course we don’t want hype only. I’m saying I would rather someone be straight about what a game IS going to be like. That’s not hard to understand.

    And telling people now vs. later is all in the delivery. You can burn bridges NOW, or you can wait for some of those people to perhaps cross on their own to your side THEN close the bridge.

    Customers are finicky in all industries. I know for sure that would rather leave the door open for them to come in on their own rather than shut them out with words of what my product will -not be.

  • It just seems like a bad idea to put any sort of emphasis on “it wont reinvent the wheel” when one of the criticism of new MMOs is that they are too similar (to what was done before). It is probably being honest and true but it just sounds awful. The follow up statement about “changing things” is pretty much meaningless since every new MMO promises to change things and the simplest new mechanic is suddenly the most amazing features that was never seen before. However, I am curious what he comes up with…if it isnt themepark and it isnt sandbox – there is enough space in between (DAOC, EQ, AC) and fun games have been developed within such space…

  • If it played like EQ with modern control / camera schemes I’d be all over it. A big portion of the problem is that old-school feeling will never return due to the information age we’re now fully versed in. There were no huge spoilers, they were close guarded, and back then we didn’t even have in-game maps, you literally made them yourself or downloaded ones that were hand drawn off of EQAtlas.

  • Keen you taking a PR course right now? You sound slightly brainwashed in some of your responses here 🙂

    As for the game itself, I’m shocked anyone thought this game was going to be anything but EQ1 design with WoW production. It’s the game Curt has often said he wants to play, and unlike most others, he has the money to make it happen.

  • @SynCaine: Nope, up to my ears in economics and HR. I am, however, always sensitive to the way in which a game is presented. I’m not a fan of hyperbole and I’m not a fan of saying what you won’t be without saying what you will be. I consider that to be smart business, not brainwashed.

    I like how Argorius phrased it, “It just seems like a bad idea to put any sort of emphasis on “it wont reinvent the wheel” when one of the criticism of new MMOs is that they are too similar to what was done before.”

    I think we can all hope for EQ1 design with WoW production, but until we actually see someone come out and say that, we’re working entirely on conjecture. That’s part of the problem. I can read into what Curt said and see “Themepark” just as clear as “EQ1 with WoW production”. Let’s not forget that Bioware made the exact same statement about not reinventing the wheel with SWTOR.

  • @Keen — if Curt had said “Copernicus will be just like WoW” then yes I would still be praising his bluntness. I’d lose most of my interest in the game, sure, but I’d still appreciate the honesty. As it is though that isn’t what he said and I stand by my comments.

  • While reading it felt as if a PR team had indeed taken a look at what he had written and gave him the go ahead or at least some sort of recommendation on what to say.

    Also he does state what it will do.

    “it will introduce some things promised, yet never done, and some things thought un’doable’.”

    “it will have classes, it will have things I think MMO players love, and it will do them as well as anyone ever has.”

    Truthfully, saying that it won’t be a sandbox game gives us a lot of information. Although it is regrettable that there isn’t more information on the game will be different from all the others.

  • The only thing Curt said was that it “Won’t be an ability based sandbox” and that it “won’t reinvent the wheel”.

    First, for anyone that thought Coprenicus was going to be a sandbox, you are either delusional or had never read the 38studios thread on the FoH boards that has been running for 2+yrs. As has been stated before, Curt is an EQ man and many of us were hoping that we would get a more old school game done with today’s graphics etc. Oh and no I will not say WoW/Blizzard polish because WoW sucked ass at launch. It was by far the WORST launch I had ever experienced in an MMO so please stop saying that and stop looking at Blizzard with insanely rose colored glasses.

    Second, in terms of him not reinventing the wheel, I’m very happy about that. How many of us were disappointed when AC2 and EQ2 launched with them trying to reinvent the wheel and falling way short. Those games were not what we wanted. We wanted the originals but with better graphics and fixing the mistakes they made in their original games.

    The only thing we can say for certain about this game though is we know VERY LITTLE about it and are only speculating and trying to interpret what we hear from Curt and others. Until we actually get to see the game, it’s all speculation on what kind of MMO it’s going to be.

  • You would think that with the better tech we have today MMO’s would be better. But they are not. Some of that is a ‘been there done that’ scenario. The other side is the continual dumbing down of gaming to the point its no fun any more.

  • Well Curt is in a position ALL other developers of AAA MMO’s have NEVER been in. COMPLETE power. Meaning he doesn’t report to anyone. The only other AAA developer of a MMO that was maybe close to Curt’s situation would be Sid Meyer. This is a position of, “Hey I want to make an MMO and I have millions of dollars to blow on it”. Not “Hey I want to make an MMO, let’s find investors”.

    That alone is why AAA titles these days are all the same. If they don’t perform, people go broke, lose their jobs, etc. If Copernicus flops, some rich people arn’t as rich, oh no!

    Huge difference between the two. One can take chances the other cannot, plain and simple. So I’ll cross my fingers and keep up with Copernicus until it’s released because if anyone out there has a shot at changing things currently, it’s Mr. Schilling and 38 studios.

  • “Well Curt is in a position ALL other developers of AAA MMO’s have NEVER been in. COMPLETE power.”

    And he’s gonna waste that by making another Class/Level based EQ/WOW clone?
    Sad if you ask me.

  • i dig how he was honest about what the game will have and not have right from the start. hes not misleading the community in anyway and its this sort of forwardness i think a lot of developers lack these days for fear of getting to much flak. i wish this happened more often. now i know not to waste my time following this game at all.

    my hats off to Curt for him making that announcement.

  • You really can’t win…

    If you hype the game you get ragged on for it. If you un-hype it you get ragged out too.

    Considering all the general hatred spewed towards the PR/marketing chimps for soon-to-come MMOs that over-promise and under-deliver, I hope this guy gets some slack for his straight talking. Because… it’s kind of refreshing!

  • @Snafzg: You’re failing to see the point. One doesn’t have to be a “marketing chimp” hyping a game to talk honestly and favorably about a game. Honesty doesn’t always have to be negative and favorable truths do not always have to be hype.

    I’ll say it again.

    Honesty can be good, but phrasing it in such a way that you diminish the image of your product is not.

    There’s nothing refreshingly new about saying your game won’t reinvent the wheel. Bioware said it, verbatim, about SWTOR.

  • I think it’s pretty fair of him to be up front about the fact that his MMO will not be like X, Y, or Z from a mechanical standpoint because it helps set peoples’ expectations.

    If I’m making a new sport’s car, what’s the harm in telling people it’s not like a Ferrari or Lamourghini? There are still plenty of BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, Ford, and Chevy lovers out there that will still be interested… What I said is only negative if you were hoping for a Ferrari or Lambourghini styled sports car. However, it’s very positive if you were hoping for something else!

  • Saying it won’t be a sandbox is fine. In and of itself, that’s okay. It’s the idea that he’s leaving potential players interested in his game with a bad taste in their mouth by his “we’re not reinventing the wheel” comment.

    Here’s an example of what I would have said in a pretend scenario:

    “We’re going to incorporate certain features from past games that have been long-forgotten such as EverQuest’s faction system that allows players to freely navigate the factions of the world at their discretion. We’re creating a world that will utilize what past games have done right like the aforementioned faction system, and by combining these great ideas all into one game we will be creating something new and not done before.”

    That implies you’re not coming up with something unique, but you’re doing it a new way. It emphasizes an actual example and gives players a frame of reference to understand what direction the game is going. It places your game in a favorable light, does not exaggerate, and tells the truth.

    The problem with saying “we’re not reinventing the wheel” and then giving empty promises about doing something never done before is that players are left to fill in the blank and ask themselves questions like “What does he mean they’re not reinventing the wheel?” That’s the wrong question to leave with potential players in a market like this one where we’re all sick to death of the repeated themepark pattern developers keep shoving in front of us.

  • My take on Curt is that his honesty is refreshing when compared to some of the hype for ME3 that turned out to be deliberately misleading.

  • The more I think on the subject, the more I come to the conclusion that Curt should have said it entirely the other way.

    He should have said “We ARE reinventing the wheel.”

    If I understand what Curt is trying to do, he’s trying to incorporate a lot of great ideas from the past and bring them to the present market. He’s going to take a lot of great things he knows MMO players love in the current market, and toss them in too. Then he’s going to, hopefully, going to include ideas that have been talked about but never reached fruition.

    That, in my opinion, qualifies as a new way of looking at “the wheel”. That is “reinventing” the wheel. It’s not “inventing” the wheel. The wheel was invented. It’s a new wheel, a new version, a new way of wheeling.

  • Curt has always said that Copernicus will be a themepark game but people keep coming with the sandbox/pvp thing and this has been going for six years.I like his blunt speech because I think he doesn’t want Copernicus to have the same FFA pvp/sandbox rabid followers(You know who you are) who has pressured Vanguard,Age of Conan,SWTOR for years before release wanting the game to be what it wasn’t.

  • Show me where Curt said his game would be a themepark game? Curt has been saying several times over the last few years that if you liked old school MMO’s (EQ1)you would like Copernicus, however his latest post on FoH pretty much says “hey look we’re gonna be a WoW clone because its the only way to recoup my investment.”

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