Sega has issued the all powerful cease and desist on Arcade County’s Shining Force Online. Created as a free fan made game, studio lead Robby Mulvany says he was surprised at the quick shutdown by Sega’s law team.
“We had just really started the beta but Sega was quick!” says Mulvany. “Fan made games are tricky because some publishers are ok with it and some aren’t. Sega’s own terms of service (at least the ones I read) didn’t seem to discourage them. The Sonic 2 HD remake didn’t seem to bother them, so last June I decided to build an MMO for Shining Force. Several fans had attempted it in the past but they always seemed to fizzle out quick. There just aren’t really any party-based MMO’s out there so I thought it would be fun to try. I emailed Sega back in June but I didn’t receive a reply. I figured if it was going to be an issue they’d tell me in advance.”
Arcade County has decided that, rather than scrap half a year’s worth of work – to take the project to Kickstarter in order to replace all of Sega’s trademarks (graphics, characters, names, etc). The game will be renamed Shining Empire and abandon a traditional MMO structure for what Mulvany is calling a “Single Player Social” experience.
“We got great feedback during the beta. The one complaint was really about party size. We had to cut it down to fit in an MMO space. You just can’t have 200+ participants in a turn-based game and expect people to hang around to complete the battles that may take upwards of 3-4 hours. So we’re back-peddling a bit. We’re going to have massive parties. Limitless, in fact. When you walk into a town you will be able to recruit virtually anyone, some that even have quests associated with them. Not all of your party will even be combatants. You can buy/steal land and build there. You can recruit farmers to help you harvest crops. Hire a fisherman to fish out of a lake you dig. Cook the fish into foods and potions that give you combat boosts.”
Arcade County hires freelance artists for all graphical work, so they’re looking to hire a few talented individuals to replace all of Sega’s artwork. The work of these artists can be seen on the Kickstarter page. The goal is to launch a beta this summer with the final game releasing in the fall. Though it will be single player, it’s still going to have strong social features which ties players together.
“The big thing will be factions. They’ll be more effective if they’re in power. To do that you need to kill rival faction members. This is where the “Single Player Social” experience comes into play. You’ll be able to send out a portion of your party to ambush a real player in their world. The winner gains faction power. If you come across a group of rival faction members in your world you can send out an SOS to all allied faction members online and they can send you help in the form of summoned spirits. Keeping your faction in power is very important because it gives you bonuses. The merchant faction will give you better prices and access to black markets. The archer’s faction allows you to train your archer members to higher levels.”
The Empire Anvil is a second component of Shining Empire which allows users to create their own massive open-world RPG games using the Shining Empire engine. It will come with a graphics editor (including onion-skinning animation systems), a music writer (taken from the Retro Band engine created by Arcade County, and a map editor which allows you to create maps of an infinite size.
“We don’t just want to do typical mod tools. This is going to be the actual system we use to create Shining Empire. You won’t need anything else. You can make all your art inside the Anvil. The really cool thing will be world sizes. We’re not putting a limit on how big a map is. You can make an area that’s literally as big as the United States (or bigger) and populate it with an unlimited number of NPC’s. Then you can upload it to shiningempire.com and users can install it from your own personal page or from a community section in side the game itself.”
The goal is to release Shining Empire for $10 (complete with the Anvil) on Mac, PC, and iOS. The Kickstarter is attempting to raise $9,500 for 30 days. The money will go entirely to hiring artists.
“We had a lot of supporters with Shining Force Online and I hope that support translates to this project. We’re not a huge studio that receives a million hits a day, and we’re not resurrecting an old beloved franchise, so Kickstarter isn’t usually easy for people like us. It’s definitely not a guarantee. It will be up to the gamers.”
Despite an unwelcome cease on desist on December 24, Robby Mulvany isn’t angry with Sega. Disappointed? Certainly, but he says he’s not angry.
“It’s the legal department. They have to protect their IP’s. I get it. It’s not like the teams that developed some of my favorite games of all time came to my house and smashed all my computers. So I’m not mad at Sega. I grew up on the Genesis. I bought all my multi-platform games on the Genesis instead of the Super NES even though Nintendo’s console could display more colors and had 16 bit sound. I was a defiant Genesis fanboy. I chose the Saturn over the PSX. I chose the Dreamcast over the PS2. If they ever put out a new console I’d be the first in line.”