With Fallout 4 to occupy your time, it's easy to forget that yes, there was a Fallout MMO in the works — and not from Bethesda. Interplay, the franchise's progenitor, held onto the rights to craft such a project, up until they didn't. And after that, well, the company — and its game — wandered into the wasteland.
It's a complicated tale spanning many years, but the crux of it is that when Bethesda swooped in eight years ago to snag the rights for Fallout from IP owner Interplay, it didn't leave the publisher empty handed (ignoring the cash for the license, of course) — it could hold on to the option to pump out an MMO based on its post-apocalyptic universe, on the proviso that it, well, actually did so.
Rather than leave open the possibility of the MMO rights rotting with Interplay, Bethesda had some stipulations. Quite a few, actually, including the fact that it must have no "playable off-line" component, allow for more than 100 players, have a subscription element and obtain "at least" 10,000 subscribers "after launch".
The big ones, however, guaranteed that Interplay would not be able to just sit on the license:
- Full scale commencement was required to begin within 24 months of the agreement being signed (so a final date of April 4, 2009).
- The game must launch (in both North America and Europe) within 4 years of full scale development beginning; In the event of this deadline being missed, there was an option to extend this by an additional year and the possibility of further negotiations if more time was required.
It's sufficient to say the Interplay took its time ramping up to "full scale" development. Or any sort of development at all. A few days short of the 4 April deadline, Interplay announced that it had contracted Earthrise developer Masthead for the MMO.
This, unsurprisingly, wasn't enough to satisfy Bethesda and so, off to court they went.
The end result was a settlement that saw Interplay lose all rights to Fallout, including the MMO. Apparently it was still keen to do something and so the game became Project V13 (minus all references to Fallout) and the publisher resurrected Black Isle Studios to do the gruntwork.
Then we got this attempt at crowdfunding that didn't inspire much confidence:
Yeah, I know. How much did it raise?
Hmm... that seems like an insufficient amount to make a game matching this description:
Project V13 (PV13) is the first planned Black Isle Studios release in years, a post-apocalyptic strategy RPG. You will create a character to represent yourself within the game world. Your character will be a hardy adventurer from a variety of backgrounds; one of the last remaining humans, a new breed mutant, or a technologically advanced cyborg. The choice is yours.
Once you have determined your character's background, you will found your "colony". From a deserted city, a broken down military base, or even the ruins of an oil pumping station, the colony will be yours to rebuild and control. Attract non-player characters for guards, peons, scientists, and other activities. Or, if you are the type that so desires, shanghai the NPCs. Put them to work rebuilding your society and improving your colony.
Meanwhile, you will experience grand adventures to gather the resources and ancient technologies as well as fight back the enemy hordes. Your character will gain experience, advance skills, learn new talents and gain access to incredibly powerful equipment. Or die trying.
It's a sad end to a studio with credits such as Planescape: Torment, Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale to its name. On the bright side, we're still getting Fallout games, even if a true MMO remains elusive.
Lead image: Fallout Wiki