Games Lab and Lab Rats!Edit
"Yeah, we're going to create new MMOs as well. And we've got FunOrb, which is sort of our R&D lab to experiment with new game ideas and mechanics and we'll keep doing that because it's fun and we can, but our main focus will be investing in "RuneScape" and growing that" - Mark Gerhard
The above quote was taken from an interview by Jagex CEO Mark Gerhard back in May 2009; the interview has since been taken offline by the games website. The above quote certainly didn't stop people from becoming attached to FunOrb and it certainly didn't stop us from paying the $5 (£3.20) a month subscription charge. It did however surprise a few people when the Jagex credits list was updated last month to show that both the FunOrb and 8Realms development teams consisted of the same people.
The lack of updates should have been one factor that made us stop and think that perhaps development on FunOrb had ceased and had done some time ago. At the time of writing it has been 241 days since the last FunOrb update and presumably the majority of that time was spent working solely on 8Realms, my question is that surely this plan was set into motion a long time ago. I want to point out three factors that possibly lead to 8Realms’ release and why we should’ve seen it coming sooner.
- Firstly on the 19th January 2010 Jagex released War of Legends, a game that was developed by Ultizen, a Chinese based games company. It seems like there’s a strong possibility that this game was published by Jagex solely to test the ground and look at the mechanics behind a real-time strategy game, just playing the 8Realms beta has highlighted a few elements the game shares with War of Legends.
- What also arrived with War of Legends were micro-transactions where ingame boosts can be bought for WoLCash (previously Jcredits); was this just a testing ground for prices and profitability? Jcoins will be functional after the 8Realms closed-beta phase and you can purchase them via the Jagex billing website now.
- Finally, Jagex’s social real time strategy was the transformation of Kickabout League into a Facebook game. 8Realms allows you to connect your Facebook account with a Jagex account and for a ‘social’ game 8Realms seems lonely at times. There is no global chat function and the only method of chatting in game is via typing a message into a box whilst another player is online, which will then send relay messages. Will Facebook allow us to see the more social side of 8Realms and was Kickabout Leagues launch on FunOrb used to familiarize Jagex with Facebook and their apps system?
These are a few things to think about, and perhaps FunOrb was just a research and development lab after all...