Brave Old World: Remember Huxley?

By Alec Meer on June 3rd, 2008 at 6:07 pm.

Don't want ladies with bare legs. Want big, surly men in robot suits.

Back in the dim and distant past, anyone who was anyone and had a (for the time) pornographic amount of RAM was playing Planetside – the MMOFPS that was surely surely the bright future of PC gaming. Actual FPS, not vague cursor aiming and damage based on your stats – it was about reflex and precision, and military tactics.

Four years later, we’re not playing it any more. Well, some of you probably are, but we Men of RPS at least lament for a dream lost.

Planetside’s enormous battles and classless levelling proved to have an impassable ceiling on them. All those hard-fought skirmishes, those tragi-epic Alamo defences of critical towers – after a few months, the lack of ultimate purpose to them became overwhelming, like that dark teenage moment of self-awareness when you suddenly realise you’re just another slab of meat shuffling through the years. Do you shrug off the existential crisis and make the best of existence nevertheless, or give up entirely? For Planetside, we chose hara-kiri, and logged off for the last time.

Locked in our Warcraftian and Eveian coffins, we dreamt. The fantasy of some Planetside + never went away, and we searched hungrily for news of something to fill those big boots. Publisher SOE made noises about revisiting the concept, while Tabula Rasa seemed for a while like it might be looking at similar ideas. Its revelation as WoW with lasrifles was thus a sad one. Hellgate? Don’t talk about Hellgate.

One name kept cropping up – Huxley. This was catching our eye back in 2005, and reportedly it’s finally out this year – though since missing its mooted 2006 release, it had slipped off our radars due to lack of news, and more importantly a lack of details. Vehicles, levelling, 100 man vs 100 man battles, MMO-like special powers, questing – that’s about it. It didn’t quite have that Planetside vibe- more like massed UT2004 – but it was at least having a crack at a similar concept. I fear after all this time, and now I’m that much more familiar with games’ giant promises proving unrealistic in practice, that it’ll be a) much smaller in scope or b) more akin to the traditional MMO model than first expected, but that Planetside hope remains.

Developers Webzen’s most notable prior game is Mu Online, very much in the Lineage vein – and most reknowned in these parts for being the game that a South Korean chap played for 86 straight hours before unsurprisingly keeling over from a fatal bout of deep-vein thrombosis. It’s an unlikely heritage for the sort of persistent world FPS I’m hoping for – but hey, at least we know it’s not about Elves (the two playable races are both offshoots of future-humans), so Webzen clearly aren’t hanging on to K-MMO stereotypes.

Truth be told, I’d completely forgotten about it until I clocked this story about a late-2008 release on a download service yesterday. I’ve not heard of iiji.com before, but this will be Huxley’s home. I’ll have to have a look at some point, as it makes bold promises such as “the greatest online military FPS game you will ever experience” about one of its free-to-play, micropayment (or ‘money’)-supported titles, the rather brown and Counter-Strikey Solidier Front Reportedly nearly 4000 people are playing Soldier Front right now. Still, it’s odd company for what was once considered a very high profile title. Does this suggest that, after this long wait, it’s no longer high profile, or just that it’s been very canny about selling to the highest bidder?

Here’s the most recent trailer, from last September, showing off Huxley’s current (vaguely Gears of Warlike) look:

Oh, Huxley, what will you be? I’ve had my heart broken so many times whilst searching for The One.

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42 Comments »

  1. Saflo says:

    I nominate pantsless space marine for RPS mascot.

  2. Red Note says:

    Seconded.

  3. Max says:

    Ahaha, thirded. XD

  4. Erlam says:

    Good God the women actually can wear real armour. Step forward? Could be.

  5. Faust says:

    I remember Iiji.com being the host of Gunz: The Duel.. which was actually quite fun for a while, ‘specially as it was free…. as far as Huxley goes, I’ve watched it for a while, and it does look very interesting, but sort of lost track of it after a while.. so long as it’s still got what they said it had, I’ll most probably be happy.

  6. roBurky says:

    Erlam: Real armour? They all seemed to be the usual chest and thigh exposing fantasy stuff.

    Also: This post confused me greatly until the halfway mark where it actually mentioned Huxley. I was just going all boggley eyed and exclaiming to myself “Planetside looked like that?!”

  7. PaulMorel says:

    If this game ever actually gets released, I will definitely try it.

    Still, it has been FOREVER in development. At this point, I expect it to be an overdeveloped mishmash … kinda like assassin’s creed.

  8. Sebastian says:

    If they don’t change the manga-style to something more western there won’t be any succes for them over here…

  9. Chaz says:

    I think its just going to end up like a persistent world version of UT, with micro transactions.

    “New weapons and armour for your character sir?” $$$$$$ Cha-ching!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.

  11. eyemessiah says:

    I didn’t bother with Planetside because SuicideGirls was cheaper and had better content updates.

    The Devs of Huxley seem to have taken this into account, hence the girl with the stripey knee-high socks.

    Yay!

    @Sebastian: Have you seen the youth of today? Anime haircuts are de rigueur!

  12. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    Ahem, “trouserless”. I WISH they were pantless. Looks interesting, for some reason I thought it was 360 only. Will have to investigate further.

  13. Muzman says:

    That embedded video wasn’t a Huxley trailer for me, but a snippit about the music. Don’t know if that’s what it was supposed to be.

  14. ReturnToNull says:

    @Sebastian: So change all the bright colors to grey and brown? Looks pretty similar to Gears of War to me as is, except with bright colors, and a little less meat bag.

  15. Matt says:

    Erlam: Shockingly, the game that gets the award for least-revealing-and-most-practical-looking-armor-For-Her game this year has got to be … wait for it … Age of Conan.

    I remember being irritated (in more ways than one) by my default thong bikini as I squashed pirates on Newbie Island. Plus there was the fact that, once I hit the shops, the best armor I could afford was a knee skirt. But then I saw that all my muscly macho-man friends had to run around in EXACTLY THE SAME SKIRT (oh, sorry, “pauld” or whatever the hell it’s called) and I felt better. :D

  16. Raptornas says:

    Oh what I would give for a decent planetside followup, the original still wasn’t too shabby last time I played but it is showing its age and doesn’t merit a sub.

    This looks like it will not scratch the organised and massive WAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRR! itch, it looks to me as UT3 with abit of a Doom style sideline to level up.

  17. Optimaximal says:

    Kevin did an amazing job on Gears of War, but where he went from then, to Huxley, was an amazing jump…

    …backwards? I don’t think i’ve been so underwhelmed by a game since they started demo’ing UT3.

    WAIT A SEC! That’s IT! This is simply UT3 the MMORPG!

  18. Evil Timmy says:

    I nominate pantsless space marine for RPS mascot. Ahahaha, first thing I thought about when I read this was Frisky Dingo, one of the craziest shows ever to grace Adult Swim. Ronnie: “Never take off robot pants.”

  19. Vollgassen says:

    will there ever be an MMO (fps or otherwise) where the characters actually have some WEIGHT in the world? It’s the future can’t we have characters that don’t skate around on the ground and have some sense of momentum?

  20. Mal says:

    As alluded to in the article, the biggest problem with Planetside was the fact that, in order to prolong longevity, the battle was ultimately a total stalemate. While the actual on-the-ground battling was fun, the whole thing started to feel a bit pointless after a while. But without the strategic map part of things you might as well go and play TF2 instead (and probably have more fun in the process).

  21. Larington says:

    Hate to say it, but I just don’t see this being much like Planetside, maybe UT3 but MMO like, but thats about as far as I see it going. Frankly, there don’t seem to be many publishers brave enough to give a proper MMOFPS a go, or to steal Planetsides mantle, moss covered and tarnished though it now is.

  22. Seyd says:

    I was looking forward to Huxley, but how come never mentions WWII Online when talking about MMOFPS’s?

    It does a lot more than Planetside, and is still being continually developed. Currently, it’s features include:

    – Persistent world
    – Hundreds of towns to capture, each with various objectives
    – dozens of veichles to drive or pilot, including Anti Tank guns, Tanks, Aircraft, Trucks, Ships
    – Brigade spawning
    – Strategic high command gameplay, were the high ranking members of each side get to decide were to move and place brigades.
    – Ability to rout enemy brigades, to force gaps in the enemies line of battle
    – A massive half scale map of Europe, with 3-6km view range (depending on what you are driving or piloting)
    – Sophisticated ballistic calculations, with bullets being calculated for 3km’s.
    – Possibly one of the most sophisticated damage models in an FPS, with damage depending on calibre, armour thickness and the components that get damaged. Even spall is calculated: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzpUVtVUBTI
    – Coordination between all arms of service, and lots of team work.
    – And once and awhile, we get massive battles with hundreds of people on each side.

    Sure, the graphics aren’t great, and there are still some gameplay issues that need to be handled. It’s a great game, and few other games are as intricate.

    A game like Huxley, aside from good graphics, does nothing new. Neither did planetside.

  23. Gylfi says:

    This game looks absolutely dumb unreal-deathmatch, for god’s sake

    How stupid do they think we are?

  24. Gurrah says:

    Planetside… yeah, good times, even though I wasn’t one of those people with a pornographic amount of RAM – I played it anyways and had LOTS of fun.

  25. Jonathan says:

    Reply to Seyd

    That video made me feel funny inside. Possibly because I laughed when he said “decapitating the gunner”. We seriously need more of that type of thing in the simulation/fighty genre.

  26. Dinger says:

    Seyd, I bring up ww2ol all the time, but usually as a cautionary tale. Admittedly, I haven’t played it in six years. Can pilots and drivers bail out yet?

  27. c0wb0ys7y13 says:

    wow. mmofps low grav UT 2004 ripoff. Just what we need, senseless chaotic battles on an even LARGER scale! /sigh

  28. P1010491.JPG says:

    Gylfi, c0wb0ys7y13 – UT is fun (at least for some people), so why not?
    I wouldn’t pay a subcription to a UT-esque game when I already have several free-to-play ones and a ton of free mods to go with them, but if it plays well, has decent weapons, an offline play option and it least does something different and fun (i.e. a cool new mode) I’d buy it.

    More on-topic – screw planetside and all other eternal stalemate games. I want semi-persistent world FPSes, i.e. a huge co-op campaign open-world FPS that lasts for a month or so and resets when you win. If the devs add new stuff each time (a new enemy or vehicle or something) it’d be amazing.

  29. Surgeon says:

    Hmmm, I’m really hoping this is going to satisfy my persistent online FPS urges and Planetside infatuation. But I’ve a feeling it is going to be disappointing.

    http://huxley-evolved.com/huxley/videos/

    It looks more like an MMO version of Unreal Tournament than the Planetside killer I was hoping for :

    http://huxley-evolved.com/videos/ign_huxley_combat_3.7.08.wmv

  30. Dorian Cornelius Jasper says:

    Sebastian: I dunno, the art design for the people looks pretty realistic and not-typically-Eastern-pop to me. Unless you want people to look more like stereotypical Western uberhypertrophic meatheads, which would just be silly in a military context–the amount of bodybuilding work required to get to a WoW-style level of muscular “buff” would preclude the vast majority of a soldier’s military training. No, seriously, bodybuilding takes a lot of constant work.

    Mayhaps the word “Korean” just made you think it was manga styled?

    Everyone who compared it to a low-grav UT:

    Yeah, it definitely looks like it’s cribbing from Epic’s cradle as far as design goes. Oh, wait. I think you’re talking more than just art.

    Uh… *ahem*

    Hmm. Yeah, FPSes do have the tendency to feel “floaty.” There’s third person games with a stronger sense of personal mass and gravity, so one wonders why first-person games can’t do it right. (Then again, I think this was a marketing point for Mirror’s Edge.)

    One can overlook that if Huxley turns out to be pretty good, though.

    And:

    Why does that poor lady have no pants?

  31. RichPowers says:

    Player boredom didn’t cause PlanetSide to fail; SOE’s legendary mismanagement did.

    Instead of focusing on large scale team-based combat (the competitive advantage of MMOFPS’s), the knuckleheads at SOE introduced numerous spam and insta-kill weapons, ushering in the era of “SoloSide.” So instead of being a game that focused on teamwork and combined arms warfare, PlanetSide became a crappy Unreal Tourney knockoff…only without competent hit detection, cones of fire, and strafing. Such deficiencies in “core” FPS elements could be excused back when PS offered interesting team-based combat. But by choosing to become yet another deathmatch FPS, such flaws became readily apparent.

    Unless Huxley has massive transport dropships, troop transports, and a command system, I’ll stick to other FPS games.

  32. waffles says:

    hope its free to play like the rest of the stuff on ijji.

  33. Seyd says:

    To Dinger:

    Well, not yet. Truck drivers now have the ability to create spawn points with their trucks, and they are free to despawn out of the truck without the spawn point going away.

    If you played 6 years ago, you’ll be happy to hear the devs added bouncing grenades about a year ago, as well as other server tracked objects. So now we also have dead bodies and tank hulks littering the battlefield.

    They are working on version 1.29 now (Which will also be released on the Chinese market!), which will include a new rendering engine, which in the future will allow for a new terrain engine as well. The devs have added all sorts of new things since six years ago, including a big sound update, division based decals for vehicles, a lot of new equipment (We even have mortars and paratroopers now! Along with numerous new tanks and aircraft), and numerous bug fixes and graphics updates.

    Infact, I urge all of you who want to play a massive, team based first person shooter in a persitent world, where the map is reset once one side wins, and which lets you drive, pilot, or sail what you want, to definetley try WWII Online now.

    Especially since they have a free 14-day trial, where no credit card is required.

    It’s not the mess it was back in 2001, and so far as I know it’s the only example of a persitent online world where the game is actually improved with every update. The Rats are the only dev team I know who listen to the players, and slowly but surely add in every feature they promised, along with new features asked for by players to improve gameplay.

  34. tom says:

    ‘Huxley’ sounds like the name of a teen comedy…

  35. El_MUERkO says:

    i’m bitterly disappointed that the Warhammer 40k MMO wont be and MMOFPS

    Huxleys pending release does not improve my mood

  36. Malagate says:

    This game so far seems to tick all my MMO desire tick boxes, namely:
    *FPS
    *Explosions
    *Motorbikes
    *Jetbikes
    *Easily handled team-work (both pvp and pve) on a large scale

    So looks intersting, big shame that seemingly the WH40K MMO won’t be FPS, which if it is just sounds silly to me.

    Marines wearing hotpants though…that’s how you can tell this is a Korean MMO, as I really can’t think of any Korean MMO that doesn’t have female character eq that follows the “less is more” idea.

  37. Sightseemc says:

    Oddly, I may give WWIIO another chance. It was a buggy-mess when I first tried to play, a sin I can never forgive a game upon release.

    Planetside was glory for awhile, and I still have screen shots of bridge-storming charges and the beauty of my dbl-mortar heavy holding tower doors.

    But yes, the endlessness *did* bug me enough to quit. And I’ve always wanted another PS experience.

  38. C0nt1nu1ty says:

    I dont really know what to think. Its Korean therefore has a 75% chance of being grind-tastic (i’m only going by the korean games i’ve seen) and it does look at the article said a lot like a giant UT04

    Unfortunatly the whole platnetside thing past me by, me being knee high to a grasshopper at the time and living on dialup I could neither afford nor run the game properly, but i alway wanted to.

    Oh well, heres to Huxley proving me wrong, hopefully

  39. Dinger says:

    Seyd: the NDA no longer binds me, so I can tell the horrible truth. Hearken to my words and fear the truth. I was in the WW2OL beta. Hell, if it weren’t so obvious, I’d claim to be the one who coined the word ‘despawn’ (but it is, soo someone else did) Watching the thing from hype to fireball release was such a tragicomic experience, I bought a copy of the game – I didn’t need to; but reading the forums, the reviews and Lum the Mad(but not playing the game), I was so entertained, it felt wrong not to pay someone.

    Ironically, I quit because they weren’t listening.

    It was the 9mm Parabellum.Something was wrong; the Axis players complained their pistols and machine pistols were nerfed.. I remeber a few times in close combat by an HQ, I’d fire several rounds, and still die.. But the game didn’t give you any feedback if you shot someone, so there was no way to tell what happened. On the beta boards, the Rats said there was nothing wroong that they could find; we shouldn’t expect a pistol round to have the same impact as a rifle bullet.
    One of the problems testing WW2OL was that it took so damn long too load that unpaid testers were unwilling to conduct tests that didn’t involve playing the game. I know, some of you are thinking that this is true of amateur testers in general, and while I’ll concede that (I did ‘test’ Hovver Bovver long before I did paid work, and the difference in methodology was humbling), WW2OL already required so much BS time that game time was precious. Besides, it took several minutes to spawn, and you only had three clips and no resupply.
    But often you’d spawn somewhere to find the battle had passed you by. There I was in Anhee with nobody around and a Luger. I fired some shots and walked about 100 yards downrange.
    were those bullet holes in the ground?
    Some tests: the rounds were dropping early. But they weren’t dropping early enough to explain why you could fire a clip into some dude point blank and still miss.
    Wait… Point Blank, indoors, WW2OL’s engine: that’s when the game became a slideshow. Could the bug depend on frame rate?
    I went offline to the gunnery range (~50 FPS), and took aim at the bullseye. Perfect grouping. I tried again, this time using the screenshot button to load up the CPU. Now there were bulletholes at my feet. Before too long I was able to stand in front of a sign, aim just above it, fire, and put a bullet hole in the opposite side of the sign. In low-FPS stiuations, the bullets were not slowing down properly: they would slow down so much they’d fly backwards! Clearly they had screwed up something basic in the distance per time slice calculation.
    From my days doing PC testing, I knew why the devs never saw it. They all had top-of-the-line machines. I mean, you wouldn’t play WW2OL at punishing frame rates if you could avoid it, so they avoided it, as much as possible.
    Totally energized, I posted to the beta board bug forum in, I believe, mid-July 2001. I had isolated the bug that crippled one side’s infantry and that many people didn’t believe existed! A few other testers congratulated me. Undaunted, I provided more information, screenshots and ways to reproduce my work. Still no response from the Rats.
    Finally, six weeks after my posting, the Rats made a progress report. They had found the bug with the Parabellum! It turns out that, under load, the bullets would fly backwards!
    On the beta board, in the thread dedicated to that update, I expressed my disappointment that they hadn’t bothered to respond to the thread where I’d isolated the bug six weeks earlier. I think it was Gryf who responded along the lines of “well, you know, we can’t read every bug report.”
    So I stopped playing. My still unused retail code I gave to Lapwin. And when anybody brings the game up, I ask if you can bail out yet. “Despawn” is such a ridiculous concept compared to opening the door and walking away.

  40. jont says:

    Wait, I’ve heard that music before.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLXyC1cuN3M

    (Those of you who don’t appreciate the classics can skip to 2 minutes 38)

  41. Antique Ring says:

    I usually do not comment on blog posts but I found this quite interesting, so here goes. Thanks! Regards, P.

  42. Shipping to trinidad says:

    Thanks for the effort you took to expand upon this topic so thoroughly. I look forward to future posts.
    There are various sea vessels involved in shipping to trinidad. It may include box boats or container ships, bulk carriers, tankers, ferries, cable layers, dredgers and barges.

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