That’s Hot, Rod: Jagex’s Transformers MMO

By Alec Meer on March 14th, 2011 at 3:34 pm.

God help me, I could probably transform that in my sleep

I don’t know a Rod, actually. But if I did, I would definitely be telling him that this news is hot. At least once a year since RPS has formed I’ve whined “whyyyyyyyyyyyy doesn’t someone make a Transformers MMO?” Even the news that there was to be one purely for the Asian market didn’t shut me up. I do whine a lot. However, hearing that UK MMO devs Jagex, best known for Runescape and War of Legends, are on the case with their own Hasbro-sanctioned, reconfigurable-plastic themed game, means my slightly over-large man-child ears prick up fully. That’s just prime.

We have absolutely no details, unless you consider the confirmation that it will feature both Autobots and Decepticons to be any kind of news. That’s a bit like saying a World War II strategy game will include both Axis and Allied forces.

We do have a release date, however: next year. Which is interestingly after the forthcoming, execrably-titled third Michael Bay movie, Dark of The Moon. That’s claimed to be Bay’s last stab at the franchise (this is probably a good thing, although at least he now admits that the second film was pretty horrific), so will the Jagex game entail continuing the spiky, insectoid Transformers movieverse while everyone works out what to do about the inevitable fourth film/reboot? I hope not, and I suspect not – those many-angled thingies must be a damned site harder to render than the more simple traditional Transformers designs.

It could instead be based on the newish Transformers cartoon, Prime, which is supposed to be a sort of pan-fictional mashup of the various contradictory Transformers universes out there. I’ve not seen the show bar a couple of clips so can’t attest to quality, but the robots designs look unsatisfyingly weird to me. Soundwave’s just a sort of triangle without a face, for Primus’ sake:

Could it be set somewhere brand new, so as not to clash with anything exsiting? Or will it be good old, blocktastic Generation 1 (i.e. the 80s toyline)?

I’d be lying if I said I hoped it was anything but the latter, but so long as it involves a character creation tool of breathtaking scope I shall be happy. What I certainly don’t want is the very limited number of archetypes and character designs found in last year’s sturdy but underwhelming Activision-made War For Cybertron. It’s ‘robots in disguise,’ not ‘robots in disguise as each other with slightly different colours.’ City of Heroes with robots would pretty much do the job for me.

Here’s the key quote, from Jagex CEO Mark Gerhard: “Transformers is one of the most iconic brands in the world and we are delighted to team up with Hasbro in order to bring our shared vision to reality.

“There is a huge appetite for an online Transformers game and we will utilize every bit of our development and publishing expertise to deliver a dynamic and action-packed game that Transformers fans will find irresistible.”

For some reason he wrote Transformers in capitals every time. So presumably this is more likely to be called TRANSFORMERS Online than Transformers Online. Er. Yes, journalism.

Oh – while I was checking back former Transformers stories, I noticed I’d posted that the Chinese TF MMO is also Westward-bound. Hum. Does this mean we’re also in for a boardroom-based War For Cybertron, then?

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30 Comments »

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  1. DanPryce says:

    YES. YES. YES.

    • DanPryce says:

      Ahem. Allow me to elaborate.

      I’ve always had this fantasy Transformers MMO in my head, where the gameplay is Turing test based (a bit like Spy Party). There are sections of the world that are under either Decepticon or Autobot control, and if you want to go through enemy territory you need to disguise up and try and blend in the with the AI cars. Enemy players would be on the lookout for you (they’ll be alerted that you’re present, but not which vehicle you are) and would receive penalties for opening fire on innocent vehicles. So you can either try and sneak through undetected, or go in all guns blazing.

      I also want a ridiculous amount of customisation options, Minicons as ‘pets’, PvP arenas based around fighting over Energon… crikey, this stuff almost makes itself up.

    • Orija says:

      That will never happen. Never.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Sounds pretty cool, Dan.

      Also, Jagex: Generation 1 or get out.

  2. Mr_Day says:

    “How might I serve you, Mighty Megatron?”

    “Fetch me 20 kobold livers.”

    “I. Er. Ok. Why?”

    “You expect me to fight Prime without kobold livers? Are you insane?”

    • KikiJiki says:

      “How might I serve you, Mighty Megatron?”

      “Fetch me 20 Energon cubes.”

      “I. Er. Ok. Why?”

      “You expect me to fight Prime without Energon? Are you insane?”

      ^ Fixed for you :>

    • Mr_Day says:

      “How might I serve you, mighty Megatron?”

      “Fetch me 20 energon cubes.”

      “That doesn’t work as a joke, because energon is part of the Transformers universe and not indicative of mmorpgs.”

      “QUIET YOU. MEGATRON SMASH.”

      “Also, fetching energon was the plot of almost every g1 episode of the first series. It doesn’t work at all! You suck, Meg” *squished by Megatron*

    • Temple to Tei says:

      One would hope they at least set it in a sci-fi setting, ergo: ‘Fetch me 20 Space-kobold livers!’

      Heh, Transformers MMO where you don’t actually get to play as a Transformer…

    • Caleb367 says:

      “How can I serve you, might Megatron?”

      “Travel back in time and make those pesky humans use our appearances from the 80’s.”

  3. crainey92 says:

    <3 Jagex, had so much fun on Runescape when I was younger and I still think it's hard to argue that game isn't pure gold for atleast its concepts and scope.

    • Temple to Tei says:

      Indeed.
      I consider myself an old old RPSer yet I have two dirty secrets that I feel would have me thrown from the hive.

      One, Runescape is/was a very good game (its an MMO depends who you play with etc, but I mostly soloed). All I want is Runescape all over again, at my level it is just numbers now.
      Holding out for Stellar Dawn but if they can come close with Transformers…
      What the hell are the quests gonna be? Seems like it would be all PVP.

      Two, well that is for another day.

    • Tim Smith says:

      Is RPS anti-runescape? When I used to play, it was an amazingly fun game – I fancy if there’s just a few people who like to pander the “anti-runescape” view, they’re just those people who like to have a strong negative opinion, ‘cos no one can mock you for strong negative opinions.

    • Valvarexart says:

      I really do think that the majority people who have strong negative opinions about RuneScape are just insecure teenagers. While it may be targeted at a younger audience, Jagex have shown that they are willing to target an older audience as well (by making the filter optional, for example). One of the best things with RuneScape are the quests. They recently REMOVED several quests which, in Jagex opinion, “did not have enough content to make up a quest”. What this means is that you will never encounter a quest with the “kill x of y” model, instead you will embark on quests ranging from helping someone get his love, to fighting demigods. I still play RuneScape every now and then, but as mentioned, at higher levels it’s just numbers, so I mostly only get on when they release a new quest (about once a month).

  4. Tori says:

    Roll out!

  5. Inigo says:

    STARRING EVA UNIT 01 AS SOUNDWAVE

  6. DiamondDog says:

    I want to be able to transform into a cassette player and use my tunes to buff my group.

    Either that or transform into a gun that somebody else has to hold.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      I am disappointed in myself for knowing both robots you’re talking about.

      Well, moreover remembering that Megatron used to turn into a gun.

  7. Premium User Badge

    stahlwerk says:

    Hey look it’s dark samus!

  8. Urael says:

    Prime (the cartoon) is alright, actually. Some excellent vocal work (Frank Welker!) , decent story-telling, Transformers that are a reasonable visual half-way between the messy, jagged Bayformers and real Transformers…excepting Soundwave who, as noted, desperately needs a reformat, something, anything other than what he’s suffering now.

    Oh, and they ruined Wheeljack. (Ruined forever!!!)

    But by and large, I like it. Not yet as good as animated but that took a season or two to mature. Watch ‘Scrapheap’, Alec, and tell me you don’t squeeeee when you work out who the bad guys are. :)

    Despite being an enormous Transformers fan myself, I still can’t get excited by the prospect of an MMO, even one like this. I’m still waiting for that awe-inspiring single-player experience they keep promising us.

    • Cradok says:

      Wheeljack was a bit Drify-y, but he’s a Wrecker, and Wreckers always rock.

    • Wulf says:

      Hm. Just started watching this on your recommendation (well, when the article was posted). Between other things, I’ve gotten to the beginning of episode six thus far. And I have to say, I like what I see. I wish more of the obscure classics would turn up in these shows, though.

    • Urael says:

      @Cradok – Heh! I’ve nothing against Drift. He’s not exactly “Poochee the Transformer” as some people like to call him, although I do understand their point of view. But you’ve hit my point: the character calling himself Wheeljack only looked like Wheeljack. He had none of that character’s essence in him at all and could have been switched with any number of more suitable G1 characters without issue. Sideswipe would have been a much better fit. Or Sunstreaker, who is actually bad-ass enough to dual-wield without needing to compromise who that character is. But I spent the whole half-hour watching that ep thinking “That’s cool, but it’s not Wheeljack”. Just as Ratchet = Doctor and Prime = Leader. Wheeljack = Scientist.

      Actually, I’m wondering now if this isn’t being done in a similar vein to some of what IDW have been up to in recent years, with Perceptor becoming Ninja-sharpshooter and Prime’s demotion beneath Bumblebee. Mix things up a little, maybe? Which I can totally get behind, but in this case…maybe they just took it too far, or haven’t given enough reasoning behind it other than “This is who he is in this universe.”

      @Wulf: It’s got a lot of potential. There’s apparently going to be some discussion about Primes, about Prime’s long-standing relationship with Megatron (theme of Redemption playing into it, P believes he can still redeem M), and I’ve even heard hints about The Thirteen being discussed, although that’s likely to be the usual internet bollocks. I also wish there’d be more cameos, but apparently that’s going to be fairly rare as the CGI model-builds are quite onerous – three per character.

    • Cradok says:

      He might not be like G1 Wheeljack, but he is kinda like Armada Wheeljack. And even if he was totally different from any prior Wheeljack, it’s something you have to get used to if you’re a Transformers fan.

  9. Caleb367 says:

    My 8-year old self is just crying with excitement.

  10. Shadram says:

    Cool beans.

    (Too obscure?)

    • mattyice says:

      I’m glad I wasn’t the only person thinking of Hotrod when I came here :D

  11. Snuffy the Evil says:

    “LFG Megatron raid need ambulances”

  12. Dances to Podcasts says:

    “That’s claimed to be Bay’s last stab at the franchise”

    It’ll be dead, then?

    • mondomau says:

      Exactly, so the next step will be flogging the corpse.

      I’m very interested to see how they’ll tackle customisation, taking into consideration the transforming aspect – the only way I can see it working is picking a generic template (car, tank, jet) the sticking different coloured/styled components all over it. Could work I guess.