THQ (Sort of) Explains Warhammer 40K MMO Changes

By Nathan Grayson on April 11th, 2012 at 9:00 am.

This, of course, is the cover of a Warhammer fashion catalog.
THQ’s seen better days. The gaming world has all but left it in a gutter inches away from death’s door, bleeding worrisome amounts of money. Worse still, the struggling publisher took another set of brass knuckles to the teeth in the form of a radical downsizing of its great MMO hope: Dark Millennium Online. The Warhammer-40K-themed behemoth has been stripped of its two-ton subscription-fueled MMO supersuit, leaving its single-player and multi-player bits flapping freely in the air. How, though, does that work? Will I explore a desolate world, spamming an empty trade channel for [friendship] x 1?

Speaking in an interview with Ripten, THQ God Emperor Danny Bilson explained – admittedly, on fairly general terms – Dark Millennium Online’s forced evolution into a more intimate affair. After all, wouldn’t a single-player MMO be a bit… boring? Not in this case, said Bilson.

“The reason is that there was a lot of innovation in that game. In particular, the shooting mechanics are real-time, not turn based. The content is absolutely incredible, and any time anyone ever had any doubts about it, all I had to do was bring them into the room and show them progress on the game. So there’s a tremendous amount of content that was built. At its core, the mechanics are very action based. Nobody has seen this before.”

“I much prefer the route we’re going down than having brought in investors, and possibly diluted some of the controls around it. The game is still sitting with the people who invented it five years ago, and honestly, they are incredibly excited about the new direction… If you liked Space Marine, you’re gonna love this thing. It’s much deeper. Space Marine was designed as a console experience. This one has tremendous multiplayer gameplay, and there is a lot going on in this game that’s spectacular.”

So, enthused/perhaps desperate exec speak aside, that’s where Dark Millennium’s at. And hey, there are worse things in this world than the prospect of a more complex take on Space Marine. So then, here’s hoping this one helps THQ turn things around. I mean, given all the previous cancellations, what else could they possibly cut? Metro’s last light? I get the impression that Metro: No Light would be a distinctly more frustrating experience.

, , .

89 Comments »

  1. Azdeus says:

    I want a Dark Heresy or similar 40K game. This might be the closest one actually gets to playing one I suppose.

    Here’s to hoping it actually gets released.

    • caddyB says:

      They’ll never make a Dark Heresy rpg computer game. Have to keep playing it on tabletop.

      • Azdeus says:

        This might be the case, but it does’nt stop me from wanting one. Proper RPG with C&C, plots and such fun stuff. It would be awesome.

        And no Space Marines. Awesomeness.

        • Snidesworth says:

          I’m thinking of something a little more like X-Com, at least with regards to the casualty rates among Acolytes.

          • caddyB says:

            Best part of Dark Heresy is that you’re actually afraid to start fighting because you might just.. die.

          • Gormongous says:

            I will never forget watching a pair of unarmed and malnourished indigents beating a level two Soldier to death in the space of a few turns. That burned the lethality of the Dark Heresy into my players’ minds forever, and it would never sit well with the sort of audience that plays computer RPGs.

          • Azdeus says:

            @Gormongous; True, few of them will appreciate putting in the effort, thought and planning to actually succeed in overcoming the kind of odds an acolyte might face. That’s what those Fate Points are for. ;)
            I’ve had a similar situation once as your guardsman. Except it was one PC assassin vs an imperial guardsman with a bayonet. :)

            I still think it’d be awesome.

  2. Sillywhiteguy32 says:

    Sounds good, but i want a more cohesive experience than Space Marine. Something that actually makes me think and feel things aside from Die Heretic Scum.

    • demonarm says:

      An open mind is like a fortress with its gates unbarred and unguarded.

      • Average Ninja says:

        Knowledge is Power. Guard it well.

        • kraken says:

          Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment.

          • Kollega says:

            War has never been so much fun / War has never been so much fun / Go up to your brother / Kill him with your gun / Leave him lying in his uniform / Dying in the sun…

          • Ringwraith says:

            Walk softly, and carry a big gun.

          • Ralphomon says:

            Love means never having to say you’re sorry.

            Am I doing this right?

          • TormDK says:

            There is only the Emperor, and he is our shield and protector

      • UnravThreads says:

        When in deadly danger,
        When beset by doubt,
        Run in little circles,
        Wave your arms and shout.

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      I’m unfamiliar with the concept of feeling things apart from “die heretic scum.”.

  3. Eclipse says:

    fingers crossed for THQ, I’ll get both Darksiders 2 and Metro: Last Light on day one if they don’t die before.

    And a deeper Space Marine with proper co-op campaign can be a great game

    • Orija says:

      Metro 2033 is the best linear fps I’ve ever played (yes, it’s better than HL2), and the prospect of Last Light being cancelled or being published by EA/Activision gives me a kidney stone in the ear.

    • El_MUERkO says:

      Well said, THQ have made some missteps but they’re also responsible for some great franchises and it’d be sad to see them go.

      • Phantoon says:

        Out of the mega huge games corporations, I’d say they’re the only one I want to do well.

        (That is very high praise as CORPORATIONS HAVE MORE POWER THAN THE GOVERNMENT. I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO I’M FIGHTING FOR.)

  4. Dana says:

    >In particular, the shooting mechanics are real-time, not turn based.

    I beg your pardon ?

    • TheWhippetLord says:

      A turn-based 40K MMO would be AWESOME.

    • caddyB says:

      He probably means that instead of hit and miss and dodge rolls you have realtime aiming like a proper fps.

      • Dana says:

        Which has been done countless (hyperbole) times before ?

        • VikingMaekel says:

          Pray tell us, in which MMO?

          • Dana says:

            Planetside, WW2 Online, MAG…hell, even Darkfall has projectile aiming and no sticky targeting.

            Forgot Neocron.

          • Mordsung says:

            Most of those are shooter MMOs.

            DMO was going to combine those mechanics into a more traditional RPG set up with progression from an initiate all the way through becoming a space marine (or going from boy to boss for Orks, going from cultist to CSM etc)

            PS and WW2 online are more MMOFPS than MMORPG. MAG isn’t an MMO, it’s a shooter with large numbers per map. Darkfall did put this kind of gameplay into a more traditional MMORPG, but it was also a bloody terrible game (and yes, I own an account).

          • Phantoon says:

            Oh yeah, Darkfall!

            Yeah, that game was probably one of the worst games I’ve ever played, and I’ve played Bubsy 3D, so I’m basically an expert on terrible games.

  5. Yachmenev says:

    I hope he´s right. I have no interest in MMO´s anymore, but this sounds interesting.

    • PoulWrist says:

      Me too, really. I became positive towards the project when they dropped the MMO part.

    • mouton says:

      Same here, I was very much disinterested when I heard it was going to be an MMO. Now, it can be a game with actual gameplay.

  6. mondomau says:

    This could actually work pretty well – The Old Republic was at its best when it was KOTOR with friends. Games like Dead Island & borderlands have already shown you can mix co-op shooting / action games with online persistent RPG progression. I’m actually more excited now than I was when it was a MMO.

    • Phantoon says:

      That’s odd, because Dead Island was terrible.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Terrible as an RPG anyway. And a shooter. And a survival game. And a co-op game.

  7. LuNatic says:

    As much as I want a single player 40k rpg, something about taking a game that is 2/3rds into development and turning it into a different game really worries me.

    • PoulWrist says:

      Nah considering that modern MMOs are basically singleplayer games with a tacked on multiplayer and annoying spawnmechanics to accomodate the extra players, there’s not a great leap to be made.

    • Was Neurotic says:

      It could actually be a lot better for it. MMOG development cycles and single player game cycles are like chalk and cheese. Stripping it down and re-focusing could be a great boon.

      More worrying is THQ and the money part. I’m sure the game will be fine, but if the money-publishers-distribution-rights-lawyers-bullshit machine whirs into action, we’ll all have been wasting our time.

      • Phantoon says:

        Pretty sure Games Workshop is still behind the project 100%.

        Hell, I doubt they could’ve even made this move before talking to GW as it’s GW’s intellectual property.

        • FunkyBadger3 says:

          GW aren’t actually very involved in the nuts and bolts of the puter games.

      • mouton says:

        Yup, the move is very much against what money people and publishers believe. “Not an MMO? Not console oriented? WTF? no money!”

  8. epra says:

    They will most likely leave Metro alone. Developers are based in Ukraine and it’s probably least expensive game for THQ as programmer/designer pay is about 2-3 times lower than in Western Europe/US.

  9. Flint says:

    The reason is that there was a lot of innovation in that game. In particular, the shooting mechanics are real-time, not turn based

    Woah, these guys are going to revolutionise the gaming industry if this catches on.

    • Phantoon says:

      Naw, Warcraft will still have wait based combat.

      Maybe Guild Wars 2 can unseat that disgusting god of decay and stagnation, but I doubt it.

    • Hamshakes says:

      FireFall is already a real time shooter MMO. THQ isn’t going to revolutionize anything.

  10. mundox says:

    I truly hope this game becomes a hit.

    • Kollega says:

      Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment.

      Please let this be true, please let this be true, please let this be true…

  11. Dowr says:

    I hope this Warhammer 40K game and other yet to be released THQ titles can get them out of their financial woes. They have become a pretty great publisher and they’ve have more interest and respect for the PC platform than most other publishers.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Yeah, it would be sad if THQ died.

      • Phantoon says:

        I’m kind of surprised how positive we all are about THQ, but I don’t think they’ve ever screwed people over like EA/Activision/Ubisoft love to do.

        In fact, I can’t think of anything they’ve done that’s terrible.

        • TormDK says:

          The only thing I can think off the top of my head is the Power Sword DLC for Space Marine on the PC, which is currently sold at 2.75 euro on Steam for that model alone.

          But I purchase all Warhammer 40K DLC released on the PC purely to support the franchise and THQ in general.

          • Primar says:

            That was just a reskin for the Chainsword though, AFAIK – statistically, they were identical in MP (although it did have it’s own achievements/perks, which again I believe were identical).

            I have no real issue with DLC to make things shinier or look different. That’s basically the whole Games Workshop sales model, really.

        • FriendlyFire says:

          I care about THQ because they own some of my favorite studios such as Relic and Volition.

          I still hope for Company of Heroes 2, a grand scale Dawn of War, Homeworld 3 and Freespace 3. Yes, I am deluded.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          Here’s a few items that put THQ on my blacklist:

          They abused and choked the life out of the developers of Homefront before the game could get any proper support after release; they dropped Dawn of War II like a dead baby and replaced it with Retribution, thereby gifting us consumers with the horrid DLC scheme that infects their current games; and they released Space Marine, absolutely the most boring and underwhelming shooter I’ve ever had the displeasure of experiencing.

          Bummer for the people they’d be laying off, but it won’t hurt my feelings if THQ go out of business.

  12. herschel says:

    Sorry, no computer game will ever meet the gruesomemess and depth of WH40k. Every single attempt has been a huge disappointment so far, regarding lore and atmosphere.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      Stop this whining, they’re just toy soldiers!

      • herschel says:

        I beg to differ. The toy soldiers are merely one of the minor parts of it.

    • Yosharian says:

      I think it IS possible, just very difficult. It would require actual talent to make, something most developer companies don’t possess in spades, along with the patience to release it ‘when it’s done’ rather than when the publishers click their fingers. Plus the only game concepts that would actually make it to development would ‘accessible’ ‘console-oriented’ ‘non-gamer-friendly’ ones. I.e. fucking neutered at birth. Maybe Kickstarter is the solution? Who would pay a little bit of money to see an isometric turn-based RPG featuring a party of Space Marines blowing the shit out of alien scum? (optional: Bioware-style relationships including the chance to get jiggy with a sexy Eldar Farseer babe)

      (just kidding on the last one)

      • Cognitect says:

        Instead of Space Marines, I’d like to see an epic RPG focusing on the life and exploits of an Imperial Inquisitor and his team. The game(s) would be part action, part detective stories spanning multiple centuries in time and half the galaxy in space. If you know who Gideon Ravenor and Gregor Eisenhorn are, you know exactly what I mean.

        • TormDK says:

          Agreed.

          It’s a shame THQ or Games Workshop doesn’t seem to have the will to make tons of money on us tabletop players that would toss piles of money at them for making a Dark Heracy/Rogue Trader/DeathWatch turnbased CRPG with multiplayer capabilities.

          A NWN model, with toolsets so that the community could flourish. Hell they could even charge me a subscribtion fee to access the toolset, my gaming group would happily toss 10-15 euro a month a pop at them for the ability to play the game an hour or two every now and then as our normal adult lives doesn’t let us get together as often as we’d like. (And we already spend tons of cash on the FantasyFlightGames books that appear.

      • soco says:

        So…wait, you’re saying I should stop working on the sexy Eldar Farseer babe fanfic?

    • Mordsung says:

      Most people would disagree with you about DoW1, DoW2 and Space Marine being huge disappointments. I’d argue two of those titles are among the top five RTS of all time. Space Marine was good. Not great, but good.

      I agree that the grimdark could be captured more, but to say all attempts thus far have failed is silly.

      • herschel says:

        Half agreed. It´s a neat RTS series, but does it really catch the 40k universe? A universe, in which a Dreadnaught is a thousand-year old sacred machine, catered by generations of tech priests to meet its final holy fate in the last-stand battle for the chapters sanctum? Not an expendable item, built in a batch of five units. Space Marines? Genetically altered over years, trained in decades of battle, awe-inspring battle monks, the best of the best of the emperor… not grunts, which can be replaced by the auto-fillup-perk of your commander.

        Again, its neat, and fun to play, but nowhere near 40k.

        • mouton says:

          It is all in your head. Thus, even tabletop won’t really “catch” the stuff you mentioned unless you imagine it.

        • Mordsung says:

          You’re asking more from the videogames than you even get from the table top.

          The fluff of Warhammer 40k and the game mechanics have always been very separate. The TT is balanced, but the fluff is not.

          You couldn’t create a proper RTS using fluff appropriate power levels because the asymetricality between the factions would be nigh impossible to balance. You’d have 12 Space Marines who are each like walking gods going against hundreds of Orks at the same time.

          The best they can do is to ensure the art style, voice acting and the like are as close as possible to the lore.

          Now Space Marine was actually a fairly lore appropriate game that also captured a Forge World quite nicely. Titus tore though thousands of Orks and a good number of Chaos before the end of the game. The gameplay was simple, but fun. The MP was, again, simple. But the game captured the feel of being an Ultramarine quite well.

          I even loved how they showed variations in the personalities of the Space Marines, representing strict adherence to the Codex Astartes and also a more wizened and pragmatic approach to being humanity’s greatest hope.

          And, of course, there’s even significant variation of Space Marine power levels in the books. Different authors approach Space Marines differently. Sometimes a single SM saves the day against insurmountable odds. Other times Space Marines are falling by the dozen to swarms of Tyranids and Orks.

    • Calculon says:

      To get a true computer based replica of the table top Warhammer 40K game – they are going about it completely wrong imo – and it could be very profitable for them (and have always thought so).

      I picture a game that is turn based, that is server hosted, “Free” and primarily PvP. THQ supplies the maps, and 2-3 different game types. Players actually purchase troop sets at the outset via DLC (Class space marine squads, or Eldar, or Harlequin, or Chaos etc) (kind of like magic cards), get matched and/or challenge opponents, create their army based on the 40k point based system, select a map, and play through the turn based system. Troops can be named, and progress/gain experience (and should have randomly generated bonus’ and flaws). That’s the whole point of Warhammer 40K – 3D table top strategic engagements.

      Now if you want to increase the complexity and the profit model – troops that are killed in game/match have to replaced with either $$$ or points from victory.

      If you want to increase the playability/complexity further – make a slightly MMO based option and have a strategic map for various factions to conquer which yield % resources to create armies from. Rinse and repeat. Fun for everyone.

      I’d buy that (and create my old awesome Harlequin army)

  13. Prime says:

    Deeper than the puddle-deep “console experience” Space Marine shouldn’t be hard, even for THQ. But will these changes mean we could go for a swim? I dearly hope so.

    • Yosharian says:

      Space Marines don’t swim. They vaporize the water using laser weaponry and then stride in a manly fashion across the new wasteland they have created.

      • Kollega says:

        Well of course Spess Mahreens don’t swim! They’re space marines, not marine marines!

        • Prime says:

          *Overly-dramatic sigh*. ‘Tis what I get for using metaphors. In the words of Horus himself: “I’ve never met a metaphor I haven’t crushed beneath my righteous boot heel as a foul, warp-spawned perversion of our Emperor’s Glorious Truth.”

          • Phantoon says:

            Well they’re beyond men, so “super-manly” would be more apt.

  14. lunarplasma says:

    Battlefield: 40K?

    • Snidesworth says:

      Would be pretty cool, if somewhat difficult to balance. With an Imperium VS Chaos matchup you’ve got rough equivalents on each side, but when you start throwing xenos into the mix you’ll end up with something quite asymmetric.

      • Optimaximal says:

        Isn’t that the point? Symmetrical forces are boring – throw some differences into the mix and providing there are clear and credible counters to advantages you get a good game.

        Case in point – any RTS of the last few years.

      • Phantoon says:

        Naw. Imperium VS Chaos VS Orkz, for starters.

        Then more races.

    • Mordsung says:

      I’d have a child, and then sell that child, for a BF style game in the 40k universe.

      The thought of coming in via drop pod in a first-person view gives me nerd wood.

    • Anarr says:

      Driving a Land raider around a map carrying a bunch of mates in Assault Terminator armor would be a hoot.

    • Dys Does Dakka says:

      This. So much this.

      BF40K is what I wanted Warhammer™ 40,000™ Spess Mahreen™ to be, knowing full well it wouldn’t be anything other than a criminally underdone and way too short bout of stomping on Orks in grimdark corridors.

      The PvP is decent and Exterminatus is fun -if repetitive and much too cramped by small maps-; too bad they didn’t include otherwise standard options of dedicated hosting and server browsing for online play, but went for the easy-mode of terrible, terrible peer-to-peer hosting. Spess Mahreen (no, I won’t spell it any other way) could at least have had potential as something to build on, but given the total silence surrounding it now, I suppose it’s been given up on.

  15. Cerius says:

    Random Information: The interviewed is Rachel Bilson’s (the actress) father.

  16. Optimaximal says:

    “…any time anyone ever had any doubts about it, all I had to do was bring them into the room and show them progress on the game.”

    “Can we see it?”

    “No!”

  17. Velvetmeds says:

    sounds good

  18. Fiddler says:

    A shame there aren’t more games like Space Marine and this. ‘Tis heresy, I say.

  19. Moraven says:

    THQ hurt themselves bad trying to push for the next CoD or Gears of War, overspending way to much on marketing and not worrying quality of the product itself. At least Space Marine is not half bad. Hopefully it still turned a profit.

    I do not get why they became obsessed with trying to churn that next mega hit. Is the CEO really want that easy 10s of million dollar bonus? They have been able to provide quality, unique, almost niche games that found a market. If it makes money, just stick with it.

    Also they really should boot the CEO and start fresh. Why can’t western developers be like Nintendo who did horrendous the past year in sales and automatically all executives took a pay cut. You did not hear a thing about anyone losing their jobs.

  20. MOKKA says:

    Just give me the option to play as an Ork and I’ll be happy.

    Also, the amount of PR-jibberjabber in the last paragraph of the THQ Guys statement is almost unbearable.

  21. Lemming says:

    I hope it does well as I love the 40k universe, but I am saddened we are missing out on yet another sci-fi MMO.

  22. ScubaMonster says:

    While it’s disappointing there won’t be a 40K mmo, it most likely would have sucked anyway so it’s probably for the best. I am confused by this statement though; “The reason is that there was a lot of innovation in that game. In particular, the shooting mechanics are real-time, not turn based.”

    So is he saying that real time shooting wouldn’t work well in a MMO? Planetside would like to have a word with you.

  23. FRIENDLYUNIT says:

    This is exactly what I want. It sounds suspiciously good!