Postmortem: Oceanus Communications' Legacy Online
September 15, 2003 Page 1 of 3
Legacy Online's story started more than six years ago in an unlikely place: Cuba. It was here that a group of Cuban students from the University of Santa Clara (not to be confused with Santa Clara University in California) embarked upon a crazy dream. While on blasting away at each other playing games on a LAN, they decided to put their technical skills to use and try to make a living developing videogames.
From the beginning, the goal was to create a MMOG, something only a handful of companies in the world had managed to do at the time. Since Cuba's Internet connection then consisted of 56k modem for the entire island, you can appreciate how ambitious this project was.
While the initial development work was underway (working on a virtual Internet simulated through the LAN of their university), the group managed to pitch their idea to a Canadian working with a professor at their university and Oceanus Communications was born. The team started traveling back and forth from Cuba to Canada, testing the fruits of their work on the real Internet, until a stable contingent of developers was established in Ottawa and the real development work could start. The Canadian government's Pilot Visa Project for skilled IT workers greatly facilitated this process.
Legacy Online was originally called Star Peace.
Originally called Star Peace, the game was an ambitious undertaking. The idea was to bring together two of the most successful genres in the videogame industry: city building and strategy games. The goal was to create an all-encompassing experience that pit hundreds of players against each other in a unique battlefield.
The starting point was to create a realistic economic simulator in which players would participate as interstellar tycoons, growing their business by building factories, retail outlets, warehouses other buildings necessary to develop and sustain a thriving society on new planets. These planets would start off empty, and would slowly be populated by simulated citizens immigrating from Earth.
To foster player interaction and a realistic environment, a political component was added to the mix. Players could be elected as Mayors of cities and Presidents of planets. This also provided players with another goal: apart from becoming immensely rich and developing a planet, they could choose to leave behind a legacy of providing good leadership, government and city planning.
The potential audience was huge. We felt many of the fans of city-building games would love the concept and embrace the opportunity to test their skills against real players. Another key innovation was the idea of a MMOG that wasn't a role-playing game (at the time that was the only MMOG genre). Interestingly, even today 90% of the MMOGs on the market are RPGs.
Legacy Online launched on June 16th this year, but as an online game, it is constantly a work in progress. We're continually building add-ons and tweaking the game, but the bulk of the work is complete and we can take a look at the challenges we've faced so far.
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