Derek Smart says he’s working on partnership deals to revivify 2009 MMORPG Alganon

    
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A year and change ago, we covered the strange case of MMO Alganon, and now it’s back in the news.

We’ve been covering the game for about a decade now; it made headlines for a major controversy back in 2010, when the game’s president, David Allen, was pushed out of the company. According to Derek Smart, who replaced him, Smart “fired” Allen, arguing that he himself had a better plan for the game’s business model. Allen retaliated with a lawsuit, accusing Smart of a “smear campaign” (the suit was settled in 2010 and the company walked back some of Smart’s statements).

The game itself then muddled along without much of anything to distinguish it besides an expansion in 2014. Then, in 2017, Smart told Steam players that the game’s low population hadn’t justified development. A month later, the game went offline for what Smart initially characterized as a server maintenance and migration. But as it turned out, there was more to it: Smart’s company, 3000AD – which operates Line of Defense – had taken over the game and was in the process of replacing and moving the ancient servers with plans for a new release. At the time, he was adamant that contrary to news reports, the game was not sunsetting, just offline.

Not much has happened in the last year, but as MMO Fallout noticed, Smart did recently post an update on Steam. In November, he apologized for the “long silence” and wrote,

“There are quite a few exciting things going on and which I can’t disclose at this point; but only to say that Alganon WILL be coming back. And this time with a worldwide release via an established MMO partner. There’s quite a bit of consolidation (e.g. see gamigo buying Trion Worlds) going on in the gaming space, especially in MMO space. So things are a bit touch and go for the most part. I have a LOT of money invested in Alganon, and part of recouping that investment is to relaunch it via a third-party partner and in the best way possible. We’re working on that.”

And just a few weeks ago, he clarified that he’s “working with several parties on partnership deals which would see a territorial release as well as targeted marketing for its eventual relaunch.”

“The game has not been sunset or I would have announced it as such,” he reiterates. “It’s coming back as soon as everything that I’m working on completes. Yes, it’s taken some time, but that’s how these things go.”

Source: Steam via MMO Fallout
Update March 5
Smart has posted another update on Steam, explaining some of the challenges of getting an older MMO moved and back online.

“In the case of Alganon, aside from the fact that it was never deployed outside of the US, was never localized, doesn’t support cloud servers etc, it’s a massive undertaking to transition. I bought it from the investors because, like all my games, my goal is to bring it back online and keep it going until the wheels come off because it can pay for itself in the long term. The biggest challenge is that you can’t just launch an MMO game these days. It’s a lot more challenging, astoundingly costly, and without marketing you’re just asking for trouble while delaying the inevitable. It’s why I chose not to relaunch it myself; but instead seek out international partners so that it can be re-launched in key territories, marketed appropriately etc – and with much fanfare. And through all that, we can also do some cosmetic revisions over time because some of the visual assets do need some minor updating.”

Unlike a lot of developers, he also offers up some cold hard stats. “FYI. At the time I took it offline, the game had about 250K unique accounts, and a pretty decent DAU/MAU,” he says. “Sure it wasn’t lighting up charts, bank accounts or anything, but it was doing OK – considering that it was at the stage where we barely touched it, except to reboot the master/auth servers once in awhile. But, like SOTA and similar games, it had a dedicated user base.

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dsmart

The thing with MMO games is that you can’t just turn off the switch, move it, then plug it all back in. Plus, with Alganon, there are other things that need to be sorted out.

I used gamigo for a specific reason because it’s the latest such acquisition (they bought Trion Worlds – who were insolvent – via an assignment for the benefit of creditors deal) whereby everything remains “in place” and it’s business as usual. There’s basically nothing to transfer, transition etc.

In the case of Alganon, aside from the fact that it was never deployed outside of the US, was never localized, doesn’t support cloud servers etc, it’s a massive undertaking to transition. I bought it from the investors because, like all my games, my goal is to bring it back online and keep it going until the wheels come off because it can pay for itself in the long term.

The biggest challenge is that you can’t just launch an MMO game these days. It’s a lot more challenging, astoundingly costly, and without marketing you’re just asking for trouble while delaying the inevitable. It’s why I chose not to relaunch it myself; but instead seek out international partners so that it can be re-launched in key territories, marketed appropriately etc – and with much fanfare. And through all that, we can also do some cosmetic revisions over time because some of the visual assets do need some minor updating.

Being a 100% completed game (we finished it back in 2011 after I took it over in 2010; and I also funded a large expansion pack, got it on Steam etc few years later) that is basically a hands-off SaaS model, it’s not like I have a massive overheard to operate and run it. I could bring it online in a matter of days if I wanted to; but there is no rush or incentive to do so. Especially since there are lots of moving parts involved with the process. Not to mention the fact that it was still running on legacy bare-metal Dell hardware (datacenter co-lo) that was procured back in 2006 (!!) – long before my involvement in the project.

FYI. At the time I took it offline, the game had about 250K unique accounts, and a pretty decent DAU/MAU. Sure it wasn’t lighting up charts, bank accounts or anything, but it was doing OK – considering that it was at the stage where we barely touched it, except to reboot the master/auth servers once in awhile. But, like SoTA and similar games, it had a dedicated user base.

And also, we didn’t have enough of an involvement in terms of team community engagement due to lack of resources (mostly funding; since I don’t have the luxury of spending other peoples money) to go “big”. Most of the guys who worked on it, having finished their work, have since moved on to other things, while others work on as-needed contract basis.

Alganon will be back. Eventually.

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Bruno Brito

Alganon will be back. Eventually.

OLEG, ARMS, ELIOT, JOE, GD, UTA, RAPH, XIJI, MORDY, PANA

I CALL UPON YOU ALL: Let’s make a bet and see if Alganon will be back before SC enters beta. 100 bucks towards SOTA cashshop, which will probably get us a rubber duck and Garriott saying “f*ck you” in robot voice.

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Tizmah

Don’t know if it’ll be worth it. It’s a different market now. Turn it into a Battle Royale and maybe it’ll catch on.

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Alberto

“it’s taken some time, but that’s how these things go.”…REALLY? I mean..REALLY? The Irony of this statement…….

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Solaris

LOL

NO

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Hydlide S

Don’t say his name or you’ll summon him to the comments section.

-reads below-

Oh no… we may already be too late…

Xijit
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Xijit

Why can’t good game developers fight to keep their games online like Derrick Smart fights to keep his shitty ones alive?

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markfromindy

For some reason whenever I hear the name I think of the story ” Flowers For Algernon”

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Solaris

I mean, he has something in common with the main character… when he’s ‘not’ smart.’

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

I’ve heard good things about Gamigo.

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Akagi

Gamigo and Aeria are trash. They are lousy publishers and their games are trash. Aeria is under Gamigo.

Aeria published Alliance pf Valiant Arms and completely ruined the game and pushed away 80% of the playerbase in 3 years tims and helped kill the game.

In late 2017 Aeria/Gamigo published Ironsight and this game is already on its deathbed 1.5 years later while still ib OBT with no progress being made and 95% of thr playerbase gone.

A few years back Gamigo had a mediocre library of some of thr shittiest games possible. The. Out of the blue they acquire Aeria, they don’t stop with that and acquire Trion too… Nobody knows how do they come up with this money considering they have the shittidst games.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

I was being sarcastic in a way, but then Gamigo will buy anything.

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Akagi

I understood that halfway through my reply, but decided to finish it and post it anyway.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

Hoy crap, I was only kidding about Gamigo but if you read the top comment it looks like DSMart actually went with that idea.

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Greaterdivinity

I know you’re being sarcastic but…

Honestly, gamigo has already done more to support live servers in Rift since they purchased the Trion IP’s than Trion has done in the better part of a year+ with the game. Between turning on older live events and now having a dungeon going to the PTS, it looks like they may be attempting to properly support a game rather than put it in hospice until it eventually slips away.

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Bruno Brito

Why

39509585_2305542722807434_1347243971314712576_n.jpg
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PanagiotisLial1

Love that pic, the cat seems a bit surprised as well, lol

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Bruno Brito

Yeah, exactly.

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Dug From The Earth

Pretty sure we can all just sit back and watch, this one will die off without anyone having to do anything.

… again

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Utakata

…in which Derek Smart gets to play Chris Roberts. o.O

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Alberto

Right is this Like some Bizarro world??? Mirror Universe???

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Utakata

When one’s ego is both at size and complexity of a Star Citizen road map…then if that shoe fits, they should wear it. <3

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dsmart

Yeah, because I actually took over $200m in public money, then didn’t deliver a game – of any kind – in 7 years? Are you even serious right now? Get a grip.

Pepperzine
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Pepperzine

Don’t talk to Utakata that way.

It’s obvious her comparison was in not delivering a solid product, not crowdfunding. And no, she’s not being serious, it’s obviously a joke.

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Armsman

Oh come one Darek be honest – you’re ALWAYS taken either a person’s (or Publishers money) and STILL NEVER really delivered a game that anyone really wants to play.

Need proof:
https://steamcharts.com/app/266620

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Bruno Brito

To be fair, it’s a game.

Not that i would let my children touch this pile of rotten garbage, but hey, it’s a game.