FUO, an MMO inspired by but not officially licensed from Joss Whedon’s Firefly, is at the centre of this weekend’s most-discussed scandal.
On January 1, Dark Cryo, the developer behind FUO, updated the MMO’s Facebook page, which has existed since April 2011.
“With the well wishes of Fox Entertainment Group, we have reactivated the FUO MMORPG Facebook page in preparation for our upcoming kickstart campaign,” the update said.
The phrasing of this update ignited a furious discussion; it was interpreted, inaccurately, as a claim to official licensing or endorsement. Dark Cryo issued a clarification yesterday.
“After numerous telephone conversations, both the executive and legal staff of 20th Century Fox have given DarkCryo Entertainment their well wishes for an inspired – not endorsed – title at this juncture. There is a huge distinction between the two regarding derivative works, and we are continuously working with the senior counsel of 20th to ensure their property remain protected,” the update said.
“Out of professional courtesy, our conference communications with 20th were asked to be kept in confidence.”
As noted on the Dark Cryo website, the MMO has attracted a couple of collaborations, one with celtic ballad group Celtic Paleo, and one with comedian and activist duo The Yes Men. It’s not clear if the collaborations are dependant on high crowdfunding stretch goals, or guaranteed if it reaches its base funding needs.
The endorsement of The Yes Men, along with the confusion of whether the game is officially licensed or not, raised doubts as to whether the MMO is a real project or a hoax. Kotaku has edited its original post on the subject to staunchly declare the whole thing a fake, and this report has been passed around as proof of the MMO’s sketchy nature.
Unconvinced, GameInformer got in touch with DarkCryo to ask a few pointed questions, and received a statement on the Yes Men’s appearance.
“Firefly had its Blue Hands, FUO has its Yes Men DarkCryo has received a myriad of endorsement proposals with the idea of featuring such celebrities with ingame cameos. Much as Circa Paleo will be performing throughout the fringes of the FUO Universe, the Yes Men elite NPCs will be sabotaging Megacorp faction PCs whom are guilty of monopolizing ingame commerce,” it said.
“In a user-generated environment, balance is everything. Every faction requires a creative boss to which we can relate, and the Yes Men were gracious enough to allow us the integration of their identities into gameplay.”
The developer also referenced reports claiming it is trolling fans of the show, calling such claims ‘impulsive’ writing, but said it hasn’t tried to correct inaccuracies.
“Endorsement is a two way street, and we are more than happy to return the favour of publicity back to the Yes Men who have taken the leap of faith to endorse DarkCryo,” it said, posting a screenshot.
In summary: a fan or indie developer is making an MMO which draws inspiration from, but is not licensed by, Firefly. It wants to obtain a license if possible (it’s worth noting that Multiverse once held it) but will go ahead without it, having checked with Fox how derivative it can be without causing problems. It has received a celebrity endorsement from an act often considered hoaxers or trolls.
That seems to be the story right now, but do please click through the source links and check it out for yourself. FUO will launch an IndieGoGo crowd funding campaign in just under two weeks.