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BioWare MMO rears head

Perpetual technology licensed.

BioWare Austin has announced it will be using technology developed by Perpetual to make its upcoming massively-multiplayer online game.

This will be the Perpetual Entertainment Platform that handles bundles of time-consuming and fiddly chores: player management tools, billing support, customer relationship management, game feature extension, load-balancing, lobby servicing, patching and community management - to name a few.

It's the same technology Perpetual is using to make its new titles Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising, and Star Trek Online. Interestingly it boasts support for numerous platforms including PC and consoles - BioWare has yet to say which its project will be released on.

"With the Perpetual platform, BioWare's Austin studio can focus on making great games while minimizing the time and effort required to deploy and support their titles," said Joseph Keene, big cheese at Perpetual.

It follows news that the Austin studio will be using Sumutronics' HeroEngine to create the game with.

The most recent information on what to expect from the new project came from the December issue of Games For Windows magazine, where a trio of core staff members outlined the storytelling dream.

"The key points that we're gonna do that no one's done before in an MMOG are bring story, character, and emotion to it. Decisions matter, [non-player characters] aren't just Pez dispensers, and you're not in a grind," Rich Vogel, co-studio director and "MMO veteran", told the magazine.

"You're really compelled to get on and play what's happening today, kind of like watching a series like Lost on TV - putting page-turning in an MMO. It's going to be extremely challenging thing to do, believe me."

The staff at BioWare Austin are also huge fans of World of Warcraft, particularly how polished the game is - something they hope to emulate. But having played in Blizzard's world for so long there are naturally areas they feel they can improve upon, specifically the fabled endgame.

"We have big plans for endgame content that we can't talk about because it's a major part of our design," James Ohlen, lead designer who's work includes Knights of the Old Republic and Neverwinter Nights, told Games For Windows magazine. "We think it's a very important aspect of the game, and we don't want players to be stuck grinding through the same content over and over again."

"I know when I hit level 60 in [World of Warcraft] I pretty much quit. So whatever endgame model we have, it's not going to be that."

BioWare announced it was opening an Austin studio to create an MMO back in March 2006.

We'll keep our eyes peeled for more information as it arrives. How much longer can they keep quiet about it, we wonder?

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Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.

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