These are the days when your job isn’t much fun: When you report sad news in the MMOverse. Today’s unhappy announcement is that the sandbox Origins of Malu is suspending all development indefinitely. I’ve personally been following, reporting on, and streaming Origins of Malu since my first interview with devs in 2011, and it’s been quite a roller-coaster ride since then. Those who rooted for the game have followed it through three different engines, changes in developers, delays, a name change, and Steam Early Access as a battleground. There was much promise in that world.
The good news is that all is not lost! You might have noticed that I did not say that OoM was canceled or shutting down; I only said that development was suspended. There is still hope on the horizon that the game will be completed. What is necessary for the wheel of development to start turning again is the introduction of an investor into the mix. The reality is that Burning Dog Media simply cannot continue to self-finance the endeavor out of the developers’ own pockets.
I sat down with Michael Dunham, senior producer and studio founder, in this exclusive interview to talk about what happens now, the future plans for Origins of Malu, and other projects the studio has in the works.
There is no question that developing a MMO — let alone an open-world sandbox — takes a sizeable chunk of cash. In the case of small indie developers, that cash usually starts coming out of their own pockets. In the case of Burning Dog, the money for the entire process for all these years has always come directly from the pockets of the team members. Everything that they did, from writing to art to coding, was done pro bono in their spare time; not a single person got paid. Even the cost of the servers initially came out of personal pockets. Dunham himself bankrolled the project for seven years, taking on extra jobs to keep the dream going. After the Early Access sales, Dunham told me, money was able to go into engine licensing and servers, but it did not completely cover expenses. How can one man or a small team fund the development of a robust MMO? It can’t — not an ordinary person at least. (If you are a multi-millionaire and want to try, chances are looking much better for you!)
Since life and real jobs continue to go on, the answer then is to get investors on board. The good news is that the team has been actively working on this issue. The bad news is that nothing has fit yet. Either investors want to take over complete control of everything or they do not want to jump in until the game already has significant profit and players. Obviously, that last part is a bit of a Catch-22 as players and profit cannot come until the game is finished and out there. The team pushed on for as long as possible on it own and got the game this close to being done, but Dunham says needs more bulk content and engine licensing and servers must continue to be paid for. And for some crazy reasons, devs need to pay for housing, food, and other such things.
And that’s what’s led to the suspension of development until investors are actually adding cash flow into development. The team is currently in talks with different investors, and once some are on board, work on Origins of Malu will resume!
Virgil Davis, technical art lead, wrote an explanatory letter to give players insight into all the details of the situation. We share that letter here.
Click link to read the full story.EXCLUSIVE: ORIGINS OF MALU SUSPENDS DEVELOPMENT, SEEKS INVESTORS