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Up-coming MMORPG Based on Shakespeare's Works 100

Linnen writes "Edward Castronova has received a MacArthur Foundation grant to build a MMOG based on Shakespeare's plays." "Castronova said 'Arden' will launch — it's unclear when, as the game is still in the early design stage — built around the theme of 'Richard III.' That's because the play, set during the War of the Roses, offers historical context, as well as enough political intrigue, secret conniving, deal-making and war to delight any gamer, he said. 'It's a historical Shakespeare play, so that means it's really easy for us to take all the sort of fantasy stuff like knights in shining armor and peasants and woodworkers...and we can just really fit right into 'Richard III' right away.'"
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Up-coming MMORPG Based on Shakespeare's Works

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  • by beyowulf ( 1014741 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @02:39PM (#16519489)
    4rm h311's d4rk h34rt 1 st4b 47 th33!!
    • But.... (Score:5, Funny)

      by LordEd ( 840443 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @02:43PM (#16519549)
      Will it be written in the original kingon?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Juliet1342 > Romeo Romeo, Wherefor art thou romeo? Romeotheman12 > Sorry bout that, lagged out, stupid server... Definatly an interesting concept, the key is going to be the players. If you get a bunch of RPers in the game who just want to have fun then it'll probably be a great time for all. If, on the other hand, you get a bunch of lamers (which, somehow, I honestly can't see the type of people I consider lamers playing anything with shakespeare in it, so maybe this won't happen) it'll just devolv
    • Umm.... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Kelson ( 129150 ) * on Friday October 20, 2006 @03:05PM (#16519895) Homepage Journal
      4rm h311's d4rk h34rt 1 st4b 47 th33!!

      Wouldn't that be for the Melville MMORPG []?

      On the other hand, I can see that game devolving into one long Moby Dick joke.

      • Though both authors, William Shakespeare preceeded Hermen Melville by about 200 years and their literary stiles are quite different. Not sure if the orignal quote is actaully from Shakespeare's works, but I do know that it (or something very like it) does appear in Moby Dick.

        But, no, the humor of the OP is not lost at me. I would have likely modded it funny as well.

      • 4rm h311's d4rk h34rt 1 st4b 47 th33!!
        Wouldn't that be for the Melville MMORPG?
        I think you might be right. I maybe mixing my literature quotes
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          Yes, but in getting the genres mixed up, I think you've hit upon a second major feature of a Shakes MMORPG....
        • by andphi ( 899406 )
          Those words could easily come out of the mouth of many characters in the Tragedies and Histories. I mistook it for Shakespeare, too.

          Romeo to Tybalt
          Tybalt to Mercutio and vice versa
          MacDuff as he kills that Scotsman we don't talk about in theatres
          Hamlet killing Claudius
          Hamlet killing Polonius
          Hamlet killing Laertes
          Laertes Killing Hamlet
          Whoever kills Richard III
          I can't remember the primary Cause of Death in Lear or Othello, but there has to be at least one fatal, non-self-inflicted stabbing in each.

          Then there's
      • by Guppy06 ( 410832 )
        "On the other hand, I can see that game devolving into one long Moby Dick joke."

        Did you have to use the word "long?"
    • by jnaujok ( 804613 )
      Hark, what hempen homespuns,
      have we swaggering here?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by andphi ( 899406 )
      |ri h4v0( & l33t sl1p teh d@wgz 0f w@rz!
    • 7|-|15 d1D 1 Ph34R, bU7 7|-|0U9|-|7 |-|3 |-|4D |\|0 \/\/34P0|\|; pH0R |-|3 \/\/45 9R3@ 0Ph |-|34R7.

  • by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @02:40PM (#16519503) Homepage Journal
    An MMORPG set in the world of Shakespeare, where all the world's a stage?

    Can we have a play within a play, ala Hamlet, within an MMORPG? :D
    • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @02:49PM (#16519647)
      > An MMORPG set in the world of Shakespeare, where all the world's a stage?

      ...and all the players are idiots. Yep, that's about right.

      "To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
      Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
      To the last syllable of recorded time;
      And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
      The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
      Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player,
      That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
      And then is heard no more: it is a tale
      Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
      Signifying nothing."
      - Macbeth (V, v, 19), shortly after his wife unsubscribed and his guild fell apart.

      Pretty much sums up every MMORPG to which I've ever subjected myself.

      • by AoT ( 107216 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @03:06PM (#16519925) Homepage Journal
        It still amazes me how beautiful a language so ugly as english can be.

        That english poets have had such crap to work wth and made such beauty is incredible, it's like you give some guy a shotgun and he carves the statue david.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by andphi ( 899406 )
          Technically, Shakespeare invented some of his vocabulary. Other playwrights and poets of the time did likewise. Milton did it. I daresay Marlowe and Thomas Kidd did as well. Not to mention the Metaphysical and Cavalier poets. Those whose writings have survived were educated men, some had traveled, none were bound by any dictionary or even standardized spelling. They borrowed or made up the words they needed, then helped the players understand what they meant. If the language is beautiful and horrific (I can
      • by hey! ( 33014 )
        Shakespeare is an immersive experience.

        MMORPGs are, oddly enough not.

        MMORPGs are not really about role playing. Although calling them "strategy games" would cause confusion, they are really about strategy. They aren't about believing the rules of the game, they are about exploting them.

        It's interesting that we call what Shakespeare mostly produced a "play". There is an element of imaginative play in enjoying a drama. This element is one of make believe -- a different kind of game than a competitive gam
    • Yup. You actually get an EXP bonus if you can type in iambic pentameter.

      [Side note, for a gen. ed. in college, i took beginning acting. The prof was old and a little senile, so he would often forget lines when performing. He could, however, freestyle in Shakespearian IP, so unless you actually knew the play by heart you probably wouldnt know.]

      • That's awesome. Nobody really performs Shakespeare line-for-line anyway, so improv Shakespeare sounds like a great idea. There are a thousand different stories you could tell just by cutting scenes and lines in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
    • I don't see why not, there's been the same in FFXI
  • Whyfore? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Avatar8 ( 748465 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @02:41PM (#16519525)
    Methinks this be a failure from the start
    For no person would care to play a tiny part
    In what once was great literature that brought Bill great fame
    But for a theater of the globe, as a game, dost sound lame.
  • The online version of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern [].
  • If there's no Oberon, I don't give a Puck *ducks*
  • by brennanw ( 5761 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @02:47PM (#16519625) Homepage Journal
    all female characters will have the ability to pose as young men.

    Which means male players will be playing female characters playing male characters.
    • And how is this different from the original Shakespeare? Oh, Viola...
    • by lawpoop ( 604919 )
      Sort of like Monty Python's Life of Brian, where male actors were playing women who were dressed as men so they could stone someone.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Weren't female parts played by men during that time on stage?

      So it should be male gameplayers playing male toons who dress as females who has the ability to pretend to be male characters.

      • You sir are correct.

        The parent poster must have recieved all of his knowledge about Shakespearian plays from the movie Shakespeare in Love.
        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          The grandparent was commenting on the fact that many of Shakespeare's plays contain female characters disguising themselves as men. The fact that these female characters were, in the playwright's lifetime, played by men, was not relevant to his or her comment.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by brennanw ( 5761 )
          Have you read ANY of Shakespeare's comedies?

      • ... there were STILL more actual women playing men playing men playing women, then there are women playing female night elves.
  • They can gate into the "alternate reality" with guns and staves blazing...

    Ohh, take that Mr. I'm-All-Bright-And-Shiny-in-My-Formed-Metal-Armor! !!

    Might make some of those stuck up archers think twice befor showing off their nice two fingers.
    • They can gate into the "alternate reality" with guns and staves blazing...
      How dare you not mention the Zat'nik'tel! *gives you two Zat blasts*
      • by hcob$ ( 766699 )
        Or 3... if you want to disintegrate your opponent/target.

        The main wonder I have about the "stargate universe" MMORPG is how it will handle death (and if you can enlist Kawalski(sp?) to assist in some tough missions that require human shields). I'm hoping its more like UO then WoW.
  • /bite (Score:5, Funny)

    by Wrexen ( 151642 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @02:54PM (#16519717) Homepage
    * You bite your thumb at A Montague
  • #592341 xpl0re3> fuck, i mean, it worked for romeo and juliet... they met at a party and were married the next fucking day beanphoner> you obviously didn't read the end of that play
  • Shak-who? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CAIMLAS ( 41445 )
    Shak-who? I imagine 50% of the population under 25 doesn't even remember why Shakespeare is significant.

    And 49% don't think his work is relevant or even anything special - just boring romance novel/chic flick type pulp.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by miyako ( 632510 )
      I'll count myself as one of the people who is not a big shakespeare fan.
      I consider myself a moderately well read person, and I have read a lot of the classics. I've read a fair big of Shakespeare, and some of his stuff is good, a lot of it is crap. Even the best of it though is often melodramatic and basically reminds me of soap operas. Most of all, a lot of shakespears work, to me, just seems to be sub par when compared to Dante, Homer, or many other classic writers.
      That, in and of itself, wouldn't re
      • That's because Shakespeare isn't meant to be READ, it's meant to be PERFORMED. It's not really literature, it's theatre. You'll have to trust me on this one, I guess.
      • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 )
        The thing about Shakespeare is that, in order to "get it" you really need to be well versed in the culture of the time - or, at least, the cultural references in the plays - and the nuanced jokes throughout it. In other words, you've got to have the jokes explained to you.

        People who say Shakespeare was a good writer and that bladabla - WHATEVER - are full of crap. Sure, he was a good, and significantly better than average writer. Even a revolutionary writer, as he is arguably the inventor of the sitcom. But
      • by Shambhu ( 198415 )

        And the works of shakespeare themselves might appeal to more people if someone did a decent modern-english translation of them.

        Shakespeare didn't write in prose, he wrote in (mostly) blank verse. The words are everything. Translating them into modern English would leave you with some decent stories with good character development (if translated well) but that is all. Most people have at least as much difficulty, at first, with the sheer flexibility and volume of metaphor and imagery of his language as they

        • TITANIA. Set your heart at rest;
          The fairy land buys not the child of me.
          His mother was a vot'ress of my order;
          And, in the spiced Indian air, by night,
          Full often hath she gossip'd by my side;
          And sat with me on Neptune's yellow sands,
          Marking th' embarked traders on the flood;
          When we have laugh'd to see the sails conceive,
          And grow big-bellied with the wanton wind;
          Which she, with pretty and with swimming gait
          Following - her womb then rich with my young squire -
          Would imitate, and sail upon the land,
          To fetch me

    • Well, since far less than %1 of the population actually plays MMOs, it would be great to even get %1 (speaking globally, of course).

      This will never come to fruition though. MacArthur grants come with no caveats, as far as I understand them.

      But, good luck to him. I would buy it!

    • Shak-who? I imagine 50% of the population under 25 doesn't even remember why Shakespeare is significant.

      I'd be surprised if 50% of the population ever actually knew anything about the bard, never mind remember..
    • by dircha ( 893383 )

      Shak-who? I imagine 50% of the population under 25 doesn't even remember why Shakespeare is significant. And 49% don't think his work is relevant or even anything special - just boring romance novel/chic flick type pulp.

      Under 25, eh? That's an interesting take. I would have guessed, if anything, that most people over - not under - 25 are the ones who pay his works no attention.

      Honestly, what percentage of the post-highschool, post-college population do you think encounters or even seeks out Shakespeare

    • by Guppy06 ( 410832 )

      Because you didn't include the E, I now find myself having visions of an MMORPG based on Shaq-Fu.
  • by Gorm the DBA ( 581373 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @03:05PM (#16519901) Journal
    "LFG: Juliet's Balcony, have Tank and Healer, need DPS, full on Bards"
  • that there's nothing a 16 year old gamer wants to do less than think about Shakespeare. A boring^H^H^H^H^H^Hmature concept like classic literature might actually keep the user base tolerable.
    • Have you actually read Shakespeare? It's pretty much on the same maturity level as the stereotypical 16-year-old gamer.
  • ...hello /bitethumb
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Just imagine the guild drama in this one.
  • by krell ( 896769 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @03:28PM (#16520213) Journal
    Let me guess: your player character will be in the guise of one of a million monkeys with a million typewriters [].
  • by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @03:30PM (#16520237) Homepage Journal
    Every time I try to get a raiding party together, a bunch of them log off right after my pre-raid pep-talk!
    • King-Halll: No, my fair cousin; If we are mark'd to die, we are enow To do our country loss; and if to live, The fewer men, the greater share of honour.....

      Bed4d: Dood, u r lame, stop talking like that. Lol, u r RPer? rofl!!

      King-Halll:...I pray thee, wish not one man more. By Jove, I am not covetous for gold...

      Bed4d has left the game.

      Gloucester69: What? You said there'd be phat lewt?!?!?!?11!!

      King-Halll:....We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be

  • I worry, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by joe 155 ( 937621 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @03:32PM (#16520267) Journal
    it mentions that because it's classed as one of Shakepeare's history plays they're taking the events in it as historical "fact", I hope that they include a note to say that pretty much none of it is "fact", maybe at the start in the form of a warning...

    Waring: This play was written as propaganda against Richard III, the true king of England, by a man who was close to Elizabeth I and was too afraid to tell the truth which would cast doubt on the right (or otherwise) of the Tudors to the crown.

    Sorry of you don't care, but it's important that people know the facts (or as close as we can get the them anyway)
    • If you RTFA, you'll realize that they never claim that the play was historical fact but BASED on historical facts.
  • This is going to be the most violent video game EVER!
  • The best fantasy series I've read in years has been A Song of Ice and Fire [], written by George R. R. Martin [], which is also based off the Wars of the Roses. I would encourage you people on /. who like such things to check it out. []

    Disclaimer: I am in no way associated with the author or publisher, I just like the novels.
  • I get dibs on Mercutio, that guy was the man. Best death scene ever.
  • The potential for expansions on this game far outweighs how long it could remain relevant.

    I'm holding out for the Titus Andronicus expansion. Rated AO for rape, cannibalism, and murder.
  • by RomSteady ( 533144 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @04:39PM (#16521179) Homepage Journal
    I like the concept of this MMORPG, but it would be difficult to make someone's death a tragedy when they can just respawn two meters away.

  • by NJVil ( 154697 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @04:49PM (#16521351)
    My Kingdom (Hearts 2) for a horse!
  • I could actually see a pretty awesome game made out of Romeo & Juliet's vision of Verona (not the DiCaprio movie version). A city divided up into factions loyal to one side or the other. Rather than battling in your typical MMO's generic fields, you could have street fights and turf wars. It'd definitely have to be a PVP oriented, but it could be really cool.
  • Just to bring some "nostalgia" back, do you remember your high school years reading Shakespeare's books, they obviously forgot because I just had Shakespeare and believe me, I would never play something that involved Shakespeare.
  • *drools*

    If I can play as Margaret, I may have to actually install a game on my computer.

    (Explanation: I consider myself to have enough distractions on my computer via the web, and only play games on consoles.)

  • by kinglink ( 195330 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @06:16PM (#16522623)
    Fight scene between romeo and tybalt = 1000
    Macbeth's sollique = 1 time (your college professor likely had an account).
    Out out damm spot = 10000 (Lady macbeth in a slip?)

    The problem I forsee is while Shakesphere is a bit baudy, and very clever, he's a writer. His characters move a lot and act out scenes. Will we be watching plays? Will we be part of the excellent fight scenes? or will everything be fighting?

    I forsee this having problems but if it's faithful it could be fun... if it's free :)
  • by kabocox ( 199019 ) on Friday October 20, 2006 @06:17PM (#16522631)
    I was just skiming headlines. I think a Paris Hilton MMORPG would be more successful. Heck, why limit yourself with her? Go after the entire porn industry. Try digitizing all those porn stars and ameutars for the MMORPG of Porn Land. The place you go to flirt and find random characters to have sex with. Forget WOW or Second Life, I think this idea could really be the next big thing. We just need Rock Star to develop it.
  • Finally, a game where all you non-roleplaying lamers will get banned for not speaking in iambic pentameter!

  • So is it Gargoyles or Star Trek VI?
  • And once again, all the roles will be played by men. ;)
  • While I am looking forward to checking out this game based on The Bard's work, making it into an MMORPG would make one wonder what would a gamer think after he has wasted his life playing as King Richard III as much as a WOW player with no life.
    I have wasted time, now time doth waste me.
  • I wrote a brief post examing the game design challenges of such subject matter, if anyone's interested: m o/ []

    "He seems to be thinking - granted, at this early stage - of simply shoehorning Shakespeare into World of Warcraft, using it as a powerup. The question they should be asking themselves is 'what do we want people to learn?' and, most particularly, 'how?' Judging by the statement "We'd like to allow our players to learn something valuable, so that's

At work, the authority of a person is inversely proportional to the number of pens that person is carrying.