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Someone Just Gave Ed, Edd, and Eddy a Laser Gun

Company: Cartoon Network Interactive
Product: Fusion Fall

At the Austin GDC, I had an opportunity to talk to the fine folks working on Cartoon Network's new MMO Fusion Fall. Cartoon Network's original lineup is home to many different cartoon worlds and art styles. Linking all of these styles together presented quite a hurdle. Just making a safe MMO for kids is a big enough hurdle. Taking all of the above while attempting to manage a genre-bender by adding platforming and action gaming in a browser-based MMO. None of this makes for a light task. Luckily they take their job seriously while smiling through the whole thing.

So how do you go about molding all of the unique art styles into one cohesive style? You start from scratch and make them your own. Given the current success of anime stylization, they have molded the characters to fit the style. Not only adapting the characters to a Cel-shaded anime style, they also aged the characters to fit an older 8-14 year old demographic. While on the subject of uniformity, I have to give them some credit for a problem well solved. Everyone wants to be one character or another; so how do you keep from having 3,000 Ben 10 clones running around? You make everyone choose their own personal avatar, but to allow them to "have" the characters they want, say for example, Blue from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, turn all of the characters into usable weapons or Nanos. This allows you to collect the characters you like, while keeping each player unique. There will be 30 Nanos, to start, of the most famous characters.

I said that these Nanos were weapons, right? So if you didn't know this by now, I am happy to spoil it for you, but there is the most basic game embedded in all MMO's called Rock, Paper, Scissors, one strength to one weakness. What the Nanos allow you to do is have a weapon available in one or more of the classes you face. There are currently 60 playable zones that include familiar areas from Cartoon Network, including the Cul-de-Sac, the Tree House and Foster's, as well as new imagined play areas such as Fusion Fall's downtown, dark lands and vast wild lands. These areas will all have creature strengths that you will have to find a Nano to counter. You are allowed to carry 3 Nanos at any one time, so choose your Nanos well and you will have an easier time of it.

There is a certain amount of parental apprehension when it comes to games. Add in the fact this is an MMO, then multiply the fact it is a browser-based game, and that is enough to send some parents screaming to the hills in fear. Browser-based games are games that are played solely through your Internet browser; this can mean that your kids are able to leave the game and surf instead of being in a game that makes use of the connection, but does not allow Internet access. Well, parents should always watch their kids online, but thanks to developer Crisp's NetModerator system, you can rest a lot easier that nefarious actions are closely monitored and prevented. Anytime you have an online game or MMO, there is absolutely no way a few human game monitors can catch everything that happens. There is just too much going on. With Crisp's technology, they can monitor everything and action times faster than through conventional systems.

We can go to the homepage to play in the BETA. I am ready to get my hands on the game and put it through its paces. In a MMO world dominated by mature games, it is great to see something more appropriate brought down for younger kids. There are many MMO's for kids, but not that will be as well monitored and have the familiar characters that we all know. I look forward to this being a success for parents and kids.

-WUMPUSJAGGER, GameVortex Communications
AKA Bryon Lloyd

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