Hotcakes: Don’t Give Idea Fabrik Money

A deadbeat developer that runs off fraud and lies.

If you’re a gamer who plays MMOs, then odds are you’re at least vaguely familiar with the Hero Engine. Rewind the clock back to 2009 and Hero Engine showed up as the new kid on the block. A video game engine specifically created for MMOs at a time when most other AAA engines couldn’t really do the job themselves and a lot of MMOs were built on proprietary and expensive engines.

So you might be wondering why Hero Engine never became adopted as the primary engine of choice for MMO developers. Scratch that, you may be wondering why Hero Engine hasn’t produced more than a single successful MMO in its twelve years of existence. Why is that?

Because Hero Engine is awful. It’s an engine that is too restrictive and expensive for independent developers to build a successful game out of, and too restrictive and underperforming for actual AAA developers to make a good game with. Considering Idea Fabrik themselves can’t make a successful MMO with their own engine, that should be all the information you need.

The games it is capable of producing don’t run particularly well, they don’t look particularly good, and it overall is not a good engine for creating MMOs given its terrible performance problems when rendering large groups of players/NPCs/objects and the fact that it is so heavily instance based.

To put it bluntly, if the HeroEngine was worth the paper its license was printed on, why hasn’t a single successful developer used the engine after Bioware bought the alpha version for use in Star Wars: The Old Republic? Back in 2012 Idea Fabrik COO Neil Harris said that over five thousand development licenses had been handed out for HeroEngine. Where are five hundred of those games? Scratch that, where are fifty of those games? Scratch that, where are five of those games? I know where they are, they’re in a dumpster behind Webzen’s offices.

Let me put it like this; The last update on HeroEngine’s roadmap is from 2019, a damning commentary about the company’s competence when they haven’t updated basic parts of their website (the part that would be advertising to clients) over four years. The roadmap mentions working on support for Directx11. Yeah. Directx11. The version that launched in 2009 with Windows Vista. Gee, I wonder why 1.) No serious developer has used the Hero Engine and 2.) why after twelve years the engine has basically nothing to show for itself in terms of success stories. Or meager profit stories. Or just games going gold.

Also Idea Fabrik loves lying on its website. Check this out.

EA, Bioware, and ZeniMax Online demand the best technology for developing and maintaining their online games. HeroEngine is the tech solution they’ve all chosen to build some of their biggest title games.  Join hundreds of developers all around the world, build your game online in the HeroCloud!

You’ll notice that they list EA and Bioware as separate entities, despite the fact that Bioware licensed the Hero Engine for Star Wars: The Old Republic and EA owns Bioware. Also note the ambiguity of “some of their biggest title games.” Sounds impressive until you remember that EA only licensed HeroEngine for ONE of their games. The same with ZeniMax. They chose HeroEngine for ONE of their games, not some of their games.

And I don’t know who they think they’re fooling. Like anyone is going to sign up for a business deal without fact checking these claims and very quickly find them to be crap.

I’ve also previously called out the bare-ass lie that Idea Fabrik keeps pushing ZeniMax as a partner. ZeniMax licensed Hero Engine for the prototype of The Elder Scrolls Online. Idea Fabrik continues to list ESO as a Hero Engine game despite not a single drop of Hero Engine existing within the published product. You could say they Idea Fabrik-ated the actual extent of the relationship. Don’t say that, puns are illegal here.

Idea Fabrik’s website showcases nine games, and let’s go down the list. Star Wars: The Old Republic is the only successful MMO with its roots in Hero Engine, however the game forked at such an early development phase during the alpha build of the engine that the version that you see when playing the game is so massively altered that it is barely the same engine. Idea Fabrik is cheering the game they refused to support the developer on.

Faxion was cancelled, the website admits that. HiHola claims it is “still being used” which is a lie. HiHola’s website has been offline for the better part of the last decade. The Repopulation is listed, sort of a hilarious joke. What Idea Fabrik won’t tell you is that the Hero Engine’s ridiculous pricing structure and approach to shoving fees and royalties at any developer who uses it played a big part in bankrupting the original developer only for Idea Fabrik to parasitically take on the game and keep it alive so the engine isn’t a complete market failure.

Oh and The Repopulation is shutting down because the contractor devs they had working on it publicly quit this week. I’m going to guess that the folks at Idea Fabrik don’t even know these events transpired yet because the company barely seems to acknowledge the outside world these days.

Visions of Zosimos was a big fat flop that shut down before its release. Farmer3D not only never released, it failed back during the Steam Greenlight days and its development completion is highly questionable. Exile Online is somehow still in alpha development after ten years. I’m pretty sure the development on their Facebook page is fake as the website still points to a domain that now hosts nothing but Chinese porno. And then there is Hero’s Journey, a game that the website openly admits stopped development in 2009.

There you have it, a real parade of winners.

I talk to a lot of developers behind closed doors in my time here at MMO Fallout, and I have not spoken to a single person in the last ten years who has anything positive to say about HeroEngine when their company considered it. In fact I don’t think I’ve seen profanity used quite as freely as when I talk to developers about their thoughts on Hero Engine. Usually they tend to be a bit more professionally minded when referring to third party potential partners. It’s not so much rejected as it is actively despised among a good number of devs I’ve talked to.

Ultimately the title of this piece is completely useless, I guess, as anyone who might need to be told not to give Idea Fabrik money likely already knows that licensing the Hero Engine is a massive waste of resources.

Otherwise I have no opinion on the matter.

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