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Mister Zero

Planet.. Michael?

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News from USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/life/lifestyle/2010-09-21-mjworld21_ST_N.htm

It has been 15 months since Michael Jackson died, leaving his Neverland in limbo. But a virtual Neverland is in the works as a tribute to the late King of Pop.

Planet Michael, an online virtual world devoted to Jackson's life, music and concerns, being developed to open late next year, will combine features of a massively multiplayer online game and social network.

"We put a focus on something that will truly allow fans to immerse themselves in a Michael Jackson-like universe or music-video-like world and interact with each other and then go on adventures and do gameplay stuff and socialize," says Josh Gordon of developer SEE Virtual Worlds.

Think World of Warcraft— with no violence and more dancing. "The player is more apt to succeed in a situation using song, dance and adventure as opposed to violence," Gordon says.

A free-to-download game, Planet Michael will let players (ages 13-up) customize their own avatars, perhaps with red Thriller jackets and sequined gloves. However, you will be able to spend money on items, and some virtual objects earned and created in the world can be traded or sold to others. (More information at planetmichael.com.)

But will Planet Michael's publishers be able to overcome Jackson's tarnished reputation, which included such behavior as holding a newborn off a hotel balcony and charges of molesting children (he was acquitted on criminal charges, while some civil cases were settled out of court)?

"The answer is, 'I'm not sure,' " says video game industry analyst Michael Pachter, commenting not on Planet Michael specifically but on potential projects including the recently announced Michael Jackson The Experience dance video game from Ubisoft.

"If parents are the target, I think that the legacy baggage will be a problem," Pachter says. "If the user is the target, I think that all will be forgiven, because there is no question that he was a phenomenal performer. So I suppose the answer is 'somewhere in between.' "

"There is no doubt we will be open to people joking about it and criticizing it," says Gordon. "We'll just have to roll with that as it comes, so to speak. ... He's such a big name and he's such a big legend that no matter what we do, we are going to get a lot of people who are excited, and we are going to get people who criticize us. And we have just taken that as the way it is going to be."

Before he died, Jackson was exploring games and interactive entertainment prospects. "Unfortunately, he never got to this point," says Martin Biallas, president of SEE Virtual Worlds, a division of Biallas' larger company SEE (Special Entertainment Events), for which he organized real-life happenings around Star Trek's 30th anniversary and the 1999 world tour of Titanic props, sets and costumes.

The Swedish company MindArk, which operates the Entropia Universe online service, ap- proached SEE about entertainment properties that might be worthy of virtual-world treatment, and Biallas contacted the Jackson estate. "They loved it and said this could actually be something where we could also transmit the ideas (and) the vision that Michael had, and not make it just a game but make it a social-interacting platform."

So in addition to areas based on songs such as Thriller, Beat It and Smooth Criminal, there might be an altruistic area based on a song such as Heal the World. Players will be able to donate to charities as well.

"We believe this online social gaming experience will bring the most passionate Michael Jackson fans together with those just discovering his artistry in a unique environment where they can celebrate his music, his art and his devotion to helping those in need," says an e-mailed statement from Jackson's estate and executors.

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Thriller Land

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Go on adventures....do gameplay stuff.....Moonwalker part 2?????

I have no clue what the point will be yet.. they haven't really specified. They're "listening to ideas" at their Facebook page and soon the forum for the game.

If you want to see something similar, they have other "Planets" MMO games- Entropia Universe is what it's called. They have a game that is similar to this(in look and presentation), I believe, and it's called Planet Calypso(http://www.planetcalypso.com/home/). It looks similar to that Second Life game. Planet Calypso actually looks kind of interesting and the graphics are definitely top-notch, so there's no doubt Planet Michael will be a quality game.

I've always been a huge Michael Jackson fan so in a way I'm looking forward to seeing what they'll do with this. Not sure if I'll actually play it much but I will at least try it.

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Keep up posted, and when you try the game, give us a good explanation. That way you could recommend it to M.J. fans AND casual gamers....if it's good

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