38s_logo.jpgJust what exactly is Copernicus? That’s the code name for 38 Studios massively multiplayer online fantasy game. Curt Schilling’s video game company is making a next-generation MMO. It has artistry from Todd McFarlane and a story by R.A. Salvatore. There are 45 people working on it in Maynard, Mass.

But Schilling and 38 Studios CEO Brett Close are mum on the rest of the details since the game isn’t coming out until 2010. We can guess that a comic book version of the story will be out long before then.

brett_close_38studiossmall.jpgClose confirms that it will likely take $50 million at a minimum to do the core MMO. They are, however, using a lot of partners to help defray the risk, including the Big World MMO development engine which they licensed last month. The Big World engine is proven and it serves as a great foundation for the game, Close said.

At a party at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the company showed a concept video that generated all of the emotions that it had in mind. It consisted of the intense combat action scenes from all sorts of fantasy films, from Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings movies to intense scenes from Conan the Barbarian. There were foul creatures, thunderous cavalry charges, wizards engaging in magic, and such. The screen shots, which they aren’t releasing yet, showed large-scale fantasy environments. It definitely did not feel like just a game. It was more cinematic.

“Copernicus is a kick-ass product you won’t be able to put down,” Close said. “We are talking about a new world order in entertainment. It’s the next frontier of online content. It is engaging, epic, Hollywood-style content. Not just a game where you log in and grind. More like the TV show Lost, with an addictive story. What you do matters in the world and makes a significant difference to you. I’d liken it to a novel you can’t put down.”

But it isn’t simply a World of Warcraft clone, Close said. “We are both pro athletes. One is baseball, one is football. Ours will make you feel like you have emotional ties to it. Story based.”

But it isn’t just an MMO and you will be able to access it from mobile devices such as cell phones, Close said. “We are providing our customers with as many touch points as possible into our world. Print, mobile products. You can be involved when you are not sitting in front of your PC.”