Just something I put together.
If not for the century-old phenomena known as the Streisand Effect, the game now known as 1715, one of the most wildly popular semi-historical simulspace VR games, would likely have been enjoyed by many, for a time, and then faded away.
1715 began its life as a VR game on Mars, called Devils of the Caribbean. It owes its genesis to a stupidly powerful and rich Gerontocrat instantiating himself from his very earliest backup as a young man, giving his new fork a top-of-the-line Exalt, 125,000 credits, and telling him he was now his own man.
Briefly at a loss for what to do with himself, the freshly-minted man found himself stymied; how on
EarthMars could he compete with himself, with stupidly vast resources? Well, the answer was he couldn't, of course, and the more his researched his gerontocrat self's history, the more disgusted he became.
So he took a deeply opposite approach; rather than striking into the world of cutthroat finance, he decided to try something new, and go into creative arts; he founded a game studio. The first hurdle he had to overcome was figuring out what to make, and then it hit him: Pirates. Everybody loves pirates. Everybody; after all, that was how Hollywood back on Earth got its first boom, with Errol Flynn and pirate movies, and of course, pirates had enjoyed a fantastic resurgence in the last decade of the 20th century and continued strong well into the 21st. He himself had certainly loved many pirate games back in the day; and experientially, the day was not so long ago from his point of view. Even better; the current simulspace game market somehow utterly lacked a good sea pirate game, set in the days of wooden ships and iron men.
So production started; he hired historians and storyboard artists, and quickly his funding started to dry up, so he sought investors. He found them after his third pitch, where, unbeknownst to him, the key words he had dropped were "whaling and hunting" and "the end of the Golden Age of Piracy, with Black Bart and Edward Teach."
Unbeknownst to him, his pitch had found ears in the dark; Planetary Consortium memeticists. They hoped to use Devils of the Caribbean to push their anti-anarchism and Anti-Uplift-Rights agendas. Anti-Uplift-rights was easy and obvious; with whaling and hunting intended to be a not insignificant part of the game, it was hoped to use it to desensitize people to violence towards cetaceans and hominids by subtly reminding everyone that they were nothing but critters to skin for food and pelts just a few hundred years ago. The anti-Anarchism agenda was more subtle, but no less effective; the end of the Golden Age of Piracy, after all, was the end for a reason: the Pirate Republic of Nassau was an historical example of what happened when men who could be readily termed anarchists had seized a habitat for their own; chronically mismanaged, wracked by diseases and poverty, septic and with little in the way of industries beyond predation on others, it fell quickly when the rightful government returned to restore order; those who had accepted the government back into the fold did well, while those who didn't, hung.
The game released to a reasonably significant amount of fanfare, as simulspace environment games go. It can't be called entirely realistic; while the entire Caribbean (as well as a considerable amount of the coastline of North America, the Gulf of Mexico, and South America,) is rendered in life-size detail, along with all the cities as they existed, significant amounts of historical liberties were taken, such as landmarks and monuments that wouldn't exist for up to a hundred years after the canonical timeframe being in-game, to say nothing of the speed and agility of monstrous sailing ships being upgraded so as not to be boring, not to mention player characters being capable of fairly impressive feats of free-running, and falling being tweaked so that a player can leap into the sea from any height without harm, and drop from significant heights onto land without becoming a pavement pizza.
Players could choose to take on any role they liked, from a relatively humble merchant (boring,) to that of a pirate, or a captain in one of the navies active in the area at the time.
At first, the game was well-received amongst its Martian audience, and soon players were sailing the high seas, plunder, pillaging and pirating their black hearts out. Rave reviews were given to the simulated ecosystem; hurricanes were terrifying, the tropical environment was beautiful, fish swam, dolphins leapt, sharks circled, whales breached, birds flew, and men fought and died on the decks of ships and in the streets of cities like Kingstown and Havana.
Then someone realized that with just a minor tweak to the game client, it was possible to enter the game as a form of wildlife instead of a human. Although the simulspace sensations for wildlife weren't nearly as highly-detailed as those for humans, they were still significant enough to provide an interesting, new experience. In short order, this "feature" was being raved about, and players were taking the opportunity to brachiate through jungle trees as a howler monkey, or swim the oceans as an Orca. In short order, this caught the attention of uplifted hominids and cetaceans, and the game found entirely the wrong audience as far as its secret backers were concerned, especially since there was literally nothing stopping a clever player with a monkey from relieving a wayward pirate or soldier of his weapons, nor was there anything preventing a player in a whale's body from going off the whaling script and aggressively attacking whaling boats and even small ships, easily destroying the boats and managing to sink surprisingly large vessels, up to a brig in size, and crippling larger ones by destroying their rudders.
The backers in the dark didn't like this, and exerted their influence to ensure this "feature" was aggressively patched out; at the same time, an asymmetry was added to the navies, giving them (realistically, but unpleasantly) greater advantages in terms of tonnage, logistics and manpower over the pirates, while the dubious "advantages" bestowed on the pirates seemed to have little effect at making the pirates competitive.
This lead to the great hack that unveiled internal memos directing the company to engage in memetic adjustments to the game to promote the image the PC wanted to promote - that anarchy is ultimately a doomed endeavor, and that animals shouldn't be sympathized with. At the same time, it came to light that the founder of the company had based the game experience upon an game from the early second decade of the 21st century that he himself had played as a child - and the similarities were far too many to be wrote off as "inspired by," given that he'd outright and blatantly made available to players an ahistoric (and quite popular) signature weapon from that game, consisting of a bracer that ejected a long blade from under the arm. This resulted in a lawsuit by the Elysium-based hypercorp that realized it owned the successor company to the company which had made that game, and under PC law, all of their intellectual property as well. (And of course, they rushed a new title into production.)
The shadowy voices responded by doubling down, making the owner of the company an offer he couldn't refuse to accept new directors for the project in exchange for settling the lawsuit out of court in his favor, a pack of new directors who promptly turned the game into an almost overt propaganda piece, allowing players affiliated with the Navy access to massive frigates and Man'o'Wars, and basing them out of ports across the sea where pirate players couldn't automatically travel to and attack, the way Navy players could attack pirate strongholds, whilst at the same time denying any allegations of PC involvement in the game or memetic warfare at work. This drew quite a lot of criticism, and resulted in in-game protests being staged: said protests being lodged with broadsides, by a fleet of pirate players who sailed across the Atlantic ocean the hard way, with map and sextant, and attacked the naval player's home bases, temporarily (and effectively,) bringing a halt to naval players respawns or joining the game, as (unlike the pirates,) the Navy's ports had not been coded to relocate or rebuild if attacked and destroyed; a protest which went off without a hitch, as the NPC defense fleets' and shore batteries' AI had not been implemented in the interest of getting the patch out as quickly as possible.
The resulting clusterfuck and inept, hamhanded clamp-down drew systemwide condemnation and scorn as the obvious backfiring propaganda efforts that they were. Indeed, the owner of the company resigned, stating that he'd already lost control of his game, and there was no reason to remain at the helm of a sinking ship.
That, of course, was a prelude to what came next; a darkcast to Extropia. In short order, he'd wound up in the affiliation of the Mutualist enclave, re-founding his game company with purloined copies of all the data that had gone into making Devils. He publicly denounced the Planetary Consortium for taking control of his game and making it into a laughable parody of itself, an act which earned him a black spot on CivicNet but got him a start on the Circle-@ List, and in short order the game was recompiled, with an open invitation to all comers with applicable skills and a desire to work on the game to make it better to join in. He specifically extended an invitation to prominent Mercurials who had been publicly expressing outrage at the way the PC clamped down on the option to virtually sleeve a wildlife creature to join in the redevelopment process.
A year later, 1715 was officially launched, even though most habitats had been running beta versions for months. The extensive map-work, the work done on ships and ecosystems, were made available open-source, and the full 1715 experience can be had at a fairly reasonable cost in credits or rep to an entire habitat or an individual (or pirate it, whatever.) The game is provided without any encryption or DRM whatsoever, and not only are local variations encouraged, the base is being expanded constantly; from the start in the Caribbean, the entire eastern seaboard of North America and great swathes of coastal Europe, Africa, and Asia are populated, with the occasional pocket of interesting things inland as individuals and groups with specialist knowledge or an interest and a willingness to research and build push through update after update. The base game is still moving according to the founder's expanded vision of the original, and the game is mutating into a sort of late-17th/18th-century worldwide psuedohistorical adventure game. It's popular amongst uplift cetaceans, especially those who have no access to a 'morph which approximates their original bodies, and of course, everybody loves pirates. Pretty much any habitat probably has a server running 1715, often they have more than one, with one running the stock version and more running modified versions. Needless to say, the hypercorp that owns Devils, and especially their voices in the dark, are furious about this.