Veteran MMO developer Brian Green is perhaps best known for his stewardship over Meridian 59, one of the oldest and long-running online RPGs in the genre. While he’s moved on to other projects, Green took some time recently to be interviewed about his time overseeing Meridian 59 and the legacy that it established.
“It set the standard for the flat rate subscription fee that MMOs and other games used for years afterward,” Green said. “I think that Near Death Studios was also an early pioneer in indie game development; we were just a bunch of developers trying to figure things out. We showed what was possible for a small, motivated team to do; this was important, especially since MMOs were seen as giant monstrosities requiring huge teams when we started Near Death Studios.”
When it comes time for whatever reason to put an MMORPG to pasture, how should a studio do it? For Brian “Psychochild” Green, this question is not merely academic. Green has been through an MMO sunset twice with Meridian 59, and in an interesting essay he talks about the difficult choices involved in the process.
“Let’s say you’ve decided to shut down a game. When do you announce the shutdown? Again, cold, hard reality means that you probably want to give as little time between announcement and closure as possible. First, some players may buy into the game a little more before the announcement, although some of these players will probably seek refunds. […] The other big issue is the amount of time you have to officially deal with the fuss from the remaining players about closing down the game.”
It’s not all depressing sunset talk in today’s tour of the MMO blogosphere! We’ve got unconventional takes on classes, comparisons of PvP styles, cries for gaming assistance, and more waiting for you in today’s blog roundup.
Have you felt despondent at the apparent decline of the production of new, bold MMOs? According to Meridian 59 creator Brian “Psychochild” Green, these games are actually everywhere these days — they’re just disguising themselves due to the apparent stigma that comes with the MMO label.
Green looks at games such as Destiny, Game of War, Star Wars: Uprising, and Pokémon GO as examples of how MMO mechanics and features have spread outside of the strict walls of the traditional MMORPG.
“[Augmented reality] games will become big within the next few years; we’re already seeing [it],” he predicted. “They may not look like the MMOs you’re used to, but if you’re patient I’m sure the traditional MMO will probably make a comeback. And, hopefully a lot of the advancements made in other types of games help push MMOs forward a bit. And, when we have the big MMO renaissance in a few years, we’ll have a lot more options than cloning a creaky, aging game.”
This week on the show we have a very special guest: Brian “Psychochild” Green. Green is one of the creators of Meridian 59 and has been involved in the MMORPG industry since, having worked on Storybricks, EverQuest Next, and Camelot Unchained. It’s a no-holds-barred discussion over a snifter of whisky and a crackling fire!
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A colony founded through a magical nexus, Meridian 59 had it all going on — until, that is, the portal to the colony collapsed and it was left to fend for itself. Monsters swarmed over the land, politics split the community into factions, and adventurers were called to rise up and become the heroes that were desperately needed. And all it took was $10.95 a month and an internet connection.
Welcome to 1996 and one of the very first graphical MMOs to hit the scene. Meridian 59 may not have been one of the biggest games in the genre, but it was arguably one of the most important, the John Adams to World of Warcraft’s Abraham Lincoln.
While bigger titles have toppled and fallen, Meridian 59 defied the odds to continue to operate even today. This week we’re going to look at this fascinating title and how it helped to pioneer the graphical MMO industry back when the world wide web was still a newfangled toy to the public.
Camelot Unchained’s 14th newsletter has been sighted in the wild. It says that there will be a beta-focused livestream on Friday, October 2nd, followed by a backer Q&A session. It also sums up all of September’s news and introduces new programmers Marc Hernandez and George Davison.
Additional topics include a look at iterative design, a look at the art department’s progress on human models and armor, and a state of the build update from Brian “Psychochild” Green.
Camelot Unchained senior engineer Brian “Psychochild” Green has published a blog post examining his experiences on CityState’s crowdfunded RvR title. While he doesn’t offer any juicy details about CU or its systems, the piece is worth reading if you’re curious about the industry’s ongoing flirtation with open development.
Green says that crowdfunding forces developers to develop strong community ties as well as strong code, and he says that mistakes are often easier to spot than in traditional development where there aren’t thousands of players poking and prodding at an alpha state game. Green also touches on a reader question about possible burnout due to the massive amount of information typically available on crowdfunded games well prior to their release. “I know that when I relaunched Meridian 59 years ago, some of the most passionate testers showed a lot less enthusiasm for the game after it launched,” Green said. “But, there were still plenty of people who were overjoyed to play the game when we actually did launch.”