If we judged MMOs by their numbers alone — and I’m not suggesting we do so — then the original Lineage would be the crowing rooster strutting about the hen house. It’s also been one of those games that I’ve always intellectually acknowledged was a huge hit for some reason but never gave much attention. I think it’s because, contrary to many western MMOs, Lineage is primarily an Asian phenomenon. That doesn’t mean it should be shunned, of course, but just that it may be difficult to understand when you’re on the outside of it.
So let’s back up the memory truck to September 1998, when a then-fledgling NCsoft rolled out a Diablo-style isometric MMO and struck virtual gold in South Korea. At the time, gaming rooms were becoming a huge thing in the country. A recession had hit, giving people a lot of time with nothing to do, and the government was rapidly expanding the broadband network. In the face of this perfect storm, titles like StarCraft and Lineage became overnight household fixtures — and remained so for decades to come.
Even if you haven’t played Lineage and you don’t know anyone who does, trust me: Millions and millions of players have. As former Senior Producer Chris Mahnken once said, “Lineage keeps going because it’s just plain fun.”
XLGAMES has received a vote of confidence in the form of some welcome investment from fellow Korean developer (and publisher) WeMade Entertainment. MMO Culture is reporting that WeMade recently sold off over $178M in Kakao shares and then turned around to snap up an unknown quantity of shares in the ArcheAge developer.
This is good news for XLGAMES, which ended 2016 on a down note after announcing that its Civilization Online was closing down following a year of Korean open beta. Now that the studio has an infusion of investment, perhaps we will see a new project emerge from Jake Song’s imagination factory.
I confess that I have a particular fascination for MMOs that came into existence in the 1990s. It’s not only the fact that I was oblivious to them at the time (er, wild college days?) but that practically each and every one of them were true pioneers in their own fashion. And while your standard MMO fan might think that there were only three such games in that decade (four, if they are gracious and include Meridian 59), the truth is that there were far more online games at the time, particularly if you looked over to the east.
Today we are going to look at one of the most important MMOs to emerge from that time period, Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds. Its influence was primarily centered in the Korean gaming community while being vastly downplayed in North America. Still, here’s a successful MMO that not only beat Ultima Online out of the door by a year but has since won a Guinness World Record for longevity!
Remember all the grumbling when XLGames revealed Civilization Online at a big presser in New York and then told us it was launching in East Asia only? Welp, the game is coming to an end anyway.
XL CEO Jake Song broke the bad news to players on the official site, telling them that it was a difficult decision but that the studio plans to shut down the game service on December 6th. The cash shop and character info services shut down yesterday.
By the time it shuts down, it will have been in soft launch open beta only a year, though there’s a little hint that the game might return eventually as another of XL’s games “has the power to be reborn as a potential Civilization Online.”
Our condolences to affected staff and players.
Anyone on the MassivelyOP team will probably tell you that I won’t shut up about Chronicles of Elyria. There’s so much to like about the game Soulbound Studios wants to build! Like many of you, I backed the game, and I’ve been literally battling to keep myself from donating $500 max to the Kickstarter; so far, I’ve backed at only the $40 tier, and I’ve never gone over $35 for any Kickstarter in the past. I don’t easily part with my money, especially for a game in development. While Elyria has a lot going for it, I’ve noticed recently that the developers and some fans might have gotten a little over excited since hitting their funding goal, and I’ve seen people comment about pulling out their funds because of this. The team recently released some answers to some good questions on Reddit, but some answers still feel a bit too optimistic. Maybe it’s time we bring things back down to Earth.
The open beta for Civilization Online is starting on December 2nd in South Korea. Is it ever starting in the US? We still don’t know, although current plans do not seem to indicate that it will be. Would you like to watch a couple of trailers for the game regardless? Because we’ve got them down below.
The first trailer is very much just a straightforward trailer of the “dramatic music plays while vaguely game-related stuff happens” variety, while the second is more of a conceptual introduction featuring Jake Song and Sid Meier. It is also largely in Korean, so keep that in mind if you’re wondering why you can’t understand what’s being spoken.