meridian 59

Official Site: Meridian 59
Studio: Near Death Studios
Launch Date: September 27, 1996
Genre: Fantasy Themepark
Business Model: Open-Source Freeware
Platform: PC

Ten life lessons I learned from the Asheron's Call series

As Asheron's Call 1 & 2 are going offline shortly, I thought I might give it a final send-off with a list of things I learned from the series. Maybe it's cheesy, but I really did grow up in Dereth. Some kids get their life lessons from sports, girl/boy scouts, farm life, church life, alien abduction camp life, and so on, but I learned a lot with the help of the AC series and the people I played with. I'll focus on 10 life lessons learned from the Asheron's Call series, but trust me, it's more than that.

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The Game Archaeologist: Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds

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!

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Jukebox Heroes: Massively OP's guide to grabbing 120+ MMO soundtracks

One of the most common questions that I'm asked from my adoring throngs on the street is, "Justin, where oh where can I get some of these marvelous MMO soundtracks that you talk about all of the time?" OK, that just never happens (on the street, that is), but people are often curious how they can go about starting to amass an MMO soundtrack collection or where to find their favorite album.

The sad truth is that so much music from these games is never officially released in any capacity, which is why I scour YouTube for fan rips of the music files. However, every so often I do discover a studio release somewhere, and I try to keep an up-to-date log on these to help others in their quest for video game scores.

So in the spirit of Christmas and sharing, today I'm going to show you how you can get your ears on more than 120 soundtracks and scores from MMOs, MOBAs, and other online titles -- some of which are free and legal for the taking. You're welcome; don't mention it!

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The Game Archaeologist: Mark Jacobs on Mythic's early online games, part 2

We're back with our second part of an interview retrospective of Mythic Entertainment's early online games with CSE's Mark Jacobs. Last week, we talked about the formation of Mythic, its roster of titles during the 1990s, and how titles like Aliens Online and Silent Death Online helped to push the studio toward its full-fledged development in the MMORPG genre.

Today, Jacobs will take us through a discussion of the challenges awaiting studios trying to make online games in that early era, the communities that formed around Mythic's titles, and how one MUD called Darkness Falls would be the catalyst that set off Dark Age of Camelot.

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 86: One Tamriel, two voices, three expansions

This past week was reveal after reveal in the MMO world, and the Massively OP Podcast has you covered with detailed analysis of all of the fun. Was the most exciting part a new Blur trailer? The release of One Tamriel at last? Or a one-two punch of EverQuest expansion announcements?

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

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Meridian 59 continues to influence online games 20 years later

Twenty years ago this week, Meridian 59 shed its beta trappings and officially released as one of the very first graphical MMORPGs on the market. While larger and slicker games have certainly followed, M59's presence made a significant impact on the development of the genre, including the birth of Ingress and Pokemon Go.

"I had a chance to soak in the early days of MMOs and some of the first online guilds that got formed and watching the whole social dynamic of that type of game emerge in the early days," Niantic founder John Hanke said in a July interview. "That experience was definitely at the front of my mind whenever the concept for Ingress was being created. It was really very simply to take that MMO experience and hopefully the social-team cooperative gameplay element to that and bring it out into the real world."

For more Meridian 59 memories, check our Game Archaeologist retrospective of this long-running MMO!


Global Chat: How should studios sunset MMOs?

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.

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Mark Kern to Ember followers: 'I feel a profound sense of responsibility for what happened to Firefall'

In the wake of the apparent complete emptying of the Red 5 Studios offices this week, former Firefall founder Mark Kern is forging ahead on his own reimagining of the game with a new title called Ember.

A bit of context: Kern is a decidedly controversial (his word) figure to MMORPG genre veterans, to the point that when his name is mentioned in an article, we will invariably have commenters requesting we not cover his games or activities. His chief claim to fame is as an original developer on World of Warcraft, which he repeatedly slammed after his departure from Blizzard. Though he founded Red 5, he was forcibly removed from the studio in 2013 following a round of layoffs and the suspension of PvP in Firefall; in the months that followed, former employees called his behavior as CEO “erratic” and “destructive” and mocked his infamous e-sports bus project. Somewhere in there, he founded and raised seed money for a VR MMO (which doesn't appear to exist now) and became involved in promoting bizarre petitions against mainstream gaming websites. More recently, he marched into the drama surrounding the now-closed Nostalrius vanilla World of Warcraft emulator, insisting on hand-delivering a player petition to Blizzard at a meeting with his former bosses during which he advocated for vanilla servers.

When Firefall began to falter this past winter and spring, Kern volunteered to purchase the game if it sunsetted, denouncing what shipped after his removal from the project as "a complete disaster." The9 hasn't made any announcements about the present or future of Firefall yet, but in the meantime, Kern's got another related project on tap, and that brings us back to Ember.

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Meridian 59 creator says that MMOs are everywhere in disguise

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."

Source: Psychochild


Pokemon Go designers discuss inspiration and development plans; trading is coming soon

How do you go from making Ingress to making Pokémon Go? We're using the hypothetical "you" here, if it weren't clear; you personally can't make either of them, they already exist. And according to a recent interview with Niantic Labs founder John Hanke, the answer is that you build the latter on the bones of the former. He also draws comparisons to Meridian 59 as an inspiration for the game, noting that the team considers it to be an MMO in all practical terms.

Another interview makes it clear that this is part of the focus for further development, that rather than iterating with new releases the team wants to add in additional content over time. There are also plans to introduce new mechanics, such as trading and sponsored locations for Pokéstops and gyms. All of this adds up to the idea that Pokémon Go has plenty of potential to go places whilst also inspiring the players to go places.

But please, exercise caution and keep your eyes open wherever you go. Be safe out there as the game expands around the world. Don't break the law. Don't go where you're unwelcome. And maybe don't cheat.


Massively OP Podcast Episode 66: Meridian 59's Brian Green

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!

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

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Global Chat: Which MMOs have the best quests?

For some players, quests are either those things that serve to annoy with reading (in a game!) or merely provide gussied-up reward packages. But there are those of us who genuinely love the questing experience, including its narrative and interactivity. So here's the question of the hour: Which MMOs have the best quests?

MMO Bro thinks he knows, and he's ranked the top eight MMORPGs in the questing department. Number one? The Secret World. "Every main mission in The Secret World offers a strong and compelling story, provided through fully voice-acted cutscenes and readable items found along the way. Nearly all of TSW’s missions tie-in to the main story in some way, and even those that don’t feature emotional or exciting stories in their own right."

Join us for another fascinating tour of the MMO blogosphere, with stops at LOTRO, vanilla World of Warcraft servers, and the eternal question of the purpose of vendor trash.

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