Imagine that one day you wake up, stumble to your computer, and check in on the morning news. Among the various tidbits is a rather surprising notice of a brand-new MMORPG that is not only in the works, but is on the verge of beta testing right the heck now. Would that be enough of a shock to wipe away any vestiges of sleep and generate immediate interest in this title?
For some players during a very short period in 2001, it definitely was.
The game in question is Fallen Age, an isometric MMO that made headlines by announcing its presence in one breath and imminent beta testing in the next. However, Netamin Communication’s game couldn’t quite live up to that promise, and by the end of the year, it had vanished almost as quickly as it arrived. So what was this game and what exactly happened?
I am a generally big fan of the cyberpunk genre, especially when it works in a healthy dose of ’80s aesthetics for that clunky, neon flair. But when it comes to MMORPGs, good cyberpunk titles are extremely few and far between.
I think we have a bit of it in Neocron and Anarchy Online, and of course The Matrix Online was jacked into cyberpunk back when it was running. Now a-days there is a lot of excitement over CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077, although we know very little about it other than it’ll have some sort of online functionality.
Are we due for a good cyberpunk MMO? Do you think that there’s a good audience out there for it and that it would appeal to a great number of gamers? For a bonus question, what would you like to see included in such a title?
The last message from The Matrix Online servers came back in 2009. The game is dead and gone. And yet there are still people working to bring the game back around, first as a careful rebuilding of what already existed, then as an adaptation of the best parts of the game. A piece on Waypoint details the efforts of Rajko, a programmer working on salvaging the game since its original shutdown and now trying to rebuild the game in a new and more robust engine.
The article follows Rajko’s journey to recreate the game’s servers in their most basic format along to the present day, when he’s working on adapting the game into the Unreal Engine 4 to solve software issues with more modern machines. As you’d expect, it doesn’t have a proper ending so much as it just has an end; there’s no assurance that the game will ever really be back in a recognizable form. But it’s interesting to look behind the scenes at trying to make the game continue along even as the years wear on.
; thanks to Agemyth for the tip!
Unlike fantasy, the sci-fi genre has had a rocky relationship with MMORPGs. While studios have tried just as hard to make and promote them, there seems to be a curse that hovers over some of these games. From the canceled (Earth & Beyond, The Matrix Online, Tabula Rasa) to the radically retinkered (Star Wars Galaxies) to the relatively niche (Anarchy Online), sci-fi has struggled to be seen as relevant and embraced as its bigger brother.
That isn’t to say that these games or the genre is worthless, just that it’s a harder sell in many areas of entertainment. Fortunately, studios haven’t given up on these games, and some of these titles — such as EVE Online or Star Trek Online — have proven that they’re worth pursuing.
Enter PlanetSide, circa 2003. While sci-fi MMOs, multi-faction PvP, and online shooters had been done separately at that point, PlanetSide stepped up to the plate to combine all three into a persistent war on an alien planet. Today we’ll be setting our sights to the far reaches of the galaxy and beyond as we explore one of the more unique MMOs in existence.
This week I’ll be hijacking a question sent into the podcast that I thought was particularly apt for Jukebox Heroes to tackle. It comes from reader Chris, who has a rather interesting thought exercise to share.
Chris writes, “If you had to choreograph a fight scene in a movie (an EPIC one, of course), what MMO song would you pick? It’s a practical question, actually. My kids are martial artists, and they regularly perform for audiences or compete in tournaments where music is expected. We’ve used lots of music over the years, and we are ALWAYS looking for new stuff. So, Justin, when you see yourself in an epic fight scene, what’s the MMO song you hear? And, yes, you can pick your own weapon.”
Obviously my weapon would be “giant death robots with kill-ray hand cannons,” but as for the music? That’s going to take some winnowing down! To help out Chris and perhaps entertain you, here are six MMORPG music tracks that I could see being used for the soundtrack of an epic fight scene.
“This is how the world ends,” T S Eliot wrote in his famous poem, “not with a bang, but with a whimper.”
That might well describe the concluding moment of any number of MMORPGs that were closed down over the years. From the death of an exceedingly popular title to the demise of a ghost town, those last seconds are pretty much all the same: “Connection to server lost” followed by silence forever.
But what happens before that fatal conclusion is of interest to us today, for it is in the final minutes of MMOs that the community rages, dances, mourns, and celebrates in various ways. Today we’re going to take a trip back in time to the end of 10 MMOs — and what it looked like to the players who were there.
This week’s Massively Overthinking topic revolves around the EverQuest Next cancellation, of course. MOP Patron Roger sent us 11 (!) questions to pick from. I’m going to break it down to just these core questions:
- Do you believe the “not fun” excuse?
- Could Dave Georgeson or John Smedley have prevented this?
- Are EverQuest and EverQuest II “safe”?
- Will Daybreak ever make another MMORPG?
- And what’s the future of the EverQuest franchise?
I posed them all to the Massively OP writers to ponder this week.
It’s that time of year again: when you realize half-way through your indulgence of in-game festivals that you totally forgot to go out and pick up gifts for all the EverQuest franchise and Daybreak Games fans on your list. Or maybe you didn’t forget, but you’ve been totally stumped as to what to get that certain someone that already has everything in game. Never fear, MOP is here to help! And we’ve got the answer for you: Gift them something outside the game. You’ve already got some good ideas regarding DC Universe Online, so here are a few for fans of the other titles that caught my eye.
“The future in your hands.”
This was Funcom’s promise to gamers in the early days of the 2000s. Even as the MMORPG genre slowly took shape and grew in popularity, game studios were still babes in the woods, feeling out this brave and complex new world without a standard handbook to guide them to success. Every studio desperately hoped that it had the next big hook that would reel in gamers by the thousands, especially Norwegian developer Funcom, which made headlines in 1999 with its highly acclaimed adventure The Longest Journey.
Funcom took one look at the small but expanding MMO market, got together in a group huddle and decided to angle for a science-fiction game rather than a stock fantasy world. And thus, 15 years ago Anarchy Online hit the industry like a sack of interesting but broken features. It certainly wasn’t the stellar debut Funcom desired, yet after a rough start Anarchy Online carved itself out a niche which it’s been riding for some time now.
The year is 29475; the place is Rubi-Ka.
It’s not every year that a movie comes along that captures the pop culture zeitgeist so powerfully and so quickly as The Matrix did. I recall lugging a few college friends along to see this back in 1999 — having heard only a few sparse details about it beforehand — and coming out of the theater feeling as if we we’d been electrified. The bold mix of science fiction, martial arts, philosophy, action, and leather ensembles became the smash hit of the year, and a franchise was born.
And while we had great hopes that this would be this generation’s Star Wars, The Matrix ultimately proved to be a lightning-in-a-bottle phenomenon, impossible to recapture once unleashed. Sequels, animated shorts, video games, comic books — none rose to the height of the original film, and eventually the franchise petered out.
During this period, an odd duck of an MMO was born: The Matrix Online. When you think about it, an online virtual world where people log in and fight against programs was a really short hop from the movie series. MxO, as it was abbreviated, was an audacious game with unique features, story-centric gameplay, and a sci-fi bent in a field of fantasy competitors, and while it only lasted four years, it was enough to make a lasting impression for its community. Today, we’re going to revisit the 1s and 0s of The Matrix Online to see just how deep the rabbit hole goes.
This week’s Massively Overthinking question comes to us from Kickstarter donor Aldranis, whose query neatly dovetails with the IP-related question we answered on the podcast earlier this week. Aldranis writes,
Do you think IP-based games lead to an oversaturation of mediocre MMOs on the market? It seems for every Marvel Heroes or Lord of the Rings Online, there are one or two Matrix Onlines. I feel these types of games can not only stunt design/developer creativity but also introduce games that no one would really play, wasting a great IP. Similarly, I’m really bummed that World of Darkness didn’t make it to the light of day (pun very intended). That was an IP-based MMO I was really looking forward to, and now seems to be lost, at least in the short-term.
I posed Aldranis’ question to the Massively OP writers, and man, they took the diss on The Matrix Online as fightin’ words!