Massively Overthinking: The sunsetted MMOs we never played

Which one of you is the Juno Reactor and which one is the Don Davis?

I’ve been thinking a lot about MMO sunsets lately, thanks to WildStar, Pirates of the Burning Sea, and even that ridiculous Free Guy movie about an NPC fighting the sunset of his gameworld (seriously, Hollywood?). I spent a lot of years pining for a couple of my favorite MMOs that closed down, but the pain has been tempered thanks to the hard work of both preservationists and emulator developers. Even as WildStar’s been scheduled for termination, I can’t help but have hope in an afterlife thanks to emus.

Still, there are some MMOs that closed down before I even got to play them. Those should sting more because I don’t even know the whole of what exactly was lost – I haven’t got that anchor, that pang. So for today’s Overthinking, I’ve asked the MOP staff to reflect on that, to pick a sunsetted MMO that they never played but now wish they could.

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): The only one that comes to mind is The Sims Online. I’ve alpahed, betaed, or just demoed so many MMOs but the ones that sunset that I didn’t play rarely bothered me. The Sims Online only stands out because I’ve wanted to try a Sims game and that was probably the best one for me to experience due to multiplayer. I’m not heartbroken or anything, but I do wonder if it would have been a game I would have enjoyed for a bit with friends.

Oh, and maybe City of Heroes to see what all the fuss was about.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): There are two that I regret not getting to play before they were gone. One is sort of legendary around here, and that’s Tabula Rasa. I remember following it in its early development, but my interest waned around the time it stopped being about fan-dancing sci-fi anime bards (does anyone else remember that design period?) and started being more of a sci-fi military shootery MMO. I missed out.

The other game is The Matrix Online. Truth time: I really, really, really hated The Matrix franchise back then and have only recently begun to appreciate it as a work of art apart from the cheesy pop culture phenom it was. I suspect that I’d like the game much more now than I would’ve back then too, even if I had tried it before it went dark.


Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): The funny thing is that there are a lot of games which I did, in the most technical sense, try out… but not in any serious capacity. I only gave Auto Assault the most cursory testing in its beta (and mind you, this was before I worked in the field in any capacity), but that’s always sort of been my white whale of what could have been. Not because I think it was the best game ever and not appreciated enough, but it certainly looked like fun and I’d love to see how it actually played. I wonder whether it was an idea just too early to really work or actually a weird little gem.

I also kind of wish that I’d taken a spin in Tabula Rasa before it shut down, which was probably never going to happen because I was still bitter about the original premise getting discarded in favor of something else. But now it’s gone, and trying to play it is just not happening. It’s definitely possible that there was a core of a fun game in there even after its rebuild.

However, a lot of the games I now cannot play are also games I specifically opted not to play back when it was an option, so my list remains pretty short. It wasn’t by accident that I never actually played EverQuest Online Adventures, for example; I had the PS2, I didn’t want to play it and thus did not do so. If it were back again, I would still not want to play it. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a bad game, it just means that the reasons I had for not trying it then wouldn’t be magically changed if it came back. Which is why most of my list of games I wish I had tried are games that I think would be more historically relevant and useful to have perspective on rather than just the games that shut down and I never played them.

Which means that even if Pirates of the Burning Sea really is facing its last hurrah… well, I never played it, but I don’t feel bad about that either.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): While I briefly tried out Star Wars Galaxies back when I originally wrote a TGA series on it in 2010, “brief” was pretty much my experience. I was already engaged in some other MMOs at the time and didn’t have the time or patience to learn what was by then a pretty fleshed-out and complex game. Now? Now I kind of wish I had with the ignorance of its impending shutdown. It still may or may not have been up my alley, but I didn’t get to develop any real experiences in it.

I look back and see several titles that I wouldn’t have minded getting to know, including Matrix Online and Earth and Beyond, but that time has passed and so has my interest. Other than that, I can’t recall any titles of personal interest that were shut down in the past few years that I didn’t get to see in some way, shape, or form.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): Honestly, I don’t think there are any games that have sunsetted that I have wanted to play. And there are a few I got to have a taste of by streaming them right before and at the actual closing down (Like Asheron’s Call), and that was enough for me. Perhaps when others mention different choices, one will tug at me a bit, but i can’t say I can come up with any. Part of my problem even trying to think about this is that for a while I have been suffering from Having Too Many Games to Play Syndrome and it is seriously affecting any desire to want to jump into anything more!

Your turn!

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