Perfect Ten: Dead MMOs resurrected via rogue servers

    
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Perfect Ten: Dead MMOs resurrected via rogue servers

Last December, the Massively OP 2019 Awards gave its “Best Trend” nod to the rise of rogue servers in the MMO genre. Preservation of long-since deceased MMORPGs is a topic that is near and dear to our heart here, and it is uplifting to see hard-working volunteers do the heavy lifting of keeping these sunsetted games alive — and even updated! — via emulators.

This week, we’ll be looking at 10 MMOs that were dead and buried at one point and have received a new lease on life thanks to rogue servers. We will not, however, be looking at emulators for currently running live games (i.e., Ultima Online, World of Warcraft, EverQuest, etc.) as those are less about preservation and more about competition.

Also, we should note that in most of the cases below, there has been no legal permission given to operate these games. As such, MOP cannot formally endorse such activity and advises caution when evaluating whether or not you engage with these servers. Enough caveats? Good, let’s go!

Star Wars Galaxies

You don’t have to travel in MMO circles for very long before learning the passion and love that people still hold for SOE’s past sandbox game. The efforts to bring Star Wars Galaxies back have been extensive and varied, with different shards approaching different eras of the game’s development. For those looking to experience the game before the controversial Combat Upgrade, there’s SWGEmu. If you want to exist right in the middle of the CU era, SWG Restoration is your bet. You want a blend of pre- and post-NGE? That’s Sunrunner 2. And for those who enjoyed the post-NGE era, SWG Legends has you covered. And that’s just the tippy-top of the number of live shards out there. MOP’s own Larry wrote a Hyperspace Beacon that went into deeper detail on a few these servers if you are interested.

Earth and Beyond

How long will players carry a torch for a short-lived MMO? Many times its actual lifespan, it turns out. Earth & Beyond went into the black back in 2004, but it lived long enough for a devoted fanbase to form. This led to the creation of the Earth & Beyond Emulator, allowing players to jump back into the cockpit of their spacecraft and be the best pilots they can be. There’s even a wiki!

Toontown Online

Considering how relatively obscure Toontown Online was and how litigious Disney is, it’s rather shocking to see a rogue server — Toontown Rewritten — exist. And not just exist, but flourish and develop for many years now! It’s actually become one of the more well-developed and fully supported emulators on the market.

“You should know that Toontown Rewritten is a fan-made revival of Disney’s Toontown Online, created using publicly available downloads and information made freely available to the general public,” the site owners caution.

The Sims Online

Even as The Sims 5 might be angling toward multiplayer, there’s a way to play virtual dollhouse with other people, thanks to FreeSO. This Sims Online emulator has been in the works since 2015 and is “a reimplementation of The Sims Online’s game engine, using C# and Monogame. While FreeSO aims to be faithful to the original game, it includes many quality of life changes such as hardware rendering, custom dynamic lighting, hi-res output and >2 floor houses.”

Shadowbane

Here’s another MMO that I wouldn’t have pegged as cultivating a strong following, but apparently Shadowbane won enough people over that the Shadowbane Emulator has been going strong for several “seasons” now. If you’re new to this PvP MMORPG, you’ll definitely want to read up on the Morloch Wiki to get your bearings before diving in (if, in fact, you do).

City of Heroes

Ever since City of Heroes’ bizarre and spectacular revival last year, there have been several emulators that have popped up across the scene. Homecoming is the most popular (and populated) one, but if you’re not satisfied with that, you can check out Unity, Thunderspy, Ashrealms, Island of Villains, Moonshard, Rebirth, Resurrection, and Victory. And that’s not even mentioning the social scene of Paragon Chat or the engineering behind SEGS.

The Chronicles of Spellborn

One of the quirkier fantasy MMOs has seen a rebirth in a small and quiet fashion, thanks to Spellborn Reborn. “Now, more than 10 years later, the moment has finally come for everybody to play this rough diamond once more, complete with new bugfixes and unreleased content.”

Call and answer.

Asheron’s Call

It was very disappointing that Turbine didn’t make good on its promise to release the Asheron’s Call source code prior to abandoning the MMO entirely, but at least there are a few valiant efforts to keep it running. So if you miss this weird fantasy game, you might want to peek at what ACEmulator, Levistras, and GDLEnhanced are up to these days.

Warhammer Online

Those who miss Mythic’s realm vs. realm MMORPG (no, not that one, the second one) should be aware that Return of Reckoning has been doing its best to keep the waaagh going. “The War-Emu team wanted to make his own private server in order to regroup the maximum of Warhammer Online players. We’ll try to do our best to continue our good work, and let this server up to let Warhammer revive!”

EverQuest Online Adventures

Yes, there’s actually an effort underway to bring back this console-only MMO. It’s called Project: Return Home, and it sounds like there’s a way to go for it: “A dedicated group of talented fans decided that they wanted to keep playing EQOA and created Project: Revival. Efforts were made to reverse engineer the game and transport it over to PC to give everyone a chance to re-live the glory days of EQOA.”

Sorry, guy.

WildStar

As we reported last year, this emulator is still in its very early stages, but at least Nexus Forever offers some hope of returning to this colorful scifi MMORPG. Getting housing up and running seems to be a priority right now.

Age of Empires Online

I don’t know who, exactly, is missing this online RTS, but it’s got to be somebody — and chances are that they’ve heard of Project Celeste, an effort to bring AOEO back. What’s pretty impressive is seeing how the volunteer devs put out regular blog posts about the game’s development. That’s dedication!

Earth Eternal

“Now with pyramids!” Head on over to Earth Eternal: The Anubian War to get a glimpse of this short-lived MMO. “Set in a world where humans no longer exist, and beasts reign supreme, TAW is developed by a group of ex-players and volunteers who are doing this for fun, not profit,” the team said.”

Rusty Hearts

Rusty Hearts always seemed like it deserved a better shake than it got. At least there’s Rusty Hearts Revolution to carry the banner of this action MMO. “In this gothic-inspired world of vampires, half-vampires, and humans, players will be able to unleash devastating combo attacks, engage in a wide variety of epic monster battles, collect valuable loot, and become a unique hero. No tiresome grinding, pay to win complex or RNG disasters.”

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at justin@massivelyop.com or eliot@massivelyop.com with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”

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0kShr00mer
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0kShr00mer

I’m happy to say that Planetside (the Verant Interactive/SOE original) is currently being developed by the fine folks over at https://psforever.net/. They have made a tremendous amount of progress over the past few years bringing old systems back on line and restoring the game to its former glory. There’s obviously a ton of work that still needs to be done but I think it’s awesome that the game is still going and being developed 19+ years after its inception!

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Scarlet_Shocker

We’re always very happy about City of Heroes, but I wish somebody would resurrect Atlas Reactor. Not exactly an MMO, but a fantastic game (I truly truly sucked at it but loved it notwithstanding) that I miss dearly with some excellent lore

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Mr Ish

There’s also the Dark Age of Camelot free server – Phoenix, which is popular – https://playphoenix.online/

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Wilhem Hayeck

Well these MMO’s died because the public has lost interest in MMO’s. Even WOW’s days are numbered with steep declines in subscribers. The MMO is a Dinosaur, let it go extinict!

0EC0D3
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0EC0D3

Not really… SWG was shut down because EA were releasing SWTOR, and didn’t want to share the license to the IP.

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Damenauma

There’s an interview out there about the Everquest team not seeing the retro servers as competition.

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Mark Mealman

Really appreciate all the work that’s done by people who work on these. I feel like they’re helping to preserve history.

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Yuge McBigly

Tabula Rasa anyone?

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Kody Gloval

Is there one? I assume just wishful thinking…

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Yuge McBigly

There isn’t one to my knowledge. But I wish there was.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

Free Realms is supposedly getting an emulator some time along.

I wish there were emulator people interested in Faunasphere. Better yet, I wish some company would resurrect the game for mobile today (and then they could do a Steam version or something after too linked to the mobile game). Talk about the perfect mobile MMORPG. I guess we’ll just keep getting more generic pay to win stuff instead though, hooray.

Pepperzine
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Pepperzine

Really intrigued by the Everquest: Online Adventures project. For me, that game has a lot of nostalgia that was tied to childhood friends.

Also, what ever happened to the Matrix Online emulator project?

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Feyd Darkholme

I’ll chime in for the Earth & Beyond Emulator! I pop in from time to time and it’s actually pretty perfect if you were a fan of the game! Or course nothing is quite the same as official retail, but the team is dedicated and does a great job. I was a HUGE fan of the game early on as a participant of phase 3 beta, lived on the Andramada server (misspelled on purpose, for those who know) and a member of the Merchant Marines!

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Castagere Shaikura

Nice to find someone here that played at retail too. Did you try out the classes that EA left out at launch? They are pretty fun. The community is really great too. Would like to see more people playing it.

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Feyd Darkholme

Yeah that was the first thing that I did! Haven’t gotten too far into it, but it’s nice to be able to dip back in. I wish there was the old community back, or at least some of it. Without a doubt that was some of the best times I’ve ever had in an MMO! I remember fondly camping for hours on end for days in shifts trying to get rare drops to get the blueprint for!

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Castagere Shaikura

I had a Tradesman and loved doing those long station to station trad runs. The longest and most profitable took almost 15 20 minutes to run and mapping it was insane and dangerous. But once you got it you made a ton of credits.