Earlier this week, I trolled myself by picking up the charity Itch.io Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. I say I trolled myself because you get close to 1500 games for the donation, and that is not a typo. It’s going to take literally days to go through all these and download the ones I’ll actually want. This is a good problem to have, really, and they are close to the $5M goal as I type this.
Anyhow, one of the games that leaped out at me is called PAGAN: Autogeny. It is not an MMORPG, but it’s about an MMORPG – a dead one.
“PAGAN: Autogeny is an experimental first person open world role playing game set in the digital ruins of a largely abandoned MMORPG. It is heavily inspired by long-forgotten bargain-bin 1990s adventure games, and by a general ethos of user-hostile design. Features include: Over 100 acres of lovingly handcrafted playable space; an increasingly esoteric series of secret endings; five major zones + a litany of hidden areas; four idiosyncratic repeatable boss fights; over 7000 possible gear combinations; five strange and eldritch skills; very cursed gender_magick(). PAGAN: Autogeny is an exercise in aesthetic maximalism — In other words, it’s pretty big, at least by normal altGame standards. A full adventure will take several hours, but you can return to spawn at any point to save and exit. The game also autosaves when passing through doors, in case you have to run off in a hurry.”
“General ethos of user-hostile design” – the whole genre just felt that burn, am I right?
OK, on topic: I absolutely love this concept. Mucking around in the ruins of dead MMOs is probably familiar to a lot of us, whether we’re talking about live games that don’t have a lot of players or dead games with emulators. My kids, for example, are obsessed with Paragon Chat; even though they could be playing the actual City of Heroes emulator, it’s the empty version they want to fly around in, exploring. There’s something soothing about that, and also a little bit creepy.
When was the last time you played a “dead” MMO – not necessarily a game that’s been sunsetted and no longer exists but a game that actually feels dead – and what was the experience like?