Nov 302011

I was sent a link to this set of YouTube vids on the history of the MMO genre from MUDs forward. It’s worth a look, even if only to get  a rare glimpse of actual video footage from some of the older games that many folks today don’t even know existed (after all, WoW invented the genre, right?)…

Among the oddities, errors, and omissions:

  • Leaving out Kingdom of the Winds, which predated Lineage.
  • Leaving out kids’ MMOs entirely, especially Club Penguin.
  • Saying that the Ultima Online team had never made anything multiplayer before (Ken Demarest, mentioned in the documentary, left very shortly after UO actually had a team put together — and the original core team that was assembled on the programming and design side was all MUD/MUSH/MOO veterans except for one guy).
  • Saying that Meridian 59 going flat fee was what opened up that business model… I’m fuzzy on this, but my recollection is that M59 was not flat fee at launch… it happened later. And for a while they had a weird complicated fee structure…
  • Leaving out Kart Rider, the genre explosion, and the rise of free-to-play in Korea… it just sort of stops short at Lineage there. Instead F2P seems to all be attributed to Runescape, which is a real misread of where the lines of influence actually flowed, I think.
  • No mention of key non-game worlds like Second Life and Habbo Hotel. I suppose this is excused by the emphasis on game worlds, except for the mention of Habitat.

As a side note, on the graphical MMO explosion — even though a bunch of titles launched in a very staggered way that is covered in the documentary, I think that in practice just about all of them started development around the same time. It’s just that some of them finished faster.

There’s definitely a book to be had about everything in this history… someone (not me) should go write it. 🙂

Vids after the fold:

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Jun 272008

As part of the ongoing raking over the coals of Richard Bartle for saying the obvious (yes, you can tell what side I am on in those debates!), Steve Danuser says over at » Sacred Cows

I get tired of people implying that today’s MMOs owe their entire existence to the MUDs of yesteryear. Sorry, I disagree. The gameplay style of EQ or WoW is obviously influenced by MUDs, but I propose that MMOs would have evolved anyway.

And Ryan Shwayder posts in comments saying

Ultima Online is a direct descendant of what MUD? I’m not saying it isn’t, I’m just saying that I don’t know what particular MUD had a profound influence on that game. It seems like the MMO industry was born of different influences; EverQuest from DikiMuds, Ultima Online from Ultima games. Not all MMOs have a lot of direct comparisons to MUDs, so I think he’s right that they’d exist whether MUDs did or not.


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Players who attack pirate servers

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May 222008 » On Player Loyalty

After finding a pirate Meridian59 server…

I spend the rest my time in this illegal world schmoozing with the admins, trying to finagle server access to cause a little havoc. After an hour or so of this, everyone on the server is killed by an admin command (I didn’t do it.) Amidst the OMG WTF NOOB ADMIN broadcasts from all the players who just lost their last hour of character building–and all the gear they had, I notice there are are two new admin characters logged in with the names “Psychochild” and “Q.”

While laughing my ass off, I call Brian hoping to hear his trademark cackle while he and Rob wreck another pirate server… but he has no idea what’s going on. “So wait,” I say… “You’re not logged into this server right now?”

No, he wasn’t– So I log back on and start talking to the false PC and Q. — Long story short, it turns out that they are two old players from NDS’s Meridian59 who don’t play anymore, but have taken down quite a few pirate servers.

An interesting read. 🙂