May: Ultima Online
In my very first expedition, I went all the way back to the game that put MMOs on the map: Ultima Online
. I traced through the rich history of the game, talked with creator Richard Garriott
, and spent a few memorable evenings getting my butt handed to me by newbie island bears. This was a game that always intimidated me too much to play it back in the day, so it was great to get over those fears and give it a whirl.
June: Star Wars Galaxies
With The Old Republic
on everyone's mind, the issue of Star Wars Galaxies'
longevity is incredibly relevant. How did this "other" Star Wars MMO survive past the NGE
, why does SWG's
community love it with a fierce Wookiee love, and is it ready for direct competition within its own IP?
July: The Sims Online
In a truncated month for this column, I went back to one of the odder MMO experiments: a cross-breed of The Sims
and a persistent world. It's still hard to tell whether The Sims Online
was simply ahead of its time or hobbled by poor design choices. Probably both, I suspect.
August: Dark Age of Camelot
Even after almost a decade, DAoC
remains one of the most-beloved PvP MMOs in existence, thanks to its three-faction battlefront and ingenious warfare systems. I had a lot of fun talking with players, devs and the man behind this success story, Mark Jacobs
August: Bulletin Board Systems
There's a special spot in my heart for BBSes, as I cut my online teeth on them in the early '90s. In this special one-shot column, I went back to one of the internet's ancestors and revisited BBS door games and their impact on the MMO genre.
September: Anarchy Online
My very first MMO and the inspiration for this column, Anarchy Online
has a history that's as infamous as it is famous. From its disastrous launch to its role as a pioneer in the field of free-to-play titles, this game continues to forge ahead boldly while other MMOs timidly tip-toe forward.
October: Asheron's Call
I asked readers what game we really needed to tackle next, and the response was nearly unanimous: Asheron's Call
. With its freeform skill system, expansive world, and unique fantasy setting, AC
first big hit and cemented itself in the hearts of many MMO vets.
November: Kingdom of Loathing
Kingdom of Loathing
is one of those games that's not on most people's radars, but for those who know of it, there exists a passionate affection that outshines the sun. There's very little like this browser-based, pun-enriched RPG parody, and I maintain that you're missing out if you haven't at least given it a week or two of your life.
November: Neverwinter Nights
While it wasn't the first MMO (or even "massive," for that matter), Neverwinter Nights
nevertheless made history by being the first graphical online RPG. Even though they had to pay by the hour to access it, players gobbled this up and asked for more. I returned to the simpler days of 1991 to see what it was like to forge such a groundbreaking title.
Despite being insanely popular and making Jagex
more money than the five richest kings of Europe combined, RuneScape's
struggled with the perception of being somehow less than a "real" MMO. This month, I blew that stigma out of the water as we looked at just how revolutionary and innovative this game is.
December: Dungeons & Dragons
In our final expedition of the year, we traveled back before (most) video games to fawn over the grandfather of RPGs, Dungeons & Dragons. How did the decisions made by D&D's creators end up influencing MMOs decades later? You'd be surprised!
Thanks for reading, and don't forget to leave some feedback as to what you'd like to see covered next year!
When not clawing his eyes out at the atrocious state of general chat channels, Justin "Syp" Olivetti pulls out his history textbook for a lecture or two on the good ol' days of MMOs in The Game Archaeologist. You can contact him via email at email@example.com or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.