The Game Archaeologist jacks into The Matrix Online: Your memories

What can you trust when your memories are merely the by-product of intelligent machines tinkering with your brain? When you come right down to it, who's to say that our alleged recollections of The Matrix Online weren't just computer viruses uploaded into our cerebral cortexes -- and that the game never existed at all?

Real or not, The Matrix Online is in no danger of being forgotten. Whether it's because of the meta setting, the too-hip-to-stay-on-cows fashion, or the interactive stories, MxO never fails to evoke passionate testimonies. After speaking with developer Ben Chamberlain last week, today we're going to turn the tables on the players themselves to see what they have to say.

Was The Matrix Online really all that and a bag of computer chips? Was it merely a good-looking graphical chat room or something more? And how will it be remembered many years from now when we sit our grandchildren on our laps and tell them about how we took the blue pill? Or was it red... I can never remember!

Eric Eales: Eyeless wonder

My favorite part about MxO? I had a bug at character creation that caused me to have no eyes, just empty sockets. I always wore a pair of sunglasses, so I would ask people, "Wanna see something really freaky?" and then take them off.

MxO was an interesting game. Shame it didn't last long!

Adad: Angel follower

The world the devs created was very unique and beautiful with a lot to investigate and a lot of friends and foes to gain. Running from agents, meeting the films' infamous characters face-to-face, learning martial arts (Kung Fu, Karate and Aikido), and the first-hand experience of taking my very own red pill to free my mind all added up to a great game. However, what made it truly special was the amazingly creative and dedicated community.

My love for the game was fading after a time until I found the spark I needed to achieve a better gaming experience than I could ever fathom. I had heard rumors of a Zionist faction known as the Furious Angels and even got a glimpse or two of the group's all-white uniforms hyper-jumping around Mega City. The members' cryptic comments around the Mara Central hardline and the elite air around them had me intrigued.

I decided to try to "follow the angel" and found myself on a long path of computer hacking and riddle-solving in order to gain an interview to hopefully join their ranks. The system they had established to help find the best of the best was very impressive, and I felt a sense of pride when I actually completed it when most had failed or given up. I recall that when I finally met Tbone (the leader) and Broin (second-in-command) for the first time, it was even more impressive and nerve-wracking than meeting Morpheus himself.

With FA, I was part of the best of the best in Zion, fighting Machines and Merovingians all across the PvP server. Helping new redpills achieve higher levels and partaking in numerous live events with the likes of Niobe and Seraph with this team truly made the game remarkable and is probably the best gaming experience I will ever have.

When the Machines announced the impending end to the Matrix, we all gamed around the clock and even created the best fan video ever made to tell the final chapter of our story in the Matrix universe. A large portion of the Angels even got together in the real world to celebrate the game we all loved together on its final days, the weekend of July 31, 2009.

Thanks a lot for your time and reminding everyone of one of the diamonds in the rough world of MMOs.

Manic Velocity: In the spotlight

There's nothing quite like having your faction call a meeting with the members of Zion and having Seraph show up. And rather than having a live event character appear and take center stage as was the norm, Seraph sat quietly instead and became part of our audience.

Every now and then the story team would shine the spotlight on the players. It was an accomplishment higher than any rare loot drop you care to name. The Matrix Online was, more than anything, a proper roleplay tool.

Jack Pipsam: Runner

I was level 24 on Zion, still a noob at the game, when I ran into the danger areas (an area where NPC agents could come out and attack you). I was running near a building when an agent came at me. Since I didn't know what to do because he was max level, I just ran down the street while two more NPC agents joined him.

I was running and got stuck at the end of a runway (I didn't have hyperjump). I turned around, thinking they were going to kill me, when a max-level player on my team hyperjumped down next to me, pwned all of the NPC, and turned around to say, "I would get out of this area."

As it turned out, he was in the same guild.

Brendan W.: The Dude

The memory of MxO that sticks in my mind is honestly one of feeling the passion of the community. It was the first game where I honestly felt I invested part of myself into it instead of just wasting some time. The promise was there, and the people wanted it, but well... it just never came to be. There were some great times, though, because through the efforts of the LET (Live Events Team), Rarebit, and even in some manner Rarebit's player volunteers, you could actually feel like you had made a difference personally.

I think that's the thing most games miss out on anymore, especially MMOs. You're playing a "hero" that might as well be nameless. In MxO? You were "the dude" in more than just a concept. A story character might communicate with you personally regarding an issue, wanting to know your opinion on some event. Your well-thought-out post on the official forums? That might actually affect an event in game or lead to one. You might even be named specifically in one of the story quests. You as an individual mattered.

Lokkii: Turncoat

First off, I would like to say how great it is that you are asking for stories from the players of MxO. Toward the middle and end of the game, almost all forms of content came from the other players. Player-driven drama (both good and bad) was the heart and soul of what MxO was after Sony Online Entertainment purchased the game.

There was an event involving volunteers from Zion who needed to defend an NPC while he hacked into the system. We were to defend him from any incoming Machine players. We were unaware that the Machinists were making it a major event, so the seven to 12 Zionite volunteers were ROFL-stomped by the 40 organized machinists. That was when I became tired with Zion and switched to the Machinists, a faction that to this day I am still a part of and enjoy every day, even years after MxO has been shut down.

Damian Dydyn: Morpheus' foe

Morpheus had jacked in to give a speech, drawing a fairly large crowd, as he often did. When he was finished, he let his guard down, and I managed to get him into interlock. The fight didn't last long, as my Machinist cohorts started hitting him with gunfire and hacks and he rolled out. But I am one of the few people in the game who ever got him into interlock outside of a duel.

I miss this game dearly, but the time to move on came long ago. RIP.

Chuangtzu: The road less traveled

One of my most satisfying memories of MxO was hanging out in the wind-blown park at Stamos with some of my clan, watching someone with an awesome coat we had not seen before. Everyone was trying to figure out his combat buffs and how he got that coat. I walked over, complimented him on his coat, and chatted. Soon he just gave me one!

It was a good example of the non-game-mechanics-way of approaching things, which was my style of playing. Being female made this easier, as no one expected me to be pugnacious all the time.

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 justin@massively.com or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.

This article was originally published on Massively.