And so it is for The Game Archaeologist. 2011 marks the second year I've been doing this column, and it's been one of my personal favorite series to write. Every week I'm learning more and more about the history of the MMO genre, and I'm encouraged to see just how much passion and interest there are for the titles that started it all and got us to where we are today.
So before we head into 2012, let's take one last glimpse back at the road we've traveled. If you've missed out on any of these columns or want to revisit your favorite classic MMO, I've compiled a huge list of everything I talked about this year, from histories to interviews to player stories. There's also a special request for you (yes, you) at the end of this column, so do me a favor and hit that jump!
It seemed fitting to begin 2011 with one of the first smash-hit MMOs and the reigning champion of the throne until World of Warcraft came on the scene in 2004.
- EverQuest highlights
- Interview with Thom Terrazas
- EverQuest player memories part 1
- EverQuest player memories part 2
- EverQuest personal expedition
As PlanetSide gears up for a sequel, we looked back at what made this three-faction MMOFPS work -- and what didn't.
EA's fledgling space title didn't have much in the way of deep content, but players still loved the options to pursue a career their own way, be it fighting, crafting, trading, or exploring.
- E&B highlights
- Interview with blogger Jonathan
- Interview with Rade Stojsavljevic
- E&B player memories
Multi-User Dungeons (MUDs)
Before MMOs had graphics, they were purely text-based and known as MUDs (and MUSHes, MOOs, et al.). For decades players have engaged in virtual worlds using nothing more than their minds and a few lines of description, and for some, it was way better than anything we have now.
- MUD highlights
- Interview with Richard Bartle
- MUD games
- MUD player memories part 1
- MUD player memories part 2
Did you take the red pill or the blue one? Players who went down the rabbit hole found a mixed blessing of an MMO, with a flexible skill system, continuing stories, and bugs out the wazoo.
The "What Ifs?"
I took a break from my normal routine in the middle of the year to focus on promising and (in some cases) highly anticipated MMOs that never made it to launch. I called them the "What Ifs."
- True Fantasy Live Online
- Middle-earth Online
- Ultima Worlds Online: Origin
- Ultima X: Odyssey
- Climax's Warhammer Online
- Imperator Online
Created as the ultimate PvP MMO, Shadowbane struggled during its run to make a whole world full of nothing but PvP and guild-vs.-guild combat work. Some adored it, some raised an eyebrow when the game "rebooted," and some had never heard of it at all.
- Shadowbane highlights
- Interview with blogger Grimnir
- Shadowbane player memories
- Interview with Josef Hall and Todd Coleman part 1
- Interview with Josef Hall and Todd Coleman part 2
A Tale in the Desert
Perhaps one of the most unique sandbox MMOs ever made, A Tale in the Desert not only eschews fighting for crafting but has a beginning and an end (not to mention a rebirth).
While ultimately a failed experiment in MMO sequels, Asheron's Call 2 is still highly lauded by some for its gorgeous world, live events, weather systems, and player music.
- AC2 highlights
- Interview with fansite operators Kiersten Samwell and Robert Hackett
- Interview with Eric Heimburg
- AC2 player memories
EverQuest Online Adventures
The "forgotten" EverQuest, EQOA not only continues to operate against all odds on an outdated platform, but provoked quite a few responses by those who were and are great fans of this console MMO.
One of the very first (if not the first) graphical MMOs, Meridian 59 was brought into existence by two brothers with a crazy dream of making a MUD with a DOOM-like engine. It survived a shutdown and multiple changings of the guard... and still survives today.
- Meridian 59 highlights
- Interview with Brian "Psychochild" Green part 1
- Interview with Brian "Psychochild" Green part 2
No, hodge-podge isn't the name of some obscure MMO; it's a catch-all category for columns I wrote this year that don't fit anywhere else or were just one-shots.
- The classic MMOs in November
- The classic MMOs in October
- Dark Age of Camelot 10th anniversary interview with Stuart Zissu
- Salute to Asheron's Call's 12th anniversary
- The Game Archaeologist: Why I write
- Lineage: The highlights
- The Shadow of Yserbius: The highlights
A special request
While I have a list of remaining titles I'd like to cover in 2012 for this column, I'd really like to hear from those of you out there with a similar interest in classic MMOs and MMO history. What would you like to see discussed this year? Do you have any creative ideas for the column? Is there something I could be doing or covering that I haven't already? Any developers whom you'd like to see interviewed?
Let me know by either dropping a comment below or sending me an email at email@example.com! Looking forward to hearing from you.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.