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The most influential MMOG moments

Michael Zenke

The MMOCruch blog is has up an article offering some poignant moments in MMO history. These five events capture some of the potential and uniqueness of the Massive genre, and are sure to provoke some 'I remember when' thoughts from the older MMOG players. There's some further commentary from Wired's Game|Life blog, also well worth taking a look at.

My personal favorite from the list, with Wired's commentary:

The Assassination of Lord British (Ultima Online):

Ultima Online is considered to be the father of modern MMOs. Richard "Lord British" Garriott, in turn, is considered the father of Ultima Online. When his avatar was murdered at a public appearance, it was the virtual equivalent of Nietzsche claiming "God is dead," then stabbing him in the face with a fictional dagger. As a result "Lord British" is seen as both Garriott's avatar and a metaphor for the tenacious resolve with which MMO gamers will strive to exploit these games with complete disregard for other players, or the game's creators themselves. Plus, it's simply hilarious.

As a 'cranky old man' to this type of game, I have a few moments of my own to share after the break. You, there in the back? What is your favorite 'MMO Moment'?

Here are my humble additions to the original list.

The Star Wars Galaxies New Game Enhancements

The lesson: get your community onboard before a major change. While everyone derides the design decisions made in the massive change to Star Wars Galaxies, what made people really angry was the callous disregard for community input. To this day, folks are bitter about having an entirely new game rammed down their throat after years of paying their subscription fee. If SOE and LucasArts had taken the time to talk their community through the changes instead of desperately scrambling for big bugs and new subscribers, we might look on the NGE in an entirely different light nowadays.

The World of Warcraft/Toyota Commercial

The lesson: Massive games are mainstream. It's a recent event, and one that most people laughed at, but for me it seems like a pretty big deal(tm). The car industry is still in many ways an 'old world' business enterprise, and their acceptance of World of Warcraft's 9 million players as a potential market speaks volumes. While Leeroy, Shatner, and South Park are funny, a few years from now I think "I am the Lawgiver" is going to be the more meaningful phrase to remember.

The Cancellation of Mythica and the Closing of Earth and Beyond

The lesson: MMOGs are mortal. While in 2007 the failure of Vanguard and the cancellation of Gods and Heroes may be more timely, in 2004 the death of a big-ticket MMO title was something of a rarity. Mythica had an enormous fan following, with a handful of forums and fansites already hard at work something like a year before launch. Earth and Beyond, while obviously not a huge game, was closed in the same year and was a very well-known title. Until the launch of EverQuest 2 and WoW later that year proved the concept wrong, some analysts used these events to doomsay the whole MMOG concept.

The development of MUD1

The lesson: Graphics aren't everything. Despite Game|Life's comment that multi-user dungeons were ' largely forgettable', most of the MMOG hags I know still have great stories from back in the text-only days. The work of Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw on this pioneering space has had a huge impact on every MMO that has come after it. Some basic assumptions made in EverQuest, assumptions that have been carried on by the likes of WoW and Lord of the Rings Online, were based squarely on the design decisions made for this game. There's a reason everybody likes to hear Bartle talk about the industry: he more or less helped create it.

So let's hear it! What do you think MMOCrunch and I have missed?

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