Today we're going to start a new feature of this column in which we devote a week to catching up with previous Game Archaeologist spotlights and see what's going on in these classic MMOs. I figured that it was a shame to give these titles a big burst of publicity and then dump them like yesterday's news. After all, if these games' communities are still alive and kicking, and if the developers are churning out new content, then it's worth a monthly mention, don't you think?
I won't just be regurgitating news here; I'll also peek at the various official forums to see what the community is talking about and highlight discussions and debates that are of interest. Not every classic MMO will be featured every month in this space, as I'll try to rotate around to make sure they all get their fair share of mentions.
October was an interesting month for classic MMOs in that several of them produced extremely newsworthy stories that got front-page mention on Massively. On a special note, I won't be covering Asheron's Call today as we're prepping a special anniversary tribute for later this month!
The clock is running down for Star Wars Galaxies' existence, but the players certainly have a lot to see and do in the final weeks before the December 15th sunset. The big focus is on the finale of the Galactic Civil War, which will see either the Rebels or Imperials emerge victorious when all is said and done. It may just be for pride at this point, but players are certainly taking it seriously. SOE is trying hard to retain customer loyalty for soon-to-be-homeless SWG vets and has finally -- albeit a little late -- instituted a free membership program that grants full access to five other SOE MMOs through December 31st. That's plenty of time to give these other titles a try and see if they're worthy of immigration.
The 10th anniversary caught the attention of veterans and newbies alike. Over on Jukka Khan's blog, the author used the event as an excuse to talk about his recent return via a 14-day free trial. "That's quite an accomplishment that most MMORPGs never make it to," he writes, "especially after World of Warcraft was released and took the MMO scene by storm. Besides making me feel old, it certainly makes part of me happy to know that the game is still up and running to this day."
Former Mythic dev Scott Jennings posted an interesting (and amusing) behind-the-scenes story about DAoC's launch on his blog, Broken Toys. "That game and its team still holds a special place in my heart, though most of the founders from that day have gone their separate ways," he says. It turns out that a small programming error on his part caused the game to crash for several hours in the middle of its release, which went to show that devs can never predict every single aspect of MMOs.
For EverQuest adventurers, the word on the street is "Veil of Alaris," and it's being shouted loud and proud for all to hear. The title's mind-boggling 18th expansion received a release date (November 15th) and pre-order bonuses (such as all of the previous expansions plus special mounts). It's amusing to me to see how excited some players are getting over "improved hotbars," but I can see how quality-of-life improvements may be worth celebrating.
"I have to admit, I'm more excited about this than the EQII expansion," gushes MmoQuests.com's Stargrace, who goes on to list the highlights -- for her -- in the expansion.
While there's lots of buzz on the forums about the expansion and pre-order items, one thread in particular caught my eye: "What would make you return to EQ or what would you consider good arguments getting a friend to join?" Player Battleblade gives a frank assessment when he says, "In fairness, a game like EQ has to be targeted at the kind of players that are attracted to MMOs and are willing to put up with things like lower production values and more complicated gameplay than console games in exchange for an inexhaustible amount of stuff to do and a desire to become members of a virtual community."
Next month on the Game Archaeologist
We'll be examining a currently operating MMO that was a pioneer of its time but has since become forgotten by its bigger and brasher brethren. Any guesses as to what this may be?
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.