The Game Archaeologist seals up 2011

Guild Wars 2

You know what I love about the end of each year? The lists. Man, but I'm a sucker for lists, especially when they come in "best of" varieties. In the lull between Christmas and New Year's, there typically isn't a lot happening in the world of entertainment, so it's a good time to look back before we head forward.

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.


As PlanetSide gears up for a sequel, we looked back at what made this three-faction MMOFPS work -- and what didn't.

Earth & Beyond

Earth & Beyond

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.

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.

The Matrix Online

The Matrix Online

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."



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.

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).

Asheron's Call 2

Asheron's Call 2

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.

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.

Meridian 59

Meridian 59

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.


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.

If you're interested in reading up on all of the columns from 2010, I posted a simlar round-up last year!

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! 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 or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.