Maybe many of us would just rather remember MMOs as they were in life rather than at the moment of their demise. But I believe that how a game went out is incredibly fascinating for many reasons and worthy of examination.
It's in these final moments when an entire community has to say goodbye. It's in these moments that the developers mourn as well before pulling the plug. It's in these moments that history is being made one last time. And it goes without saying that it's in these moments that everyone curses the unfairness of it all.
Today we're going to watch the first half of 10 videos featuring MMOs in their final moments. It's here we'll see how weird, crazy, sad, and interesting things can get. Maybe you were part of one (or more) of these moments or are simply curious what it was like. Either way, it's the end of the world as we know it. And we feel fine.
This somber video takes us through the last day of The Matrix Online, touring the cityscape under baleful red eyes and dancing in impromptu parties. A text box announcing "Wake up!" is the last warning before characters contort and implode into player-popcorn.
A last grand tour seems to be a theme of many of these videos, and none is as appropriate as this one of SWG's planets. As the sun sets, starships can be seen battling in the atmosphere (from one of the last updates to the game), fireworks are going off, and players are trading expensive armor for fun.
"RIP Star Wars Galaxies," one player wrote in chat seconds before the final disconnect. "You had a long road and a ton of memories... we love you."
If you're the lead developer for an MMO and get the news that your game is scheduled for the slaughterhouse, what do you do? If it's Dungeon Runners, then you plop a nuclear bomb in the middle of the main city with a timer because you're not going out without a bang.
This video is hard to make out, what with all the spell effects going on, but it's the final party of dancing players congregating on said bomb. Alas, the game ends with a simple disconnect message rather than an atomic explosion, but the thought was nice.
Since we're on the subject of going out with a bang, Tabula Rasa players were at least given a fitting end to their struggles. The developers allowed soldiers to counter-invade occupied Earth and free it from the Bane in one final battle.
Here you can see the players enjoying a post-battle rave while counting down the last couple of minutes. The score playing here is one specifically written for the end of Tabula Rasa.
One constant that I've found in these final moment videos is a rapidly scrolling chat window. It seems as though everyone has something to say and desperately wants to say it. This EQOA video isn't visually flashy; it focuses on the statements that players furiously typed out before the servers went dark. Some are profound, some are profane, some are simple, and some are goofy. All, however, express a desire to have one last connection with this shared community.
I'm going to stop here and finish the list next time (10 videos in a row would be endless scrolling for you!). Were you part of any of these shutdowns, and if so, what do you remember?