Thursday, May 6, 2021

Live Or Dead?

I've been thinking of returning to Genshin Impact for a while now. Back when I was playing regularly, I set the screenshot folder as my desktop background, so the game's never far from my thoughts. I'd been waiting for the 9.5 update to drop, the one that adds personal housing to the game, but then Xyzzysqrl pointed out in the comments that it already had. Shows how much attention I was paying.
This morning I patched up and logged in. The download was huge. A shade under 15GB. I know I've been away for a while but that seems excessive. Luckily these days even hefty patches tend to take no more than a few minutes. I remember when something like that would have had to run overnight.

Even so, I still had a few minutes to kill. I thought I'd use the time productively and find my old login details. And while I was doing that I found myself looking at a whole load of other ancient IDs and passwords, wondering how many would still work.

When Genshin Impact was ready I logged in and ran around trying to remember how to play. Things were slow to come back. I only lasted about half an hour before I'd had enough. As I logged out my mind went back to those forgotten games. Some of them I knew were long gone. Others never got started in the first place. A few, though, I really wasn't sure.
I thought it might be interesting to find out. So I made this list.

Aerrevan - A really obscure one. Developed by CubeForce Media from Canada. You don't see many Canadian mmos. I played this quite a bit in beta, a little after launch. It was one of many somewhat barebones post-EverQuest mmorpgs that always seemed like hard work but which I could never resist. I almost never saw anyone else playing and it closed down long ago. I doubt many people remember it, even fewer with much fondness.

A Mystic Land -  One of the biggest success stories on this list. I played it first under this name and liked it a lot. I liked it even more when it turned into the much better-known Villagers and Heroes. The website claims it's "The World's Largest Cross-Platform MMO" with "hundreds of thousands of players worldwide". I don't know how true that is but I can confirm from personal experience that it's an excellent mmorpg. I posted about it a few times and it's forever on the list of games I mean to get back to playing. That's a long list, though, and almost certainly another blog post in the not-too-distant future.

Argo - I posted about this one a couple of times, when it lurched back to life on the Allaplaya platform. It was never anything particularly special as a game, just a fairly generic imported WoW clone, but it had personality and I liked it. It's gone again, probably for good this time, and Allaplaya along with it, it seems.

Crowns of Power - Some mmorpgs just will not die. CoP is one of them. I played it in its original incarnation with Mrs Bhagpuss. We played a few sessions and made it to the mid levels before drifting away. Later I learned the game had closed down. Later still I learned it had started back up again. A few years on from there, not only is it still going but it's getting new content and an engine update. I was interested enough to make a new account and now I have a level four character. It's one of those.  

Darkfire  - I have absolutely no memory of ever seeing this game before and looking at the website and the screenshots isn't helping. I even watched a video. Nothing. It's on, though, so I wonder if it was in that Black Lives Matter pack last year? Can't say I feel very motivated to check.

Dawntide- I had some hope for this one, once. It was a bleak, slow, depressing EQ-style game, set in some sort of Scandinavian outpost. Kind of like Valheim on mandrax. I found it weirdly compelling even though it was buggy as hell and there was very little you could do. It was abandoned in 2012, following an appropriately bleak and depressing statement from the developers stating they'd had a financial crisis and couldn't afford to keep going.

Dinostorm - Another success story. I actually logged into this on a whim a few days ago and it's not only still there but seems to be flourishing. It looks good, sounds good, plays smoothly and has a very active community. The website is busy with news and when I got into the game I found  a lively argument of the verbal pushing and shoving kind going on in chat. I played for half an hour or so, did some quests, had some fun. There were people everywhere and none of them tried to kill me. It was great!

Dragon Empires - This was going to be CodeMasters big entry into the mmorpg market back in the early 2000s. I was very keen to play it but I never did. The password I have was for some kind of forum, I think. There was a small beta to which I applied but I never got in. It apparently didn't go all that well and the game never released. There's a good article about it here.


Dragon's Prophet - This is the one that SOE bizarrely added to Station Access for a while. It never made any sense as part of their portfolio, although arguably it made more sense than Wizardry Online. I played it briefly and found it generic and unloveable. Others, it seems, felt very differently. SOE gave up on the game in 2015 but it carried on elsewhere for another five years before finally closing for good in 2020. And then this year it reappeared under the banner of Nekrova Games, the people behind something called The Phoenix Project. That's a rabbit hole for another time. For this post, all that matters is you can play Dragon's Prophet again, if that's something you'd like to do. I wouldn't but I'm happy for those that would.

Dark Era - Release Date: October 19, 2015 - Shut Down: December 21, 2016. So that went well. Once again, I have a user ID and a password and no idea why. Oh, wait... that was it. No wonder I forgot.

Earth and Beyond - This is an odd one in my personal canon. I've never played it. I think I might have seen an episode or two of the TV show. Maybe. I made an account and registered on the website when it was first announced because back then every new mmo was a big deal. I never applied for the beta, though, and when it briefly was a live game I didn't buy it. E&B closed down in 2004 but it must have been one of the first failed mmos to get an emulator. A year later it was back up. And it still is. Who knows? Maybe I'll finally get around to trying it one day.

Earth Eternal - I've written about this one a couple of times. I played in beta and again after it went live. Mrs Bhagpuss played a bit, too. It's a lovely game in so many ways, especially all the weird and wonderful races, from animals to robots, but the gameplay can be a touch... worthy. Once again, it's come back from the dead a few times. Sparkplay, the original publishers, went bankrupt and a Japanese company called Sankando picked it up for a while, although I don't think they ever really did much with it. It then re-appeared in emulated form back in 2018 and in theory it's still there, although I couldn't get a response from the website today.

Eden Eternal - This confusingly-similarly-named game is one I've also mentioned a few times although I don't seem to have managed a whole post on it. The publishers, Aeria Games, closed the servers for the final time barely a week ago and the url now takes you to Gamigo, never a good sign. But never fear! There's a very professional-looking private server option, accessible via the ominously-named Vendetta Gaming Network. You even get choose between regular and Classic versions.

Eligium - Yet another that rings absolutely no bells with me whatsoever. It had playable giant pandas, which might have been why I was interested. Don't think I ever got to try one and it closed down in 2012 so I've missed my chance.

Endless Ages - One of my favorites from the deep past. Probably the first ever mmofps. I played it quite a bit. It even had housing. I broke into someone's house once and then got trapped inside. Served me right. It has a very checkered history, revived several times, spats bwtween owners and players. Currently dead. Wouldn't bet against a revival one day, though.

Eternal Lands - Played this a few times. Couldn't get into it. Still going.

Ever, Jane - Made by someone who'd played EverQuest, liked it, but thought it would be better with more curtseying and fewer dismembered dwarves hanging from hooks. Sadly, closed its doors for the final time in Dec 2020. I played it in very early beta, maybe even alpha. I would have sworn on my Lana del Rey CDs that I'd posted about it once or twice but there's no tag so it seems I didn't. It was the poster child for the "mmorpgs should be about so much more than killing stuff" crowd. Maybe Raph Koster would like to take it on.

Eldevin - Kind of similar to Runescape. And EverQuest. I played it and enjoyed it. It's still going and it's on the very long list of games I might one day play again. Life is probably too short for that. Literally.

Elemental Knights - One of the first mobile mmorpgs I ever played and also one of my earliest posts. I was playing it on my iPod Touch nine years ago. I still use that device most days and it was nowhere new even then. Can't fault Apple's build quality. I can't say I've thought about Elemental Knights much since then but it seems to be doing pretty well. You can now play it on the PS4 and it even got a Switch port in 2018. Maybe I should give it a go on my Kindle Fire.

Firefall - The infamous soap-opera starring Mark Kern. I played it on and off and I liked one of the versions quite a lot but he would keep changing it. I wasn't all that keen on the game as it was when it closed 2017 but no doubt, had the servers stayed up long enough, Kern would have torn it all down and treated us to yet another re-write. Or maybe he was out of the picture by then. Who can keep up? It was supposedly going to be remade as a mobile game but I'm pretty sure that never happened. Then there was the spiritual successor, Em8er . Haven't heard anything about that for a while. Still theoretically in development but don't hold your breath.

Gatheryn - Played this in beta and a little after it launched. It was touted as Steampunk but I couldn't really see why. There were airships. Maybe it was that. More of a lobby with some mini-games than an mmorpg but nice enough in its way. Producers ran out of money. Game closed in 2010. All too familiar a story for any mmorpg that tries to be a little bit different.

Loong - Another early post back in 2012. I don't know how long it lasted but it's now so very, very dead the wiki was the only thing I could find to link to.

Mimesis - I remember I did play this, briefly. I certainly never paid money for it and it was well before the F2P era so I imagine it was some kind of beta. Don't remember anything about it other than that. Closed in 2005.

Mytheon - This one I do remember. Based on classical mythology. I played it a few times and I was bad at it. It was pretty to look at (for the time) but it used some sort of three-quarter-behind-the-left-ear isometric viewpoint and I never get on well with those. I'm somewhat stunned to find it's still available through Steam, where "Originally released in 2010 as a free-to-play Action-RPG MMO, the game has been slightly redesigned to support a simple one-time purchase for all core content". It's only £6.99 or £8.99 with all the DLC. I might buy it if it goes on sale.

NeoSteam - Sadly gone and not an emulator or private server in sight. I wish there was. It's another of my all-time favorites, even though there's no good reason why it should be. I did have some firsts there, maybe that's why. It was the first game where I played a giant cat, the first where I travelled between cities on an underground train. Also, it was the first mmorpg I played that claimed in some way to be "Steampunk". It wasn't. And if any would-be developers happen to be reading this, here's a suggestion. Don't say your game is "Steampunk" when it patently is not. Or, frankly, even if it is. Steampunk mmos do not have a happy history.

RaiderZ - I remember registering for this and then not bothering to play it. Can't say I'm tempted now, even though it is still going. Looking at the website, I'm not even sure if it's an emulator or the original. I don't suppose it matters much.

Realms Online - Or if you prefer Regnum Online or, as it's finally become known, Champions of Regnum. I played it a few times and posted about it, twice, all the way back in 2012 (again). It's still going. I wonder how many people play? It's a tripartite RvR game of the kind people are always saying they don't make any more. A good game that deserves to be better-known.

SkySaga - Nope. No idea. It was in beta and then it got put on "indefinite suspension" in 2017. The website is frozen but it's still up. Can't say I care what happens next.

The Hammers End - And finally, another friend of the blog. I've written this one up several times, most recently just this time last year, I've even sent tips to MassivelyOP about it, mainly because I find it hard to believe it exists, let alone that it's still going, which it is. It has plenty of charm, I'll give it that, but it does get quite... repetitive. 

Then again, so do I. I've pretty much written this post before, I think. Probably more than once. And I'll probably write it again.

It's not like anyone's going to remember. Least of all me.

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