Monday, November 25, 2019

No I Never

PC Gamer published a list of dead MMORPGs recently under the headline "25 MMOs that lived and died since World of Warcraft launched". I first heard about it by way of Paeroka at Nerdy Bookahs and there have been follow-ups by Rakuno, Nogamara and Everwake, so far.

The list includes a round dozen that I actually played at least once. Then there are ten more that I know of but never tried. Either I wasn't interested, they weren't accessible in my region or I meant to but somehow never got around to it.

That leaves three whose names were new to me: Dynasty Warriors Online, Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine and Starquest Online.

The first two were Japanese releases that also had English language servers for the North American region, according to PC Gamer. Whether the "NA" servers were also open to other regions I have no idea. It seems a bit late now to go find out, although DWO is apparently still running in Japan.

The third, described witheringly by PC Gamer as an "unconventional, and ugly, sci-fi MMO" looks to have been a cut-price and even less casual-friendly version of EVE Online, at least if its badly edited wikipedia entry is to be belived: "The game itself is an online persistent sandbox where there anything can happen at any time. A hostile player ship can sneak up on another player and attack at any time, in any solar system."

Starquest's developers seem to have been determined to put as many obstacles in the way of commercial success as possible: "Starships require several players to function...and cannot be used at all without at least one of the players present who serves as a senior officer in the game...When the player logs off... ships will still fly towards a destination while offline, and players can still be attacked if their ship is moving." Plus there was a $9.99 monthly subscription.

Can't say I'm sorry to have missed any of those three. On to the ones I have at least heard of...

I never had any intention of playing Phantasy Star Online, a spin-off of an offline series I also never played. I don't believe it was ever available outside of Japan, anyway, so I couldn't have played it even if I wanted to. Fantasy Year Zero, also a Japanese title, apparently did have North American servers. I must have missed the memo.

Battlestar Galactica Online rings a vague bell. I might have thought about trying it once. I have some limited affection for the I.P., having watched the original series back in the 1970s. The game is (loosely) based on the noughties reboot, which I haven't seen, despite having it strongly recommended to me more than once by a close friend, back when it was on tv. It's currently available on Amazon Prime so I might get around to it one day. As for the MMORPG, that (space)ship has sailed.

Tabula Rasa I made a conscious choice to avoid but I can't now remember why. I vaguely remember thinking it looked silly but that hardly seems a valid reason in light of some of the games I have played. I kind of wish I'd at least tried it because it seems to have been historically significant in the development of what came to be known as "dynamic events" and "public quests",

I am very sorry I never got around to playing The Matrix Online. The screenshots make it look like something I'd have enjoyed. I have absolutely no rational explanation as to why I didn't at least give it a go. It was included in the SOE All Access subscription that I was paying for, for heaven's sake! All I had to do was download it. I even remember reading up on it to see what the gameplay was like but somehow I never took that final step. I've also never seen the movie(s) even though I've owned the first one on DVD for at least a decade. I must have some kind of mental block about trenchcoats.

I did play the original Myst. Didn't like it much. It seemed a bit...pointless. And dull. There's a nagging sense at the back of my mind that I might have tried the online version but I think that's a false memory. I can't see why I'd have wanted to - I didn't have a blog back then to make playing  games I know I'm not going to like seem like a good idea.

Club Penguin was out of my age range. That seems a bit rich, considering I played a considerable amount of both Free Realms and Wizard 101, not to mention Toontown back in the day, but there always seemed to be something about Club Penguin that made me feel I wouldn't be welcome there. Possibly because it had the word "Club" in the title. Wilhelm used to write about it occasionally, though, so, like EVE and TorilMUD, I feel as though I've played it vicariously.

Dark and Light I remember being quite interested in at one point. I think the reviews put me off. It was a fanmous stinker. I was also quite keen on the reboot until I found out it wasn't a proper MMORPG.

Darkfall is listed, somewhat pedantically, by PC Gamer as "Darkfall Unholy Wars", presumably to differentiate it from the two versions currently running, Darkfall Rise of Agon and Darkfall New Dawn. Or possibly they just have journalistic standards. I guess that was its proper name, even though everyone just called it "Darkfall".

I did consider playing it but I read so much about it, mostly on SynCaine's blog, that there hardly seemed to be much point. I was pretty sure I'd never have as much fun in the game itself as I'd have reading stories about it. Much the same reason I've never bothered to play EVE, even though you can do it without paying these days.

Pirates of the Carribean, though, I was never going to play. I've neither seen the movies nor wish to and I struggle with piracy as a theme and setting. I'm fine with the clothes and the dialect but naval battles bore me to distraction and piratical sword-fighting is tedious beyond belief. Also all that dithering with treasure maps. Nope. Not for me.

And that's all the ones I didn't play. I've managed to get a whole blog post out of rambling on about games I never played. Imagine how long I could bang on about the ones I did...

Guess what's coming next.


  1. As I noted elsewhere, there are a few solid, notable titles on that PC Gamer list, but also some odd omissions (no LEGO Universe?), plus the double entry of Landmark and EverQuest Next. The latter was hardly more than a dream. However, I also think that shutting down an MMO often says more about the company running it, their expectations, and how well they had their business model figured out than the game itself. Club Penguin, for example, would still be around if not for Disney, while Pirates of the Burning Seas or WWII Online (or whatever they call it these days) should have both been dead years ago, yet still struggle on.

    I tried The Matrix Online a couple of times, after all, it was free with SOE All Access, but never got into it. My recollections of it were clunky, awkward, a bit low ress, and involving my unfavorite combat routine of standing toe to toe with your enemy and exchanging bursts of machine gun fire. But we know it was somebody's favorite game ever.

    1. It seemed like a fairly random list to me when I read it. If I was short of something to do I'd spend a few hours researching it for myself and see what they left out. I'd also like to contextualize it with all the MMOs that launched in that window and are still running, which I'm sure would be a much longer list. This time of year, though, I'm never going to find the time for that.

      I completely agree on the luck-of-the-draw over which games get closed down and which survive. A textbook example in my eyes is that ultra-obscure title I've written about a few times - The Hammers End. I just checked and its still running. It even has a new website. I would imagine that Wildstar, when it closed, still had orders of magnitude more players than THE but look who's still standing.

      I believe The Matrix Online had a pretty committed core community. There seems to be an active emulator scene still, which usuaully indicates a game had some hardccore fans. I might give that a try sometime.

    2. Polygon claims The Matrix Online had less than 500 active players.

      I still think City of Heroes is the best example of a relatively popular and profitable game that got closed.

  2. I did play Dynasty Warriors Online from Russia just fine. However, it's not really an MMORPG. You just loaded into instanced battlefields.

    Phantasy Star Online had an American version. Phantasy Star Online 2 is coming to NA and EU in 2020 I think. From what I've heard so far it's very similar to original PSO.

    1. Oh, that's interesting. I might take a look at PSO2 when it arrives. I did hear some good things about the original, although that was a long time ago.

  3. The sequels are highly debatable of course, but I strongly recommend watching at least The Matrix. It's one of the greatest movies ever made in my opinion.

    The BS:G series is also very good.

    1. I'll get to it eventually! I have so many unwatched DVDs and now I have Amazon Prime too...


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