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Meridian 59 : Evolution: Near Death Studios Dies

MikeBMikeB Community ManagerAdministrator RarePosts: 6,562

Near Death Studios, has well, died. The company, which developed and ran the venerable MMORPG, Meridian 59, has shut down, according to an announcement made on the blog of NDS' Brian "Psychochild" Green.

Image Credit: Gameproducer.net

Meridian 59 fans need not fret, however, as the game will continue to run, just not as a commercial venture owned by Near Death Studios. According to Green, the writing has been on the wall for some time now, as Meridian 59 has essentially been on "life support" for the last several years, due in part to several failed attempts to grow the game's popularity. The real turning point for the game was apparently when the company decided to bring Meridian 59 into the modern era with a graphics overhaul, updating the game with a 3D engine in place of the game's previous DOOM-era software renderer.

This upgrade was expensive and was completed just around when World of Warcraft launched, ensuring that news of such a massive change to the game would be drowned out in the ensuing chaos that was the launch of what is known today as the 800lb gorilla in the room. The game simply never recovered after that.

If you're interested in reading more on the announcement, you can read the full thing over at Psychochild's blog.

Michael "MikeB" Bitton
Community Manager
Twitter: @eMikeB

Comments

  • mercilusmercilus Member CommonPosts: 11

    +RIP+ 

    Father of it all.

  • Daffid011Daffid011 Member UncommonPosts: 7,945

    What a bummer, but a very long run for a game. 

  • Tobias3Tobias3 Member Posts: 81

     Thus passes the studio behind the first 3D MMORPG. 

     

    And thus, another body is added to the WoW kill count. I guess eventually there will be no unique or deep games left, just WoW clones and games that get turned into WoW clones last minute by the company (LOTRO, SWG) .

  • dethduckdethduck Member UncommonPosts: 21
    Originally posted by Tobias3


     Thus passes the studio behind the first 3D MMORPG. 
     
    And thus, another body is added to the WoW kill count. I guess eventually there will be no unique or deep games left, just WoW clones and games that get turned into WoW clones last minute by the company (LOTRO, SWG) .



     

    What the hell does WoW have to do with this?  It's a 14 year old game!   The fact that it has lasted this long is phenomenal.  WoW really is not the end all and be all of online games. 

    image

  • EricDanieEricDanie Member UncommonPosts: 2,238

    It was just the studio.

    I have a strange feeling about this... I smell another item mall milking based experiment opportunity in the air, I hope I am wrong though.

  • DarkDrakonisDarkDrakonis Member Posts: 2

    Near Death wasnt the creator of the first 3DMMORPG :) It was 3DO who originally created and released the game. I was a member from the very beginning and still to this day have many fond memories and wouldn't be as into MMORPG's if i didnt start playing this back in 96.

     

    What a strong solid run for a game that took the basics and evolved it into so much more. Paving the way for all the current MMORPG's out there.

     

    Meridian 59 was the true first 3d MMORPG, first faction based MMORPG while still having you choose good, neutral, or evil based on your skill path, still one of the greatest game soundtracks of all time, brought TRUE PvP into the gaming age (you die.. you lose everything you are holding... ahh fireballs in the back while im wearing plate armor and a gold shield i miss you so), first to have expansions on an ever changing world, and also the first MMORPG to have in-game tourneys for in-game special items.

    Then the cream of the crop.... causing an event where killing isnt penalized and towns are turned into places of mass war and bodies everywhere... The eyes go red and the killing begins...

    I miss watching 20 people take down 1 troll lol and the graveyard battles before daylight...

    I think I might take a walk back to Jasper today :)

  • PsychochildPsychochild Member Posts: 3


    Originally posted by dethduck
    What the hell does WoW have to do with this? It's a 14 year old game! The fact that it has lasted this long is phenomenal. WoW really is not the end all and be all of online games.

    As I said in my blog post, WoW launched about the same time we did our big rendering engine upgrade. It took a lot of time for us to work on it, and it was disheartening to see it go largely ignored as WoW launched. Would we have done better if WoW didn't launch soon after our engine upgrade? I think so. But, we were never going to be the biggest MMO. And it's not worth lamenting what could have been and wishing things were different in the past.


    Originally posted by EricDanie
    It was just the studio.
    I have a strange feeling about this... I smell another item mall milking based experiment opportunity in the air, I hope I am wrong though.

    I can't speak for the new owners, but I doubt this is the case. I was researching item purchase business models even before I helped start Near Death Studios, Inc. and we acquired Meridian 59, so I could have done that anytime in the last several years if I wanted to do that. I made a conscious decision not to in order to help preserve the original game.

    BTW, not all non-subscription models are "milking based experiments". It's possible to create a good business model that is fair and allows people to really support games they love. Take a look at Puzzle Pirates for a good example.


    Originally posted by DarkDrakonis
    Near Death wasnt the creator of the first 3DMMORPG :) It was 3DO who originally created and released the game.

    Actually, it was Archetype Interactive that made the game originally. 3DO acquired them in 1996, if I remember correctly. We acquired the game from 3DO in 2001. It's had quite a history. :)


    I think I might take a walk back to Jasper today :)

    Visit my blog linked in the article and drop me an email if you don't already have an active account.

    Brian 'Psychochild' Green
    Developer, Meridian 59
    Blog: http://www.psychochild.org/

  • MithrandolirMithrandolir Member UncommonPosts: 1,701

    Amazing game... amazing bunch of folks at NDS... sad news indeed.

    Take care Psychochild. You guys kicked butt for the fans of M59 for a long time, and it was obvious it was a labor of love,

    /salute NDS!

     

     

     

  • ab29xab29x Member Posts: 364
    Originally posted by Psychochild


     
     
    Visit my blog linked in the article and drop me an email if you don't already have an active account.

     

    PC, you have 2 posts on this site, one of the most popular MMO forums on the web.  You have 2 posts.  We told you time and time again, advertise.  You didn't.  Here we are.  I'm sure you'll have plenty of people banging down your door to do future investments with you.

    - Aragonn

    PS: You could have just set up an auto account sign up script like the rest of the Meridian 59 pirate servers do. <shrugs>

     

     

  • OzmodanOzmodan Member EpicPosts: 9,726

    No tears here, the game was never good to start with.  UO was light years better than it and when EQ came out that pretty much emptied the rest of it's population.  The graphics upgrade was a waste of time, it did nothing to bring the game up to the level of the competition.

    Surprising it lasted this long, but it did have a very dedicated base of players.

  • dethduckdethduck Member UncommonPosts: 21
    Originally posted by Psychochild
    As I said in my blog post, WoW launched about the same time we did our big rendering engine upgrade. It took a lot of time for us to work on it, and it was disheartening to see it go largely ignored as WoW launched. Would we have done better if WoW didn't launch soon after our engine upgrade? I think so. But, we were never going to be the biggest MMO. And it's not worth lamenting what could have been and wishing things were different in the past.
     



     

    Honestly I think the lack of interest or notice had more to do with no one even really knowing the game was still kicking or even existed than with the attention being dragged away by WoW.  I know myself, I was surprised to learn the game was still alive, I had thought it died out years ago.  How much advertising has there been?  I can barely remember much of any ten years ago let alone when WoW went active.  Even word of mouth.

    image

  • ReklawReklaw Member UncommonPosts: 6,495
    Originally posted by dethduck

    Originally posted by Tobias3


     Thus passes the studio behind the first 3D MMORPG. 
     
    And thus, another body is added to the WoW kill count. I guess eventually there will be no unique or deep games left, just WoW clones and games that get turned into WoW clones last minute by the company (LOTRO, SWG) .



     

    What the hell does WoW have to do with this?  It's a 14 year old game!   The fact that it has lasted this long is phenomenal.  WoW really is not the end all and be all of online games. 



     

    Did you actualy read the article? Seeing your comment I think not.

    The death knell was probably when we tried to do a massive upgrade to the client, getting an actual 3D hardware accelerated renderer instead of the DOOM-era software renderer. We finished this project a few months before WoW launched, and any fanfare we tried to generate was drowned in the flood of WoW excitement. On top of that, WoW cannibalized our subscribers (like it did for many other games), so we had even less income to deal with. http://www.psychochild.org/?p=884

    Anyway it was my first MMORPG, when it was still just Meridian59, tho will say that I can not recall that it was called a MMORPG way back, but then it was very long ago and I ended my play when UO came out and kinda never been back to it.

    Wish them best of luck with their new game whatever that may become..........

  • shantidevashantideva Member UncommonPosts: 186

    Qor!

    Man this game was EPIC!

     

    And UO was nothing compared to it, but i guess it was too hard for some..=)

    Some clever company should ape its combat though, still haven't found anything

    like it..

     

    "Train by day, Joe Rogan podcast by night, all day!"

  • Loke666Loke666 Member EpicPosts: 21,441

    I had no idea the game was even up still. I did play it a while when it was new but had to quit because my old dial up modem just was too slow, MMOs on a modem is not something I would ever do again.

    Sad in a way but I was sure this happened 8 years ago or so.

    Well, thanks for the fun, NDS. However does the game live on in almost every single MMO today. 

  • dogdersROCdogdersROC Member UncommonPosts: 21

    It brought back some memories of playing it when it first was released. Even back then, the graphics were severely lacking. I was surprised to see it had endured in some form all these years.

  • Kram59Kram59 Member Posts: 153
    Originally posted by DarkDrakonis


    Near Death wasnt the creator of the first 3DMMORPG :) It was 3DO who originally created and released the game. I was a member from the very beginning and still to this day have many fond memories and wouldn't be as into MMORPG's if i didnt start playing this back in 96.
     
    What a strong solid run for a game that took the basics and evolved it into so much more. Paving the way for all the current MMORPG's out there.
     
    Meridian 59 was the true first 3d MMORPG, first faction based MMORPG while still having you choose good, neutral, or evil based on your skill path, still one of the greatest game soundtracks of all time, brought TRUE PvP into the gaming age (you die.. you lose everything you are holding... ahh fireballs in the back while im wearing plate armor and a gold shield i miss you so), first to have expansions on an ever changing world, and also the first MMORPG to have in-game tourneys for in-game special items.
    Then the cream of the crop.... causing an event where killing isnt penalized and towns are turned into places of mass war and bodies everywhere... The eyes go red and the killing begins...
    I miss watching 20 people take down 1 troll lol and the graveyard battles before daylight...
    I think I might take a walk back to Jasper today :)

    Wwo, I can't even tell you what memorys I have. Ever since I beta tested this game, my email adress has been, [email protected] because I had to have a email address to play and that was when Hotmail just started. I didn't even know what Hotmail was. Even my car license says kram59 and when eveyone asks me what that stands for I tell them "Scoop" beta tested the game that started it all. Meridian59  wow trolls, and the "graveyard"  oh my.....

    King of the world

  • PsychochildPsychochild Member Posts: 3

     



    Originally posted by dethduck

    Honestly I think the lack of interest or notice had more to do with no one even really knowing the game was still kicking or even existed than with the attention being dragged away by WoW. I know myself, I was surprised to learn the game was still alive, I had thought it died out years ago. How much advertising has there been? I can barely remember much of any ten years ago let alone when WoW went active. Even word of mouth.



     

    We actually spent a lot of money on advertising given our tiny budget. I ran ads on this site (mmorpg.com) for a while. I even got a month's worth of ads on Penny Arcade back before they got smart about how much ads on their site should really be worth. :) That's the problem with ads, though, they get ignored pretty easily. This marketing didn't help our game grow, so we didn't get more money to do better advertising.

    As for word of mouth, read ab29x's post above. That's the attitude of a once avid M59 player. Not exactly making you want to rush out and play the game, is it? Unfortunately, a lot of the players didn't realize that they could have been our best advertising force, beating even ads on Penny Arcade.

    Even Aragonn above doesn't understand the fact that if I go on a forum and talk up the game I run, it's viewed as obnoxious advertising; if players like him would go post on forums talking about how much fun the game is, it's considered legitimate word-of-mouth. One pisses people off, the other gets people interested.

    If we would have had a million dollars to throw on advertising, I'm sure it would have been great. We didn't, and I like to think I did the best with our limited resources. In the end, it wasn't enough.

    But, I'd rather focus on the positive points now.  It's heart-warming to hear the stories people tell.  I was motivated to buy the game in the first place because I didn't want it to fall into oblivion like a lot of older games (AOL Neverwinter Nights, Legends of Kesmai, etc.)  A lot of people have fond stories and memories of M59, and I wanted people like Kram59 to be able to enjoy the game as long as they want. :)

    Brian 'Psychochild' Green
    Developer, Meridian 59
    Blog: http://www.psychochild.org/

  • PhelimReaghPhelimReagh Member UncommonPosts: 682

    Never having played the game, one has to acknowledge that any MMO having a run of over 10 years must have been something special.

     

    We all have to realize that no MMO lasts forever, and I'm sure that for folks who have a decade of effort put into their characters it probably hurts to see this happen.

     

    Congrats on a ground-breaking run.

  • ThalliusThallius Member Posts: 14

    I've been trying to find a decent fantasy MMORPG for a year now and I thought I'd go play and check out the very first one and see how good it was. Clicking on the payment info button on M59's site results in an error, however.

    It's sad to see that development for this game will cease but I suppose every game must have an end and that would seem to include MMOGs. The owners say the game will continue in it's current state but does that mean the few independant servers  with a handful of people playing will be the only ones running  or will the two servers that the game developers maintained also be running?

    Played:EQ,DDO,WoW,EQ2,Eve Online Trial,Fallen Earth,NWN&NWN2

  • drbaltazardrbaltazar Member UncommonPosts: 7,856
    Originally posted by mercilus


    +RIP+ 
    Father of it all.

    sad!will give those guys a chance to rest and check out what the futur hold!

  • Nostromo21Nostromo21 Member UncommonPosts: 76

    Why not float it as open source to the fan base/community & see where it goes? Assuming someone else hasn't bought it out from you PC & is going to make another run at it. OS hasn't hurt a lot of systems & apps at all, to say the least. Once you get volume interest, you'll get advertisers & investors back in droves. Just a thought.

    They say that right before you die, your life flashes before your eyes. That's true, even for a blind man. ^DareDevil^

  • FonrathFonrath Member Posts: 2

     


    Saw your condolances about Meridian 59, but just fyi.


     


    www.meridian59.com


     


    "The first MMO ever to grace the internet in 1996, Meridian 59, is surprisingly still alive and well after 15 years. The games original coders, Chris and Andrew Kirmse have taken the reigns of their creation which was originally released by 3d0, automated account creation, and made it free to play. Gameplay footage available here:

  • KensiebKensieb Member Posts: 1
    I Loved this game! I also was one of the original beta testers. I was Guild Leader of the Assassins Guild on server 103 I believe. Oh what fun there was! Guild Halls, Spys, was jsut a lot of fun.
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