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Category Archives: The Matrix Online

A recent Kotaku article about the closure of MMOs featured a mention of The Matrix Online including an interview with Dan “Walrus” Myers, MxO’s community manager turned producer. Here’s the relevant excerpt from the original article, “When An MMO Dies

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Exiting The Matrix

Long after the credits rolled in the third installment of the popular science fiction film franchise, players were still jacked into the Matrix via The Matrix Online. Developed by Monolith Productions and published by Sega, The Matrix Online came into being in March of 2005. EverQuest developer Sony Online Entertainment took over operation and development of the game in August of that year.

The plug was pulled on July 31, 2009.

Compared to other major MMO closures, The Matrix Online had a fairly long run.

When An MMO Dies

A longer life doesn’t necessarily make a game’s termination less painful.

Daniel Myers began working on The Matrix Online as a community manager. By the time the game closed he was a producer. Today he works as a producer for Sony Online Entertainment’s upcoming spy MMO, The Agency.

“Shutting down an MMO is rough on the development team,” Myers tells me. “These games have long development cycles that then continue for years after a successful launch. How each developer reacts to shutting down a game is personal and very much intertwined with what he or she have gone through in that time. ”

Myers recalls the changes he went through over the course of the five years he spent with The Matrix Online. During that time he changed companies once, attended five Sony Fan Faire events, and started working on a second project. On a more personal level he moved three times, lost 40 pounds (and gained 20 back), quit smoking twice, and added a lot more grey to his beard.

“Through all that, The Matrix Online had been a constant for me.”
When An MMO Dies
Myers says The Matrix Online closed because it no longer met the needs of the business as a whole. It wasn’t a snap decision. “We proposed different options that were reviewed and seriously considered before the final decision was made. In the end, the overall cost of supporting the game no longer fit the business needs of SOE.”

And so The Matrix Online had to close. According to Myers it was hard on the development team, but not as hard as it could have been. Working at Sony Online Entertainment, the company behind EverQuest, EverQuest 2, Free Realms, Star Wars Galaxies, and several other MMO titles, most of the team found positions with other projects in the company.

The drawn-out nature of The Matrix Online’s closure also meant the developers got to send the game off with a bang. “The one thing I think all development teams want is to make whatever time is left memorable for their players,” explains Myers.

“For the final few months we reactivated old accounts and made all accounts free just so everyone who wanted to celebrate The Matrix Online could join in. We turned on all the events we’d used over the last five years and bumped everyone’s characters way past the level cap. One of the programmers was even triple-boxing for the entire final week just so he could fire off events on all three servers.”

The spectacular end of The Matrix Online was a testament to the passion and dedication Myers and his team felt towards the game and its players.

“When a game has been a constant in your life for that long, it’s hard to accept that it’s gone,” admits Myers. “There are still days that I wish I could log in and see the Megacity again. I don’t know that will ever completely stop. I kind of hope it doesn’t.”

The Five Stages of MMO Player Grief

Even the least popular massively-multiplayer game earns a strong community of stalwart supporters. After all of the naysayers half left the servers, an MMO audience is distilled down to the players most passionate about the virtual world they inhabit. They pay for the privilege of existing there, and when the servers go down, they are the ones hurt the most.

Developers do what they can to compensate players for their loss. Sony Online Entertainment gave The Matrix Online players that grand sendoff. NCsoft gave Auto Assault players parting gifts, including the chance to take part in Tabula Rasa, an MMO that ended up closing in 15 months.

“For the players we had, they were very passionate about the world and fiction, so of course they were very upset,” says NetDevil’s Ryan Seabury about the players that stayed with Auto Assault to the bitter end. “I suspect if we could find a way to revive it today, there would still be a small audience for it.”

Sony Online Entertainment’s Daniel Myers compares the process that players go through when an MMO closes to the Kübler-Ross model, commonly known as the five stages of grief. I’ve outlined them here, with Myer’s comments.

  • Denial: “Some couldn’t believe that we wouldn’t find a way to continue supporting the game.”
  • Anger: “Plenty of players were angry over the decision and how we reached that point.”
  • Bargaining: “Lots of offers of support came through just to keep a live service going.”
  • Depression: “There was a lot of sadness that the world they’d spent so much time in was going away.”
  • Acceptance: “And, finally, accepting that The Matrix Online was going to shut its doors and we could have such a good send-off for it.”

Myers says his team saw all of those reactions, to varying degrees, though not everyone goes through all the stages, and certainly not everyone reaches acceptance.

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If anyone who’s interested in the data stored on the MxO forums hasn’t seen this post from Virrago yet, the MxO forums (which were recently inaccessible and presumed lost) will be going away forever very soon. Last chance to back up any data! This applies to me too but I know I’ll put it off until it’s too late.

edit: And now they are gone.

I share everyone’s disappointment with the end of MxO. As you can imagine, I will be trying to craft a finale event to execute in July. I’ll be too busy in June with finals and a vacation out of state. While the crew and United Tomorrow deserve a proper ending, I think the Jokers are the most likely candidates to ride out the end of the world with you.

I will continue slowly updating this blog during and after the end of MxO. I’d like to stay in touch with the MxO community and hopefully involve them in my future story-crafting endeavors. I’d also like to share all the remaining unreleased story material and anecdotes.  This includes a rundown of the BA52 story as it was supposed to occur.  I think I’ll try to package a .rar with the entire 01mainframe structure and make that available to anyone who wants it.  I’ll also see if I can eventually submit all my chatlogs and screenshots to Othinn. Looks like I’ll have a lot of work to do archiving every forum thread that was made pertaining to my stories so that I can keep them for posterity. Ugh, the thought of taking screenshots of every in-game email that I received is scary.

Sometime in June, I’ll probably post the link to this blog on the MxO forums and start posting there publicly as well. My handle there is 10011 and I was once and always a Vector machinist. Well… Enumerator machinist.  Within LESIG, I was originally nicknamed Binnie, although sometimes I was called Binary Boy. 😉  After the 2.0 revamp, I was known only as Bodhisattva.  Despite the name change to Message_Buffer, the other LESIG still call me Bodhi.  Or sometimes the affectionate Bodhi_Buffer.  You might also have known me as the forum moderator Inkblot.  It wasn’t easy holding positions in the two most verbally abused groups in MxO: LESIG and the volunteer mod team.  I can’t speak for the other mods but I did my best to be an impartial and helpful mod.  We may have taken a lot of crap for the improper actions of members of our groups, but many of us were trying our best to support the community.  For example, as Inkblot, I restored roughly 300 (if my memory serves me) posts from the Bazman sisters that had been deleted by an overzealous mod.  It was not an easy task as he had moved all the posts into a single thread and each had to be manually added to its original thread in a time-consuming process involving MxO’s broken search function and MxO’s slightly cumbersome mod tools. Funny how one mistake made by one member of a group can erase all the good things done by the others.

Anyways, I look forward to seeing you all for the last time. And once again, I extend the invitation to message me with contact info if you’d like to stay in touch. Xfire: emuninja

And now, one last teaser:

Keep your eyes open. 😉

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