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Dec 20, 2005



I was an AC2 player for 2 years.

I played through the broken chats, the server merges and the changing of the guard (Jessica Mulligan's departure sealed my leaving).

That said, it was a sad day for me when I found out about the game ending. It was one of those games that had a great community that stuck through some of the strangest design decisions I have ever seen.

I wish they had of activated all of the old accounts for the final days, as I will miss my avatar there greatly.

I hope Turbine and the developer community as a whole has learned alot from this experience. And I also hope to see a great post mortem posted here in January ;).

Goodbye AC2. So much potential lost :(


It's a good job RL still has a healthy number of subscribers. It would be a shame to find another stone tablet saying that it's no longer viable and is going to be shut down.


Reminds me of some of the post-NGE behavior in Galaxies. Players were setting up tombs and memorials -- very Egyptian, in a way. Building little monuments to their time in game.

I did much the same thing after I quit, before my sub ran out. Visited the last few points of interest, took some screenshots of friends and places I used to hunt -- and made sure my house reflected who I was and what I used to do. Opened it up to the public to visit, although I doubt anyone ever did. It was just one small house out near Anchorhead, after all.


I think I'd prefer that a world go out with a bang, rather than a whimper.

On a personal level, it just doesn't seem right that something in which people have invested a lot of time should cease to exist with no ceremony. Just pulling the plug on an inanimate thing as a simple practical act seems terribly cold. While the world may have been just a thing, there were human beings interacting with that world. Some memorialization from the "gods" of the world might help the loss go down easier.

So there's the whole Kubler-Ross thing of developers giving players some kind of ceremonial event they could use to help them move through the stages of loss.

On the other hand, it's been suggested that Westerners tend to be too attached to things. Maybe it's actually better to just unceremoniously end the world as a mere thing that, like all things, is transient and impermanent and a distraction from the noumenal.

I can't decide. So I finesse the choice by trying to think like a designer... and I conclude that it just doesn't seem right to miss out on an opportunity for urban renewal on a truly massive scale. How many times does a designer get the chance to destroy an entire universe?

"Now I am become Death, destroyer of worlds."

Bring on the fireworks!



It would be provocative if a world should literally die. The atmosphere might take on a poisonous cast. The fauna should should falter in number and the flora should do the easiest to achieve effect of wilting. Days should become colder and the sun should shrink from view. Even the stars should be blinded from witnessing the deeds of the last remnants of inhabitation of a desert yet to be. All the characters should become nameless, all possessions valueless, and all the subtle colors should bleed from sight. Ultimately, I suppose an artificial world concieved solely as the product of an idea should end when all the light slowly fades out of all things.


A planned end does seem to provide a great opportunity to provide some closure to the fans of the game, as opposed to pulling the plug.

I'm not sure if my attention span would ever be good enough to stick around a MMORPG until the game itself goes out of existence, but what a treat if that were to happen!

I know that when I finally decided it was time to bow out of WoW, my Tauren flew to Thunderbluff and walked my mount all the way to Camp Narache via Bloodhoof village with my pets (taking screenshots along the way) and finally sitting down in the middle of the village before logging for the last time. (And something about a Tauren walk seems to suggest weariness too, which was somewhat appropriate in my case.)

But how incredibly awesome it'd have been if I could have timed that to some cataclysmic world event.

(love the blog and the comments!)


Is it better to have an ending- a death, an apocalyptic destruction- or is it better to have the illusion of continuity... as if we were merely losing touch with an old friend...

Looking back at some of the "final episodes" of some of the classic television series....

"MASH" ended with the cease fire... a bittersweet "end" of that world. People who followed the series knew that, even as they celebrated the characters heading home, a family they'd grown to love was breaking apart.

Would "Cheers" have ended better if the place closed down, all characters going their own way, or is it better to think that somewhere right now Sam Malone is tending bar, ready to serve a drink to a familiar friend?


Chas> Is it better to have an ending- a death, an apocalyptic destruction- or is it better to have the illusion of continuity...

I can see either way working depending on how it's executed, I suppose. Although the idea that my character is off having adventures or living happily ever after without me is distressing ;) It probably has to do with the fact that I invest less of myself in a TV show than in an RPG.

On a related note though, I wonder if developers plan for the end when they are creating the game. Laying down the ultimate end-game mechanics into the design, so to speak, only to be triggered at the very end ..perhaps by the player over the course of the last week so that everyone has a chance to experience it once.. who knows. I've wished some games would just end instead of limping along long after they've run out of ideas. It would be so much more elegant... done, experienced, archived! Next?


In most other RP settings, pen-and-paper for example, I've personally found that people prefer to leave the situation in limbo, at least with regards to their own characters. In essence, that allows each person the freedom to generate their own end-story about the characters they created and nurtured. Some live on, others die heroically, others fade away... but if the player is given the final say by the situation, I've found that they are generally happier about it all.

Now, whether that carries over to the MMO situation, I don't really know. I suspect it will for some, but for those who indulge in MMOs that wouldn't touch a pen-and-paper RPG with a ten-foot pole? No real idea... my suspicion is that an Armageddon of some sort would be more entertaining and palatable. "I was the Last Man Standing when the Darkness finally fell..."

A peripheral question: a service like this represents huge amounts of code, resources (graphics, animations, sounds, etc), hardware, and so forth. What happens to all that material? Does it sit on tapes in a warehouse somewhere, gathering dust until the janitorial staff accidentally throws it out? How many previous instances of this kind of thing are there, and how were those resolved?

The saddest thought to me is not the thought of the characters lost, but rather the thought of all the talented effort this type of thing represents fading to complete irrelevance and ultimately lost.


> A peripheral question: a service like this
> represents huge amounts of code, resources
> (graphics, animations, sounds, etc), hardware,
> and so forth. What happens to all that
> material? Does it sit on tapes in a warehouse
> somewhere, gathering dust until the janitorial
> staff accidentally throws it out? How many
> previous instances of this kind of thing are
> there, and how were those resolved?
> The saddest thought to me is not the thought of
> the characters lost, but rather the thought of
> all the talented effort this type of thing
> represents fading to complete irrelevance and
> ultimately lost.

I always have this exact same thought. It is the same thing I wonder about when an MMO that is partially completed gets cancelled.

No matter how bad some things turned out, almost every MMO has a lot of excellent content that could surely be very valuable to someone. Heck, even amateur modder types could probably do a lot with it. I think about old MUD codebases that were publicly available. 99% of the things made with them were crap, but that other 1% could really be interesting.

Unfortunately, since the assets are owned by corporations, it is no simple task for the content to be sold or released publicly. There would be too many people involved in the decision (including in some situations, a lot of shareholders who could have a legitimate beef if a major asset was just given away). It would be neat to see some of this content get released into the public domain, but it is pretty doubtful.


I'm hoping a Deathstar blows up all the worlds in SWG when it closes.


From both sentimental and business perspective, I think it would be smart to follow the Web 2.0 ideals and release under contract to someone willing to maintain this "third-space", perhaps a current or former employee with inside knowledge of the IP.

This allows some form of the world and associated IP to live on. This allows Turbine's AC IP to live on and gives them an option to capitalize it in the future. For example, in Ultima I you leave Britannia to return in Ultimat II and perhaps another Ultima world in the future.

AC does not have to be abandonware. Business and customers have invested a lot into the virtualization of a world, so there is social and economic value to it.

Smart companies will maintain its currency and allow the collective consciousness to flow and perhaps capitalize in the future.

My thoughts,



I think it's a safe bet that all the current virtual worlds will not be running fifty years from now. If absolutely nothing else, the technology would be obsolete. Should designers account for this, and have a shutdown plan (or at least a couple guidelines for the live team) in place?


I ended up posting summaries of the ways in which the UO and SWG betas ended, since it seemed related: http://www.raphkoster.com/?p=222


They really should go out with a bang to give their players something to remember them by. If nothing else, it would serve as a small bit of encouragement for Turbine and their fans of DDO and MEO. Optimally, the event would run for about a week before culminating in a major cataclysmic event.

It would be cool for them to follow it up with a slideshow briefing the history of Asheron's Call 2 (since they have that functionality) after it officially dies, then make that slideshow available on the web afterward (a slideshow highlighting each of their monthly events briefly, some key events in the history of AC2, and anything else that would make players swell with pride).

End the slideshow with the events that just transpired (big badda boom), show the now-barren landscape, then focus on a single flower growing from between the cracks of scorched earth. A new beginning? Most likely not, but it gives the sense of "it'll be okay" and leaves them an out to make an AC3 if they're successful in their next projects.

I'm truly sad to see AC2 go, because it had one of the greatest communities out there despite its size. I'll remember a lot of great moments in that game forever, and still maintain some relationships with people I met there, and will likely continue playing other games with them in the future. Farewell, AC2. I hope we've learned some lessons from what they did right and what they did wrong. See you on the other side.


A bang denotes an obvious closure. A smooth, fading away is a different kind of ending, a more subtle, "The story is over, but the world remains... just it's not interesting anymore. Without the story, who cares about the world?"

It's the difference between the Biblical Apocalypse and a descent from order by the whims of Entropy. People don't like it to make sense. They want an ending to be a new beginning, which is why permadeath registers so poorly. It can't just END. I want to restart! So they get resurrected or respawned or reincarnated or whatever. Something that keeps them going. A Cup of Wishes or a Life spell.

I feel like I rambled, but those are just some random thoughts that flew through my head.


This is a sign,

just how AC2 is ending, SWG(Star Wars Galaxies) shall meet the same demise in about a month or three...

I now truly know that it is too late to salvage that poor game, it had so much potential...


One thing I see in a game is the appearance of necropolises ... in SWG you see many "Tombs", "Crypts" and "Memorials" ... houses with improvised sarcophagi, surrounded by old, no longer usable creature handler pets as guardians ... or parks full of statues of people that "passed away".

I always enjoyed massive apocalpyse like events at the end of Beta tests. If a world HAS to end, then let it end in a BANG, not a whimper. Let a world be overrun by daemons, AT ATs, Mr.Smith-clones .. whatever.

Make it GRAND ... and terrible ... and memorable.

Have fun



First off, if you have not followed Raph’s link (http://www.raphkoster.com/?p=222> http://www.raphkoster.com/?p=222), go there and read. If only to find why a shard is called a shard.

I think we all agree that just turning stuff off is not the right route as I guess that if it is a planned close then those at the end are the few that /really/ care. I would err towards leaving an ‘in’ for someone to take over the IP and bring the world, but if they cant structure a fiction to give that some kind of sense then they probably can’t run an MMO.

What I am firm about is that the one ending I don’t want to see is:

“Oh, it was all just a dream”

Well, unless it’s a Wizard of Oz MMO – I’m not sure if I’m excited or horrified by that idea, I mean every one wanting to be a Jedi is one thing, everyone wanting to be Dorothy!

hmm, well, there’s my xmas post sorted :)


It sucks when a game closes down, especially one you've worked on. No matter how much a player misses it, a dev has poured their soul into the thing and it is heartbreaking to see it shut down.

When 3DO finally decided to shut down Meridian 59, the CS guys allowed nearly everyone back on a bit for free. They activated all accounts not banned for cheating, billing fraud, etc. It was great to see a few of the old faces back in the game at the end. I had already left the company by the time, but I took the day off from my job at the time to be at home. I logged on and chatted with other people who showed up, including former developers. I stayed on until the bitter end, and even wept a bit afterwards.

Of course, I got the chance to resurrect the game, so there's a mostly happy ending here. Unfortunately, I don't think AC2 will have the same luck. But, we'll see. :)

My thoughts,


<3 Brian


I don't think the Star Wars license would allow for a cataclysmic ending when SWG turns off the lights. Using SWG's "please find a safe place to logout" comment in their typical systemwide shutdown message would be pretty darn ironic though.


I have the most fond memories of what we did to end the AC1 beta when I was at Microsoft (and working with Turbine as the developer) ... we ran an event called "Fire in the Sky".

In that event, people could see a gigantic meteor coming for a couple of months before the end of beta. Each month the meteor would appear larger and closer, changing the color of the sky, the world, etc ... and on a weekly, and eventually daily basis, we spawned meteor showers that gradually destroyed the world.

It wasn't something we planned out way ahead of time, we really just brainstormed it about a month before we started it, but it was amazing to watch the player feedback. People still have sites up with screenshots and blogs of what happened ...


Given the articles concerning ownership of virtual items that I read last week (I think), and given the issue of shutting down games raised here, has anyone spent much time thinking about the issues involved in shutting down any game where the developer freely acknowledges your ownership of virtual property? What happens when the developer shuts down something like Second Life? If there is an argument against the concept of virtual property and virtual money having any value this would be the cornerstone of that argument I think, suddenly everything you own goes "poof" when someone shuts down the server :)

I am just considering leaving SWG where I have been off and on since release. I plan on leaving with my character and possessions tied up neatly if I can. I am not upset with the new version of the game specifically as much as I am with the change in developer perspective: to get the bigger customer base, they are switching from "Live the Adventure!" where you are a member of a living virtual world with great flexibility and potential, to more like "Live one of these 9 Adventures!" where you are 1/9th of the population experiencing a more focused but extremely limited form of gameplay with far less possiblity for expression or individual gameplay experience. This oversimplification is the core problem with the NGE in my opinion. SOE has mistakenly equated simple=fun, without realizing that a certain level of complexity is required to make a person feel like they have acquired skills and knowledge in a game. Without that acquisition, without that buy in, why stay playing a game? Pure simplistic shoot-em-up fun only lasts until the next shiney comes along...


As for making a cataclysm a fiduciarily responsible development decision, one need look no farther than not-quite persistent virtual worlds. Many mere multiplayer games have a scheduled beginning, ending and rebirth. It's a good technique for telling a story, yet telling it somewhat differently every time.

The question persists however. How do you end such a world permanently? Replacing it with an upgrade is usually the easiest answer.


They're lucky. Fairyland Philippines didn't meet such a dignified apocalypse.


The death of a world...

"I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced."

I was talking with a friend about this, the ending of MMORPGs -- not specifically about AC2, but I'll bring this up in retrospect -- and he said he didn't get why players would be so fashed. I believe, "It's just a game," were his exact words.

"How would you feel," I asked him, "If you picked up a copy of Dune," -- his favorite book, and one I know he re-reads about every-other year -- "and it was gone. No story. Empty pages. And you knew that it was gone forever from the world, not just your copy."

Props to him, he just nodded and said. "OK. Never mind. I get it."

All actions are born, grow and die. We lose touch with childhood friends, college buddies; we change jobs, get divorced, etc. MMORPGs are a new kind of community, and they'll come with a new kind of pain/loss when they go away.

I know from having played in these realms, though, that some of the friendships transcend the battlefields and star-charts. And the real skills learned -- not the farming, fragging and forging, but social, creative, communication and cooperative skills -- are never lost.

It echo Warren Grant's concern about real economics in spaces like Second Life. I'm just getting involved in that experience, and don't like the idea that if subscriptions are down -- or... whatever -- the publishers can pull the plug, and any virtual sweat equity I've got in the world goes into the aether.

But, then again, the same thing can happen in your First Life if you put a bunch of energy into a store in a mall, and the mall owner sells out to a land developer.

On a closing note, one way to memorialize the AC2 folks might be through a monument, shrine or permanent exhibit in Second Life.

See you on the inside...


home equity loan http://www.homeequityloan-x.com


A Tale in the Desert has "Tellings" - planned server restarts. Including our Beta, it's happened twice, and will soon happen again as ATITD 2 ends and ATITD 3 starts.

We have a little ritual to mark the end of a Telling called "Amnesty." During Amnesty, all political and behind-the-scenes secrets come out. The ground rule for participating in Amnesty is that any personal slights were done in the spirit of roleplay, and you must agree not to take any of it personally.

I also give up all secrets - the various things that Pharaoh's nemesis, The Stranger, did to cause infighting, what went wrong from a design POV or other mistakes that I made, how players surprised me.

It has the mood of a game-wide party, with players burning thru any accumulated resources (fireworks displays are everywhere). All accounts are reopened, and it's common for players who have not been to Egypt in a long time to join in and reminisce.

I'm looking forward to the next one.


Philippine game publishers still don't know how to end virtual worlds. A blogger's deadpool is often the only notice.

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