The sad thing about online games of any kind is that one day they will be
line, their servers used to power newer or more popular games, and their inhabitants deleted, as entire, practically real worlds vanish in the blink of an eye. Archiving these worlds - many of which, like WoW, have been reshaped several times, overwriting previous iterations - is something we should be putting some serious thought into, even if we can't replicate them in all their glory.
Andrew Meggs' plea
for EA to release an offline version of Warhammer Online is a step in the right direction. The former Mythic developer has come forward to reveal the existence of a single-player, offline version of the now-deceased MMO, and he wants it released to the public so that we have a record of the "thousands upon thousands of hours of work and craftsmanship that went into creating a world that has now been unplugged".
Warhammer Online's closure was announced back in September, but the guillotine finally came down a few days ago on December 18th. And, as is the case with all MMOs, that's all she wrote. You can't return years later for a nostalgic trip round memory lane, unless you've somehow invented a time machine. (
you invented a time machine? Because that would be great.) It doesn't have to be that way, however, as Meggs reveals on his blog.
"In every unreleased, internal-only developer build of the Warhammer client, there was the option to run without a server. As the lead client engineer I spent a good amount of time doing that. There were no login or character selection screens. There were no NPCs or other players. There was no gameplay of any kind. It was just you and the entire world spread out before you. You could fly around like Superman, or teleport anywhere at will. You could watch the sun rise and set over Altdorf, and see the smoke rise from fires forever burning. And you could see the thousands upon thousands of hours of work and craftsmanship that went into creating a world that has now been unplugged."
Releasing that superpowered single-player version would apparently be as simple as "[putting] out one last build of the game client. There was one switch that said, 'If this is a public build, force singleplayer mode OFF'. Change that to 'ON', hit Compile, and release the executable."
It sounds so easy - but when a massive company like EA is involved, things are obviously never that simple. Meggs wraps up
with the following plea to EA:
"It won't be WAR; that only exists with other players. But it's a double-clickable museum exhibiting much of what WAR was, so it won't be forgotten completely. It's an effort by all of us, as developers, to preserve a living record as our transient medium is created and destroyed. I can't do this; I left behind the code when I left EA. But there are people inside EA who can easily make this happen. Please do."