With MMO studios, these origin stories abound and are equally fascinating to me. For example, who would've known that the makers of a couple of SNES titles would one day be running the largest MMO in the world? Or what if few gaming hobbyists in the '80s hadn't created MUDs and then gone on to revolutionize online PvP play?
Today we're going to go back to the very beginning of several modern MMO studios to see when and how they came into being. Who knows... it might change how you see them forever.
It wasn't until 1994 that the studio went through a major transition, becoming Blizzard Entertainment and releasing the very first of its Warcraft games. Fun fact: The studio almost called itself Chaos Studios until it realized that there was a naming conflict with another firm.
When Mythic formed in 1995, it went on to work on a wide variety of mostly-forgotten projects from the '90s, such as ID4 Online (did you know that even existed? I didn't.) and Splatterball. It wasn't until 2001's DAoC that the company hit it big and became a household name to gamers.
Nah, just foolin'. BioWare's debut title was 1996's Shattered Steel, a MechWarrior clone that did well enough for the studio to survive and then begin working on the doctors' true passion, RPGs. When BioWare came out with Baldur's Gate two years later, the studio had found its niche and never looked back.
Why do we never hear about Yip? It's because this third doctor decided to leave the company in 1997 to return to medicine.
Smedley was tasked by Sony to investigate the potential of online gaming. He and his growing team were dropped into the newly created Verant Interactive (later Sony Online Entertainment) to deal with the development of a 3-D MMO called... well, you know what it's called.
Funcom formed in 1993 and went to work on various console games, including Samurai Showdown (Mega-CD), Disney's Pocahontas (Genesis), Winter Gold (SNES), and Speed Freaks (PlayStation). Hitting it big with TLJ allowed it to venture into MMO development, shifting the studio over to a new focus that dominated ever since.
We'll stop there and perhaps do a sequel to this column another day! In the meantime, did any of you play any of the earlier titles mentioned above?
When not clawing his eyes out at the atrocious state of general chat channels, Justin "Syp" Olivetti pulls out his history textbook for a lecture or two on the good ol' days of MMOs in The Game Archaeologist. You can contact him via email at email@example.com or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.