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It is the mid 1990's. Color Computers are becoming a house hold item, and PC gaming is having some of its' most ground breaking innovations that have paved the way for all video games today.
What did PC gaming look liek in the 90s? A family would share the same PC or Apple along with a few games for years. It was strange to use a home computer as a gaming system in comparison to the nintendo, super nintendo, sega gensis, and local arcades.
What kind of computer games were common in the early 90s? Where in the world is carmen sandiego?, Populous, Myst, Doom, sim city, wing commander, Sid Meier’s Civilization, Wolfenstein 3D.
Computer games of the early 90s were clearly different from what was popular on the super nintendo and sega.
What we need to focus on though, is two very important sub groups of computer gamers in this era. For thier time considers geeks even by the average computer owner.
The first group is the MUD players. MUD stands for multi-user dungeon, often called Online text based roleplaying games. With the rise of the modem and the internet, MUD players had been doing quite well. MUDs combine elements of role-playing games, hack and slash, player versus player, interactive fiction, and online chat.
The second group was the 3D RPGers. The early 90s was considered a golden age for PC RPGs with better processors capable of running 3d graphics. Huge and complicated RPGs with included booklets and manuels were made, such as Ultima 7, Elder Scrolls: Arena, Might and Magic 5, and many other fantastic games.
It is these two gengres that merged to create the first credited succsessful MMORPG, although it was not a popular game. It was weird. It was nerdy. It was hard and complicated.
It is 1995 and this is the birth of the MMO. The game is called Meridian 59.
Players connected to the game online and paid a flat monthyl fee. Unlike many RPGs, it was not based around character levels and classes. Instead, each individual skill and attribute, developed independently of one another.
Meridian 59 was a typical sword and sorcery setting where adventurers went out and faught monsters. In the game, there were few NPCs, with most of them static and unchanging. Most of the focus was on the activities of the players as they faught against the monsters in the land.
Meridian 59 was followed closely in 1997 and completely outshined by what many people now days think was the first MMORPG. Ultima Online.
Ultima Online had some pretty big differences in comparison to Meridian 59, the most noticable being the top-down 2d veiw. However the game brought some very important elements to the MMORPG. It focused on the social and economic mechanics, along with a more friendly invitation to new gamers. More NPCs, dazzeling effects, and a rich Ultima Lore. Were Meridian pulled in thousands of players, Ultima Online grabbed over 100,000 in it first couple years. The MMORPG genre had officially made itself known.
Then in 1999 something truely amazing happened. A game called Everquest cemented forever what we now know and recognize and the standard MMORPG.
in comparison to Meridian 59 and Ultima Online, the graphics were absolutly jaw dropping. The inventory management and user interface was easy and indepth. Players choose from a staggering 13 races with unique differences. Players had to choose one of 14 classes and HAD to work together standerdizing the tank, dps, healer system that we are all familiar with.
The lore was in-depth, the gameplay was extremely challenging, and the social environment brought in people from all walks of life, grabbing almost half a million subscriptions in it's first few years. PC gaming would never again be the same. The age of the MMORPG had begun and it lasts to this very day.