Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Ultima Online was not the first!

Often on internet forums, Ultima Online (UO) is made out to be the first graphical MMO. In the context of the forums, it is usually mentioned to show how 'hardcore' or knowledgeable a person is. So in the interest of correctness, Ultima Online was not the first commercial graphical MMO.

That honor belongs to Neverwinter Nights (NWN). (As far as I know)

No, this is not the Bioware game. NWN started up in 1991 and ran on AOL. I was fortunate enough to play this game for a bit. Luckily, I came along when there was no extra cost to play, as it used to be $6 an hour! Instead, I was given a whole 5 hours a month to be online. Needles to say, extra usage charges applied many months.

Check out these graphics!

Some features:

  • PvP, including ladders and tournaments
  • Guilds, sanctioned and unsanctioned
    • Sanctioned status gave message boards hosted by AOL
  • In-game events
  • Multi/Dual classes
    • Yay Clam! (Cleric and Magic-user)
  • D&D
One thing that sticks out in my mind is the guild system. Your NWN character name was your AOL screenname. So, many of the sanctioned guild players had the guild name abbreviated in front of their name. For example, a member of the Knights of the Eternal Flame would look like: 'KEF SomeName'. This is significant because, if you want to join one of these guilds, you had to create a new AOL screenname. Remember, this is when you had 5 hours a month. So you had to level this new character to max. That was a big barrier of entry to me.

NWN went downhill when AOL started to offer unlimited time. Too many people with too much time ends up making things less fun, who knew? ;)


Haha, this is an awesome find! I sometimes wonder if I could actually enjoy these kinds of games all over again. Probably not. I think my expectations have been raised too much (yet still not enough! :p)...

I played a MUD from 1996 to 2001 and have tried getting back into it several times since then. It just doesn't hold any magic for me anymore, which is funny because it used to be more addictive than crack (not that I can actually use crack as a point of personal reference...).

I'm not sure I could either. The older games, in my experience, required more of a time commitment due to ongoing RP and story archs.

I am usually looking for something easier on the mind these days and the graphical games tend to fill that spot. Work tends to take all my patience these days.

We had something a bit like that on a service called Prestel in the 80s. It ran on the TV and was very bizarre, but I played a few dungeons on it.

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