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The Rebirth of Meridian 59 - Players React

A pioneer game gets new life, but were lessons learned? By Denise Harrison
Developers of Meridian 59, one of the pioneers in massive multiplayer online games, are hoping to give new life to the game. It was originally developed as a side project by Andrew and Christopher Kirmse in their parents' basement in 1994. They formed the company Archetype Interactive, then partnered with other people, including Rob Ellis II, to further develop the game. The game and company were sold to The 3DO Company in 1996 and Meridian 59 went live in September, 1996.

Meridian 59 was absolutely awesome in its time. There was nothing else like it, really, and few games have really changed or improved on the fundamentals, such as hack 'n slash 'n loot, quests, equipment and items, communication and team playing. When it began in 1996, not a lot of households had modems, but as time went on, more folks were online, but eventually fewer were playing the game. 3DO closed the game in August 2000.

But Rob Ellis and others believe the game has a future. So Ellis and Brian Green formed a new company, Near Death Studios, and purchased Meridian 59 from 3DO this week. Ellis has been Lead Level Designer, Game Designer and World Builder on Meridian 59 and Ultima Online. Green helped design and program three updates to Meridian 59, then worked on a single-player game at 3DO, then worked at Communities.com.

"After putting my heart into a game as historic as Meridian 59, it's a wonderful feeling to be able to bring it back online for the community to enjoy," said Green.

"Meridian 59 was better in that it had guildhalls for players, and you could play solo or in groups," said Julia, one of the original players. "What led to its demise were its graphics, which paled in comparison to other games now, and other games came online that offered more worlds, more choices."

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