Figured I’d make an Output thread for the series because season 2 comes out really soon!
Preserving Worlds is a documentary series about aging virtual worlds.
Virtual worlds are delicate things, and they can vanish with hardly a trace. You can archive the offline software, but a dead world can only tell you so much. It’s just as important to document how people spent their time within it.
Preserving Worlds is a travelogue that takes you through some of the most interesting and impactful online games and communities of the past forty years to see what it’s like to visit them today. Along the way, you’ll meet people who are working against obsolescence to keep the communities they care about alive and accessible.
The series takes an ethnographic approach to capture historically important information about the player communities of online video games, as well as some offline games indelibly stamped by the creative contributions of their players.
Season 2 starts releasing on 5/22/2023, in less than a week! We’re going to put out the first two episodes first, and after that it’ll be a weekly release. I think the plan is that the first episode will be freely available but the rest will require a subscription.
The illegally cracked and fan-translated version of RPG Maker was one of the most popular hobbyist game engines of the early 2000’s. The creator of the cult classic Space Funeral shows us how RPG Maker’s collage-like nature shaped, and was shaped by, the dreams and desires of its community.
Episode 2: Meridian 59 - A Culture of Absolute Conflict
Meridian 59 was one of the first graphical massively multiplayer online RPGs, and it’s still one of the most violent. For almost 30 years, its players have enjoyed all the scheming, backstabbing, and intrigue of a never-ending 3rd grade recess. We spoke with a longtime player who rose to become an administrator of the game’s first open-source fan server.
Come attend a live premiere of the first two episodes tonight at 6PM EST! My cocreator and I will be there. You’ll need a Means TV subscription to attend. If you don’t have one, then getting one would support the show! There’s also a free week trial if you want to try it out first!
I watched the premiere, and I liked both episodes a lot.
I never messed with RPG Maker much, but hearing about that community reminded me of some of the others I’ve participated in. With those little hobbyist engines, you never know what to expect. Even the most creative commercial games, on the other hand, are almost never going to surprise you in the way that a random freeware game can.
I’d never heard of Meridian 59, but I like the idea of a chaotic game like that with players who play for very different reasons being forced to share the world. My one and only MMORPG experience was Ultima Online, and even though it was frustrating that someone could kill you and take all of your items, I think that was one of the best things about the game. Like Meridian 59, Ultima eventually split into worlds for different types of players and (from what I heard, as I’d quit by then) became much more boring as a consequence.
Yes, this was a phenomenon that hadn’t crossed my mind until this interview, but it does make sense in retrospect. Different people go to a game for different things, and those different types of players bouncing off each other can make for an interesting ecosystem. When they all break off into different servers things can start to feel a bit more sterile.
Oh wow, seeing those default RPG Maker assets in the first episode gave me intense nostalgia. I had largely forgotten I spent any time in that editor but I now remember part of a game I made. I didn’t like RPG combat so it was a lot of exploring and jokes capped off with a first person maze (which I think was accomplished by borrowing a script from another game?)
Can’t remember any details to place it in time, but that was a memory that was nice to revisit.
In the early 2000’s, the Danish Public Broadcasting Company ran Hundeparken, an entirely non-profit social browser game where cute but crude pixelated dogs could chat, play minigames, and trade rare hats. We spoke with a videogame archivist and his friend, a long-time Hundeparken player, about the ways the game helped lonely tweens find friends, and how it eventually survived the death of Flash.