Sierra vs History

By Alec Meer on October 8th, 2008 at 9:31 pm.

as dead as AvP2's servers

Some are speculating this is related to the recent Actard merger, but it’s possible it’s simply ruthless, Logan’s Runny culling of the elderly. Whichever, the facts are these: come November 1st, the plug will be pulled on the official servers for 21 Sierra PC games (of varying classicdom).

Several RPS faves number amongst them: Jim’s beloved Ground Control, my semi-beloved Aliens vs Predator 2 and the revered likes of No-one Lives Forever 2, Tribes 2 and Homeworld 1. Full list and more wittering from me below the cut.

1. Alien vs Predator 2
2. Arcanum
3. Caesar IV
4. Dark Reign 2
5. Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom
6. Empire Earth
7. Empire Earth 2
8. Empire Earth: Age of Conquest
9. Ground Control
10. Ground Control2
11. Homeworld
12. Homeworld: Cataclysm
13. Nolf2
14. Red Baron
15. Sanity
16. Star Trek: Armada
17. SWAT3: EE
18. SWAT3: GOTY
19. The Incredible Machine
20. Tribes2
21. Vampire

Lo, how the mighty. Presumably unofficial servers can continue, but they’ll require someone leaving their PC on in the hope someone comes and joins, rather than being able to check if anyone’s on the official one and hop on when you want. The games’ communities will doubtless find a way, but it does seem desperately sad.

A particularly odd inclusion in that list is Caesar IV, which unlike the others is only a couple of years old. It wasn’t terribly well received, and certainly wasn’t considered a worthy heir to its proud name (though it’s great to see devs Tilted Mill off doing their own, far more ambitious things these days), so at a guess it didn’t pick up enough of an audience to survive this mass euthanasia.

There are more important games in that list, though. So: do we form protest groups? Should we, en masse, go dwell on Homeworld and AvP2* and Tribes 2 servers in the hope that their sudden repopulation stays the execution? Can we, dare we Fight The Man?

(Via Blues via Eurogamer via Sierra)

*Gril, if you’re reading, I still need my damned copy of that back.

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51 Comments »

  1. cyrenic says:

    Bummer for games like Tribes 2, since there’s not really a single player component to it. But, as you said, under the Activision/Blizzard umbrella it’s not surprising.

  2. SwiftRanger says:

    They’re really trying hard to become the new EA, isn’t it?

  3. Zeno says:

    AvP2 was so awesome, easily one of my favorite FPS’s.

  4. Masked Dave says:

    If people aren’t playing them then why should they?

  5. RichPowers says:

    Man, I still liked playing Empire Earth I online from time to time.

  6. Carra says:

    I miss Impressions Games :(

  7. ChaosSmurf says:

    Ground Control 2 going offline is a travesty, ditto on Homeworld. Both great MP games.

  8. Alan says:

    I think these are all servers running in the basement of the Vivendi LA office which is currently being emptied – all that’s left are the lawyers and beancounters closing things down.

  9. radomaj says:

    Maybe they could release some of those games for free? It’s not like they think they’ll get any new customers from those.

  10. Nameykins says:

    Played AvP2 for what felt like years. Makes me kind of sad to see the servers go.

    Maybe I should check the old haunts once more while I still can.

  11. Dominic White says:

    A master server for an old game like the ones listed costs effectively nothing to run. Hell, you could run the master servers for ALL of those games off of one decent box nowadays.

    Really, it says so much that they’d be unwilling to pay for one guy and one machine.

  12. JonFitt says:

    I vote we all dig out AVP2 and give it a crack.

  13. Legandir says:

    @ radomaj
    Ground Control 1 is already free. Instant action have a game thats almost tribes for free. I dont know about the rest though

  14. Devan says:

    Nolf is the only game on there I really played a lot. Good times, though.

  15. kyrieee says:

    Ah, Ground Control
    What a great game. So much better than World in Conflict

    AvP2. I never played that, I thought it looked kinda lame (it had a cartoonish vibe). I adore the first one though. Scariest game ever

  16. DeliriumWartner says:

    Loved AvP2, if only for the multiplayer. I still long for the speed and manouverability of the facehugger.

  17. redrain85 says:

    As long as it’s not the GameSpy master server(s) for those games being shut down, it’s not so bad. The master server(s) act as a place to list all the other servers that you can connect to, to play the game. Fans of those games would still be able set up their own servers, and continue playing, in that situation.

    Of course, it would be nicer if the games were still officially supported by Sierra’s own gaming servers. But it’s not like you wouldn’t be able to keep playing, if you really wanted to.

    However, if they’re pulling support for the GameSpy master server(s): then there is definitely a reason to be upset. It will make playing those games online extremely difficult. With the master server(s), the games would have no place to connect to, to get the list of all the other gaming servers that are running.

  18. edosan says:

    Arcanum had multiplayer? Really?

  19. redrain85 says:

    My last sentence should have read “Without the master server(s), the games would have no place to connect to, to get the list of all the other gaming servers that are running.”

    And what happened to the edit feature, by the way? :(

  20. kyrieee says:

    Sorry but the edit button is gone =/

    Those retrospectives were great! Do more of those =) and keep linking your old stuff, it’s that easy to access otherwise

    I wonder if the new Aliens game by Gearbox can live up to the first game. Part of what made it great was, in my opinion, that the aliens really were fast as hell and really hard to hit even with a mouse, which would of course make them impossible to hit with a controller. The fact that you died so easily and couldn’t save also contributed a lot to the atmosphere of the game.

    If they just do yet another shooter with an okay storyline, forgettable squad mates, scripted events, linear progression etc. but in this time in the Aliens universe then it would just be such a waste.

  21. sinister agent says:

    AvP2 was a very different game to the first one. I didn’t like it as much, but it did have an interesting narrative, and the way the campaigns all linked together to form the full story was rather excellent.

    It added a lot, and subtracted a lot, too. Humans felt more weighty and you really felt like you were tearing chunks out of solid beings as the predator or alien, not simply scattering dozens of them like leaves with the slightest brush of your claw. The vision modes were sexy and more balanced, and there were some nifty weapons. It hd a couple of classic moments, too, like being a chestburster and being properly stalked by a Predator.

    But too much of it was just trial and error Rick Dangerous stuntwork, and the human campaign was 70% walking backwards while firing wearily into darkness because all your lights were rubbish, and it never had that same fright factor as the original.

    Pity to see it go, though. The multiplayer sounded like a pretty big improvement.

  22. kyrieee says:

    (I know you guys don’t work at PCG but anyway)
    I wish you’d put more articles like these retrospectives in PCG. I know you have those two pages ones but it’s 50% images, and these were better anyway. I’m much more interested in reading editorial content about games than 20 (p)reviews of games I probably don’t care about.

    Magazines are slower than websites anyway so it would make sense for them (mags) to compete with more in-depth stuff. Game reviews are boring, post game discussion is much more interesting yet there’s so little of it. It’s preview, preview, review then maybe an article 10 years later.

    Also, you guys should write a piece on Myth II. That game is the best RTS / RTT ever! =D

  23. nordan says:

    If these are official servers rather than master servers and they were run out of LA I don’t think it makes any difference to us in Europe since they would all have had horrible latency. It is pretty absurd as a cost-cutting measure though since any office (let alone an entire publisher) could probably run all this stuff on the spare computing power of their desktops, and if no-one’s playing the bandwidth bill can’t be significant…

  24. ascagnel says:

    I saw SWAT3:GOTY for sale earlier today. At a GameStop. There are going to be some PISSED people if that multiplayer server goes down…

  25. Heliocentric says:

    Pours a Bawls for the fallen.

    Seriously, why do this? Shit, the only major publishers I can trust with shit these days is maybe THQ and Take 2, and EA nearly bought them.

    That right there was a chunk of my long play titles.

    Alien vs Predator 2
    Ground Control
    Ground Control2
    Homeworld
    Homeworld: Cataclysm
    SWAT3: GOTY

    At any time at least 3 of these titles are installed on my PC.

  26. Radiant says:

    So long as Team 17 don’t take down the Worms server I can survive.

  27. Kyle to the Jones says:

    It is a damn shame to see Tribes 2 go, even though I really prefer the first for it’s more troop-oriented scheme. To be honest though, I’m going to get a copy of Multiwinia in a few days and I think it’ll be what I begin pushing on my friends like heroin; Previous drug pushing was for TF2.

  28. Shadowcat says:

    I was thinking about getting some SWAT 3 co-op going the other day. My recollection is that (inexplicably) there was NO option to connect to an I.P address, and that the game FORCED you to connect to their server and set up a game there.

    I recall hunting bewilderedly for the option, so either I’m blind, or Sierra have just killed a brilliant game (noting that with smaller numbers of players, SWAT 3 co-op was superior to SWAT 4).

    If I’m wrong, please can someone tell me how to do this?! (Maybe there’s a LAN option that could be used with Hamachi without the game wanting to talk to Sierra?)

  29. Duke Goosington IV says:

    I’ve been trying to think of a good compound name for Actard (as is my wont) since I heard about the merger and then you lot swan in with your fancy website and do it all first. You should be ashamed of yourself.

    Also, AVP2 was the best multiplayer concept in the whole world. all of my best FPS memories come from great moments multiplaying that game, something that even fantastic games like TF2 have failed to better. I’m feeling kinda sad they’re going to cull it. I loved the pulse rifle in that game. So many cocky predators thinking they were untouchable got obliterated by it, and it was so much more satisfying than using the ‘aimbot’ smart rifle. (though in turn outwitting stupid marines who thought they were invincible with a smart rifle was equally hilarious. augh, you’ve got me nostalgic again. :(

  30. Simon says:

    I can’t believe it, this list is pretty much 90% of the games that kept me gaming through my middle/high school years. I mean AvP2, Ground Control, HomeWorld, NOLF2, Tribes2…these are some of the best games of there kind how can they just drop them like this. I really hope some of the licenses are bought up and they keep up a good thing.

  31. TheDeadlyShoe says:

    These are master servers, not official servers. Hamachi is the future.

  32. Heliocentric says:

    Wait? Master servers? Double fuck. I thought them canning the official servers was a low blow. But master servers? Thats like bricking every copy until moders get a master server patch or something. This shit shouldn’t be centralised. You should be able to add a master server much like you do a add a server in a p2p app. Now i’m sat here watching evil ea count down til my much loved copy of battlefield is bricked. Or the coop servers for splinter cell chaos theory. Shit. Relic, they cut the lan option on company of heroes.

    This makes all multiplayer just a rental.

  33. TheDeadlyShoe says:

    COH does have working LAN. It did have some issues after some patch and there was a bit of a hubbub about it. But s’all good now.

  34. Dreamhacker says:

    Arcanum? Wow, they never shut that server down? The multiplayer didn’t even work! :D

  35. Bobsy says:

    Why do this?

    Because servers cost money. Because no-one’s buying the games any more because they’re not on sale any more. There’s a few elder players maybe, but even they’ll most likely have other, more recent games that they play more often. It’s not enough to warrent Sierra frittering their last precious pennies away on keeping the servers alive.

    I’m ambivalent over this. By essentially admitting they no longer give a toss over their old games it may be they’re more open to selling them onto GOG.com.

    But on the other hand, if there’s no multiplayer, are GOG going to be interested in buying the rights to half-games?

  36. ChaosSmurf says:

    Hamachi would be the future if it wasn’t so f*cking buggy.

  37. Heliocentric says:

    Sorry by no lan. You need to log in to relic to play coh. If relic dies so does coh.

  38. TheDeadlyShoe says:

    You do need to login to relic to play COH but once you do you can do LAN play. Trust me, I’ve done it. Hell, I’ve Hamachi’d it. Although ChaosSmurf is right that hamachi is fucking buggy.

  39. Dominic White says:

    Again, I just have to remind people that master servers – especially for games with low playerbases like these – cost effectively nothing to run. You could probably run every single master server app for all of those games on a single machine, and nobody would know the difference.

    They’re cutting corners and pinching pennies here in the worst possible way.

  40. Dominic White says:

    No edits.. argh!

    Seriously, people are running Ultima Online servers off home boxes now – MMO servers, for free! If people can run high-bandwidth stuff like that without asking anything in return, a huge corporation like this can spend a few dollars setting up a master server box.

  41. Xagarath says:

    No outrage for the Incredible Machine yet?
    Really, though, this is all no good at all.

  42. James S. says:

    Shadowcat:

    SWAT3 plays over a LAN without connecting to the central servers. I’ve never tried to use VPN for it, but in theory it would work.

  43. edosan says:

    “No outrage for the Incredible Machine yet?”

    That was another one I didn’t realize had multiplayer. Good game though.

  44. Prince Barbarian says:

    However true this may be (presumably very true), let’s not get overly disheartened but consider just WHY this public announcement has surfaced?

    Just an idea to get the ball rolling and also cheer up those feelings of our dearly beloved AvP2. This decision of Sierra’s could be an attempt to track/discover how many players AvP2 attracts (by the way, I’m speaking of and for AvP2 because that’s just all I know, but in parts, this thesis can be applied to the other games on the list).

    Now, as it may stand for other AvP2′ers out there as it certainly does for me, I was simply browsing avp2files when I came upon this very bad news that has hit us all (I’m gonna get to the point soon, don’t panic). This immediately prompted me to have a heartattack, drown my sorrows blah blah blah and post this message for a game which I had put aside eons ago due to various reasons, simply because life took its course away from AvP2. This does not mean that I chose to neglect AvP2 otherwise you would not find me here typing this message.

    Where does this long winded lifestory lead to exactly, you ask?

    Well, the AvP2 community has called for me in its time of need just like I called for AvP2 in my time of need. (This is where I am getting at). It has seeked me out just like it has seeked out most likely every single being who had a damn awesome time playing AvP2. When this happens, a mini-boom occurs such as what we are currently witnessing. Players decide to post away like crazy just about on every damn article and forum un(related), who cares right? Spend every half of a second of one’s life up until the 1st of November (day after Halloween coincidentally, no?) playing AvP2 to satisfy the soul until death and beyond..

    All in all this mini-boom is and maybe the most extremely important/critical moment in the entire history of AvP2 existence. It signals potential (potentially and hopefully) for the future. If Sierra realises the children of AvP2 which they must do, this could force them to do two things:
    1) Keep the master server running.
    2) AvP3! Goddamn!

    I believe these may or could be the secret intentions behind this public announcement. So, if they do take option 1, we will be happy at least, and long live AvP2! But why settle for option 1, when number 2… Form your own bloody opinion, I’m tired, jeez.

    So there we have it and concluding, this public announcement may not seem as bad as some of us think it to be, maybe hatred is a positive sign of an ALIVE peoples and ultimately that reaction is what will decide the consequences.

    I hope you all can have the patience to understand what I have said, if anything flush it, burn it, feed it to your dog but I hope I have succeded in bringing a smile to those who fear that the legacy of AvP is finished and also to encourage some thoughtful thinking/responses.

    An AvP3 movie in the works from what I remember hearing, plus Colonial Marines but my PC ain’t gonna run that beauty, that’s for sure. Things to also think about in relevance of everything said, ESPECIALLY INCLUDING MY PC!

    It ain’t over yet..

  45. Jokerzzz says:

    Not the Nolf2 master server….. No… This can’t be :S
    I got shocked really when I heard about this, I played Nolf2 online today actually.. I can’t imagine not having the oppurtunity to go on a Nolf2 server now and then…

    I’m hope that the Nolf2 community will find a good way to host servers anyhow

  46. Cel says:

    That really is bad news. I thinks it is such a shame they are shutting down these master servers (and the others) they made a lot of money out of these games by getting us all hooked and now they are dumping the fans and the games.

    Hopefully we will find a way to keep going!

  47. Cel says:

    I meant the Nolf 2 servers (lol)

  48. 101 says:

    Aaaah fuck me. Tribes 2, Homeworld (the series) Star Trek Armada (2 as well?) Empire Earth. Shit those were some of my favorite games. [esp. Homeworld <3]

  49. =NS=™ Agent 224 says:

    NOLF2 is really best game i have ever played…. and now… its closed… shit.

  50. The Epic Fox says:

    It appears our beloved AvP2 is Dead :’(
    R.I.P old friend and fondest childhood game.

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