Oh ho, the plot thickens! Or rather, it congeals from thin air, because I suppose there wasn't much of a plot before this. EA yanked the cord on Warhammer Online's servers (and then presumably bit it in half and bathed in its blood), and that was that. The end. Roll credits. But now a former Mythic developer who's currently working on Camelot Unchained has revealed the existence of a single-player, server-free version of the sadly short-lived (by MMO standards) game, and he's pleading that EA release it for history's sake.
The developer, City State Entertainment co-founder Andrew Meggs, explained in a blog post:
"In every unreleased, internal-only developer build of the Warhammer client, there was the option to run without a server. As the lead client engineer I spent a good amount of time doing that. There were no login or character selection screens. There were no NPCs or other players. There was no gameplay of any kind. It was just you and the entire world spread out before you. You could fly around like Superman, or teleport anywhere at will. You could watch the sun rise and set over Altdorf, and see the smoke rise from fires forever burning. And you could see the thousands upon thousands of hours of work and craftsmanship that went into creating a world that has now been unplugged."
This release, then, wouldn't be for players to reclaim and rebuild. Rather, Meggs wants EA to consider his request for the sake of posterity in a medium that often deletes its links to the past without batting an eyelash. It's kind of a shame that the game's days as a bustling, player-driven kingdom are well and truly over, but Meggs' sentiment is an admirable one.
"It won’t be WAR; that only exists with other players," he stated frankly. "But it’s a double-clickable museum exhibiting much of what WAR was, so it won’t be forgotten completely. It’s an effort by all of us, as developers, to preserve a living record as our transient medium is created and destroyed. I can’t do this; I left behind the code when I left EA. But there are people inside EA who can easily make this happen."
Let us hope that they do. To be perfectly honest, though, I'm not holding my breath. I feel terribly sad saying that, but this is EA we're talking about, and it is what it is. That said, I do hope other developers and publishers consider this route when toppling their respective MMO titans. Meggs makes a very good point about gaming's all-too-malleable history, and it's doubly disappointing in light of the fact that our museums could be such near-perfect representations of the real thing if they existed. If only.