New Articles: The Case for Player-Created Content and More

Time for the latest round-up of my new articles published at MMO Bro.

Alas, poor Landmark...First, I make the case for more player-created content in MMOs, inspired by a fit of Landmark nostalgia. I really do miss that game, and I think not capitalizing on the creativity of players is leaving a huge amount of potential untapped.

Next, I’ve got a pair of listicles on the most influential innovations in MMO design over the years, and in-game thrills that just never get old.

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Landmark: And the Lights Went Out All Over the World

Landmark is no more.

In more ways than oneLast night, a day that began on a depressing note in Real Life ended with Landmark’s servers closing and a whole lot of melancholy all around.

Unfortunately, I was not able to be there for the very moment when Lumeria went dark for the last time (again, Real Life), but I did make sure to get in a final hour or so of play that afternoon.

I did what I had spent most of my Landmark career doing: I picked a map at random, teleported to it, and wandered around to whatever build looked potentially interesting.

Just in that short time I saw some pretty amazing creations: A surprisingly homey magitech lab, a palace of ice, a charming campground, and an unfinished but nonetheless spectacular castle full of nightmarish architecture and crackling electricity — surely a den of evil.

A sinister build in LandmarkAnd that, really, is what was special about Landmark. You could go to any map, walk in any direction, and in no time flat you’d be sure to find something beautiful, fascinating, or awe-inspiring. The traditional wisdom is that if you give players the tools to make their own content, the vast majority of it will be utter crap, but Landmark was stunning refutation of that notion.

If there’s one thing that really haunts me about the game’s closure, it’s the knowledge that there are undoubtedly many fantastic builds I never got to see.

Along the way I was also once again impressed by how beautiful the game world is even in its natural state. In one poetically appropriate moment, I crested a mountain and was greeted by a spectacular view of the sunset over the ocean.

I also took advantage of the cash shop fire sale to try on several new outfits, and I commiserated with the community. I am reminded that of all the online games I’ve spent significant time in, Landmark is the only one where I never had to add anyone to my ignore list.

Landmark was a game where even getting from point A to point B was funAnd the small things stuck out to me: how much fun the parkour movement is, how much I liked the look of my character. I will miss those things.

Of course, I won’t miss the lag, rubber-banding, and randomly being shot into the sky for no reason. So there’s that.

Near the end, a player named Arendhir was plugging their build, an Elven city, so I decided to visit it, and I found it to be one of the most spectacular builds I had the pleasure to encounter. I wish I’d had more time to explore it in detail.

Finally, I returned to my first build, the Grove, and sat beneath my tree-arch, watching the water. There, I logged off for the last time.

An Elven city built by Arendhir in LandmarkAs previously noted, this is the first MMO sunset that’s really affected me. I suppose I’m lucky it’s taken this long. In the end, I spent little time in Landmark in the weeks leading up to its closure, and realistically it probably isn’t something I would have sunk a lot more time into even if it had survived.

So I’m not totally heartbroken over it all. Hell, this isn’t even the saddest a video game has made me (which is, itself, a sad thing to admit to).

That said, I can’t escape the feeling something special has been lost. I’m not aware of any other game that allows people to express their creativity in such a vivid way, and I know there are times in the future when I’m going to miss the opportunity to log in and soak in the ambiance.

I may not be heartbroken, but I do still feel a certain melancholy. I will miss this game.

Now, I have only my memories of Landmark. Thankfully, in the digital age memories are easy to preserve. I have hundreds of screenshots of Landmark, and I also took a few videos before the end. They’re really more for my own benefit than anything (my poor video skills are abundantly apparent in them), but I am uploading them to YouTube for those few who may wish to see them, now or in future.

The last thing I ever saw in LandmarkIn general I do think it’s important to preserve not just this game, but any closed game. However small, these are parts of our culture, and they shouldn’t be forgotten. In addition to my efforts, there are MJ Guthrie’s videos for Massively OP, and I know there are at least one or two other players looking to preserve the game with image galleries and the like. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any links to share — if you know of anything, please comment with a link.

Thus it ends. Not with a bang, but a whimper. Farewell, Landmark. We hardly knew ye.