The Rabbit Hole is Closing

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It is with great sorrow and a vast panoply of emotions that I report the news that The Matrix Online, an MMO based on characters and situations from The Matrix films, will be closing down in July after 4 years of operation.

I was once a long time beta tester of MxO, then remained in the game after release right up until I left and moved to Second Life. I can honestly say some of the best experiences I ever had role playing, either online or tabletop, took place in MxO and I feel somehow confused and diminished that the Megacity won’t still be out there, the endless war between Zion, The Exiles and the machines raging on in cyberspace.

Look for more news on the closing and some memories after the jump.

Long time community liaison and MxO developer Walrus made the announcement. which was very fitting as he was there from the very beginning and was always a guiding light for all players.

The following is reposted from Geek.com.

Sony to shut down The Matrix Online MMO servers

By: Matthew Humphries

Four years after The Matrix Online went live Sony has decided to stop supporting the MMO and will shut down the servers on July 31st.

The announcement was made via a community forum post by Sony Online Entertainment’s Daniel “Walrus” Myers. In it he said:

Now we’ve seen how far the rabbit hole goes and it’s time to wake up from that dream (or go back to sleep, depending how you look at it). On July 31, 2009, we will be jacking out for the last time. It’s a bittersweet moment for everyone involved with the game; as a player or as a developer.

It has been a good run. Where many games have fizzled out before or shortly after launch, by August we will have lived on in our home at SOE for more than 4 years. To this day, I have never worked with a community as dedicated as The Matrix Online community.

As did happen with Tabula Rasa Sony will be carrying out an end of world event for all remaining players. The post by Daniel went on to say:

The team will also be whipping up an end-of-the-world event. It won’t be quite the same as having over 100 developers in the game as Agents like when we ended beta, but we have 4 years of tricks up our sleeve. It’ll be a chance to revisit all the things that make MxO the memorable experience it is. And how could we pull the plug without crushing everyone’s RSI just one more time?

It looks like the team looking after The Matrix Online will likely make their way over to The Agency, but Sony has a number of MMOs on Station.com so I doubt anyone is going to be losing a job because of this.

______

As for my own memories of MxO, it was a brilliant, innovative idea in Beta, with story driven events taking place every few months scripted with the involvement of the original creators with ever changing and interrelated missions. On top of that, characters from the films and the ongoing story interacting with players on a day to day basis thanks to a paid “Events team” of role players/actors. Through the events team, bits and pieces of vital information were spread through the game by feature character through player interaction, giving any player the chance to really make a difference in the canon. The more involved you were in the game and forums, the more likely that a feature character would seek you out for some RP, a “high level briefing” or to “take you out” as a threat to their faction. It really was absolutely fascinating at the beginning.

Sadly, as the actually release of the game failed to catch on, the original idea was slowly hamstrung by budget cuts and diminishing returns. The best part, the Event Teams, was first to go. It was downhill from there. Like other online games it suffered from performance issues (can’t have enormously important public speeches by Morpheus when more then 30 players kills the area), raging drama, lack of content for high levels, idiot griefers, off-theme PvP, unremovable underwear and endless exploits and hacks.

All that said, it was a wonderful place to play. I knew many wonderful people, and if you are reading this Nada…hello. The last day of Beta was especially wonderful, filled with powerful dramatic memories. Waging war against endless agents side by side with Niobe and Ghost on a freeway overpass, running from hardline to hardline through a dying cityscape with Zion operatives in pursuit, being summoned to a secret meeting with the Merovingian, a furious battle in a burning night club 40 stories up, the chilling global transmission from the machines, ”The Angels Have Fallen” announcing the total destruction of one of the most powerful Zion factions, The Furious Angels. They were heady, powerful games…truly memorable moments and I miss them. I will miss them all the more now that the very world is gone.

Another wonderful element of the game was the way the forums were used for fiction and character development outside of the game. A massive amount of the depth and appeal of the game came from the interlocking stories and posts found in the forums and I had a great deal of fun writing there. I took the liberty of including some of the forum writing I did at the time about my character, called…fancy that…The Zealot (I added the The since someone was already named Zealot, but was inactive).

Farewell MxO…may you always find a safe berth at broadcast depth, a free hardline…and an exit when you need one.

Zealot out.

 

Nada2 Nada6

 

Che giova nelle fata dar di cozzo? (Why struggle when destiny rules?)


Divina Commedia, Inferno, IX, 97

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The Zealot leaned back against the leaded glass partition that separated the bar from the dance floor, the surface cool against his bald head. The orange strobe lights of Club Dante washed over him as the music thumped behind him, redpills and bluepills alike grinding and writhing like lost souls to the bass line.

Holding up one gloved hand, he watched the light play over the heavy beige sleeve of his greatcoat, making it seem as if his arm were aflame. A grim smile played across his face as he remembered another time when he saw such a horrible vision. Then, his body aflame with renegade code he had fumbled with his cel phone as he ran for his life from his Master’s court, speed-dialing by rote, not knowing where his instinct would take his voice.

“Sai? Zealot?” Chikako’s voice was strained, tired…she herself was fresh from one battle and soon to join the next.

“Betrayed….” was all he could hiss into the phone as he leapt from the balcony of another chic club, The Paradise Lost, the coded virus alive inside his form him like a beast. The black cel phone was wrenched from his grip by the vengeful wind and smashed against the flagstones. He never knew what she had answered to that strange confession. It would be a lifetime and several more betrayals before he would speak to her again.

With a brutal shake of his head he forced his mind back to the matter at hand. Behind him stood a loose circle of Kingsmen. Without looking back he knew there were five of the leather-clad toughs. Four common muscle and an officer. He could feel their scripted exploits and subroutines bending the code around them. They were armed, guns concealed under jackets while they were in the club. The weapons seemed to sing to him over the Matrix as he let his mind grow calm. Stepping out of a side room was the Exile prince known as Indigo, the undisputed master of Club Dante. He adjusted his dark watchcap with an arrogant gesture as a waif of a girl slipped out of the room in his wake. She retuned to a table near the stage, self-consciously wiping away smeared lipstick, a drink and an envelope already awaiting her. The Exile, a computer program made flesh in the sentient algorithms of The Matrix, thought of everything, planning the end before the beginning was at hand. A dangerous individual, indeed. He strode to the other side of the bar table, having been told minutes before that a visitor had come for him, seeking to discuss business. A visitor he had never expected to see again.

Indigo’s voice was intended to sound friendly. It nearly succeeded. “Zealot….isn’t this an intriguing surprise…I thought you’d been….”

“Deleted? A vicious rumor, I am sure….” Unconsciously Zealot adjusted his sunglasses, code-crafted lenses filtering the harsh club lights from now scarred, mismatched and nearly colorless, brutally photosensitive eyes.

Indigo laughed…its sound even less friendly then his greeting. “I like what you’ve done with your eyes, Zealot. Very chic. Well, your employer must have been quite put out.”

“FORMER employer…and that is what I have come to speak to you about, Indigo.”

The Exile ganglord suddenly grew deadly serious, even the false smile fleeing his face. This was now touching upon a very dangerous topic….the Merovingian. His Kingsmen felt his shift and reached under their jackets provocatively. For a moment Zealot wished he had refused to check his gauge and matched, silenced machine pistols at the door. He forced his mind to relax, his soft smile unchanging. He knew his Hung Gar skills would be more than enough to fight his way out of the club if need be, but he was a better negotiator then that….the Merovingian had trained him to be.

“There, there Indigo, I would never ask you to go up against the Frenchman. I know that would make your position in other…matters…more complex. Actually I want you to do him a favor, albeit indirectly.”

The ganglord leaned closer…this was a twist he had not expected. That pleased him. “I’m listening, redpill.”

“I have a small thing which may be of use to you. If I agree to present it to you as a gift, I would hope you would bestow a gift of equivalent value on me. Symbols of our long acquaintance.”

Indigo nodded, Zealot was following the careful codes of Exile commerce precisely. “I would certain enjoy any gift you gave me, friend. What did you have in mind.”

Zealot paused, taking his time before he baited his hook. “Access codes to Grisaille’s personal database.” Tel had given them to him, at his request, without knowing why he wished them. They had been given to her as insurance by Oberon, who had gotten them from the Exile known as Rose. She happened to be Indigo’s sister. She was also Grisaille’s sister. Twisted.

Indigo looked unmoved but Zealot felt the Matrix shiver with the force of what he had been offered. In the endless Dance of Death these Exile siblings performed, such a weapon could be the difference between victory and final deletion.

“What a charming idea….and what did you wish of me as a token of my thanks?” Indigo was utterly motionless now…the point of no return was very close at hand now.

“The place and time when your dear sire Mr. Black is bringing in his next batch of exile soldiers, completely circumventing the Trainman in defiance of both the will of the Merovingian and the command of the machines.” Zealot smiled lightly, as if he had asked the Exile for the time. He sipped his schnapps, in order to give Indigo time to consider the implications.

Indigo seemed to breath in, then out….”Father would be very cross if the Merovingian were to somehow interfere with his reinforcements. Mother would no doubt use his weakness to her advantage….”

Zealot nodded….”and your Mother, Dame White, would then reward you in turn for being such a good son. Thus you weaken your father, appease your mother, satisfy the Frenchman and continue our business relationship…all without risking direct involvement. Your code will be pure should anything go…amiss. However, if all goes as planned, you will gain all I have said plus your reputation as a major player in the Matrix who must be taken seriously will be enhanced.”

Clan3Silence reigned for a heartbeat…then two. The Kingsmen fidgeted, unsure what to do, They could tell, as good predators, that they were no match for the strange redpill in the taupe colored greatcoat, but they would die trying to be if Indigo walked away now. Virtual heartbeats grew longer, the silence deepened as Zealot could hear the Matrix whispering all around him, his life and love in one…all he would ever need. Finally, Indigo smiled coldly. “I believe, then, we have an agreement, Zealot.

The bald man relaxed slightly, sipping his peppermint Schnapps as he scanned the dance floor. Near the door one particularly sexy young lady, her dark hair drawn up into twin ponytails, was grinding and gyrating to the eternal gratitude of the two young bluepill boys she was dancing with. For the barest of moments Zealot locked eyes with her over the heads of her partners and nodded imperceptivity. Smiling to herself she made her excuses to the two tumescent men, claiming she needed some air as she moved up the stairs to the VIP room, already reaching for her cel phone. Zealot knew that Temper would soon be reporting to Vendis and the rest of their faction, The Winter Brood, that phase one was complete. As soon as she saw him leave the club she would then run the subroutine that Zealot had prepared, sending a communication burst to a secret data drop to set the stage for phase two.

Indigo ordered himself a rye and a draft, having sent one of his Kingsmen for the required data. Even before it arrived, the Zealot was laying the data disc containing the database keys before him. Such shows of trust, while superficial, were essential for doing business with high level Exiles.

Indigo smiled after throwing back the two fingers of aged rye whiskey and picking up his beer. “I admit I have missed doing business with you. Ever the professional, aren’t you human? I assume you are intending on trading this knowledge to the Frenchman. Very clever, he will enjoy winning a march against father.”

The disc arrived and Indigo laid it graciously in the Zealot’s outstretched glove, their eyes locked. “You use it to bargain for your life?”

“No….” the diplomat’s face was a mask, his mismatched eyes gleaming behind lenses of code as he gazed back as his Charon. “I use it to bargain for someone else’s life…

 

Lasciate ogni speranza, o voi ch’entrate. (Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.)

Divina Commedia, Inferno, III, 9

It had been a very long time indeed since he had stepped into this anteroom. There were just as many guards as he remembered…gruesome, brutal things. They smelled of liquor and cordite and hate. For the second time today he checked his guns at a window with even greater reservations then the first time in Club Dante. The redheaded gun check girl stared at him in shock…she remembered his many previous visits…especially the last one. For a moment she was frozen until the Security Chief, known as Romeo, banged one heavy fist against the grate. The girl shrieked lightly then recovered herself, passing the claim check to Zealot. The thin circle of onyx was imprinted with words in red enamel…each circle was different. This one read “I will repay him next paycheck. No one will know”.

The bald man smirked at the good intention as he passed down the long tunnel into Hel. The path was paved with them.

A guard at each shoulder, Romeo walked him through the pulsing crowd. Flesh and fantasy merged into one throbbing mass. It was exciting, it was disgusting….it was exactly as he remembered.

At the far end of the club, the Club Guards guided him up one side of the curved stone staircase as Romeo remaining at the landing. Zealot stepped past four more guards, assault rifles held ready as they stared at him with open confusion and contempt. He returned their gaze impassively. The luxury box awaiting him was empty, as expected. The Merovingian, the Lord of Hel and his Lady Persephone were elsewhere this evening…but their Cerberus was waiting at the top of the stairs.

Clan4

“So you made it after all. Good for you….” Flood sounded bored, but was clearly taking a sick satisfaction out of this unexpected reunion. He fastidiously brushed imaginary lint from the labels of his chic silver vest, his white hair cropped short and pristine.“It really does being back memories seeing you again, Zealot. Ahhh Memories…Tori really was a lovely child wasn’t she? Quite passionate despite a cool exterior…and so loyal…at least to some.”

The Frenchman’s Major Domo smirked at the bald man before him, who stroked his hands casually down the woolen sleeves of his long green suit coat. Zealot’s self-control was absolute now because it had to be…to blink now could be not only his death, but the death of everyone depending on this gambit.

“That was all so long ago, Monsieur….and not at all what I am here about. You contacted me so you must have received my message. Are the terms acceptable to L’Bon Homme?”

The white garbed man nodded curtly. “He is very curious to know more about what you have hinted at. Something of great importance to the safety of Monsieur Noir, you said? That is certainly a starting point. He bid me tell you that he will be in touch with a time and a place for final negotiations. He also asked me to send you his abiding love, and his deepest sorrow at your fallen condition. At least Seraph found himself made noble by the Witch Woman’s attentions. You were once a Prince, now a pauper, begging scraps from the cave dwellers. It was enough to make him cry. I am quite sure I saw a tear.”

Flood was smiling as he asked the question he had been leading to…had been waiting for.

“As a lady once said, my friend…Was the death of one misbegotten monster really worth all this?”

The Zealot did not answer. The question seemed to wrap itself around him and squeeze as he remembered when first it was asked. He could hear Tori’s voice echo in his mind after her had been dragged before the Merovingian’s justice for disobeying a direct order, and letting a renegade vampire, a program that should have been purged from the Matrix long ago, escape deletion …”You were a fool…you led us to this, it is only right you answer for it. YOU DID THIS TO US, TO ME! Was the death of one misbegotten monster really worth all this???”

The Zealot looked back at Flood, slipping the lenses off his face and pocketing them, striving not to let his mad eyes squint, even this dim light stinging. When he spoke, his voice was smooth and even.

“Yes.”

The Zealot turned and started down the stairs insolently, his escorts falling in behind him. He spoke without looking back. “I will await further communications, Flood. Tell him not to dawdle, the gift I have for him is time-sensitive, killswitch hard coded in…and I am not as patient as I once was.”

Flood spoke to his back seemingly not noticing his rudeness, his voice carrying effortlessly to the departing diplomat. “Neither is he….and this gift must be rich indeed to pry such a pearl as Tel from her rightful Master. La Femme has ALWAYS been your downfall, envoy.”

The Zealot was relieved as the doors of the club room closed behind him before he could answer…for he had no answer. He slipped the glasses back into place, allowing himself a wincing shudder as the ruins of his eyes burned even in this shadowy light and took a single deep breath to tighten his nerves.

The Zealot made his way back to the street in a seeming daze after retrieving his weapons. As soon as he left the garage entrance his escort melted away and he turned his steps to the nearby hardline. Before he reached it he slipped his celphone out of his pocket. He flipped it open casually, senses filtering through the world around him to be sure he was not going to meet St. Becket’s fate thanks to an Elite Guardsman trying to make rank. When he was confident he was not being shadowed he pressed a speed-dial button, calling the M1nerva.

Vendis’ voice came over the phone, strong and clear…but tense. He was clearly working hard at mastering his emotions while on duty.

“Operator.”

The Zealot smiled…whispering into the phone before he snapped it close, severing the signal to the hovercraft.

“We’re on.”

The connection closed immediately, leaving just static and dead air on the line. How symbolic. He flipped the phone closed with a disdainful snap and secreted it back under his jacket before turning to the now ringing Hardline and shuddered….he was more then ready to complete his ascent from Hell. He lifted the receiver and as the green wave crested over him he whispered into the aether…

“Nonne dulcissimas veritates potero speculari ubique sub celo? “*

…and he was gone.

 

 

*”Won’t I be able to look for the sweet truth under any sky if I don’t first become hateful?”

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1 Comment

  1. I remember asking you once where your name came from. Now I understand why you wanted to preserve something of this experience. It sounds as if it had its share of problems, but you describe it as exhilarating, terrifying and enthralling, what all truly intense roleplay should be.

    Will you go back in to watch the world fall, or would that be too painful?


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