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The Matrix Media Movies Entertainment Games

How The Matrix Online Went Wrong 144

As the July 31st deadline for The Matrix Online's closure looms, Gamer Limit is running a story discussing the game's shortcomings, as well as some of the decisions that led to its failure. Quoting: "I honestly thought the writers must have absolutely hated the remaining cast of The Matrix Trilogy or something, because they constantly seemed to go out of their way to phase out existing characters in favor of newer ones. The cast overall basically made me, as a player, feel distant from the main storyline and made the entire game feel like a Matrix side story instead of the continuation it was meant to be. ... When MxO first launched there was an entire team dedicated to playing the game as Agents and other key characters as a means to further in-game events and directly interact with players, giving players the feeling that they truly were making a difference. After the SOE buyout of the game the LESIG team was reduced to playing minor characters before eventually being phased out and replaced with a Live Event Team (LET) comprised purely of volunteers."
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How The Matrix Online Went Wrong

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  • by Rog7 ( 182880 ) on Monday July 27, 2009 @06:36AM (#28834855)

    To me, MxO just lacked the wonder and glory of the films. The obviously had to take a lot of shortcuts and compromises to fit it into a Diku-esque MMORPG and well, there was a lot to live up to for Matrix fans and it just plain felt non-cutting edge.

    As one of the comments on the source article states "it catered to gamers instead of fans". Specifically they created a game firmly within an existing genre instead of something specific to The Matrix. I know that's easy to criticize, but regardless I think it's true.

  • Not "RP-Able" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday July 27, 2009 @06:48AM (#28834911)

    I noticed that when I tried to come up with a "Matrix RP" idea. It was easy to write the rules (you could easily adjust GURPS to encompany some of the Matrix specials, stack it on GURPS Martial-Arts and you're set). It was insanely hard to come up with good ideas for stories. Basically:

    What the heck are we doing here?

    Let's face it. The Matrix is no place to hang out. There's no good reason to go in except two:

    1. Find "The One".
    2. Meet the Oracle.

    That's it. Any fight, anything you could accomplish, anything at all is meaning- and pointless. It's insanely dangerous (not only can you get killed inside, your body is a sitting duck outside while you're in) and there's nothing sensible to do.

    Now, I never played MxO, to be honest. Mostly because I couldn't imagine what I should "do" or "accomplish" in the game. Beat up Agents? What for? Level buildings? Not only are they virtual, but they're even virtual in the virtual world.

    Essentially, I think I would have felt like playing someone playing an MMO. And playing it myself is already pathetic enough for my tastes.

  • by CarpetShark ( 865376 ) on Monday July 27, 2009 @07:07AM (#28835005)

    Not even trying to be WoW, I think you mean. All of the SOE games have been resting on the laurels of Everquest's engine for years, with the exception, perhaps, of space combat added eventually in Star Wars Online. The game worlds show little in the way of ongoing development that would justify even a portion of the subscription fees. If they phased out characters from TMO, it's probably because they paid royalties initially to make the game sound good, but as usual, were counting on the community of players to keep other people playing. Screw that.

  • by Yahya Ibn Tuma ( 1366889 ) on Monday July 27, 2009 @07:09AM (#28835013) Journal

    It was all wrong from the start. The whole "game" was thrown together by a bunch of idiots who sacrificed gaming to the stupidity of corporate synergism.

    Seriously, during the Warner Bros. era, MxO had a cancellation policy similar to AOL at it's worst(i.e. they employed the same gimmicks and tricks that AOL did to "retain" customers), BECAUSE AOL,WB,MONOLITH PRODUCTIONS AND MXO WERE ONE AND THE SAME BACK THEN.

    I've experienced MxO under Warner Brothers *and* under Sony Online Entertainment, and, hands down, Warner Brothers was the worst MMOG,MMORPG company that ever existed.

    I say this because of that stupid "SOE destroyed MxO" meme that plagues discussions regarding the game. Hardly. The Matrix Online lasted 88 days before Time Warner-AOL threw in the towel, and never had over 40,000 paying customers at the height of it's power and influence. Sony kept it going for nearly four years in spite of it being an unpopular game.

  • by hal2814 ( 725639 ) on Monday July 27, 2009 @07:31AM (#28835157)

    Maybe the low popularity had something to do with the sinking ship it was attached to. The Matrix Online came out one year after the sequels. There were a lot of people who lost faith in the franchise by that point. Many fans felt let down and many non-fans were very aware of how poorly the movies were received. And it sure didn't help that many of those who did like the sequels had the condescending attitude that those who didn't like the sequels just didn't "get" it. Like it was that hard to pick up the philosophical themes. By the time the MMO launched, a lot of their potential customers who were fans of the Matrix were turned off by the idea of more Matrix material and the Matrix series' reputation was damaged enough that non-fans weren't that tempted to give it a try. I doubt even an above-average MMO could survive in those conditions.

  • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Monday July 27, 2009 @07:57AM (#28835327)

    I don't know who owned it when I played the game, but I gave up after only about two days of total boredom and decided to cancel my subscription. Only, at that point I discovered I had to CALL THEM UP and ask them to cancel it. And then had to answer a bunch of stupid "why are you cancelling?" questions.

    That kind of hassle, instead of just clicking a button online to cancel, is a sure way to make sure I'll never play another game from your company again for the rest of my life.

  • by Yahya Ibn Tuma ( 1366889 ) on Monday July 27, 2009 @09:02AM (#28835831) Journal

    That kind of hassle, instead of just clicking a button online to cancel, is a sure way to make sure I'll never play another game from your company again for the rest of my life.

    From that statement, I know you played MxO during the classic period of Time Warner-AOL(March-May 2005). If you think AOL(and AIM) was/is God's gift to the internet, The Matrix Online is/was the game for you.

    All of this nonsense was brought to you by Jace Hall (AKA Jason Hall) here's his IMDB page: []

    Notice that he lists producer credits for StarCraft(1998) and World of Warcraft(2004) in spite of the fact he worked for Monolith Productions and/or Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment during those time periods. I smell a rank con-artist. I suppose by some miracle he *could* have had a hand in the production of those games, but I don't think so.

  • by GigaHurtsMyRobot ( 1143329 ) on Monday July 27, 2009 @09:53AM (#28836427) Journal
    Yes... during Beta when I created a process patcher that allowed me to fish up any item in the game (through a tedious method of incrementing the item number until I found something worth a lot of money) and reported it (.. well, by being seen by a GM in full plate at level 8 ..) I was contacted by Sony (Howard Dortch, Head of Tools and Technology at the time, to be exact) for the details. Shortly after that, they moved the fishing item code server side and my work was done.
  • Re:Not "RP-Able" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday July 27, 2009 @10:52AM (#28837207)

    There has been a fabulous script (whether real or fake, I cannot tell, but it was stunning) for the 2nd Matrix movie, floating around the web a few weeks before the movie came out. It was absolutely insanely great and cool at the same time, filled with memorable quotes and quibs at the first part. One of the arching plots was that Smith would have found himself an "Anti-Neo", a human able to bend the Matrix as well as Neo, using him to fight Neo in a way he simply cannot due to the limitations of his programming. And to teach him, much like Morpheus taught Neo. It smelled a bit like Star Wars, but it was actually pretty well written, with witty little bits of inside jokes.

    The reason to go back into the Matrix was simply to have Neo destroy the building he worked in, where he himself (with his coworkers) built the Matrix, a revelation and parallel to how human "designs its own prison" in reality as well. It would come to a showdown where Smith would, quite similar to how it has been done in the "realized" M2 movie, fight Neo as multiple copies, but essentially allowing Neo to kill him over and over, only asking him over and over "do you realize what you're doing", until Neo realizes what he does: He does not fight Smith. He kills humans. Dozens. Thousands. They litter the streets and he realizes that he cannot actually beat Smith, all he can accomplish is to kill every single human in the sim. A fallout of a few billion human lives to bring down a single simulation... is it worth it?

    A great scene later was described where Neo and Smith spend a few script pages just talking, both of them knowing that the other can't really harm them in any way. I don't remember the details, but I remember I never saw anything as deeply intriguing. It's interrupted by Smith's protectee who tries to fight Neo (and almost kills him).

    Neo finally contacts Morpheus and tells him he can't just kill off the planet, which reveals how much of a zealot Morpheus really is, and how little he cares about humans, telling Neo that if this is the price, so be it. Kill 'em all, cap the coppertops, as long as the machines fall that's the price to be paid.

    It eventually ends in a fight where the others manage to actually best an agent and Neo retreating into a church in the matrix to ponder his situation and his options.

    In general, when I read the script, I was hooked (if anyone still knows a link, it was by leagues better than the crappy gun-fu matrix ripoff we got sold as M2). You may understand my disappointment when I finally got to see the movie that was actually made.

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay