Nonetheless, beautiful or not, the timeline is very useful and, at times, interesting. Every time I go look at it again I learn something new. Take these series of unrelated events. At least, I think they are unrelated. But they look good together no?
1994 — TEN gets going, with Jack Heistand at the helm, formerly of EA Sports. Funding came from Vinod Khosla of Kleiner Perkins, who merged Outland with Optigon and pumped in $10 million.
1996 — TEN officially launches in September.
1999 — TEN ditches hardcore and persistent world gaming to become pogo.com.
1999 — UO2 announced with Starr Long, Damion Schubert & Jeremy Gaffney. Jack Heistand becomes general manager of Origin. The game is later renamed Ultima Worlds Online: Origin.
2001 — EA purchases pogo.com.
Note: the following is not in timeline — yet:
2001 — Citing a need to downscale after their purchase of pogo.com, EA cancels the widely-anticipated UO2. 85+ people from the UO2 development team leave Origin, including Jack Heistand.
Like I said those are probably unrelated events. I just found the sequence interesting.
Another thing I noticed yesterday in the timeline are development starting and release dates for our favorite three games: UO, EQ, and AC. Lets look at more dates:
1995 — Archetype Interactive begins Meridian 59, with Mike Sellers as a designer and the Kirmse brothers Chris and Andrew as programmers. Mike offers Raph Koster a job, but he declines because of a job offer from Origin. He recommends Damion Schubert for the job instead. Archetype and Meridian are later acquired by 3DO, where Rich Vogel acts as producer for a time.
Note: the following date comes from a Gamasutra PostMortem on AC written by Toby Ragaini.
pre-May 1995 — Asheron’s Call begins development.
Note: Back to the timeline now
1996 — Origin demos Ultima Online at E3 (note: knowing that Raph was Lead Designer from inception and he was hired in August of 1995 and that E3 happens in May, this means UO has now been in development for about six months)
1996 — John Smedley at Sony’s 989 Studios hired Brad McQuaid and Steve Clover to begin development on EverQuest.
1997 — Ultima Online launches commercially and breaks 100,000 users very quickly. Rich Vogel joins Origin before launch.
1997 — A development deal is signed for Asheron’s Call, to be developed by Turbine. Jeremy Gaffney is among those involved though he later leaves before it ships. Toby Ragaini is principal designer.
1998 — Verant’s EverQuest opens in beta.
1999 — EverQuest opens, and quickly becomes the second huge success in the newly dubbed “massively multiplayer online roleplaying game” (MMORPG) genre.
1999 — Nine months later, Asheron’s Call releases on the MS Gaming Zone.
I think sometimes we all forget how quickly UO was produced in relation to its two largest competitors. EQ took 3 years and AC 4 to develop and release. UO was done in just under two years. To give you a sort of comparison Shadowbane started development in 1998 and Horizons, Anarchy Online and DAoC in 1999.
Things that make ya go hmmmm. Hmmmm?