Andrew Meggs, a former Warhammer Online developer, has explained an easy way how the now axed-in-the-back MMO could live on, at least in spirit. Just 'flip the switch' for the internal dev build.
It would render the MMO a single player "double-clickable museum" that exhibits "much of what WAR was," and to help its memory live on. Meggs claims EA insiders can "easily make this happen."
There would be no NPCs or other players in this build as the internal developer build had no such things, but you could zip around like Superman and check things out.
"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," Andrew Meggs .
"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."
"If the right people at EA choose, they can put out one last build of the game client. There was one switch that said, “If this is a public build, force singleplayer mode OFF”. Change that to “ON”, hit Compile, and release the executable."
Would EA be interested in letting fans enjoy Warhammer Online as a virtual tourist trap offline? According to Meggs, it wouldn't cost the company much of anything to let it happen beyond this 'simple patch'.
"It won’t have to be released with any art files or a massive download. It can run standalone, pulling assets out of the patch files that the last players will still have sitting on their drives. This won’t compete with any current or future game, because it’s not a game anymore. But it’s a place for the die-hard fans to visit by themselves, to reminisce and remember the times they had there with others," he continued.
"It’s something the hundreds of developers who worked on it will still be able to run for their kids someday. It’s a piece of history for Professors of Game Studies in 2113 to better understand what MMORPGs looked like before the neural implants."
"It won’t be WAR; that only exists with other players. 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."
Could studios look to turn one last buck with their MMOs by morphing them into single player RPGs when it’s time to close up shop? When the day comes there's going to be an awful big hole where World of Warcraft once was.
Warhammer Online servers officially shutdown this week, December 18th.