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January 2014

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At the end of last year, Asheron's Call 2 blinked out of existence.

For most people, that's not really a noteworthy occurence. But AC2 was a game I played and enjoyed - it was, at the beginning, a very promising game.

But as so often happens with... well, with anything, AC2 failed to live up to its initial promise. The ingenious crafting system stagnated, the content patches never came, and the very nature of the game started shifting in a desperate attempt to haul in a new audience.

And then, of course, the final nail in the coffin, that juggernaut, the destroyer of worlds - World of Warcraft rode in and decimated what was left of the playerbase.

When I think back on AC2, and think now about the ramifications of it closing, there's a permanence to its death that I've never seen with any game before. How many games worlds have permanently and irrevocably been destroyed, such that no man will ever set foot in them again? There have been online games that died before AC2, of course, but AC2 is probably the most successful of the failures.

With most games, I can (and sometimes do) go back and play them long after they've been forgotten by the rest of the world. They continue to exist, in some form - as the mood strikes me, they can live again. Entire worlds in a disk or a cartridge or in a small portion of my hard drive sit there, waiting for me, virtually forever. But I realize now that the fate of AC2 is really just the tip of the iceberg - as gameplay moves online more and more, virtual worlds are going to die, lost forever, and doomed to oblivion.

I may not have ever played AC2 again, no matter how long it lasted. But then again, one day I may have wanted to see what had become of that world, to pick up where I had left off, to join the crusade to save that fledgling civilization once more - but now that can never be, for me or for anybody.

It truly did end in a whimper.

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