How a Classic MMO Survived a Disastrous Launch

12 Oct 2011

In a new piece on Scott Jennings' Broken Toys blog, former Dark Age of Camelot producer Matt Firor reflects back on what he considers to this day to be a "disastrous" launch for the landmark MMO, while also taking us through how Mythic managed to overcome a few initial hurdles in order to deliver such a smash hit ten years ago. Highly recommended reading:
All day on the 9th, we watched as the server numbers grew and grew. I ran the login utility on my laptop all day, just so I could see the population numbers of each server, real time. The population numbers started small around 10:00am on the 9th, and grew slowly but steadily until around 5:00pm, when they exploded. All servers in the space of about an hour after 5:00pm were jammed full – and we had a very large server population setting (about 3,000 players). Even with full servers, everything ran smoothly.

By about 8:00 we were jubilant. Everything was smooth and easy. CS was functioning, and had already responded to many trouble tickets and issues. People were playing, the servers were up.

A group of us formed in Rob's office, talking and generally basking in the glory of the moment. Each of those 20,000 (max peak players that night) was a paying customer, and each represented significant revenue to us (remember we were very small at the time). It appeared that we finally were going to make money on one of our products. We were giddy with excitement – everything was going awesomely.

Brian Axelson, the 21 year old whiz-kid programmer/designer who had been working for us since he was 16 – responsible for inventing, implementing, and designing Camelot's combat system, including Combat Styles – was so happy he slammed his fist down on Rob's desk and said, "Ain't nothing going to bring this house down!".

At that moment, all the servers crashed, simultaneously.
I have a lot of fond memories of Dark Age of Camelot - it's easily one of the best-designed MMOs ever to be created, particularly due to its handling of RvR combat and rewards.