Meridian 59 Launches

Meridian 59 was one of the earliest massively-multiplayer online games.

It first went online in December, 1995, and it was published in September, 1996 by The 3DO Company. Meridian was perhaps the first online game with a 3D engine. My brother Chris and I originally conceived the game, and we served as the project leads until April, 1997.

The original inspiration for Meridian 59 was the game Scepter of Goth, which was run by a company called InterPlay in Virginia in the mid-1980s. This ran on an IBM PC XT with a bank of 16 300-baud modems. Chris and I spent many hours playing Scepter through junior high school. It was a standard multiplayer fantasy RPG, complete with levels, spells, and killing monsters. We used the same character names that we would later use in Meridian: Zaphod (me, from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) and Zandramas (Chris, from David Eddings’ Belgariad series).

Meridian 59 is an online computer role-playing game first published by the now defunct 3DO Company and now run by Near Death Studios. First launched online in an early form on December 15, 1995 and released commercially in September 1996 with a flat-rate monthly subscription, Meridian 59 is often credited as the first 3D graphical "massively multiplayer online game" or MMO.

Chances are you haven't played anything quite like Meridian 59 before. If you can swallow your pride and accept its meager aesthetics for what they are, and if you're willing to use your imagination with your games just like you did in the heyday of computer RPGs, then you will find the world of Meridian to be a most enriching place. The smart, sophisticated audience of this game makes for intriguing company, and in light of the small fee required to play, you can take all the time you wish to get to know it.

May 15, 1997

This game is simply outstanding. It blows away anything I have ever played in the way of RPGs. If you haven’t tried this game yet, you really need to. Download the demo and give it a try. Although, I will warn you that the demo can’t possibly prepare you for what lies ahead in the full version. The design of the game, the interaction with so many other players, and the constantly expanding world make this game a must for anyone who enjoys role-playing games or 3D adventure. This is definitely one game I will never stop playing. I’m really looking forward to the forthcoming update and to the new adventures that await. If you find yourself on my server and run into a friendly chap name Thorin Apollo, please be sure to say hello. I am always ready to meet a new adventurer. See you in Meridian 59.

April 10, 1997

I've played this game since it came out and no other monthly or even newly purchased onling multiplayer game has hooked me like this. It's easy and infuriating all at once, but thats later when you're a jaded vet. When you're new, it will seem old and strange and perhaps clunky compared to the awesomely beautiful fantasy games populating the market, but this game has swanky and original art and level design, and a good dose of story all over it's seemingly large world.