Saying Goodbye to The Realm Online

Today while I work on the YuriCorp Community Minecraft server, I am reminded of the origins of online multiplayer games: MUDs (Multi-User Dungeons). MUDs were text-based online games, often accessed using Telnet, that allowed multiple users to play together. MUDs were the genesis of the MMOs we play today and early attempts at adding a graphics layer were the very first series of MMOs. That includes The Realm Online.

The major downside of early MUDs was that they were entirely text-based. In the 1990s, with slow dial-up internet connections, text was really the only viable option. However, the evolution to graphical MUDs happened quickly.

One of the first major graphical MUDs was The Realm Online, released in 1996 by Sierra On-Line The Realm Online was quickly relegated to forgotten memories as Ultima Online (1997) released and was a completely superior experience while EverQuest launched in (1999) making The Realm Online fade into obscurity.

Ode to The Realm Online

While I was never a fan of the game’s anything, preferring to remain playing the text-based games and using my imagination until Ragnarok Online launched, it is still something to pay respect to. It was one of the first of its kind, a true graphical overlay for the text-based exchanges between the computers. While the combat was turn based (UO had real time combat) and the interface was dated even at the time, it still showed that it was possible and that there was an audience for it.

It launched the first year with about 25,000 total players having played it (considering with even UOs release!) which would be considerable. The game continued on being lovingly taken care of by the community even after Sierra-Online faded into obscurity itself.

Comically enough Sierra-Online would be later sold to Vivendi, who themselves owned Blizzard and World of Warcraft until the Activision merger. It’s fun to think sometimes about how small the gaming world was back then and how easy it was for games and studios to move around at the time.

Needless to say, it probably has had a few hundred players at any given time after 2000 and has had a small but loyal fan base. Needless to say, the appetite for the game doesn’t exist anymore and monetizing something so niche seems impossible.

The Future of The Realm Online

The news was broken on the official site. The servers shut down June 30, 2023. I’m sure not that many souls are impacted who play regularly much less in this modern world (~180 are on as of writing this), I imagine they have a Discord and plenty of other homes. I imagine an emulated server run by the community is likely to emerge, assuming Norseman Games don’t do anything to keep it alive themselves. The door is open:

If we are presented the opportunity to resume operations and development, Finvarra’s Fortress will be in the exact state that we left it; nothing will be lost. We will be keeping backups of the work we have done over the last five years, including all character data from the Finvarra’s Fortress server and everything in-progress that hasn’t yet been completed.

Mike – The Realm Online

Best wishes to the lovely bunch that have kept the game going and I hope the memories of the game remain positive and long lasting.

David Piner, an accomplished video game journalist since 2001, excels in developing comprehensive guides and engaging content to enrich the gaming experience. As the esteemed former Managing Editor at TTH (as David "Xerin" Piner) for over a decade, David established a strong reputation for his perceptive analysis, captivating content, and streamlined guides. Having led skilled teams of writers and editors, David has been instrumental in producing an extensive collection of articles, reviews, and guides tailored to both casual and hardcore gamers aiming to enhance their skills. Dedicated to player-centric content, David meticulously crafts guides and articles with the players' interests in mind. He is a proud member of OUT Georgia and fervently champions equity and equality across all spheres.