The lights on Warhammer Online's servers went dark earlier this week, signalling the end to EA and Mythic's great WoW killer (which, at the time of release, every MMO branded itself to be). As with other games that require a permanent online connection, it's yet another title future generations will be unable to enjoy, unless they like broken login screens. However, a former developer believes it's possible to keep the game alive, albeit in a suspended, single-player form.
In a post on his blog "Shiny Toys", ex-Mythic software engineer Andrew Meggs mentions that internal builds of Warhammer Online, created for testing purposes, could be started up in a special solo mode by using the command line argument "-singleplayer". Far from transforming Warhammer into a working single-player game, it did allow one to explore the world without interference from active elements:
There were no login or character selection screens. There were no NPCs or other players. There was no gameplay of any kind. 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.
Unsurprisingly, the public version of the game doesn't have this functionality, but Meggs says that enabling it wouldn't take a lot of work on the part of EA — it just has to make the decision to do it. While it's hard to see what benefit it has for EA from a business perspective, it would be a massive gesture and allow the game to be accessible in some form to gamers decades from now.