If there are any inaccuracies regarding the MORPG section or if you have information to offer, please notify me via email: zajenmail [at] gmail [dot] com.
For a more detailed, albeit slightly bias, account of our humble beginnings, please view this thread at the Online Game Core.
Update: The Online Game Core has been shut down.
Update 2: Robin details the past and present of Eclipse.
Update 3: DraigNET hosts an interesting chart showing the relation of Mirage-based engines.
The following is an excerpt from The Videogame Style Guide and Reference Manual. Although this short list pertains to MMOs, it was during this time that MORPGs sprung to life as well.
The Rise of the MMO
[*] 1996 Meridian 59 is released as the first graphical massively-multiplayer online game.
[*] 1997 Ultima Online successfully expands the audience for MMOs.
[*] 1999 EverQuest and Asherons’ Call released. MMO role-playing games reach new level of popularity and relevance. The slang term “Evercrack” enters the cultural vocabulary to represent the genre’s addictive qualities.
[*] 2002 Microsoft launches Xbox Live; millions of gamers pay a fee for the premium online service.
[*] 2002 The Sims Online ships.
[*] 2003 Star Wars Galaxies, an MMO set in the Star Wars universe, ships.
[*] 2004 World of Warcraft ships, goes on to dominate the MMO market with over 8 million subscribers.
Birth of the MORPG
Note: This section will not have exact dates except for the release of Microsoft’s programming language.
[*] 1998 Visual Basic 6 is released.
[*] Consty develops Mirage Online. Version 1.0 is released.
[*] Source code of Mirage Online is sold to Unformed Realities. Version 3.0.3 at time of transaction.
[*] PlayerWorlds is created from the source code.
[*] Mirage Online is sold to JB Computers (Acer, forum member) while PlayerWorlds is purchased by Kaelian Software.
[*] Version 3.1.0 programmed by Solace and features a new graphical user interface and two separate servers (Old World and New World [Adonai]).
[*] Mirage Online goes off-line then resurfaces under Unformed Realities control.
[*] Due to an agreement violation between Shannara and Consty, hacker xPC is given the Mirage Online code from Consty.
[*] The source code of Mirage Online is made public domain and becomes open source software.
Notable Games and Engines
Quick Fun Fact(s)!
[*] Mirage Online used ripped Final Fantasy graphics for its tile sets. After the source became open, pixel artists created a plethora of resources for public and private use.