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Project: SAVE VMK! General Discussion about VMK closing!

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  #1  
Old 12-20-2011, 06:55 PM
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I don't understand.

So, VMK was closed in May of 2008 as a result of an extension of it's deadline.

Quote:
Originally Posted by yavn
Please know that the decision to close VMK was not made without a great deal of thought and discussion because we loved creating VMK just as much as you loved playing it. We considered many options prior to closing but ultimately determined that VMK had accomplished its goal and then some. VMK was a valuable part of the Disneyland 50th Celebration, but it was never meant to live on forever. It's now time to focus our resources on our new virtual worlds.
Something tells me he made up the whole "discussion" thing. VMK had lots of potential left. Think about it. VMK Stories was VERY far into development; I remember seeing a media pack of it, it would have looked amazing, despite the End. VMK was also a great mini-advertisement for the parks and Disney merchandise. For example, I'm pretty sure a large majority of us wanted our parents to buy the Cinnamon Crunchers, Apple Jacks, Rice Krispies, and Fruit Loops to get those Magic Pirate Pins. Or even getting the Disney Adventure mini-mags to see if there'd be a 500-credit code in there.

But I'm not here to bring up nostalgia. I'm curious as to what made Disney think it would be a good idea to stop a thing like VMK from growing to the popularity ranks such as Toontown. In the Quote, Yavn states "It's now time to focus our resources on our new virtual worlds." It's not common to see companies to merge groups into another, making it larger, but you wouldn't see the Cars online group merged into the Club Penguin group. Was VMK not seen as popular as all the other games to stay?

VMK was also a helpful learning tool, in a sense. Back when I was (Admittedly) still in elementary school around VMK's beginning, my spelling sucked. however, with the dictionary, I was pretty much taught how not to look really dumb on online games, although nowadays i can't trade currency because nobody knows how much mine tough sand mix hunt red coins are worth.

I know this may be running dry with ideas, but I just really wanted to get this off my back after looking at VMK's abrupt end. Heck, if I had the chance to talk to yavn again somehow, I'd encourage him to talk to the Online Game division at Disney to get VMK another shot, possibly a permanent residence, like Toontown.

-Rambling-
Then again, Toondown has a Pay2Play system, and is probably why it's still alive and well today. Perhaps if VMK had some kind of system where payment can be made, but isn't absolutely required. Not in the sense of Habbo, where play...Parents can buy their kids special pixels, creating rankisim, but like making supercredits where a 6000 credit item would only be like 2000.
-end rambling-
  #2  
Old 12-20-2011, 10:33 PM
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Well, we were also always being told that it was Sulake's fault that VMK ended. No idea on the factuality of that, but if that's the case, then there really isn't anything Disney Online can do about it.
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Old 12-21-2011, 10:09 PM
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Uhm... you know, they were telling the truth about it closing because it was a promotional. It was a promotional for the 50th anniversary. It was meant to close after one year, but lots of people wanted it to stay, so Disney extended it for a couple more years.
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Old 12-27-2011, 09:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Broccolisprout View Post
Uhm... you know, they were telling the truth about it closing because it was a promotional. It was a promotional for the 50th anniversary. It was meant to close after one year, but lots of people wanted it to stay, so Disney extended it for a couple more years.
That's what I meant.

Why couldn't they just keep it as a general promotion for the parks.
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Old 12-27-2011, 05:20 PM
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I guess they had to pay for the mods to stay online all the time, and with all their other online games, they decided to get back money by ending VMK ?? Silly suggestion.. i know..
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Old 12-28-2011, 11:16 PM
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they really could have added a "pay to play" option, like, pay w/ real money for certain rare items in the game... so you don't NEED to pay, but you can if you wanted to. and i'm sure many vmk players would, especially the adult ones. then they could have made money anyway. sigh...
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Old 12-29-2011, 05:19 AM
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What struck me as odd was all the script created for additions to the game. There was a plethora of content left to be added to the game. Plus the game itself could've and should've been expanded to incorporate the entirety of the estate, represent the rides, and create more accurate portrayals of aspects of the parks. The game never felt finished. It was awkward that the game would appeal to be unfinished. I always expected more of a solid, full park experience before the inevitable conclusion to the promotion. Yet it seems like they just cut the thread of vmk's fate, so to speak. It was just such an abrupt end. There were items and additions to the game scripted and ready to be released into the game. The game itself was just beginning to truly grow into a more unique experience with the addition of vehicles and such. Why would it just die? I always thought there would be a period of decline or stability before it was done, but the game just seemed like it was still growing. Like it was in the puberty of it's design, just beginning to truly blossom into a full game. Yet, no. It just died. Weird, huh?
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Old 12-29-2011, 05:53 AM
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I know! They even got us hyped up on the idea of 'VMK Stories.' Then, they were just like, "Nope, sorry, no VMK Stories for you." :/

Last edited by Jezzi; 12-29-2011 at 06:20 PM.. Reason: unnecessary quote
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Old 12-29-2011, 06:10 AM
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Very good point. I think something went wrong in the plans... like, they already had the intention to keep it alive but then someone higher up said to shut it down o_o because as you guys pointed out, there were so many plans and stuff....

I don't think it was always destined to be closed down...
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Old 12-30-2011, 09:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoodPolarGirl View Post
Well, we were also always being told that it was Sulake's fault that VMK ended. No idea on the factuality of that, but if that's the case, then there really isn't anything Disney Online can do about it.
It was Disney all the way. Joe Pishgar, the community manager at Sulake involved with VMK, posted on his blog that the game's closing was just as much of a surprise to them as it was to everypony else.

It seems to have been offline recently, but if his site ever comes back up, you can find the post at http://www.greypawn.com/?p=33

A couple people have copy-pasted it in it's entirety on other forums before it went down, though. Let me see if I can do the same here...

Spoiler for The End of VMK:
The End of VMK

As promised, I’m going to try to write a little bit about the closing of VMK.
Firstly, it came as quite a surprise. The game had been doing quite well, and was in what I’d like to characterize as the “throes of new growth”.
Actually, I’m going to suddenly diverge for a moment here to mention the unique flavor of VMK. As far as social spaces go, it was specifically unique. Canned dictionary-based chat lead to a seperate language. I glove my duh.duh as “I love my daddy.” Language is the first icon of culture, and VMK’s culture took great pains for me to originally become inducted into.
The environment of VMK was Disney, but a softly dilluted Disney with alternate non-brand characters like the Yeti and Esmeralda the fortune teller. But, despite this dillution, the environment in which the players played was kept almost diabetically sweet through persistent high quality content updates. New clothing, items, rooms, contests, events - grand things and special attentions that paying subscribers of most MMOs would give their thumbs for were commonplace and free.
The players themselves coordinated events and room hosting, playing games in the freeform social space provided them in exchange for their increased brand awareness. Tweens, mostly female, occupied the bulk of the demographic. Coupled with this, I presided as Community Manager over the most professional ace team of Moderators and event Hosts I have ever known of. With pedigrees in AOL’s Community Leader program, the mods I had the pleasure of directing I have never witnessed before in any other MMO. And to boot, the staff itself was huge!
Due to COPPA regulations regarding kids in online spaces, moderation had to remain constant, and so my staff was a sizable 30+. One of the major aspects of sadness I have about the game’s closure is that I will likely never again see assembled a team of moderators as awesome as these guys were. The majority have gone on to other projects, but I aspire to hire them back again in my next mod team if I possibly can.

Unexpected. It came out of the blue. I won’t describe the circumstances that lead up to Disney’s decision to close the game - I can’t. The description given publically that it was time to end the promotion was the one I received myself. I didn’t question it, no reason to. Decisions like that one are large and involve so many more moving parts and people and discussions and paperwork than can be imagined, and it is not Community’s job to question why, but to tow the line and state the facts.
At some point after the announcement, it became my role to gently guide a quarter-million kids into the virtual netherworld quietly, calmly and cooly. Pfft, Grey, you exaggerate! Yeah, I do, a little, but the tears were real. Here these kids, my kids were, with the rug pulled out from under them. The Destruction of a Virtual World. It hasn’t happened in recent memory. Not on this scale.
There weren’t any articles I could read, no post-mortems about what went wrong, how things progressed towards the event horizon of shutdown of another MMO or virtual world of this size. Uncharted territory in a major way, and this with a demographic statistically inclined towards self-violence. Business as usual was the byline up to the end. There are lessons, dark lessons that can be learned from watching a thing die. I watched while the pillars of community atrophied and collapsed after the announcement, and witnessed emotionally charged emergent behavior on the part of the players that stuck around to the final hour.
I was quite a bit more behind the scenes in this role that I have been before, and I was glad of it at the end. After all community initiatives were cancelled, I reset the priority for my staff and myself to be the continued survival of the VMK community in some form or another. Alliances with third party forums, transitional tokens for alternate games, a loosening of identifiable information restrictions so that players could exchange character names in other games or social spaces… for many of these players who had called VMK home for years and found in it their own support mechanism, community had to persist.
There were some battles that needed fighting right up until the very end, and I gave it my all to see that the game ended on a respectable note and gave closure to its little citizens. I have a few more gray hairs for some of those fights, but they needed to be fought and I am thankful for the outcome.
The closing itself was spun like a graduation, and I visited as many rooms as I could. The “rare” mod no one had seen before. I offered consolation, and I went personally to the pillars of community that remained - those brave souls in it until they flip the switch for the last time. (Of which I am still one in Ultima Online).
There was this little girl in VMK, posted about in a few articles about the closing. Madison Reed has Spinal Muscular Atrophy and, well, suffers from the effects of this malady in a wheelchair. She defied the odds when she did not die after turning 2 years old. She is now 11 years old and plays… played VMK as a little princess in a pink dress. She loved VMK because she could dance and have fun parties with her friends and she didn’t even have to worry about germs.
She was in-game on the final day, decorating her castle suite room in the final hours. I stopped by and introduced myself. I spoke to her and answered her questions. We posed for a picture so she could remember the day. Things were coming to a wrap and I had to get going. Without warning, she approached my avatar in-game and thanked me with a hug. And then she danced. I hit the dance emote button and joined her in her dance. And for awhile, we just danced.
I met the end dancing, on the far right of a straight line of players who gathered unbidden to the statue of Walt and his pal Mickey in the Castle Forecourt. That’s how VMK ended. That said, I’d love to go into details about the lessons learned, but after mentally rehashing the closing I’m running on empty. Perhaps another time.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisR View Post
That's what I meant.

Why couldn't they just keep it as a general promotion for the parks.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blossomflower View Post
Very good point. I think something went wrong in the plans... like, they already had the intention to keep it alive but then someone higher up said to shut it down o_o because as you guys pointed out, there were so many plans and stuff....

I don't think it was always destined to be closed down...
Can't quite remember if I posted this before I disappeared, but... It's more than likely that VMK was shut down due to a change in business plan. Disney wanted to make a lot of small MMO's for each and every one of their intellectual properties they could, under the idea that "If one MMO makes us a lot of money, then having a bunch of MMO's should make us exponentially more!" Cars Online and Pixie Hollow were the first of these MMO's developed under this plan. VMK was in direct opposition of this plan, though, due to it's all-encompassing nature. It was a place where you could have elements from Pirates and from Pixies and Splash Mountain and anything else Disney you could think of all in one place. Why pay for a bunch of different MMO's when you can just play VMK and get the full experience?

It was most likely for this reason that VMK had to go.

It's also perhaps worth noting that VMK closed only months before WDIG, the Walt Disney Internet Group, was merged with Disney's games division and re-organized into what is now known as DIMG, the Disney Internet Media Group. While most of the upper management is still the same, it's not unlikely that further down the ladder a lot of power shifted hands during this re-organization, and it's possible that very little of WDIG's former employees still hold the same positions in DIMG, if they're even still around at all. This is still speculation on my part, but the two dates are close enough where it doesn't seem like much of a coincidence. VMK was at the wrong place at the wrong time on multiple fronts, so in retrospect it's not surprising (Albeit still very disappointing) that Disney made the decision they did.
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Last edited by Jezzi; 12-30-2011 at 11:28 PM.. Reason: cursing/non-g/advertising
  #11  
Old 12-30-2011, 08:20 PM
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Thanks for the clarification, Illidan. Back in the day (wow, I sound like an old person xD) when people were debating 'who closed VMK/who didn't', I was too busy being angry about it closing to care.
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Old 12-31-2011, 04:46 AM
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I haven't read everything yet, but I agree with Polar in that, I don't really care who closed it. I'm usually one to go at someone at get angry at it, but really I don't care who did it, I just want it back.
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Old 01-27-2012, 06:39 PM
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I still don't buy the whole "it was just a promotion" line. Looking back, I remember that they actually advertised VMK on other game sites. Who advertises an advertisement? To me it seems that they always expected VMK to make some money for Disney, while also promoting the parks. Which they could still have done if VMK remained open.
 

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