Has it really been more than a decade? Presidents come and go, economies fall and rise, children grow up and spread their wings. And the code flows on, bright and warm, over at www.mxoemu.info. Life is short, and the art is long, but Rajkosto continues to poke and prod the code for the simulation, to revive the world we lost over a decade ago. I have started to explore its byways, revisiting old haunts and scenes of battles and parties past. We have a few abilities and can revisit the clubs and towers and streets we inhabited a lifetime ago. We can hope that more treasures will one day be unearthed.
Yet what we have is a pleasure to explore, especially with commands which let us control our positions and easily get around. With them, we can get outside the box and see the worlds which lay beyond our grasp back in the day. Below I record one of the most intriguing of these hidden locales.
We all wonder what lies beyond the edge of the
world. Back in MxO’s first heyday, I
remember people perched on the precarious top of the Stratford Campus, spying east
on the buildings heaped beyond our reach, and discussing a distant domed
skyscraper with air navigation lights on it along with apparent activity, and
speculating what might be transpiring there, and whether it was a secret play
area for the devs. On the dome at night,
under the gloriously glowing, bloated moon, we imagined the champagne flowing
and FM-1500s passed out like joints as party favors. Alas, it was merely our delirious
projections; apparently, we considerably overestimated the ingenuity and energy
of the game designers and devs.
As vast as MegaCity is, after a few years the mighty, sensational metropolis felt a little cramped, and I found myself wondering how to escape its confines into an imagined greater world. Everywhere there were barriers: boarded-up windows, roadways, bricked-up portals, high walls, or damned invisible partitions. Only with the advent of non-corporate MxO servers was I able to get beyond this, with simple command-line commands:
- &incx [positive number or negative number] for example, &incx 10 or &incx -10.
- &Incy [positive number or negative number] for example, &incy 10 or &incy -10. This is your vertical motion
- &Incz [positive number or negative number] for example, &incz 10 or &incz -10.
- &gotopos x y z, where the letters represent spatial coordinates within a district, such as downtown. For example, the Canon Heights North hardline would be reached by typing &gotopos 1111 1 -410 from a downtown location.
Thus equipped, I was able to make my way anywhere in the simulation universe. Having gazed so longingly for so long into the inaccessible distances, I decided to see what lay there.
I had expected this:
But would find this, sort of:
Just a restaurant, I know. But I felt touched that everyone stood up to welcome me. Can’t get this at the French Laundry. Wait! No one’s wearing masks!
Outside the ranch, getting around is free, but not simple. One cannot directly interact with the environment of ramps, steps, sloping roadways, and doors. Like a disembodied spirit, one simply passes through everything. Eventually the landscape settles down and after some tweaking of one’s vertical position, it feels like walking again. For regions never destined for human habitation, it seems odd that the devs went to this much effort to individualize the areas behind the curtain. Perhaps at least some, immediately adjacent to the standard realm, were originally envisioned for players’ use. Or maybe there were once plans for expanding the game’s four regions that were never left complete, and the easy part, dropping building shells, is as far as this ever got. Regrettably, Hyperjump does not work, so one hoofs it everywhere.
The easiest way to read the ethereal Peg’s is as follows:
- 1. Go to the Chelsea North East hardline. Easy enough!
- 2. Start heading east until you hit the cement wall; this does not take long. Pause and catch your breath.
- 3. Go to the command line box and type &incx 10.
- 4. You have broken forth from the laws of the world. It seems like you’re floating in space. Type &incy 6 and you should be just above the pavement. Your address should be around 449 7 -514.
- 5. Go east, stopping to enjoy the scenery. So spacious and free! Around 598 7 -514 you pass through a cement wall and are standing in space again. Accept it and keep moving. Try not to look down.
- 6. Around 881 7 -539 you are back on your feet again. A large empty plaza beckons.
- 7. Keep running to 1146 7 -544, and the diner is on your right. You can’t miss it! Even I could find it, and normally I can get lost in a dressing room.
- Just a short walk makes all the difference…
Outside the reservation, so much freedom and open space. No pedestrians but the cars still run.
For a few blocks everything is just like what we are used to: the storefronts, the apartment complexes, the office buildings, and even the cars (!). There are no people, though, not even the strolling somnambulists. The placement of the buildings is mechanical and annoyingly symmetrical. After a few blocks, vast and open plazas appear, like the one directly west of the Stratford Campus building, but much larger. It seems, after such crowded, crazy-quilt environments… unnatural, indeed generous, though less exciting and frenetic. I’m older than I was in 2009, though, and enjoyed the space and the pace. Soon I would discover vast, open plazas. Check it out at
So open and spacious. Perfect for condos for my kids.
I strolled on. I could have walked through buildings with the effortless ease of a neutrino, but respected the physical orthographies of the mind. Curiously, one could open doors to enter buildings:
However the inside layout was…somewhat lacking. Of all things, the inside of the doors was visible while the inside of the walls was not.
Kind of a work in progress…
I moved on.
Back in the day, I had often wandered the streets, sometimes alone, and sometimes in the company of my clanmates. Sometimes the dark, infernal alleys of Westview, sometimes the well-lit and well-defended boulevards of downtown. Often I had run stat hack missions at Seraph’s behest, shepherding sickly bluepills through streets packed with enemies, fighting off waves of foes and clearing the way ahead. Times beyond number I had scurried down Megacity’s byways and highways to do the bidding of Agent Gray or the obsessive neighborhood contacts. I had killed, rescued, escorted, gathered, and looted for them. But now, beyond the veil, I was in a realm never intended for habitation, a world of surfaces behind which lurked nothing. It felt like a dreamscape or a Dali painting. It grew on me. If you enjoyed The Martian or Castaway, you know what I mean.
Up ahead I could see the end of the pavement and the buildings, as well as something else. Something unexpected. Something no one could ever have imagine a player setting eyes on. Something that made me hungry.
Off in the distance, the prospect of peppermint hot chocolate and maybe even wi-fi.
I had discovered the restaurant at the end of the universe! Peg’s Diner is a mighty franchise, to be way out here. I looked around from the outside, but inside this was only a vacant shell, like everything else around me. Still, I paused to think of lunch, Douglas Adams, and devly creativity.
I walked around it from the outside, and noticed something truly eerie. I’d always admired the coding effort that gave windows reflections of adjacent buildings, reflections which moved and shifted as the player did.
Yet here, at the end of creation, with nothing else to reflect, I could still discern golden, ghostly apparitions of unseen buildings, as though these surfaces brought back light from some other veiled dimension, everywhere around me yet nowhere to be seen, which they alone could glimpse. I moved back and forth for a bit to see the surfaces glide and flow, and then turned my attention to the brink of life and death nearby.
What on earth are these reflecting?
Now I was perched on the edge of the world. Beyond, on the map, there was darkness, uncreated and unimagined. Crossing the border, I left behind the world of human construction, and paced the void, as ancient Chinese literati had written. The city of my birth drew away from me. Suddenly, surprisingly, I disappeared. Blinked out of existence! A point of awareness on a sea of emotion, I thought of lines of poetry from college (“Ode to a Nightingale”, by John Keats):
Fade far away, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other moan. (a prescient 19th century reference to forum fights, I think)
Distant skyscrapers loom. Nothing like this in the world.
My consciousness had outlasted my existence, it seemed, and faded like last night’s barstool promises. Like Peg’s, I had become a diner with no I. This must be what out-of-body experiences felt like. Moving through nothing as a nonentity, indeed as a zero with the edges rubbed off, seemed unsatisfying, so I turned around and retraced my steps, first to existence, then to the haunted diner, thence to the shadow-realm, and finally to Chelsea, watching the world once more form. It reminded me of one time in college I got high and went with friends to the top of an office building to watch the sun rise. As daylight peeped over the eastern horizon, I bent over, took a deep breath, and threw my head back. Everything went dark, darker, until I was only an impersonal, pre-personality, flake of self-aware consciousness, blinking at the void, really scarcely there at all. I could not even have said what I was, let alone who I was. Soon my sense of self accreted in layers, then my name and awareness of the world, and then my identity. Finally I was back to where I had started. The journey had been unexpected, and not entirely pleasant. In retrospect, doing it on the top of a building had been singularly ill-advised. But I digress! In any case, that’s what watching myself re-form from nothingness as the world took shape reminded me of. I felt thankful to leave the silent, hollow land behind and get back to the car-cluttered, pedestrian-packed streets of Chelsea. Even the code felt warmer. But the lure of the uncreated world had caught me, and I knew I would return.
The restaurant I visited is not the one in this region. Here are a couple of others, both downtown:
473 7 -736
899, 7, -756
I'm sure there are others.
Some might prefer that we just use &gotopos to get to Peg's front door. For me, the sensation of exploration and discovery was exquisite and worth the wandering around.
In screenshots with maps, the name of the area does not correspond to the coordinates. Once you leave the actual game world, the name on the map stops updating. Because, of course, you are in the realm of the Unnameable. Or at least the Unnamed.