"The Sunflower Society" (Ghost in the Shell)
A reference to the 2001 anime Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, "The Sunflower Society" is a YouTube channel dedicated to the preservation of the final hours of the short-lived online multiplayer game Ghost in the Shell: First Assault, based on the anime of the same name.
Introduced in late 2014, First Assault spent most of its days in alpha and beta testing, only enjoying a full release six months before its worldwide closure in December 2017. Despite mixed reviews, the game was enjoyed by a small but dedicated community, of which I was a part from the first closed alpha test.
Aside from its significance as part of the Ghost in the Shell franchise, First Assault served as a notable reminder of the impermanence of games as a service. With no LAN functionality ever implemented, the closure of official servers rendered the game completely inaccessible even for users to revisit familiar maps locally.
In order to preserve the gameplay experience and the hard work of its developers, I recorded multiple matches and some of the game's customization mechanics along with a journalistic retrospective of First Assault itself and the series' potential future.
Note: Also see Open Ghost, a community effort to reproduce First Assault in Unreal Engine 4.