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Archive for November, 2009

Asheron’s Call Turns 10

29 November 2009 1 comment

I was a bit too lazy to post this to 2BG:

WESTWOOD, MA. – November 2, 2009 – Turbine, Inc. announced today that its award-winning title, Asheron’s Call® (AC) has entered its 10th year of operation. Launched on November 2, 1999, AC immediately set the standard for online immersion, storytelling, and worldwide live event capability. As one of the original Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games (MMORPG), AC is a fully developed world – complete with a deep history, committed community, and compelling ongoing storyline. Turbine will celebrate this major milestone by running live events throughout the day that will bring back some of the most loved (and feared) signature lore characters and villains of its rich 10-year history.

“Asheron’s Call has served as the foundation on which Turbine was built,” said Craig Alexander, Vice President of Product Development of Turbine. “For a decade, AC has represented one of the industry’s most consistent and well-loved franchises further demonstrating the longevity and quality of Turbine’s persistent worlds.”

Launched in 1999, AC is a critically acclaimed massively multiplayer online role-playing game that draws together thousands of players within an evolving and dynamic persistent world. With an exciting ever-evolving storyline, thrilling adventures, quests, and frequent content updates, AC immerses players in an intense role-playing environment. An extensive system of formal Allegiances and player influence greatly enhances social interaction within the game. AC has received several awards over its 10-year history including being ranked #27 of Gamespy’s Top 50 games of all time. For more information, please visit http://ac.turbine.com.

Asheron’s Call was my second MMO. I chose it simply because I was able to play in the beta. I had actually gotten into the fourth EverQuest beta round, but because EQ didn’t like my video card, I wound up with a nice coaster (these were the days when game devs would mail you a copy of their beta because most everyone was still on dialup). My first MMO was Ultima Online, and while I wasn’t looking for a replacement for that game I, like many early MMO players, was curious about this relatively market that was starting to grow.

AC was the smaller of the first three, and another fantasy-based MMORPG, something the market is still overwhelmingly in favor of (designer-wise, at least). It was my first ever real 3D-engine game, I think, on the PC, so I was very easily impressed. Monsters named after Matt Drudge were my favorite, but the most important design aspect ever was in AC:

Asheron’s Call had the fez, the most important piece of headwear ever designed in the entire universe. Fezes were native to the Gharu’ndin, a race in Dereth, and so I immediately and always played one (sup, Tafiq al-Jafar!).

Initially I was drawn to AC’s unique magic system, which included a personal taper. You had to actually learn what components made which spell, which I found fascinating. I spent a lot of money failing at trial and error magic sessions, and I wish more MMOs included this type of design in their games.

An aspect of AC that is still unique, but one that I didn’t take part in was Allegiances. Allegiances were the guilds of AC, and they were very much a pyramid scheme. Vassals swore to patrons, who received a small portion of the XP their vassals earned. To this day I still get a kick out of this design.

One of the things that endeared me to Turbine was their stance towards bugs. There was a nasty bug that they accidentally introduced into the game; I forget what it was or what it did. But the producer came out and said something akin to, you know what, we made this error, and it’s not necessarily fair of us to completely punish players for abusing this error (within reason). That a game developer pretty much admitted to fucking up, which was unique then (and to a certain extent, unique now) was ballsy, and impressive, and I’ve never forgotten that after all these years, even if the details are very much hazy.

Asheron’s Call was never hugely popular. It was third behind EverQuest and Ultima Online back in the day. In fact, the authors of Dungeons and Dreamers simply ignored its existence, electing instead to put Dark Age of Camelot in its place, a game that was released two years after AC hit the market. Turbine wound up splitting from Microsoft, AC‘s original publisher, and failed with Asheron’s Call 2, where I think you could have played drudges as a race. Turbine has done okay over the last ten years, and Asheron’s Call still chugs along despite its age. I did wind up returning a year or two ago, and quit after 6 days… World of Warcraft spoiled me. But I’ll always remember Dereth fondly.

Happy birthday, old friend!

Nancy Drew: Resorting to Danger

29 November 2009 1 comment

It’s absolutely no secret that I love hidden object games. I’ve been addicted to them ever since I was a child spending time in pediatrician waiting rooms oogling ancient copies of Highlights magazine. The Nancy Drew series is one I’m not actually familiar with, so I decided to check it out with Her Interactive’s newest title in the series Nancy Drew Dossier: Resorting to Danger.

Nancy Drew continues her detective work at an exclusive resort for the rich and famous. As Nancy, you snoop around a lot moving your mouse around the screen until sparkles appear. Click, and you’ve found an object of use on that map. Pair sparkle objects together to advance in the game. Finish the occasional bonus puzzle for extra points, such as diffusing a bomb… oh, yes… bombs. Your job is to discover who a mad bomber is, and why they are all very mad. It’s all very dangerous.

The problem with this particular game is that it adds nothing new to the table. As a player, I don’t want to spend any time moving my mouse around the screen looking for things that will trigger a sparkle event. I want to be in a location with a purpose, and use that purpose to move forward in the game. NDD: RtD fails to do that.

I should, however, keep in mind that the target audience for this particular game is younger girls ages 10 and older. The design, therefore, is probably spot on for that market, however, I’d have hoped there would be some sort of challenge.

In other hidden object news, I just learned that the next game in brilliant Mystery Case Files series is about to be released. Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove is the newest in the series, and is currently available as an exclusive collector’s edition to Big Fish club members. Guess who just reactivated her account 😀

Wait… what?

22 November 2009 Leave a comment

Promotion for Champions Online‘s next in-game event. It begins, eventually.

Categories: MMO Tags:

Champions Online has 1 million characters

2 November 2009 Leave a comment

Champions OnlineWorlds In Motion reported recently that Cryptic’s Champions Online has at least 1 million characters under its superhero tool belt:

Online game maker Cryptic Studios said its most recent MMORPG, the Atari-published Champions Online, has garnered over 1 million created superhero characters, but the size of the subscriber base is unclear.

Unclear? Hrm.

I sent this news item to Siam, the owner and managing editor of The MMOGamer. Because I’m bad at math, I asked him to do it for me:

You should do math. How many characters can one account have, then half that, and divide that by one million =P

His response?

Max 8 per account. 1 000 000 / 4 = 250 000

That number does seem a bit high, 250,000. I would half that again, maybe a little more. Then I would multiply it all by the number of players who named their characters after famous comic heroes times .045035893845083405 and divide it by some other arbitrary number that I just made up.

I’m honestly not too surprised to find that there’s a million superheros created in Champions. The character creation/development is so complicated, that I’m sure that, like me, many players are rerolling, trying to find something that will get them passed level 20.

I still am playing the game, for what it’s worth.