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Vicarious Existence

To blog about what is going on in the MMO genre from a casual MMO player's viewpoint.

Author: UnSub

The Twelve Trials of UnSub: Asheron's Call: Throne of Destiny

Posted by UnSub Tuesday July 22 2008 at 1:25AM
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I tried.

I really tried.

I really, really tried to get into Asheron's Call. Casting my mind back to when MMOs were new to me and having dial-up internet access at home and viable, I remember looking at Everquest (EQ) and Asheron's Call (AC) and thinking how great it would be to play them. I was never really that interested in EQ, but AC appeared to have a much more interesting set of ideas behind it. The Allegiance system. A more skill-orientated, less class-based system. Anyone could cast magic spells. And so on.

However, it was never viable to play a US-based online game via dial-up from Australia and, frankly, I didn't have the money (which conversion rates would have seen me have to pay about double the US price per month in $AUS anyway). So I never picked up AC. AC2 was a possibility... but we all remember what happened to that MMO. Given I was interested in it, trialling AC seemed like a fantastic idea to possibly pick up what I missed out on.

Unfortunately, it seems that there ain't no going back. As I said, I tried to enjoy AC. But the distance of time and experience is too great. While I can get over the graphics, the repetitive auto-attack combat left me bored and watching the screen for extended periods. Not having any idea of where to go for the quests I found was a problem (I love you, mission markers!) while entering shared dungeons saw other players sweep all opponents while I trundled along behind. Combat was such that it was either a cakewalk or I died.

So I'm not completely negative, I really enjoyed the item drops I got, especially the equipment. Finishing the tutorial and arriving in Dereth to find a chest full of magic armour was a nice touch, especially when the spells activated. Also, getting weapons that were on fire / dripped acid etc to reflect their magical ability also added a lot to the game. If I squinted, I could really see the potential of AC. but then I'd look again properly and realise I had no idea where to go or what to do. The server I was on (Verdantine) was also pretty empty, apart from silent characters who wizzed past me with the determination of someone who has done it before. 

I unsubscribed from the trial after a week. AC was just too dated - or I was too familiar with modern MMO design, take your pick - for me to want to continue. Also, I found it incredibly cheeky that Turbine is still charging $12.95 for this title and that if I hadn't actively unsubscribed, the trial would have flipped me into full-payment mode automatically. For a game as old as AC, that really isn't acceptable. AC still gets respect from me for the continued updates, but I see $13 a month as too high for a seven-year-old title - something in the range of $5 to $10 a month would seem much more appropriate.

Anyway, I tried.

alakram writes:

It usually happens the same to me when trying good old mmorpgs. Such a pity.

Tue Jul 22 2008 5:41AM Report
Giddian writes:

AC Rocked. if it was a Free game, I would play it. I won't pay money to go back to a Game 7 years old.

If they got rid of the fee. I would play it alot.

Tue Jul 22 2008 9:21AM Report
Kyleran writes:

Well, in many ways, you can never go back.  When I first started playing single player RPG's like Might and Magic, or Bards Tale (circa mid-1980's) these game had no animated graphics (usually a static picture would pop up of your mob), and not only didn't come with any sort of in-game map, but expected the player to use graph paper and a pencil to map the world out to navigate it.

Now, I had a great time with all those games, but I could never go back to drawing out 40 x 40 grids full of random teleport traps and what not and while I truely enjoyed those games back then, I'm positive I'd never want to play them today.

I'm too used to the modern conveniences offered by todays mmo's, (sort of like cell phones and flush toilets in rl) and while I too contemplated giving AC a trial, I'm pretty sure my experience would be parallel to yours.

Tue Jul 22 2008 9:25AM Report
JB47394 writes:

I also revisited Asheron's Call recently when I was fooling with all the free trials of old games.  The worlds are invariably empty of players, which is the fundamental problem.  New games hype themselves, get a wave of players and then try to surf that wave.  If the wave breaks, the game is likely doomed because the only reason the game was interesting was because of the players in it.  Hype is the gaming industry technique for jump-starting games.

It will be a sunny day for gamers when a game company discovers a recipe for a game that lets players interact with each other in ways that they want to, doing things that they want to.  Heck, this web site has cloned a recipe of just letting people express their opinions about gaming.  If this was an MMO, forums would be arranged in series, and we'd have to grind something before being able to post to each successive level forum, raid to get different fonts, travel for 10 minutes to get from forum to forum, and probably have to get a dozen friends together to build a blog.

But anyway, Asheron's Call lost its wave and that's the end for it because it doesn't have systems and structures to bring players together.  One of its biggest claims to fame was a vast seamless world.  A good point of hype, but not much use when trying to get players to interact.

Tue Jul 22 2008 10:01AM Report
seahawk1a writes:

But for the dated graphics, I still contend that AC is the best MMO ever made and was WAY ahead of its time in 1999.   I played AC for 6 years straight without cancelling my account.  I finally unsubcribed when wow was released.   I played wow for about 9 months before I finally tired of the simplistic nature of it and went back to AC.  Since then, I have tried others and currently am out of AC and playing Conan.   Not sure that Conan will hold me for long.

THe lure for me towards AC is the quest system.  I love the riddles, teamwork and puzzle solving required to complete many of the quests.  The Olthoi Queen quest is still the best quest chain I have ever done.  Someday, someone will replicate AC's quest system and get away from repeated Fedex quests.



Tue Jul 22 2008 10:43AM Report
grimfall writes:

I haven't heard about the quest system Seahawk mentions.  Anyone know somewhere that explains it in more detail?

There's a fine line between making quests too easy (cough cough WoW) and making them so complicated that people get frustrated and refer to Allakhazam to figure them out.  I don't know if I've played a game that has struck that balance.  I tried out AC when it launched, and it had some things that I liked , but compared to EQ it was just too unstable and ugly to hold my interest.

When it comes to Western made fantasy MMO's, it's pretty much EQs. LOTRO, WoW, AoC or Vanguard. If you try to play anything else, you're going to run into population problems.

Tue Jul 22 2008 3:59PM Report
xxxfistxxx writes:

@ Kyleran

I am playing MM1.exe, "Might and Magic Book One" more than Warhammer. It uses 9k system resources. After remembering I needed to buy food and cast protections on my guys, I hate to say it... its still a good game. music, primative but right on.

Dark gritty dungeon crawl. I actually tracked down the guy in charge of might and magic... you would never guess what I found.

John Van Caneghem Co-Founder of Trion currently working on an MMORPG with Sci-fi Channel, after perusing there site and reading some articles... Expect big things, never seen before.

Thu Nov 06 2008 11:31PM Report
SuperCackle writes:

You tried, only thing I can see is that you loved it, but never gave it a chance. Your whining on the fact is cost $13? Not that the game stunk or was not fun... Only that is It's $13, the price of one night of cheap entertainment at a movie theatre.. You pay $30+ a month for your DSL line that you use 5000 times less in b/w

$13 a month to enjoy a incredible world, full of exiting creatures and quests that actually were engaging, with an actual reward system, not some cookie cutter crap... with live monthly events for 10 years and you complain about $13

Yeah, you tried alright.. you get what you pay for.. You pay the $13, maybe you enjoy it.... Instead of crying about $13 measly dollars... 

AOC Rocks, 10 years ago created a system that no game even today can compare too... BTW, Quest markers... the gayest stuff ever invented... Exploration, knowledge of bestiary.. Actual possible monetary or item loss if you died,  with reward to get it back, or pushing your luck.. Monsters that scared the jivvers out of you but you enjoyed slashing for hours...

Auto attack? oh pushing the same button combo on a skill system is just so much more fun.. i really change 6 attacks in many different formats... I just wish guitar hero would fit in at the same time

How about knowing your monsters, fire arrows to kill lich lords to the head, not press debuff, hit sword, super attack, rest... hit sword... heal pot, same mob, different mob, any mob.. same thing..

Tree golem? No blunt arrows needed here, perhaps fire will do the trick? Lugians, try some lightning damage, see how fast those giant ogres drop... How about a gold scarab and some quicksilver what will that do for you.. oh knowledge of a game.. rather than.. hi you ran over here, here is a sword to get to the next level easier.. thanks for paying $15.99 ughm we have bright pretty colors on this armor set that is on everyone you see... worth much more for the $2/m

You are cheap and pretty rude to come here and post this crap yapping about $13/m Its a 10 year old game for a reason.. Its the best MMO ever created and has withstood the test of time.. go enjoy it before its too late fool

Fri Dec 05 2008 3:02AM Report
SuperCackle writes:

sorry im back again, Mr "its 10 years old, you are rude to charge $13"  I didnt know the age of game determined teh cost to run it.. It should be $14.99 you nitwit, you should be happy its $13.. Some people i swear really rock my boat.. Get Fragged!



Fri Dec 05 2008 3:08AM Report writes:
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