In life I am Adam Tingle, a pessimistic ne’er-do-well desolate of real achievement or ambition- oh sure I can do impressive tricks afforded to me by double jointed leg bones but I am surely but a blip on the landscape of human excellence and achievement. There comes a time however, when I sit hunched over the glare of a PC monitor- I transform, I evolve; I am AdamHoTep, wanderer and architect of the desert. In the last handful of days I have labored on a compound of brick, flax and straw, slaughtered countless camels for oil and leather and I have even become and outstanding onion farmer worthy of note. My pursuits of escapism into virtual worlds of fantasy have brought me to real purpose in this land of Old Egypt, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls; I introduce A Tale in the Desert.
Night Boat to Cairo
A Tale in the Desert is an exceptionally unique and innovative MMORPG set In Ancient Egypt which seeks to wash away all notions of Goblin genocide and experience grabbing game play in favor of crafting and community driven activities. Now in its fourth telling, the eGenesis developed game plumbs new depths for the genre and in doing so creates a truly fresh gaming experience. Gone are the quest objectives, equipment grinds and PvP nastiness- just pursuits of resource and socializing. This is a game unlike any of the genre mixing sandbox game play with new and exciting concepts, ATitD is one indie developed MMORPG any self respecting online aficionado shouldn’t miss.
eGenesis launched the game back in 2003 and since it has released various iterations of the game with updates and modifications called tales; recently a new shard (server) was added and adventures through the land of Egypt started afresh. I first played this game back at launch and fell in love with its premise, although now almost a decade later ATitD hasn’t received the attention it so rightfully deserves, this is a game brimming with outstanding creativity and experience- but enough foreplay; let’s get down to the dirty stuff.
Cleopatra Coming At ‘Ya
Being a game of around six or seven years and independently developed you wouldn’t really expect ATitD to be exactly visually stimulating- and you would be right, but while it is not the most charming looking game, it is functional, colorful and visually serves a purpose. The graphics are simply mediocre, they are neither outstandingly awful nor jaw droppingly gorgeous, they are the definition of functional and will this is fine for the most part one can’t help but wish for an Egypt conjured with a degree of artistic flourish.
Everything in the game is a little bland looking and without much imagination, buildings can be customized and created to subjective tastes but most equipment is exactly the same even when its condition worsens, while the game is undoubtedly great, the artistic direction of the game falters somewhat. Every color of the game is a sandy yellow and while desert is the operative word in the title, you can’t help but wish for something a little more visually stimulating.
The upside to the graphical shortcomings however is the fact that it will run on almost any machine with a degree of competence, boredom at work can now be substituted for a covert trip to the land of Ancient Egypt. While unimaginative and bland graphics can be a little off putting, the functionality of the game comes some way to make up for it.
The Good Life
In Egypt you must learn to become totally self-sufficient and reliable. From the bricks you use right through to canvas sheets, everything in ATitD has to be harvested and crafted; need some straw? Pick the grass and make use of a drying rack; need a drying rack? Find a place abundant with trees and start collecting wood. While it may not sound astoundingly entertaining, ATitD manages to make the menial tasks of ancient life fun, addictive and joyful. This is the ultimate game of sandbox, gone are the usual conventions, the only goal here is to survive the desert, cultivate a small settlement of buildings and equipment and finally, pass trials, tests and the will of the Pharaoh.
Micromanagement is at the heart of this MMORPG and if the infinite task of gathering resources and material is not something that appeals, ATitD isn’t for you. However, for those wishing to engage in a truly immersive crafting game - look no further. The core of the game play found within this title is mainly resource collecting; everything made is the product of raw materials found around you, for instance a brick is made from sand, mud and straw. It is really hard to convey what excitement can be mustered in this quest but ATitD is such a refreshing and unique experience that it will have you hooked and craving the old Egypt life for many hours.
The core of the game is to build a small settlement of compounds and equipment in an attempt to further the technology of the region by offering a dowry of resources to universities to unlock a certain subset of skills. This goal is usually achieved with the help of a number of players and the resource needed requires many hands and a lot of time. To further the skill progression on offer, Schools act like universities but are based around individual achievement, a player wishing to learn something has to offer a smaller number of materials to gain a skill. This is basically the core of the game play in terms of progression and for the most part works well, however, if your region is sparsely populated, universities technology is often neglected and you will find yourself searching for more active destinations.
Another facet of progression is in trials and tests which offer levels and further advancement. A player will be offered a trial for a school and then must complete the goals given, for instance the trial of citizenship requires a number of people sign a petition you are holding. This is especially interesting when trials involve learning acrobats from other players, traveling around the land will see you make a beeline for fellow players as you seek to educate and be educated in various tests. When a community really drives the game, it works exceptionally well, however when a region is sparsely populated, this is not always the case.