Thoughts looking back on Asheron's Call

Q: Who are you?
A: I am Mythrandia from Thistledown.
Q: What makes you special?
A: I am probably one of the only people who ever "beat" a mmorpg.
Q: How did you do that?
A: I killed Bael'Zharon.
Q: Who is Bael'Zharon?
A: He is a character from Asheron's Call.
Q: What did he do and why does killing him make you think you won at Asheron's Call?
A: He is the guy who killed Asheron's father. He is a servant of the kemeroi. He was imprisoned in some soul shards, the creation of which resulted in the explosion that caused the Obsedian Plains. Asheron was the sole survivor of the spell that was cast which imprisoned him, due to some Falatcot protection rituals cast on him by Lady Mailia and Adja. He wanted to kill Asheron. I won at Asheron's Call because in November 2000 I was able to organize an event (http://ac.wikkii.net/wiki/Talk:2000/11_-_Shard_of_the_Herald) that reflected the fact that I had gained enough influence and control over my world so that I could create major impacts in the story line by choosing to follow particular courses of action. There is a Obelisk near the Ithaenc cathedral on my server to commemorate the choices that we made. We broke the fourth wall.
Q: I see. Well, what can you tell us about Asheron's Call?
A: Well, I can tell you that no other game has ever been nearly as fun, for me anyways.
Q: Why's that?
A: I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that AC was broken, but in all of the right ways. Magic was wildly overpowered. It's funny, a lot of people didn't seem to realize it. Most of the veterans from beta on my server, like Blackthorn and Vidorian, rolled archers, and didn't even train life magic. It blew my mind that people didn't realize how overpowered lifemagic was until after the release of retail. In beta, which I only played for a few weeks, I had a variety of epiphanies which sprung out of the following inquiry: "How is my character going to regain hp?"

I saw the answer to my question as involving two candidate alternative skills: healing or life magic. The upside of healing was that it was fast, and didn't require mana. The downside was that it required stamina and healkits. Another upside was that it required fewer skill points than life magic, but on the other hand, life magic could do a lot more than just heal oneself. Life magic could cast protects, vulns, drains, conversions, etc. Life magic had the downside that you had to equip a wand and cast a spell, which took time. If you had healing instead of life magic, you could leave your weapon and shield equipped while you healed yourself. I deliberated about this for awhile, but after realizing the awesome potential of protections and vulnerabilities I realized that I was going to have to specialize life magic. Then I realized that since magic was going to be my primary form of offense, I was going to have to do 100 focus/self. Then I realized that each other skill of magic was indispensable as well. Without item magic, you couldn't portal. Without war magic, you would always be limited to draining/harming/meleeing things, and I played a character like that later in the game on Winter's Ebb and I can tell you it's pretty lame compared to having the option of blasting stuff away with warmagic. War Magic was expensive, but a mage couldn't live without it in PvM. It was pretty good in PvP too if you could make it land. A mage with warmagic would have a strong advantage over one without. And creature was a no-brainer, you could increase your skills by thousands of exp just by casting a spell if you trained that skill.

So anyways, you can sort of see how attempting to optimize the efficacy of my character left me with a limited range of choices for the distribution of my skillset at the outset of the game. I think I understood _how_ AC was broken by the end of beta, and I figured it out pretty fast. I knew what I wanted my character to be able to do ultimately. I wanted to be able to raise my mana conversion skill high enough so that I would be able to gain mana by casting revitalize self and stamina to mana. If I could achieve a net-positive increase in my mana level by chaincasting these spells at some point, then I could generate infinite mana, and I would be able to cast an unlimited amount of buffs on myself. In this way I would be able to cast protections against every single type of damage, and I would be able to venture alone into the dangerous high-level content which was previously inaccesible to me, such as the depths of the direlands, and the olthoi dungeons.

I eventually did achieve this goal, and I really enjoyed my contact with other like-minded members of the community who achieved similar goals. I'd meet people like Obsyan, Rantire Ulfinsdatter, Crusher, and others in Black Death Catacombs. We were all private people, and I was very preoccupied running around as fast as I could to avoid being ripped to death by olthoi pincers--because I was exploring this dungeon before my character had matured and I could chaincast unlimited level 6 protection spells--so we'd often see each other run by a few times before saying anything to each other. Whereas Rantire had melee defense and healing, and might be fighting off a slew of olthoi face to face with her friend Colbie, I'd be running through the maze with a train of olthoi following me, finding a ledge and jumping to it, and my ability to stay alive would depend on accurately landing that jump. Then after I landed it, olthoi would fall down into a pit, and I'd snipe them. Then I'd jump into the pit, loot them all, and portal back to the entrance of the dungeon, and repeat the process until I was so burdened with loot that I'd portal back to town and sell it all to the blacksmith, and restock on components.

This routine became more complicated when I turned player killer, because I couldn't just walk around carrying a 300% burden of treaure, since I'd walk very slow and be at a disadvantage in PvP combat. I couldn't chase anybody down. If they killed me, they'd get all the stuff I just looted from the dungeon. So I had to find private places to hide out. Finding these private places, and stockpiling a cache of secret locations was probably one of the most fun things about Asheron's Call.

The first few good treasure chests I found I told my vassals about, and they told everyone. Pretty soon the next time I went to visit those treasure chests, there were lines of people waiting and they were all taking turns. I remember at one lugian citadel I came in and timed the respawn of the chest and opened it before anyone else when the spawn came. I found some leggings and looted them and portalled out, gave them to a vassal or something. Oh my god. People were so mad at me. I must have lost 999 popularity points. Nothing is more disappointing than getting to the bottom of a dungeon and finding a line of people camping waiting to get loot.

One of the main reasons Asheron's Call was fun for me was because I was able to completely ignore the loot system, and focus on exploration and character development.

I had a pretty weird mentality about it. Not many players were like me. People would come to crater caves early on and see the zillions of corpses I left which I didn't bother to pick up. I was interested in exp. I came there to make exp. I didn't care if I lost some blue gemstones on my corpse when I died. I could eliminate my vitae by killing one monster. So when I came back to the dungeon, I'd kill a monster, eliminate my vitae, then venture down an unfamiliar path, aggro a mob, run around in circles trying to get away from it until I trained another mob on myself, and the problem would get more complex until I died or learned a path through the dungeon that allowed me to safely navigate to whichever strategic safe points there were.

I say my mentality was weird because many of my followers were much much more death averse than I was. Even the mages who had nothing to lose. People didn't like to watch their character die. But I didn't mind, at all. I was accustomed to leaving corpses all over the place since day one, where I was actually deliberately sacrificing myself to lugians in order to refill my supply of mana.

Asheron's Call was also fun because of the jump skill. If you got ungodly amounts of free exp by running a monarchy on top of powerlevelling, like I did, you could afford to raise luxury skills like jump and coordination. You could raise your jump so high that you could jump on the roof of the Mayoi blacksmith. At a certain point in the game, nobody else had high enough jump skill to do that. So if you wanted to get everyone's attention for a minute, you could jump up on the blacksmith and drop a few valuable items off the rooftop and give a little speech. This is where I sometimes held court, was atop the Mayoi Blacksmith's rooftop. Like when the Frore dungeon rolled out, I had a portal tie to it, and so did my buddy Amon Ra, who had lockpick. So I was able to go back and forth between the dungeon and to tell people about the new content that they couldn't experience. I was telling people that there were these gelidites who have this crystal which has magical properties, and that it is an energy source, and that they study the art of geomancy, and I was dropping a bunch of frost hammers and blue heaumes that were the quest items that you get from the dungeon off the rooftop. I developed a reputation as somebody who knew things about the world that nobody else knew. People would ask me to take them places, and initially I used to do lots of quests, like I'd take people to get their green mire curiasses and swords of lost light. But I eventually got bored of guiding people through the same quests over and over, so I started delegating the tasks to other members of my monarchy, and ended up trying to automatically program all the things that I wanted to happen in the world by finding competent henchmen in my allegiance and delegating tasks to them.

After a certain point, I became so obsessed with identifying competent people and putting them into positions of power that it literally consumed all of my extra attention ingame. I was looking for proteges to put in charge of my monarchy after I quit the game, but I was also looking to stage PvP events in the world, and I wanted a core group of individuals who I could cooperate with and who could create plot lines with me and roleplay/stay in character. I wasn't able to find enough roleplayers, but I did find good gamers who wanted to join my exploration crews. After we explored the whole world, we spent countless hours searching for a portal to the "halls of xandu," which afaik didn't exist.

Q. Is it true that when Aerlinthe Island rolled out, that players from all around the world funded your expeditions by supplying you with packs of D notes so that you could afford to pay the summoner to go to the island and repeatedly die while exploring it?
A. Yes.

Q. Is it true that you subsequently invited the entire server to launch an attack on the Behemoth of Tenkarrandun, and that you led a charge down the beach in which hundreds of people assaulted the Behemoth?
A. Yes. It was one of the most fun events in the history of gaming.

Q. Is it true that you used portal tie exploits to stage the "Shard of the Herald" defense?
A. Yes.

Okay so, for everyone's information, there was a guy on Frostfell named Nerf Golem. He was a super gamer, and knew how to do things like disconnect his camera from his avatar so as to explore anywhere in the world by having an out of body experience. He also knew how to tap into variables that AC stored in memory so as to predict all kinds of things. When I learned that he had a character named a sorceror that he was macroing in Aerfalle Keep, I kept on asking around about how he managed to refill its components. I eventually learned that if you created a new character, and you didn't walk that character through any purple portals, then you would always summon a portal to your last logoff spot. So through this method Nerf Golem had obtained portal mules which summoned into Aerfalle Keep.
As an aside, I myself had my own tie to somewhere near Aerfalle Keep--the relic bones town where the watchman spawns. This is because when we first performed the quest on Thistledown, after we found the Behemoth of Tenkarradun, Richter and I and whoever else was there (I think it might've been just us, because I remember we were navigating through phyntos wasps to avoid aggroing them in order to reach the Behemoth) decided that we would invite the whole server to attack the Behemoth with us. After the Behemoth was dispatched by Legacy/Seal, and subsequently the hellfire was killed, the Watchman was capable of spawning, but it was still a mystery to everyone on the server that the next step in the quest was causing the watchman to summon a portal. I had heard a rumor that we had to kill relic bones near the undead town, so I was doing that and the watchman summoned a portal, so I linked to it. Weirdly enough, the portal led to the spot where the Watchman spawned, and not to Aerfalle Keep. I immediately went into the chat room and explained this to Jesse (devilmouse), who said that it would have to wait until the next server reset to be fixed.
Why is this relevant to the shard of the herald? Well, because as Stormwaltz pointed out in his AC: 4 years and counting part 2 article, we could never have defended the shard of the herald on Thistledown if it weren't for the portal tie exploit I learned from Nerf Golem. What I did is I created a pledge, which you can still see on the internet archive wayback engine (http://web.archive.org/web/20020119171819/http://www.yourcult.com/chosen/news.htm), which contained the following language:
I swear, upon all that is sacred to me. Upon all holiness, upon my utmost honor, that my intentions are pure.
I come to defend the crystal.
I will not allow Bael'Zharon to be freed.
I will not allow the Hopeslayer to torment our lives.
I will not allow the Shard of the Herald to be broken.
I am a guardian.
This is my choice.
I choose hope. I choose light. I will not bow to the darkness.
My word is my honor; My honor is my life.
My word is spoken and can never be taken back.
My life for this crystal.
My kingdom for this shard.
The hopeslayer will not be freed. Not on my shift.
...I made people copy/paste this from my website onto a parchment which they inscribed and handed to my portal mule in a secluded spot, then I allowed them to portal tie to the mule's portal, which I had anchored to the bottom of the dungeon next to the purple portal leading into the room with Harry, as they called him.
There were problems that arose. Some factions wanted to kill the crystal, and there was a great deal of behind-the-scenes lobbying that went into persuading certain inhabitants of Baishi from npk killing the crystal using their own portal tie exploits. We spent a great deal of time stalling them from getting portal mules at the bottom of the dungeon. There were some critical battles when there were only two of us, Legacy and I, to stop waves of attackers who were portalling in. We were able to make quick work of them though, as we had mapped the dungeon, and Legacy was a super melee and I was the most powerful mage on the server. We would imperil them as they came in and lead them through traps in the dungeon, leaving them debuffed, pull switches that set them back from making progress through the dungeon...there were lots of tactical opportunities in the dungeon and after we had held off waves of scores of attackers and they relented, we realized we needed to setup an around the clock vigil, hence the website I mentioned previously and the ritual involving the parchment.
One time, I was the lone defender early on in the vigil, and the attackers came at 3am and caught me while I was buffing and made quick work of me. I did not have a portal tie into the dungeon, since I had kept my old tie to the outside of Aerfalle Keep. So I logged in Mikey, which was the Thistledown character used by the original person who played the character Blood in the Blood monarchy, I think. He was from the mercs, his name was Mikey. I don't remember exactly how I went from making friends with the mercs to making friends with the keepers of chaos; I didn't really understand darktide politics, but I remember that a guy named Shane, who owned the characters Extra Crispy and Tai Lo Quan on Darktide, let me login his melee guy Yukon Jack, and I gave him a tour of Aerfalle Keep and showed him the macro spots. I also showed Khao the macro spots in the Aerlinthe Foundary, where he macroed. This resulted in the proliferation of khao mages on Darktide and macro chains, prior to the time when the portal tie bug was fixed. Anyways, I logged in Mikey's staff character, which did have a portal tie to the dungeon with the shard, and I was barely able to kill enough of the attackers, with the help of harry, so that the remainder couldn't do enough damage to kill Harry. They were pretty weak. There were other dire moments like the one that Stormwaltz mentioned where Amid was part of the action.
The developers kind of got the list of people who defended the shard wrong. If we had cooperated with each other, I could have given them a list of the players whose names should have gone on the Obelisk by giving them the copies of the parchments that were signed by the people who were allowed to have portals to the region. Communication kind of broke down between myself and the members of the dev team because of personal issues that were going on in my life at the time. In addition to setting up the shard defense in November 2000, I had to deal with my little sister swallowing a bottle of pills and going to the emergency room. In fact it's all a bit blurry to me, but I think the developers might have attacked while I was at her side in the hospital. I don't know because after she did that I sort of lost interest in Asheron's Call. I am kind of an empath, and I passed her room and noticed something was wrong, but didn't attend to it because I was preoccupied with the video game. After realizing that I ignored information material to my family's interests, I remember I was explaining to jesse that nothing that happens in Asheron's Call is important to me anymore, and he asked me why, and I told him that what had happened with my sister, and I think he may have thought that I was making all that up because I was upset about their decision to intervene. That kind of hurt, and communication broke down, and I stopped playing for awhile. I only came back briefly to kill Bael'Zharon and wrap things up with my allegiance.
Because our communication broke down, I never mentioned to the devs that we had parchments with the names of the real defenders of the shard. Many names were omitted, and some peoples names were added who were attackers, and so on.
Oh yeah, the dark masters. I anticipated that the developers would try to use the dark masters as a plot device to free Bael'Zharon. Therefore, I recruited both dark masters as one of my primary goals towards the beginning of setting up the defense. Blackthorn was an old friend, from the pk wars when we fought over crater caves. It was a pity that mages could have no fear of death, but archers couldn't, because after he died a bunch of times in the bottom part of the Aerlinthe resivoir, he stopped exploring with me. He lost his 112% +9% yumi or something, and couldn't make it back to pick it up, along with his leggings, etc. I remember haunting his corpse and figuring out a path to it and trying to cajole him into coming, but he wouldn't. But anyways, he didn't mind laying low and refusing to assist the developers with their scheme to unleash Bael'Zharon.
Vidorian, on the other hand, was more devious. She also agreed to preserve the crystal, and therefore was granted portal access, but later claimed that the promise she swore was sworn by her mage, Vid, but not her archer, Vidorian. I did not make the distinction between Vid/Vidorian as she did. I wasn't there when the developers came, but my lieutenant Black Jack was. I believe he was sworn allegiance to Sinz, who was sworn to Cattz, who was sworn to Richter, who was sworn to me. But I think that after he jumped on Jesse's corpse and became a celebrity he broke off and started his own monarchy for awhile, I don't know, I wasn't keeping track at the time, the event with my sister kind of floored me, and I stopped paying attention to AC.
Anyways I've seen Black Jack's story on the forums; I can't post on the forums because I don't have an AC account anymore, but anyways he captures some of the moments, it's kind of a cool memory we all share.

Good god man! I think you may have posted on the wrong forums! :D

why do you think it's the wrong forums that I posted on?

Great read man. It sounds like AC was a fantastic game in some respects, though I'm not sure how I would have handled a game that allowed people to exploit the hell out of it like the future-telling, out-of-body guy. Still, bravo it seems like you lived a full life within AC.

I would say the same kinds of things about my career in WoW, and I did manage a bit more than what seems to have been the average WoW player, but polish and quality meant that it was not really possible to be a great character on your server (unless you opened the Ahn'Qiraj gate, or perhaps got Grand Mashall, of which I did neither, but I lived a full life in WoW, of that I'm confident)

I like people who can write a post like this; though I don't know what it's implications are on how those people live their life - talents misplaced, perhaps? Anyways it was a good read.

Mythrandia:
why do you think it's the wrong forums that I posted on?

For starters, heap big wall of tezt makes me keen on not reading.

Mythrandia:
why do you think it's the wrong forums that I posted on?

Because you wrote a very long and unprompted post about a game which was released well over a decade ago and which no one was discussing at all. And this post arrives with no content for initiating discussion or purpose aside from some self aggrandizing over your time spent with this game. The only context in which this would make sense is in a "share your stories about Asheron's Call" thread, and even that's a stretch. Thus, maybe you posted in the wrong place.

Launcelot111:

Mythrandia:
why do you think it's the wrong forums that I posted on?

Because you wrote a very long and unprompted post about a game which was released well over a decade ago and which no one was discussing at all. And this post arrives with no content for initiating discussion or purpose aside from some self aggrandizing over your time spent with this game. The only context in which this would make sense is in a "share your stories about Asheron's Call" thread, and even that's a stretch. Thus, maybe you posted in the wrong place.

You guys are trolling, if someone wants to share their passion for a title they should be allowed to do it. Don't resent it, if you haven't got anything nice to say don't say anything at all. He deserves props, or at least respectful abstention from insulting remarks!

Further remarks: TL;DR is not a legitimate argument against someone's content. If you guys read his post you might see that it's pretty well written, not too hard to follow and really quite interesting!

I played a little bit of AC so I might put this on my to read list later on (as it is a very long post). Huge post and I appreciate you sharing! I do agree with the guy above me as well. If he wants to share his love of a game with a long and detailed post I don't see a problem. If it doesn't interest you just move on.

denseWorm:

Launcelot111:

Mythrandia:
why do you think it's the wrong forums that I posted on?

Because you wrote a very long and unprompted post about a game which was released well over a decade ago and which no one was discussing at all. And this post arrives with no content for initiating discussion or purpose aside from some self aggrandizing over your time spent with this game. The only context in which this would make sense is in a "share your stories about Asheron's Call" thread, and even that's a stretch. Thus, maybe you posted in the wrong place.

You guys are trolling, if someone wants to share their passion for a title they should be allowed to do it. Don't resent it, if you haven't got anything nice to say don't say anything at all. He deserves props, or at least respectful abstention from insulting remarks!

Further remarks: TL;DR is not a legitimate argument against someone's content. If you guys read his post you might see that it's pretty well written, not too hard to follow and really quite interesting!

I read the whole damn thing, but I've never played Asheron's Call (and only have a passing understanding of what it is), so no, this was very hard to follow. How was he the only person to kill Baal'Zebul? Is Baal'Zebul an enemy or a player or an NPC or what? And half of this was some random analysis of game mechanics. If he was the only person to ever beat a MMORPG (whatever that means), then he should focus on that story rather than some guy who's good at messing with the game camera.

It's great to like things, but I equate this topic to opening a discussion on a behind the scenes look at the Minnesota Timberwolves' 1999 season and expecting everyone to know about Wally Szczerbiak's personal life. It's not timely and it's practically impenetrable to the uninitated

Launcelot111:

I read the whole damn thing, but I've never played Asheron's Call (and only have a passing understanding of what it is), so no, this was very hard to follow. How was he the only person to kill Baal'Zebul? Is Baal'Zebul an enemy or a player or an NPC or what? And half of this was some random analysis of game mechanics. If he was the only person to ever beat a MMORPG (whatever that means), then he should focus on that story rather than some guy who's good at messing with the game camera.

I haven't played Asheron's Call either but anyone who has ever considered the cans and cannots, the woulds and maybes of any MMO would be intrigued by the idea that someone could 'beat' an MMO. I have no idea baal'zebul is either but apparently he's an ultimate character, the death of whom being a remarkable feat!

Talking about game mechanics? He's talking about how he basically lead a server in a few endeavors, it's hardly tough to understand his portal exploit and subsequent exploitation of his portal!

No more needs to be said, you guys can't diss this guy out for writing a wall of text, his content was interesting and you're just trolling by standing in front of the masses and sneering out: "uhm, you're not welcome on this forum, i only read interesting, concise stuffs"

denseWorm:

Launcelot111:

I read the whole damn thing, but I've never played Asheron's Call (and only have a passing understanding of what it is), so no, this was very hard to follow. How was he the only person to kill Baal'Zebul? Is Baal'Zebul an enemy or a player or an NPC or what? And half of this was some random analysis of game mechanics. If he was the only person to ever beat a MMORPG (whatever that means), then he should focus on that story rather than some guy who's good at messing with the game camera.

I haven't played Asheron's Call either but anyone who has ever considered the cans and cannots, the woulds and maybes of any MMO would be intrigued by the idea that someone could 'beat' an MMO. I have no idea baal'zebul is either but apparently he's an ultimate character, the death of whom being a remarkable feat!

Talking about game mechanics? He's talking about how he basically lead a server in a few endeavors, it's hardly tough to understand his portal exploit and subsequent exploitation of his portal!

No more needs to be said, you guys can't diss this guy out for writing a wall of text, his content was interesting and you're just trolling by standing in front of the masses and sneering out: "uhm, you're not welcome on this forum, i only read interesting, concise stuffs"

You know, fair enough. Enthuastic people are good to have around, and it's nice that you enjoyed the story. I'm interested by the claim of beating an MMO too, but I have no idea what shape that goal took here or how it was accomplished. This entire post is completely impenetrable to me, and it leaves kind of a bad taste in my mouth, but again, fair enough. I'm not obligated to post, and discretion isn't a bad thing. I'll sully your topic no more. Have a nice day

Launcelot111:

Mythrandia:
why do you think it's the wrong forums that I posted on?

Because you wrote a very long and unprompted post about a game which was released well over a decade ago and which no one was discussing at all. And this post arrives with no content for initiating discussion or purpose aside from some self aggrandizing over your time spent with this game. The only context in which this would make sense is in a "share your stories about Asheron's Call" thread, and even that's a stretch. Thus, maybe you posted in the wrong place.

No I knew that I was posting in a gaming discussion forum. I think Asheron's Call is germane to the topic of games. I was also introducing myself. I could just as easily have titled the post "hi! I play games" but I didn't want to discuss the other games I like, such as xcom: ufo defense, monkey island, wolfstein 3d, duke nukem 3d, one must fall, hitch hiker's guide to the galaxy, bureaucracy, colossal cave adventure, subspace/continuum, the seventh guest, the eleventh hour, master of orion, master of magic, civilization, and all those other old school games that I used to play all the time back when I was a kid and I had time to play games.

Growing up totally sucks. There is no way you would ever have enough time in your life to do the kind of things you did when you were a kid. Games will never be the same ever again, either. The MMORPG Genre is pretty well established, I imagine there have been a bunch of them. My brother-in-law was a guild leader in that final fantasy game that I played for a few weeks. I've seen some videos of WoW. I can tell you that there was a consensus among the power gamers like myself, massive from solclaim, allerion from frostfell, extra crispy/tai lo quan and khao from darktide, mikey from darktide, nerf golem from frostfell, kynn from frostfell, and whoever else was hanging out with us on IRC...we pretty much boiled it down to a few things, why Asheron's Call was so much fun, among other things, it was because of real physics. This is something that Asheron's Call had in common with Subspace: Continuum, which was a good game, that it didn't have in common with Dark Age of Camelot, which was only an okay game. In Dark Age of Camelot you felt like a cartoon character. In Anarchy Online, which was a pretty bad game, there were a couple of cool features that avatars had that didn't exist in Asheron's Call. For example, you could be an explorer class, or an adventurer class, I forget which it was (I was an agent, so I could turn into any class), and using this explorer class you could transform into various animals. Having an avatar that could turn into animals was pretty awesome. So was having an avatar that could go into a "grid" that was like Arwic's subway (which I never used really, because there were other less crowded, more efficient alternatives), which was available to fixers (and also to agents, therefore). But I'd have to say that it gave me more satisfaction over time, to be able to exist in a better real physics atmosphere of Asheron's Call, where I could be constantly manipulating my character into various defiance-of-physics contortions using built-in magical commands like *wow I forget how to make my character cross its legs and hover in the air, but I remember how to strafe left and right while doing it*, or *atoyot*, which makes a character jump up into the air and "freeze" in a way that defies gravity...these gestures and emotes made my day every day, and I would use them all the time to express how my character was feeling. People from all around the world actually understood how I felt, to some limited degree, based upon the symbology of the sequences of gestures I'd make with my character. You know how some people twitch their leg? Well you can translate a twitching leg into causing your character to kneel and bow and lay down on the ground while sliding in a semi-circle around somebody who is purchasing lockpicks from a vendor in town. Then you might throw fireballs and lightning bolts at an arbitrary target and open portals in various patterns, circles, in front of the blacksmith. Then you might drop some multicolored gems on the ground, and brandish a sword of lost light, then invite people to follow you through the portals where you will lead them to get a sword of lost light or something. Basically, what you are doing is dissapating or channeling nervous energy towards an expressive drive in a world where you have a finite set of tools for conveying the referential intentions of your fantasy character. I always kind of thought that if I ever got to generate content for a MMORPG, I'd want to work in a game that had a real physics engine, with avatars that had joints and appendages, and we'd work on the pre-programmed sets of gestures that the avatars would be capable of making.

In Asheron's Call, there were pre-programmed sets of gestures that were caused by certain magical components. For example, when someone said "Zojak Quaxyzzy," they'd put their wand out in front of them, lift it upwards, or sort of twirl it, while pulling it back towards them. Towards the end of the spell, they'd squirt out a stream of acid, or a bolt of lightning, or a series of shockwaves--whatever, depending upon which potion they'd used. These sequences of gestures were types of macros for the motor intent neurons of our avatars. They functioned much in the same way that the human pre-motor cortex functions, grouping sequences of motor unit actions and uniting them into reflexes that can be triggered with a semantic referent, which can be indicated, for example, by pressing a number on a keypad, which maps to the semantic referent.

I think something that is interesting about this is that, my understanding is that the human memory is designed to learn procedural tasks while sleeping. Stuff like moving your wand around is procedural. When you attach a semantic component to a procedural task, like for example by mixing Zojak Qualoi with a set of gestures that are linked to Acid Stream VI which is linked to a button on your keypad, you are basically encoding information into a person's consciousness and dreams. I think that this system can be exploited to do functional things like, teach people organic chemistry equations. Like if the developers of Asheron's Call had wanted to secure for themselves a niche in Academia which would have generated them a consistent stream of revenue, they could have just kept the magical component research system at similar difficulty, but encoded in patterns for various molecules, and required players to form certain molecules, or to combine certain molecules with other molecules in certain combinations, in order to "cast a spell," so that you could force somebody to memorize the kreb cycle in order to be able to cast Imperil Other VI, and you could also force them to memorize the mnemonic for the kreb cycle by encoding its elements into spell words and having those spell words broadcast every time that the spell is recited by anyone.

I am surprised that nobody ever thought of that.

It's kind of funny, because people did think of that, and most of these ideas that I talk about aren't even my own ideas. You have to understand that people got very bored (and very desperate) while powerlevelling away on their quest to become "the greatest player on the server." There must have been at least 999 people logged in at any given moment who had that aspiration. Personally, it didn't occur to me how dumb it was to have that aspiration until way way way later, when I wasn't succeeding at doing it, and when I lived in worlds that were already populated, and even later at times in my life when I didn't want to devote my life to playing MMORPGs anymore because of all the transient friendships associated with people getting real lives, I wanted to get a real life, right?

People told me their ideas. Lots of ideas. That's what I did with my time, see, when I was not powerlevelling. I was drawing people out. Often stroking their egos and getting them to talk about themselves. And I never revealed any personal information, ever. Are you kidding me? There was a guy in my house who I perceived to be a mean and violent man who had inappropriate intentions towards my 13 year old sister who my mother was bonded to and in denial about, and I was the eldest of 5. And this man had made it clear, through violent demonstration, which my otherwise single mother was in denial about, anyways it's really not very important, what was important though is that Asheron's Call was a great escape.

It was exactly the type of place where an adolescent teenager full of angst, bitterness and hatred towards the world could confine himself, where he could vent all of his rage at the world, without ever really harming anyone. In fact I thought that I could make a business out of selling wares on ebay in this world, and at times I did. I came into the world with the explicit intention of supporting myself by being a full time professional gamer. Of course, I ended up sort of falling in love with the game play, and allowing other people to profit off of the knowledge that I accumulated (read http://forums.ac.turbine.com/showthread.php?t=39365&highlight=mythrandia, which states "somehow, every major era on Darktide has its roots in the influence of extremely well connected carebear players secretly switching servers; the first supremely effective macro chain organized by Tai Lo Quan/Extra Crispy was overseen by Mythrandia from Leafcull (sic), and had that one person not come to DT things may have been very very different here." I say (sic) in the above quote because I was from thistledown, not leafcull.

I remember that guy, Black Rose Noble. This guy who Shane (Tai Lo Quan/Extra Crispy) had hired to twink my archer so that I could lead him around Aerlinthe Isle or something was named Zhiji Wong. Shane kept pestering me to hit him up on the phone, hit him up on teamspeak or something. I was totally against it. I didn't want anyone to hear my voice. There was an ongoing controversy related to whether I was a girl or a guy. Huge controversy. I had never breathed a word about my identity. That was the whole idea of my character was that nobody had any idea who I was. I could be anybody. Sure, there were plenty of people who had their speculations, and affirmed their speculations with false evidence, but the truth is, I was more of a corporate force than anything else. I had read Machiavelli's "the Prince" shortly before entering the world, and I saw Edmond Dantes, the Count of Monte Cristo, as the primary role model for my Mythrandia character, who I determined should be a virtuoso at everything important. I suppose there was a little bit of Tolkien's Gandalf character's transfiguration that went into selecting the name, but honestly when I picked out the name I was just looking at this red-headed alluvian female that I had picked out, and I was trying to figure out what the appropriate name for her was. She was created for beta world purple. Anyways, I remember that Black Rose Noble and his crew attacked Zhiji Wong and I. Zhiji Wong had some 6th sense program that allowed him to sense things from a far distance. People tried to get me to use these programs, but I liked to rely upon whatever the gameplay mechanics the developers had built into the game and did not like to rely on 3rd party applications for anything. When I play games I try to cheat as little as possible, for example, when I beat the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in 24 hours, I cheated 3 times. I remember I had to cheat to figure out how to get rid of the guns on Damogram. And I think I had to cheat to figure out that giving a sandwich to the dog was vital to your future survival. And I don't remember exactly what was the third time I had to cheat. I also remember I cheated my way through the whole game of bureaucracy and as a result didn't find it nearly as memorable or fun.

So anyways, I'm not saying that Zhiji Wong was cheating, I'm just saying that when Black Rose Noble attacked us, Zhiji vuln'ed them, and the character I was getting twinked with took him out. I got a real kick out of holding down the territory, and I realized that the level of competitiveness among players on darktide--I realized that darktide had a lot of very skilled players. Players who understood player versus player combat much much better than people did on my server. I had a sort of unique understanding of PvP that very few people had on my server, because not only did I find out about fight nights that were being hosted on other servers, create avatars on those servers and attend for the purpose of observing and copying, but I also hosted numerous PvP events on my server, many of which involved splitting the competent PvPs on the server into factions and assigning strategic goals to each faction. I also read Kynn's guides about PvP and anyways I did a lot of player killing because I'd piss off hoardes of people and make them all stalk and hunt me, and I'd fight them...But anyways on Darktide they knew way way more about PvP. It's funny that Black Rose Noble remembers me and puts me into his story because I really didn't have a lot of encounters with hostile player killers while on darktide. I was pretty much operating in areas of the world that people didn't know about. They were so lore-illiterate on darktide that nobody had ever completed the Aerlinthe quest. Which is funny because on thistledown, that's what I did all day long, all by myself, is run the Aerlinthe quest.

I did this because there was nothing else to do. Literally. One of my strategic goals in the game was to maximize my personal fame and notoriety. I had originally set out to have a "good" reputation, but my impetus to do that drained swiftly when I realized that I was going to be accused of all the things that my followers did. I remember how Fafhrd used to spend so much time managing his "good" monarchy. My monarchy had people like Masticore/Burke, who would open up portals to vats of acid and tell low level people who were wearing shiny armor about how there were treasures on the other side. People would identify me as his monarch, and send me tells bemoaning how he had caused them to lose this and that piece of armor. The first two or three times that a thing like this happened, I made it a point to investigate and to try to "set things right" by everyone, which ultimately turned out to be an inefficient use of my time. My consort Amon Ra and I had a disquisition about this, and he told me that he prefers to be in an "elite" monarchy as opposed to a "huge" monarchy. After awhile we agree that our monarchy will be a huge monarchy, but that within the monarchy there will be a task force of explorers who will constitute a cabal with clandestine intentions towards the world. He and I actually defined a vision for our monarchy, which was, we were going to secretly wield influence over the world and basically we were going to unilaterally control all of the territory in the world, in terms of limiting people's access to information, to content, we were going to provide the gateways through which the content was going to be experienced. We were going to maintain a core of people who were going to discover and unravel every mystery in the game, and then we were going to share this information from generation to generation among a core of trusted members of our crew.

The culmination of these aspirations evolved into the Shard of the Herald Event.

But anyways on Darktide, there were similar cabals, like within the Blood Monarchy there was a Keepers of Chaos Cabal, and within this cabal there was Shane, who had a group of loyal friends.

I don't think that I have ever experienced such close ties or loyalty, both from and towards other people, outside the context of roleplaying relationships. I had some particularly close bonds with some Eastern Europeans. I'm pretty much out of touch with all of my old followers, except Richter, who I'm friends on Facebook with, and Blackthorn, who wasn't my follower but whose real name I knew so I'm friends with him too, but anyways...if you're my old follower, hit me up on here and if I remember you I might give you my facebook identity.

This loyal group of shane's friends did indeed create the first efficient macro chain on darktide. Simultaneously, my friend Khao started macroing in the Aerlinthe Foundary. All of this was arranged on the irc.sorcery.net server in various channels so far as Khao's crew goes, and I think there was an irc.sunmafia.com channel where the mercs hung out, and I forget where the keepers of chaos hung out, but whatever, I guided Shane through Aerlinthe, and he made a pact with Khao to refrain from interfering with Khao's macros if Khao refrained from interfering with his macros, so they both macro'ed peacefully, and Shane eventually was making a $300,000+/year income off of selling characters on ebay, and Khao and his crew had some of the first mages with super templates. I told them to specialize life magic and Magic Defense, I don't know how many of them did that, but anyways there are certain kinds of templates that are not viable until level 85+ or so, such as the spec life/magic D template, in terms of PvP functionality. There was no real way for these types of characters to be levelled on Darktide, but for the existence of private unknown locations like Aerlinthe where macroing could occur.

Privacy was a huge thing in these games.

I lost my potential friendship with Nerf Golem by orchestrating the Shard of the Herald event. He was mad because I caused a bug to be fixed which was very convenient for macroers to exploit: See Allerion's Interview with me...

[19:44] <Myth> They didn't really design the dungeon to allow us roleplayers to do what we did

[19:44] <Myth> we had to use portal exploits to actually setup a workable defense of the dungeon

[19:44] <Myth> the summon-to-logoff bug

[19:45] <Myth> It would've been nice if they had designed the dungeon in such a manner so that it could be defended

[19:45] [Allerion] yes, and accidentally caused that bug to be fixed by bringing attention to what could be done with it. :)

http://www.angelfire.com/sc/demonserv/Mithrandia.html

I don't think Nerf said a word to me the whole time that we were hanging out on Winter's Ebb, because of how my open disclosure of his secret had adversely affected his character and plans.

Look I gotta go, but I didn't post this accidentally. I wanted to talk about a game in a gaming discussion section of a board. So what if it's an old school game. Some old school games totally rock.

Bye~~!

Launcelot111:

denseWorm:

Launcelot111:

Because you wrote a very long and unprompted post about a game which was released well over a decade ago and which no one was discussing at all. And this post arrives with no content for initiating discussion or purpose aside from some self aggrandizing over your time spent with this game. The only context in which this would make sense is in a "share your stories about Asheron's Call" thread, and even that's a stretch. Thus, maybe you posted in the wrong place.

You guys are trolling, if someone wants to share their passion for a title they should be allowed to do it. Don't resent it, if you haven't got anything nice to say don't say anything at all. He deserves props, or at least respectful abstention from insulting remarks!

Further remarks: TL;DR is not a legitimate argument against someone's content. If you guys read his post you might see that it's pretty well written, not too hard to follow and really quite interesting!

I read the whole damn thing, but I've never played Asheron's Call (and only have a passing understanding of what it is), so no, this was very hard to follow. How was he the only person to kill Baal'Zebul? Is Baal'Zebul an enemy or a player or an NPC or what? And half of this was some random analysis of game mechanics. If he was the only person to ever beat a MMORPG (whatever that means), then he should focus on that story rather than some guy who's good at messing with the game camera.

It's great to like things, but I equate this topic to opening a discussion on a behind the scenes look at the Minnesota Timberwolves' 1999 season and expecting everyone to know about Wally Szczerbiak's personal life. It's not timely and it's practically impenetrable to the uninitated

Actually I don't expect everyone to know what went down with Bael'Zharon and I. I'm working on a screenplay that I'm never going to release to anybody, just something I've been doing to amuse myself, like doodling at work. There is a flashback in the screenplay that tells the origin of Bael'Zharon, which I will paste below. You can also read about it on a wiki.

CUT TO FLASHBACK
EXT - DARALET - DAY
There is a council of three robed figures (SHADRACK, MESHACK, and ABENDIGO), who sit at a table laden with grapes, bananas, breads, and water. They are eating and conversing, but as Ilserivan approaches, they become quiet and attend to him.
ILSERVIAN
I have come before this council to beseech your mercy on behalf of my son Avoren, and those similarly situated. As we speak, my son is being quarantined along with a variety of other innocents, and they are given water, but they are not being fed food. I have this on reliable authority, and am prepared to call witnesses-
SHADRACK
This is not an evidentiary hearing. This is a plea. You are not entitled to call witnesses.
ILSERVIAN
If called, these witnesses would show that the Yalain have three granaries within a day's reach, and while there is a purported shortage of grain, it is not necessary to starve children

MESHACK
You Dericost have brought this upon yourselves.
ABENDIGO
Away with you.
Ilservian clenches his fists in rage. His eyes widen. As the guard approaches him, he pulls out a wand and begins to gesture.
ILSERVIAN
Helkas Quasith, Helkas Quaguz, Cruath Quasith
As Ilservian speaks Cruath Quasith, ABENDIGO rises, whips out his own wand, and speaks
ABENDIGO
Experiamus.
Ilservian's wand goes flying from his hands, and he falls back, stunned. He clutches a dagger from his pocket, and runs for ABENDIGO, screaming
ILSERVIAN
I will avenge Avoren!
Moments before Ilservian reaches ABENDIGO, guards grasp him by looping their arms under his shoulders, restraining him, knocking the dagger out of his hand, pulling him back, and dragging him out of the room. The camera focuses on the twisted dagger laying on the floor, as Ilservian keeps screaming.
ILSERVIAN
Vengance! Blood will spill like rivers, like oceans. You will all die.
ABENDIGO (whispering, to a guard)
Bind him, blindfold him, take him outside town and leave him in the desert.
CUT TO EXT - DUNES - DAY
Ilservian has a burlap sack over his head, and struggles against the bindings on his wrists and the leather shackles on his feet. He manages to unravel the bindings on his wrists, pulls the sack off his head and ties it around his hair like a turban, then he finds a sharp rock and begins cutting away at the shackles, until he is approached by a black shadow in a robe, Kemeroi

...anyways that's the end of the flashback in the screenplay.

Here's the thing. I don't think it's out of line to talk about the Shard of the Herald event that occurred in 2000. It's gone down as one of the top ten moments in gaming history: http://lorehound.com/news/top-memorable-events-in-mmorpg-history/

And second of all, it's also gone down as one of the top seven most dick moves in gaming history:

http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-7-most-elaborate-dick-moves-in-online-gaming-history_p2/

What's more is that it's never been talked about by insiders like myself before.

And what's even more interesting is that Chris L'etoile hangs out on these forums.

So, let's see where this thread goes :)

Edit: Okay, to answer your questions -
How was he the only person to kill Baal'Zebul? Bael'Zharon was released when the Shard of the Herald was destroyed by Vidorian in November 2000. Only one person was able to kill Bael'Zharon, which sent out a message to the entire server that Mythrandia had slain Bael'Zharon. It was typical for my name to be broadcast whenever I killed Lady Aerfalle, but when I killed Bael'Zharon, I must have received over 5,000 messages.

Is Baal'Zebul an enemy or a player or an NPC or what? Bael'Zharon was a single instance mob, which was the dark transfiguration of Ilservian Palacost, who had, along with his other Shadow Generals such as Omadin, Black Ferah, Elithra, and Isin Dule, killed Lord Atlan and pushed the Yalain empire back. He was the reason the Council of Five cast the spell that created the Obsedian Plains.

And half of this was some random analysis of game mechanics. Yes, because there were things about Asheron's Call which made it fun, and instead of preserving these traits in new games, many of them have been overlooked and discarded. Even the original developers of Asheron's Call became embarrased about some of the best parts of their game, and destroyed them through the process of nerfing, whilst simultaneously obliviously implementing content that would forever change the community in the server by mandating the advent of macro chains as a path to ascendancy.

I have found an interesting article on Player Killing in Asheron's Call for those of you who are interested in the gameplay dynamics: http://www.stanford.edu/group/htgg/cgi-bin/drupal/sites/default/files2/vzhulin_2003_1.pdf

http://www.warcry.com/news/view/13628-Asherons-Call-4-Years-of-AC-and-Counting-Part-2-L-etoile-Part-2 - here is a description of the event that I'm talking about, written by Chris L'etoile:

Let me explain that a bit. At this time, MS was still wary of live ops, and rightly so. In UO, they had rarely gone off without controversy. There were charges of developer favoritism in choosing who experienced them, anger when anyone was killed by a GM god-character, no matter how justified it was, and jealousy that a small group of people got a chance to experience certain content. In our case there was also plain old technical / stability risks from using untried technology. For these reasons, they had nixed all previous suggestions that small Live Ops could be done in the course of an event. I thought that with proper limits on scope and rules of engagement, Live Ops could be done safely and with major bang for buck rewards.
[p]
In short, I went into the Shard Event hoping that the players would give me the opportunity to prove to MS that we could handle Live Ops. I believe that at this point, the Bael'Zharon wanderings of the following month were already in planning. I don't actually remember, but we should have been brainstorming at least by that point. So it's likely that the idea of having BZ run around as a GM was already in the air.
[p]
On every server the Shard was broken. All save Thistledown, the "white dot" world best known for roleplayers. There a coalition of the most famous monarchs of the server organized a 24/7 watch on the Shard that included players ranging from hardcore PvPers looking for a challenge to lore aficionados wanting to make a stand against the darkness they'd been reading about. I was ecstatic. I spent an inordinate amount of time logged in as a cloaked admin, watching the defenders stand guard and chat with each other. I took down the names of everyone I saw, and asked Veritus Venatus and Keth al Sheth (then a CoD mod) to help by doing the same.
[p]
I even watched one major assault get beaten to hell when a small group of experienced PvP'ers (including monarchs Mythrandia and Amid) successfully held the portal-in location against twice their number. Being a cloaked admin allowed me a unique perspective on this. When I heard the defenders talking about an assault party massing in another dungeon, I could immediately teleport there and confirm it. Once the attackers organized and left, I was able to bounce back between attackers and defenders by teleporting to characters in each group.
[p]
Unfortunately, I can't pretend that everything that happened that month was a sterling example of players seizing initiative. The truth is that both the defenders and later the attackers made constant use of portal tie exploits. At this time, there was a serious bug in the game related to summoned portals. A summoned portal could be tied to, and this would allow the player tied to it to teleport where the portal had been summoned. It has been argued that the Shard dungeon would not have been defensible if not for this exploit. I don't know if that's true. I believe that determined players are more ingenious than any pack of devs, and a way would have been found. But as it was, portal exploits were rampant among the members of what I took to calling the Shard Vigil.
[p]
Once the attackers had made it to the bottom of the first dungeon and attained a tie there, one of the defenders pleaded with me to do something to stop them from using it. I had to say that no matter how much I was rooting for his side, we couldn't fix the bug in the next few days, and if we took disciplinary action against the attackers, we'd also have to do so against the defenders.
[p]
After maybe a week of standoff (I'm really fuzzy on the time scale with this, and I'm sorry about that), I made my pitch. I suggested using a GM op to bring in a couple of players to break the crystal. I whipped up a two-page spec in a couple of hours, and it was forwarded to Matt Ford to see what he thought. Matt called. I presented the idea from the perspective of, "We all knew the story would to go forward no matter what, but these players are doing something really special. We can at least reward them by making the inevitable come true in a cool way rather than when the server patches next month." He approved, though everyone knew we were heading into dangerous waters and would have to be absolutely meticulous.
[p]
For the Op, I wanted to utilize another piece of tech that had not yet been used - @morph. @morph is an extremely high level admin command that replaces the model and statistics of the user with those of a specific creature type. It cannot be used casually, as the result is very dangerous to use. Remember that monsters do not have the same data available to them that player avatars do. For example, why would a banderling need to lie down? Why would a Virindi need the *bow* emote? Why would a Shreth use armor slots? Why would a Reedshark need to wield a sword? These data hooks were simply not available to monsters, and trying to use them with a morphed character would cause serious breakage. If, for example, a morphed GM accidentally tried to pick up loot (say he inadvertently double-clicked an object on the ground due to lag), he would have crashed the server. Jesse and Dave Namerow, two of our most experienced players and admins, were picked to run the GM characters. Jesse would be Black Ferah, Dave would be Ler Rhan, both of them @morphed into Shadows.
[p]
Fortunately enough, Thistledown was also the only server on which players had successfully completed the Shadow Gauntlet, the island that later became the Singularity Caul. It seemed appropriate to get the two of them to do the work for us. Having an admin break the Shard seemed like really bad form, and one of my rules of engagement was that Jesse and Dave could not kill the Shard themselves. Dave tried to get in contact with the two of them. Blackthorn, the poor fellow, was having computer problems that week, and couldn't get online. Vidorian, on the other hand, was available and willing to help. At the night of the Op, Jesse and Dave created characters, logged in, and began editing their stats on the top of a floating advocate spire on the future Caul Island. They created chests of loot and took weapons from them to use, which they stat-edited and I named for them. Then they pulled in Vidorian and buffed him. This careful preparation actually took quite a while - probably over an hour.
[p]
The plan was for Jesse to go in first and jostle the defenders, giving Dave and Vidorian a window to go after the Shard itself. The defenders were surprised to see a named Umbris show up and start chatting, but responded quickly. No sooner had Jesse said, "You cannot kill me, fools," than Blackjack, the group's current leader, one-shotted him. There was a moment of stunned surprise before we all burst out laughing. As Blackjack jumped up and down on Jesse's corpse, he investigated the problem. It seems he'd buffed his stats a bit too much, and had overloaded the... um, stack, or buffer, or whatever. I'm not a programmer. Regardless, his stats had gone so high that the system was treating them as if they were 1, like when you flip the score in the old Atari Asteroids. He only looked like he had thousands of health points - he had one. After some quick readjustments, Jesse teleported back in and uttered a line I suggested; "That old fool's little stones are quite handy, are they not?" And then he schooled them.
[p]
Jesse kept the human guards busy by spawning monsters. The rules of engagement avoided direct player versus dev combat by focusing on critter spawns. There were multiple event generators in the dungeon, waiting to be activated when the Shard was killed. Jesse simply kicked a few of them on early, each creating one Black Breath and two Bane Grievvers. At least if players were fighting monsters, they would feel they were on familiar ground, not like they were fighting an admin. Blackjack's group quickly retreated to the top of the giant Falatacot head that dominated the foyer opposite the Shard room proper, where they sniped the monsters and engaged in an amusing flurry of lore-tinted shit talk with Jesse. That saw me running back and forth between my desk and his to suggest appropriate responses.
[p]
Meanwhile, Vidorian could not kill the damn Shard. While the defenders had been idling for days, they had also been powerleveling the Shard, sacrificing themselves to leverage AC mobs' ability to gain and spend experience by killing players. There had been players in the dungeon constantly, keeping it in memory so the Shard stats didn't get reset upon reload. The result was that "Harry," the defenders' pet name for the crystal, was unassailable. His defense skills were through the roof. First Dave tried buffing Vidorian. The crystal killed him. Then he gave him a stat-edited uberweapon. The crystal killed him. Then they actually started editing the Shard's stats - they kept resetting its health to one, but Vidorian couldn't hit it, and it regenerated absurdly fast. The crystal killed him. Again and again and again. It was one of those situations where you see-saw between hysterical laughter and screaming in frustration.
[p]
After a very long time, Vidorian actually managed to kill the Shard. He gave them back the admin items and everyone got the hell out. It did not go nearly as cleanly as I'd hoped, but it was successful.
[p]
We got a fair number of complaints from players who felt that the illusion of control had been cruelly snatched away. Maybe my memory is being selective due to my elation at the time, but I only remember a handful. To these people I tried to explain that the defenders had not failed; they had succeeded. As a result of their actions, they got something special, something no other server saw. I don't know. I can see their point. Maybe I should have just made it a conventional event in the first place, not given anyone any illusions. If I had my druthers and the tech, I would have let TD prevent the release and go its own way, but I had neither. I truly thought everyone understood that the story would continue one way or the other - we didn't have server divergence, and it was clear where the event was going. I've since heard it compared to Trinsic, a similar betrayal of player expectations in UO, when a highly organized player defense held off GM spawned mobs until the developers finally took the servers down and destroyed the town "offscreen."
[p]
That's the bulk of the story, the rest is details. Another concern in the initial design of the event was making Bael'Zharon, once released from the Shard, an indestructible mob who insta-killed anyone who tried to attack him. That, we made clear, was entirely opt-in. If players left BZ alone, they would "only" have to fight the Grievvers and Black Breath. The opt-in philosophy was also used the following month, when BZ wandered the map under GM control (usually Jesse, DaveJ, or Dave Namerow). The GM-played BZ was not allowed to attack anyone unless they attacked him first. Similarly, he could not buff anyone unless they actively tried to help him. Those who chose to watch and not get involved only had to worry about becoming collateral damage.
[p]
Still, people tried to assault the stationary BZ, resulting in dungeons that, on some worlds, were literally carpeted with corpses. No kidding; you could not see the floor due to overlapping bodies. Just going into the dungeon caused massive lag, and it was the only time I ever saw bare white polygons because my texture memory was full.
[p]
Finally, there came the issue of how to memorialize Thistledown's achievement. Obviously material rewards for the players were out of the question - we didn't have a full list of the participants, it wouldn't be fair. I thought an in game memorial would be perfect, but I thought it should only be on TD. Now everyone knows AC doesn't have server divergence - all content is the same on all worlds. But I thought of a way to circumvent that. The monument could be a weenie object like a monster or weapon. That would allow it to be spawned by a generator. Specifically, an activated event generator. All the servers would have the TD Monument generator on them, but the event that turns it on would only ever tripped on TD. This was not unanimously considered a swell idea. The term "slippery slope" was used, and the hard core performance monitors begrudged having one "useless" event being tracked on all servers. In the long term, the method was not abused, and the perf hit seems to have been minor. At least compared to items like player housing and, oh, the Subway. ^_^

Holy crap I actually remember you on the TD server.

I think the most note-worthy thing I'd done was get together with a few people placing hundreds of torches at the bottom of the hub and getting Turbine to fix the exploit through crappy detestable means. The very next patch, torches had a very short timer on them. :p

It's a great read. It really sounds like an awful lot of work and dedication - and most of all, epic fun. MMORPGs really offer a different kind of experience from other games, since they are all about community. Becoming a MMO-celebrity is a dream which almost every gamer once shared, I guess^^

Cridhe:
Holy crap I actually remember you on the TD server.

I think the most note-worthy thing I'd done was get together with a few people placing hundreds of torches at the bottom of the hub and getting Turbine to fix the exploit through crappy detestable means. The very next patch, torches had a very short timer on them. :p

Heh that sounds pretty cool.

What was your handle on Thistledown?

 

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