Category Archives: Misc MMOs

DC Universe Online comes to the Switch

Alternate headline: Daybreak ports 8 year old game to Nintendo platform

It is always nice to see some proof of life from Daybreak now and then, and here we have something of a big item with the team in San Diego supporting another platform.

And so, today, DC Universe Online is available on the Nintendo Switch.

I even made a special graphic just for this

So why do I care?  My own relationship with the game was brief at best and, as the alternate headline above (which was the first headline I considered), I am not above a bit of cynicism when it comes to Daybreak.

Also, I don’t own a Switch.  That too would seem to limit my interest.

As I said, proof of life and expanding the business seems to be a good sign these days with Daybreak.

To start with, given that Daybreak probably has fewer people on its overall payroll than Blizzard has just working on World of Warcraft, porting a long running MMORPG to a new platform is fairly impressive.

Granted, the game was designed up front with consoles in mind, as the control scheme clearly demonstrates. (A minor factor in my decision to stop playing the game shortly after its launch.)  That means that there was groundwork laid to help support new consoles in a way that some of their older games lack. (No console controller save one with a full keyboard could support EverQuest.)  Still, supporting the game across Windows, PlayStation 4, XBox One, and now the Switch is a decent feat.

It is apparently more than EA can manage for most of its titles..

But further, the move to the Switch also sounds like something of a success story, that Daybreak is doing something right.  You do have to assume that the company isn’t simply throwing good money after bad (see Turbine and Infinite Crisis, also a DC Comics based title), but the fact that DCUO was the top revenue free to play game on the combined PS3/PS4 platforms about five years back gives one hope that the game remains viable.  While I have heard via back channels that DCUO remains profitable, it is nice to see something that looks like a confirmation that it remains a viable product.

Of course, this also helps feed the rumor mill about a possible break up of Daybreak.  When word of this first started to spread, I assumed that DCUO would necessarily be lumped in with the other non-EverQuest games largely due to it being on consoles.  Why would a the Norrath team want that in their house?

But now, with Golden Age Studios also on the list of trademarks and Twitter accounts, as well as DCUO expanding on its own to a new platform, perhaps it will be going its own way, leaving behind both the Norrath and the PlanetSide teams.

Or maybe none of that will come to pass.  We will have to wait and see.

Free Final Fantasy XIV Maybe

I continue to maintain that few things in life are actually free, and this is no exception.

IF you are an Amazon Prime member and you have a Twitch account and you have linked your Twitch account to your Amazon account then, right now through May 4, you can get a free copy of the Final Fantasy XIV Starter Edition through Twitch.

Free for a while

It took me a bit to figure out where to claim this.  I saw it mentioned on Twitter and we know that Amazon and Twitch have a couple of methods for handing out free stuff.

As I have mentioned in the past, there is the Twitch Prime page where you can claim games to download via the Twitch client.  It is available there, but due to the way the page is sorted, it is down at the bottom of the list as opposed to up with the free games.

You can also find it via the main Twitch site in a browser.  It is in the Prime Loot menu, the little up at the top of the page.

Prime Loot

You cannot find it in the Twitch Client.  At least I could not find it in the Twitch Client.  It seems like the integration with the client is less than complete.

Claiming your copy seems simple enough.  You click a button to get a code for the game, the follow the link provided to the download page.

Having never played FFXIV, and feeling that was perhaps a bit of an omission on my part, I decided to grab a copy.  I wasn’t burning to play it RIGHT NOW, but could foresee a time in the spring or summer, before WoW Classic looms into view, where I might have the time and inclination to give it a try.  So I downloaded the installer to at least get it setup.

Unfortunately, that is about where my journey ceased.  When I run the installer I get the option to select my region and language:

That’s me!

And then I hit “accept” and the dialog goes away for a flash, only to return and ask me again… and again… and again… and off into the distance so far as my patience will sustain me.

I did the usual thing, ran it as Administrator, but that didn’t help.

The install page, which seemed a little behind the times, suggested that I run it in Windows Vista SP2 compatibility mode… let me remind you that Windows Vista came out in 2006, or a good seven years before FFXIV… but I gave that a shot.  I tried the various Windows 7 modes.  I turned off the virus protection.  I Googled around for some other options, but found mostly variations on the what I had been trying, none of them successful.

I did run across one thread that said if you were running on Windows 10, as I am, that you needed to install DirectX 9 manually first.  That seemed an unlikely solution, since DX9 was from the Windows XP era and we were now getting into things more than a decade before the game launched.

Thinking that there must be an updated installer somewhere, I went poking around for that as well.  I had no luck on the Square Enix site, where downloads were behind a $19.99 barrier.  Likewise, I figured there must be an installer that worked over on Steam.  But that too had a $19.99 tariff in the way.

So I set it aside.  Like I said, I wasn’t in a hurry to play it right away.  I copied the code off for later use.  I’ll poke around a bit more later.  But the option is there.  You can get a free copy, if you have met all the criteria and can get the installer to run.

The Lesson of Club Penguin Island

If you assume your customers are loyal to your product and choose to test this you may be disappointed.

Back in the early 2000s the cable company sent me a letter.

When we moved into our house it had the old dual-coax A/B cable connection that had been installed back in the 70s.  It was a bit annoying, but HD wasn’t a thing for TVs yet so it didn’t really matter.  The TV worked, I had our ReplayTV DVR running with it just fine, I didn’t really think about it much.

The letter said that they would no longer be supporting the old network and we needed to call them in order to arrange new service.

Now I had to think about our TV service.  So I went out and compared deals and ended up calling DirecTV to get their package that included the receiver with Tivo integrated. (Based upon the recommendation of a friend who worked at ReplayTV no less.)

When I had that set I called up the cable company to cancel my service.  The agent wanted to know why I was cancelling and I explained that their letter said I couldn’t keep my current service so I went shopping for a replacement.  The agent said that I actually had almost five years until my current service would be discontinued, something not mentioned in the letter.  I told the agent that it was too late, I already had the new service installed.  And that was that.

Most people are happy enough with what they have in a lot of areas of their life.  But if you make them focus on a particular area, especially if you threaten to take away their happy situation, they may decide that there are better options out there.

And so it went with Club Pengiun Island.

Penguins go mobile

Back in March of last year Disney closed down the long-running web MMO Club Penguin, a game that had over 200 million registered users over the course of its twelve years online.  It was past its prime for sure, and was looking a little long in the tooth, but it had an audience that was still committed to it and could have carried on for years based on the groundwork that had been laid.

But for Disney, MMOs and web games were apparently yesterday’s news.  Mobile games were the new frontier.  And so they developed Club Penguin Island, a mobile game using the Club Penguin IP.

And, to be sure that it was a success, Disney closed Club Penguin the day before Club Penguin Island launched.

This actually worked out worse than I predicted.  I thought Disney had enough muscled to force Club Penguin Island to be a success.  I was wrong.

Of course the Club Penguin players were angry and in no mood to favor Disney with their presence.  Plus, the new game was on a different platform, so if you were playing on the PC you were probably more likely to just move to another PC game.

Reports said the game wasn’t ready for prime time.  Club Penguin Island had server issues and a host of bugs to address over time.  Meanwhile, even those fans of the old game who were willing to come over found Club Penguin Island unable to compare to the original.  An MMO that has been able to grow for a dozen years has more content than you can reproduce on a new platform in a short time.

Things were off to a rocky enough start that by the eight month mark Disney had a beta out for a PC version of the game, no doubt in hope of finding some of the users they lost when they skipped platforms.

Basically Disney betrayed their installed base, switched platforms, and offered an inferior experience, but thought it would all work out just fine.

It did not and yesterday the company officially announced that Club Penguin Island would be shutting down.  Text of the announcement quoted for posterity:

To our Club Penguin Fans and Family:

There’s no easy way to say this but after 13 incredible years, Club Penguin will be sunsetting at the end of this year. We’ll be providing players with all the necessary information in the coming weeks via in-game messages and updates here on Island News.

Thanks to you, Club Penguin has been more than a game; it’s been a global community where you have gathered to socialize and express yourselves. In a time when games come and go within months, it was one of the longest-running kids’ games of all time and at its height, had over 200 million accounts. Players from countries around the world showed their commitment to the game by adopting 25 million Puffles and creating over 200,000 videos.

When we replaced the original Club Penguin game a year and a half ago, we always strived to make Club Penguin Island the best mobile successor to the original game. From day one of development, Club Penguin Island has been a true passion project for everyone here at Disney but, the time has come for the party to end.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your continued dedication to the Club Penguin and Club Penguin Island games and for being a member of our family. We are so grateful to have shared in this journey with you. We’re excited to bring you more new experiences around all of Disney’s beloved characters and stories across all platforms.

Please look out for more information soon and as always, waddle on.

– Club Penguin Team

I find that message to be somewhat disingenuous as for a lot of Club Penguin fans, the actual game was shut down back in March of 2017 and the stats they are quoting are heavily weighted towards it.

Still, I am sure that the fans of Club Penguin Island will be disappointed all the same.  And those working on the game found themselves facing unemployment as well.

The actual shut down date hasn’t been announced, but I imagine Club Penguin Island won’t be around to ring in the new year.

Coverage:

Decentraland and the Fusion of Trends

I had to get in the car for a short drive last night, so I flipped on the radio to listen to along the way.  It was set to our local PBS station, KQED, and since it was between 9 and 10pm, the BBC News Service feed was playing.

I wasn’t really listening to what was being said until I was out of the driveway and headed down the street.  Then some very familiar words started flowing through my brain in charming English accents with precise BBC pronunciation.  It was something about a virtual world and selling virtual plots of land and maybe businesses setting up shop and people visiting friends and having a virtual cup of tea and all the nonsense that was being passed around about virtual worlds more than a decade back.

My first thought was that they were playing an old track, some sort of “Remember when this was a thing?” segment featuring Second Life and how people were buying into that.  I mean Reuters and CNN had “offices” there and people who got rich on speculation were making it to the covers of magazines.

But the whole thing sounded more recent.  They were talking about the funding by selling plots in the Genesis content section of this world.  We’ve certainly seen virtual real estate sold before.  Then there was mention of the in game currency, called MANA, which you had to buy in order to get any of the plots.  But we’ve been down that path before.

And then the surprising-yet-unsurprising twist hit, MANA was a cryptocurrency and used blockchain technology and I said aloud, “Nailed it!”

But it isn’t just the currency that uses blockchain, it is the whole world and all your virtual land deeds and whatever.  I was back in the driveway before I was the story was through… honestly, I was only driving out to get a PokeStop because it was day seven of my streak and I wanted the big payout… so I sat in the driveway until they finally said the name of the place.  Just to hit on the block chain theme in a big way it is called Decentraland.

Buzz words sell things

So I went back in the house and started looking the whole thing up.

It doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry yet, which I am sad to say is my current method of assessing notability.  If you aren’t there yet how can you make any claim to fame?  But it does have its own web site and blog with an introduction to things and a FAQ.

Naturally, because it is 2018 and this is how things are, even though the developers are selling plots of land via their cryptocurrency, you cannot log in and visit your purchase yet, so add crowdfunding to the list of trends it is riding on.

Not that there isn’t a lot going on with Decentraland.  Browsing through their site and reading articles about non-fungible tokens and what not indicates that much thought is going into the technology being used.  However, technology isn’t a product and I didn’t see a thing that made me think that they had anything beyond the most basic ideas as to what people would eventually do with the place.

That is likely my native skepticism kicking in I am sure.  As I said, I’ve heard a lot of their pitch before, and the fact that blockchain technology is part of the equation doesn’t sell me.  But we shall see.  I mostly wanted to write this to mark the point in time so I would come back and visit it again in a year and in five years and so on to see what develops.

Are you interested in some blockchain secured virtual real estate?

The Unchecked Optimism of Not Knowing Better

I want to say up front that I am not writing this post to be mean.  But, given that I am going to explore something with so many things wrong with it, I am sure that is the way it will come across.  Such is life.  I suppose I could just not make the post, but I just cannot let this pass, it being an object lesson on so many fronts.

l speak, of course, of The Flower of Knighthood Kickstarter campaign.

The Flowers of Knighthood for Algernon

I’ve been down the list of things wrong with past Kickstarter campaigns.  I was critical of The Fountain War, Hero’s Song, and The World of Warcraft Diary Kickstarter campaigns, calling them all problematic early on, because they all seemed to fail on fronts that seemed obvious to even an outside observer like myself.

But The Flower of Knighthood seems on track to outdo them all.

Let’s start with the asking amount.  As I have said in the past, the amount you ask for needs to reflect reality.  People with industry fame like Lord British and Mark Jacobs, they were good for $2 million.  Brad McQuaid, certainly famous in MMORPG circles, didn’t have enough pull for $800K, but came close to $500K.   Eric Heimberg, who could at least point to some successful MMORPGs he had worked on, had to take three runs at Kickstarter campaigns for Project: Gorgon before getting the mix of publicity and goals correct. to bring in nearly $75K.

Basically, a little bit of research can give you some baseline expectations when it comes to funding.  Those aren’t hard and fast numbers.  You too could possibly bring in a million dollars on a campaign without being Lord British, but you would have to do something else to bring attention to your efforts.  You could get media outlets interested in your project, have some sort of event, or maybe buy ads on Facebook.  I hear those can swing national elections.

What you shouldn’t do is just forge ahead with an ask you think you need but have no reason to expect you’ll make.  So there is The Flower of Knighthood looking for $600K.  No real publicity in advance… I mean, I pay attention to things better than most and I only heard about the campaign when Massively OP posted about it earlier this week.

Before that there was just a post about their project, but no mention of funding, no attempt to get people ready to buy in, just launch the Kickstarter without preamble and hope for the best.

This campaign is not going to make its $600K goal.

My rule of thumb, based on observations of successful campaigns, is that if you cannot secure 20% of your funding in the first 24 hours you are not going to make your goal.

The first 24 hours is when your installed base, the true fans of your plan, will show up and support you.

The Flower of Knighthood brought in just $351 in the first two days of its campaign, a dismal 0.006% of their goal, and I rounded up a bit to make that number look better.  If you follow the campaign over at Kicktraq it will give you the scale of how far they are off from their goal.  The campaign needs to bring in $20,000 a day to hit its goal.

$351 is such a ridiculously tiny amount that it brings into question how serious this team really is about their project.  Seriously, the base level of effort I would expect, the low end support they should be looking for is from their friends and family.  Surely they went out and at least told all connections on Facebook about this campaign to at least drum up some level of pity support.  If you can’t get your mom to kick in five bucks, just go home.

And yet in the first two days they managed to get pledged from just nine people.

Given the lofty goals and wide scope of their plan, I have to believe there are more than nine people working on this product.  Whose mom wouldn’t pony up?

So the whole thing is dead out of the gate.  No real publicity, no real effort to rally fans, nothing but a misguided belief that if they put up the project then fans will magically appear. (And, best of all, they have stretch goals already, out to $4.8 million!  Plan for success I guess.)

Somewhere they missed the news about how 20 new games popped up on Steam every day in 2017, a number that has continued to rise in 2018.  In the flood of new games that is our current reality, how did they expect somebody to find theirs?

Of course, that doesn’t start to get into some of the other issues hindering this campaign, like the game itself.

I know from long experience that any game, or any aspect of a given game, no matter how horrible and tedious you may find it, is somebody’s favorite thing.  That is the nature of the world.

But just because you know somebody out there will like your game doesn’t mean that there is a big enough audience out there to support it.  The campaign states “the main point of our game is realism” and they are taking that seriously.  For example, I give you the summary of the crafting system:

Authentic craft system – thanks to Dr Stephen Mileson from Oxford University we are creating a maximally authentic craft system. It means that during craft activities you will accurately repeat the actions of 15th-century blacksmiths, carpenters, leatherworkers, tailors and other craftsmen.

I am sure this will appeal to somebody, but I already have a day job.  People found the old EverQuest II multi-level crafting, where you had to refine raw materials, build components, then assemble them into a final finished product, so I have to wonder how realistic they can afford to get.  Will things take literal days and weeks to create?  And what is everybody using until production gets under way?  There is something about NPCs being able to do some of the tedious work, but will they want to get paid?

To make thine axe…

And speaking of paying people, what about the economy to support this crafting?  They don’t say much, aside from the fact that there will be no instant travel and thus, I assume, no instant delivery auction house, so it sounds like people will be walking around from town to town trying to sell things.

Then there is the combat system.  They have rejected hit points and have declared for a realistic physics based system of attacks and blocks.

This reminds me of the post from back in 2010 from the dev at Undead Labs who was going to revolutionize MMOs by eschewing auto-attack and skills for the ability to just swing a bat and hit somebody.  That… and Syp’s reaction to it… got a long response from Brian “Psychochild” Green back then.

More telling, Undead Labs ended up releasing State of Decay in 2013, a single player game.  Even the recently released update, State of Decay 2, is four player co-op, so you’re only bashing zombies, not other players.  So much for fixing MMOs. (There is an Honest Game Trailers about State of Decay if you’re interested.)

And while games like Darkfall and Asheron’s Call have done positional based combat… you have to at least be in the arc of the attack to get hit… I am not sure they attempted to match up attacks versus blocks in a PvP world.  Latency is still a thing.  I can speak from experience in EVE Online, where it has been proven that the person closest to the London data center gets their attack in first.

Okay, you might think, but maybe their goals aren’t so lofty?  Maybe they are overstating things by declaring it an MMORPG?  Maybe this is really meant to be something small, like Medieval Engineers or some such.

Well let me disabuse you of any thoughts down that path.  They want all of that and they want it on a massive scale.  From the Kickstarter:

Talk of ‘massive’ does not mean 100 vs 100. We want to make it possible to gather armies of 1,000 people on each side of the battle. This allows you to implement diverse tactics and combat strategies. You can use archers to weaken your opponent’s army and then send heavy swordsmen with high shields in to attack, and in the most tense moments you can strike with your cavalry into the opponent’s flank.

Two thousand people on field?  I have been on internet spaceship battles in EVE Online of that scale and larger, but fights in New Eden are “press the button to shoot” level of complexity, where you just have to get hostiles within your weapons envelope, open fire, and let the server calculate the rest.  The system gets so slow and so unresponsive that the thought of having to do individual attacks seems ludicrous.  And, as a defender, being able to put up blocks to counter attacks… attacks you would have to see coming… seems like a pretty dicey proposition.

When questioned about this on the Kickstarter page, their answer expressed a confidence that it could be done given enough server computing capacity, which I know to be the answer to all performance issues, but which seems a bit smug given the level of funding they have achieved so far.  Server capacity costs money.

Meanwhile, they just sort of wave away the end user’s video card capability to render such a battle with the idea that first person view will help.

But when they are planning on “realistic” graphics and character movement based on motion capture, facing even a hundred live and active players seems likely to melt ones video card.

Basically, almost every aspect of this project, from funding to design to implementation, seems like pie in the sky.  They are even missing one of the key items of every MMORPG Kickstarter campaign, the list out of the veterans on the team and the projects on which they have worked.  If you’re going to do something this crazy ambitious, you want to at least be able to say you’ve got somebody on the team who has done something similar.  There is a reference to somebody with 21 years of experience, but neither the projects they worked on nor in what capacity.  If it was somebody with 21 years experience working on server side code for some big titles, I might be impressed.  If it is somebody with 21 years experience doing character models and textures, not so much.

At best they seem to have checked too many boxes on their wishlist.  Maybe this is viable as a multi-player co-op.  Leave out the massive battles and cavalry charges and just have players join tournaments and fight off the odd bandit.

And, yes, I am sure I have just expended 1,500 or so words shitting all over somebody’s dream.  But the company, Eaglance (not to be confused with Swiss SEO firm of the same name), really hasn’t the groundwork to be taken seriously.  They’re an effectively unknown company with nobody on staff they can name with relevant experience, planning technical feats that have thwarted the likes of Blizzard in the past, with just a bunch of features, asking for an amount of money that manages to be both ludicrously large and hilariously small at the same time given their abilities and needs.

Anyway, I invite you to take a look at their Kickstarter and their web site to tell me if I have missed something that indicates that this project might have a chance.  To me it seems likely to simmer for years before either shipping something with little relation to their grand vision or disappearing altogether.

Ultima Online Adds a Free to Play Option

In an item of note today, Ultima Online becomes the last of the “big three” MMORPGs from the late 90s to jump into the free to play pool.  EverQuest went to FreeVille back on its 13th birthday in 2012 with the SOE “Free to Play Your Way” campaign while Asheron’s Call went free… back in August 2014 I think.  It was at some point after they decided bringing back Asheron’s Call 2 was a good plan, but before they turned them both off for good early last year.

Welcome indeed

While the plan was announced a while back, today with Publish 99 Broadsword, the minders of the game since 2014, have added a free to play option called the “Endless Journey.”

This new option will be available to new accounts as well as any previously created account that has not been subscribed in the last 120 days.  I guess that is one way to keep people from just unsubscribing when you add a free option, though I am not sure banishing current players for 3 months if they want to go down the free path is necessarily sending the right message.

There is, of course, the usual list of things that free accounts can and cannot do.  In the case of UO, the list is pretty long.

You’re going to have to click on this to make it readable

This list is also part of the Publish 99 release notes linked above, but I thought I would take a snap shot of the day one version in case it changes at some future date.

I really know very little about Ultima Online, having never played it, so I cannot speak to whether the restrictions on the Endless Journey option are going to really push people to subscribe after they have tried the game.  But I do know from experience that when you go free to play with an MMORPG the plan is to drive people to subscribe, get people to buy from the cash shop, or both.

Either way this does make it a bit more likely that Ultima Online will be my choice for my 2018 goal of playing one of the early MMORPGs I have never tried.

A Glimpse of Anarchy

I wrote my 2018 MMO outlook post a few days in advance, as I tend to do with those sorts of end-of-year posts.  They lend themselves to stewing in the drafts folder for a while.  I think I only had 5 choices on the first draft.

So I had already been thinking about those titles for a bit, enough so that when I was sitting around on New Years Day I decided to poke my nose into one of them, a day before the post even went live.  I picked Anarchy Online for my pre-post peek, a game which has since stayed near the top of the poll results.

Anarchy Online is Loading…

I went to the web site for the game, made an account, downloaded the client, and got stuck into things.

As a pre-WoW MMORPG outside of the fantasy genre, I really wasn’t sure what to expect.  I can’t even recall having ever seen a screen shot from the game before I logged in.  And back in 2001 the conventions for even the simplest things… like how hot bars ought to work… were not yet set in stone.

Still, the first steps seemed familiar, as character creation hasn’t changed too much since A Bard’s Tale back in the 80s.  First up was race… or I guess breed in the case of AO.

Can I achieve best of breed?

I opted for the Solitus… the ones on the right… simply because they were the most human looking of the choices.  The others struck me as bordering on space elves, save for the space troll on the other end.

Then there was the bit of character customization.

Where I make myself look like a space elf anyway

That is some old school level of polygon count right there.  I think my head has as many facets as that old marmot model in WoW… which is still in game.

Then came the tough choice, that of which vocation to follow.  In fantasy your classes tend to shake out into three or four standard categories.  But what can one say of the future when the possibilities are limited only to the imagination?  And there was quite a list from which to choose.

Which path will you choose?

I could probably guess well enough at what a Trader or a Soldier or a Martial Artist or a Doctor might do, and even a Shade, or an Enforcer, or an Engineer hinted at what they might hold in store, but what is the Metaphysicist play style like, how does a Bureaucrat gain levels, and what is it that a Keeper keeps?

So I tabbed out and used Google to search on the best class for a new player and got Adventurer as the top result, so I went with that.

In search of adventure!

The description seemed to paint it as the jack of all trades class, so why not.  From there it was just a matter of giving my character a name and getting into the world.

With a game this old though, one expects that getting a reasonable name might be a chore, and doubly so when the game has had a free to play option for so long.  So I decided to let the name generator come up with some options for me.  Let it do the work.

The first name it rolled up was Sammy, which seemed suspiciously likely to have been taken.  But still, it was offering it to me, why not take it.

You will not be Sammy

However, when I tried to take the name it popped a window saying that the name have already been taken or was reserved.

I gave it another try, just in case that was a one-off error.  This time it threw up Bred as an option and, not unlike that time I threw up bread after a party, the results were not the best.

Nor will you be Bred

A pity, thinking that being Bred after choosing my breed was amusing.  Anyway, a couple more tries made it clear that the name generator does not in any way vet the availability of names it offers up, making its utility for a game of this age somewhat dubious.

So I put in one of my standard names, Tistann, which was accepted right away.  Go me.  Then it was off to my new life in the off world colonies on Rubi-Ka.

Behold the many splendors of Rubi-Ka

That splash screen belies what came next.  Rather than a glorious future on a modern new planet I was transported back nearly 20 years in time when polygon counts were low, UI design consisted of throwing windows about at random, and 1024×768 was deemed a large enough screen resolution for anybody’s needs.

Seriously, I went into the settings and told it how large my screen was and turned up all the other settings… or both of the other settings really.

No, I have a BIG screen… well, big for 2001…

But as you can see, all the screen shots are 1024×768 and the world is dark, grim, and full of the sharp edges of polygons.  Welcome to history.

Meanwhile, there wasn’t much of a tutorial.

Shift plus Click equals?

That is about all I saw, and I couldn’t get it to do anything, so I was left to the occasional pop-up tip and my own imagination as to how to proceed.

Of course, the first thing I had to do was figure out how to take screen shots.

Ironically, my first screen shot

And then I had to figure out where the game actually stored them, which was a bit more challenging.

I pottered around a bit with the UI.  I like that you can move almost every piece of it at need, though it does seem crowded in that resolution.  Still, it is better than 1999 EverQuest with its little square window view of the world in the middle of the UI.

I tried equipping the two melee weapons in my inventory and then attacking one of the many malfunctioning cleaning robots in the area, the obvious newbie fodder, but that did not go well and I died.

I then swapped to the two pistols they gave me and plinked away at a cleaning robot at range, which went better.  It was still a near run thing, but I lived and managed my first kill.  Something seemed amiss though, so I started digging through the skills.  This does seem to be a skill based game and there are lots of skills.

Skills to pay the bills… and kill the mobs…

I put points into ranged weapons and some defensive items.  I wasn’t sure how useful some skills would be, but I had a lot of skill points, so why not spend them?

Ducking explosions and thrown objects seems like an odd combo

With some shooting skill I was able to shoot up malfunctioning cleaning robots with abandon, boosting myself up quickly to level two.  I moved on a bit and took out a few more and a garbage flea, which got me up to level three.  High on that success I went after bigger game.

My attempts to take on the Cleanmeister Intelligence Robot… is that a named boss NPC… however did not go well.

The war on automation continues

I pulled back and the Cleanmeister let me go.  I settled down to rest and heal in the time honored tradition of the era, only to walk away from my desk then come back to find another garbage flea, no doubt avenging a fallen comrade, had slain me.  Oh well.

That was enough of a preview, so I logged out. (Though I did go back in later to take a few of these screen shots.)  While the summary sounds like I spent about five minutes with the game, that all transpired over the course of a few hours.

It was an interesting glimpse back into the past and, while I am sure Funcom has updated a lot since the game launched, it still feels very much like a game of its era.

At this point I am not saying that Anarchy Online will be my eventual pick to play seriously for a at least a month later this year, but I wouldn’t rule it out either.

Meanwhile, if you want to read about another game from my list, Jeromai has an excellent post up about a return to A Tale in the Desert.  Another game that looks to be still a part of the time from which it came.