I sat down with Elite Dangerous Senior Designer Sandy Sammarco again at E3 2017, and while the information I’ve got in terms of game info may be a bit old hat for hardcore Elite players, I want to be clear on something: MMO players should take note of how Frontier is doing community events. Even if you aren’t interested in the game itself, the design strategies and execution are things that are reminding this jaded MMO-enthusiast about what got me into the MMO genre in the first place. I don’t really do space sims, and haven’t touched my VR for months (though I could probably hop on normal PC or PS4 versions), but my time with Sammarco has gotten me closer to hitting the “buy” button on the game.
See: Asheron’s Call
It’s weird to think that it’s already been a few months since Asheron’s Call and its sequel were shut down by Turbine. Yet there’s a hint of a glimmer that the studio might not be done with its proprietary franchise, as Turbine renewed the Asheron’s Call domain name in April to stretch through June 2022. The registration was about to expire come this June.
OK, so before we get a little too giddy about a possibility for an Asheron’s Call resurrection or continuation of sorts, it’s much more likely that this is simply to protect the domain name that belongs to the studio’s only original IP. In other words, Turbine wouldn’t want someone else snagging Asheronscall.com and doing… something with it (currently, the website is down and the old URL doesn’t do anything).
Deep in the comments of the MMOs-vs.-survival-sandboxes thread from last week, reader miol_ produced a beautiful comment about how MMO players have become a minority in their own genre, which he then expounded upon for us in this provocative email.
“I’ve reached the opinion, that since the launch of WoW and its clones, the ‘original’ MMO-playerbase became a minority in their own genre. Before, we were but hundreds of thousands of MMO players, but then came Blizzard with WoW and its legions of fans in the dozen of millions at its peak, starting to dictate what the new success of MMOs should look like. Even if we others tried to vote with our wallet and feet, we became a minority, having only a fraction of our initial influence, while many devs tried desperately time and again to find ways to get at least a portion of the new Blizzard playerbase.
“Am I wrong with that perception of history? Am I totally missing something? Or are ‘we’ are slowly becoming a majority again, now that WoW and its clones are seeing steadily declining numbers (instead of us winning more players to ‘our side’)? How do we lobby better for ‘our cause’? Or can we only wait and see, until the genre is small enough again? Or is it too late? Have we ourselves grown too far apart into our even more niche corners of personal taste since SWG, while production costs and our demands for production value have skyrocketed at the same time? How could we come closer again?”
Let’s tackle miol_’s questions in this week’s Massively Overthinking.
“We owe it to the players and, I think, to the world to do something like that. […] What I don’t want to do is be like, ‘Okay, team, next character, whatever you do, has to be lesbian.’ I don’t think we’ll end up with something good there…. From the beginning, it has to be the character’s identity. I’m sure we’ll do it at some point. I don’t know which character or when it will happen.”
If and when it does happen, Street says, it’ll likely be in “storytelling outside the game.”
Asheron’s Call is dead; long live Asheron’s Call!
While the long-running fantasy MMO went offline at the end of January, one fan is looking to keep its spirit alive in an interesting way. Redditor Zebideex heavily modified the Dungeons & Dragons player manual to be used as an Asheron’s Call sourcebook for tabletop campaigns. The author drew heavily from the Asheron’s Call wiki for its information and is continuing to update the manual.
“This will never be for sale and was created so my friends and I could run an AC campaign,” he posted.
Even though it’s been cobbled together from several other sources, it’s pretty neat to see that the spirit of Asheron’s Call endures in a different format.
Over on The True Saviors of Asheron’s Call, a non-sanctioned fan effort to preserve and restore the game via emulator has taken its first big step by backing up as much info as possible before the shutdown.
“Thanks to the MASSIVE amount of data that was collected over the last few weeks, our developers now have the means to hopefully re-create AC as close as possible to what we once knew and loved,” the site posted. “In the end, our valiant data miners were able to capture over 131 million packets containing over 224 million total game messages.”
Just before Christmas, we learned the sad news that Turbine would not be transferring Asheron’s Call and its revivified sequel to Standing Stone as part of its Daybreak deal. No, Turbine planned to sunset both games on January 31st along with their forums, which provoked outrage, attempts to save the games, and open distress from players and developers alike.
But now it’s done, and no last-minute reprieve or sale has materialized.
While it’s still fresh in our minds, I wanted to collect our streams, retrospectives, and community efforts all in one place. Enjoy.
It’s never a good thing when a game goes away, and today the MMOverse loses two. In a double whammy, both Asheron’s Call and Asheron’s Call 2 are riding off into the sunset. To celebrate and commemorate all that the games were, Massively OP’s Andrew and MJ spending the final moments in both games. Tune in live at 10:00 a.m. to join them in bidding the games a final farewell.
As Asheron’s Call 1 & 2 are going offline shortly, I thought I might give it a final send-off with a list of things I learned from the series. Maybe it’s cheesy, but I really did grow up in Dereth. Some kids get their life lessons from sports, girl/boy scouts, farm life, church life, alien abduction camp life, and so on, but I learned a lot with the help of the AC series and the people I played with. I’ll focus on 10 life lessons learned from the Asheron’s Call series, but trust me, it’s more than that.
If you’ve been trying to get into Asheron’s Call this weekend for one last look ahead of its sunset — and failing — you’re not alone. Multiple readers and writers have confirmed for us that some of the servers have been suffering outages this weekend. Based on threads on Postcount (not safe for eyeballs, let alone work), it appears to be the work of one or more players who’ve decided to trollishly DDOS what’s left of the game and community. (We won’t be linking directly to the related threads on Reddit as the ensuing doxxing is not something we support.)
This isn’t the first time the game has suffered these kinds of player-induced outages, though it’s likely to be the last; in the fall of 2015, AC was offline for several weeks following a dupe-related server crash bug that players were exploiting for their own benefit.
Yes, we know Asheron’s Call 2 launched a long time ago (and even more than once, really). But Massively OP’s MJ has never played, and she doesn’t want to miss the chance of seeing the world before it shuts down. So for her, it is a first look. Luckily, Andrew will also be there to help keep her safe/get her killed as she explores this unfamiliar realm. Tune in live at 3:00 p.m. for a first look from a newbie’s eyes.
What: Asheron’s Call 2
Who: Andrew Ross & MJ Guthrie
When: 3:00 p.m. EST on Friday, January 27th, 2017
On the left in the screenshot above is a windmill in the town of Cragstone in Asheron’s Call. On the right is, well, the same windmill, but in the ruins of Cragstone hundreds of years later in Asheron’s Call 2’s. The latter game’s post apocalyptic setting is quite fitting, all things considered. The sequel was a mechanical departure from the original in many ways, but built on the same lore fans still crave. Not all Asheron’s Call fans would come along for the ride, but the sequel did find fans who never touched the original. AC2 also is about to go offline twice, so, well, there’s that. But there is a reason a sequel was made, and I’d wager the reason it went offline has more to do with the game’s broken past than its innovations.
Join me today as I take a look back through the history and highlights of Asheron’s Call 2. (The original game was the subject of a similar piece earlier this week, so don’t miss that either.)
Asheron’s Call is sunsetting next week — that much we know. But beyond that, we don’t know a whole lot about the rushed circumstances of the sunset, which is a little bit odd to those of us who’ve now saluted as dozens of games have been lowered into the ground. Turbine’s announcement was bereft of information. Standing Stone Games has refused to discuss Asheron’s Call at all, which must be killing them as they’re the ones who kept it going. It’s left the Save AC community confused and infighting as some folks are racing against the clock to packet-log the game for a future illegal emulator and others are trying to negotiate and raise funds to buy the game outright — or even just license it for player-run servers as was once promised.
One persistent rumor swirling around the MMORPG world right now relates to the day after the sunset. A leader of the Save AC movement told players last week that Turbine and Warner Brothers have formally told the group that they’re “not able to keep the game running or entertaining offers to provide the game to a third party,” but there’s a suggestion that WB will be making some sort of announcement the day after the sunset.