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.
What: Asheron's Call & Asheron's Call 2
Who: Andrew Ross & MJ Guthrie
When: 10:00 a.m. EST on Tuesday, January 31st, 2017
Massively OP's MJ really enjoyed her first foray into Asheron's Call 2, but there are so many more places to explore. So what better thing to do before everything goes away than a mount quest so you can try to see even more of the world faster! Massively OP's Andrew convinced MJ that there's a doable quest for a mount that mostly likely doesn't involve many deaths. We think. Join us live at 9:00 p.m. as the two hoof it through more AC2 adventures.
What: Asheron's Call 2
Who: Andrew Ross & MJ Guthrie
When: 9:00 p.m. EST on Monday, January 30th, 2017
Enjoy the show!
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.
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.)
In March of last year, MOP's Justin wrote a detailed guide to the most common death penalties in MMORPGs. Last September, Gamasutra pulled seven game developers together to discuss the most effective gaming "fail states," several of which involve death. Both articles came rushing back to me this week when Crowfall revisited the subject of its own death penalty, which involves a brief ghost period and a fast-track trip to the temple for resurrection.
This week, I've asked the MOP writers to consider MMOs and non-MMOs and propose their own favorite death penalty. Is it an old one, a new one, or one no one's done at all? What's the best way to implement death in a modern MMORPG?
Turbine has clarified on the official forums the precise moment when Asheron's Call and its sister game, Asheron's Call 2, as well as the official forums will go dark.
"We've had a few questions about the forums and shutdown time, so I thought it best to make a fresh post," Turbine's Halistran told players today. "Asheron's Call will be shutting down at 12PM (Noon) Eastern Standard Time on January 31st. The forums will be shutting down on the same day and at the same time - January 31st at noon."
The company announced the twin sunsets just before Christmas last month following the revelation that Turbine had spun off Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragons Online to a new and independent studio, Standing Stone Games, to be published by Daybreak.
Standing Stone, which is made up of apparently all the former Turbine employees, has refused to comment on the circumstances behind the fate of Asheron's Call and its sequel.
Imagine a game where magic was actually rare, complicated, and often underwhelming in terms of time vs. efficiency -- a game where players actually needed to study a language to figure out how to casts spells and magic words were often kept secret.
Imagine a game with little to no fast travel, a game where you need to raise your jump skill in order to get into certain locations, where death meant losing your gear. Imagine a game where you might actually have to ask another player for help, not only retrieving your corpse full of lost items from a physical space, but to kill the monster that'd repeated gained levels as you futilely tried to do it yourself.
Imagine a game where quests start as rumors from barkeeps, scraps of paper found on corpses in the wild, or just something you stumbled on in a random dungeon; a game where lore knowledge was needed just to find a newly released quest; a game where the developers and game masters took control of lore characters and during monthly updates would interact with players to help guide them through the game world's narrative.
Now realize that this game existed, exists. That game is Asheron's Call, not just at launch but for months and even years afterward.
You'd think recent news about Asheron's Call 1 and AC2 would be easy to swallow. After all, we'd already been warned that Turbine was becoming a mobile company. We lived through the end of AC1 updates and a desire to give players the chance to host their own servers. Heck, AC2 had died and resurrected. We've been living on borrowed time, but anything seemed possible. Despite the fact that Turbine's games were squeaking by (when not getting cancelled), I thought that fan power would lead the company to see what it'd done right (innovating MMOs) and where it had failed (straying from monthly updates and GM lead content).
Clearly I was wrong.
The impending loss of Asheron's Call -- and Asheron's Call 2 again -- hit the MMORPG community pretty hard when the sunsets were announced yesterday, even though a lot of us saw it coming. The late reveal that WB/Turbine won't be releasing the servers to the community was salt in the wound... powdered quartz in the vitae, if you will.
We thought those of you feeling all the feels might like a trip down memory lane -- thankfully, our very own Game Archaeologist can help. Justin's penned several long-form pieces over the last year covering the history of the venerable franchise. Enjoy, and remember.
The Game Archaeologist: Asheron's Call - It's hard being the youngest child -- you get the hand-me-downs, suffer through swirlies by older siblings, and eventually develop such a neurosis that it requires seven different brands of…
The Game Archaeologist: Asheron's Call 2 - MMO sequels are funny animals. Sequels (along with prequels and "reimaginings") are ingrained into the entertainment industry so deep that it makes sense that MMO studios would follow suit. And…
The Game Archaeologist talks to the Asheron's Call super-fan - A little while back, I received a rather passionate email from Massively OP reader Diego regarding Asheron's Call. He had quite a lot to say about the game's current and…
I'm sorry to report that Turbine announced today that it will be sunsetting Asheron's Call and Asheron's Call 2 as part of the transition revealed yesterday that will see Turbine's other MMORPGs migrated to the new independent studio.
"It is with a heavy heart that we must announce the end of our support for Asheron's Call and Asheron’s Call 2, and will close both services on January 31st, 2017. This decision did not come easy, and we know this is disappointing for many of you. This game is a labor of love, and it's not easy for us to bring it to an end. We have had a phenomenally long run; one of the longest in the world of MMORPGs, and that in and of itself is a spectacular feat. We are proud of our legacy, and the entire Asheron's Call team has been honored to adventure with you for nearly twenty years. We thank you very much for being a part of it. It’s been an amazing run. You’ve done Asheron Realaidain proud. Between now and January 31st, 2017, the game will remain available to play, completely free, for any player currently with an account. New account creation will be disabled."
Players will recall that this is not the first time Asheron's Call 2 has sunsetted; Turbine originally closed it in 2003 due to poor reception but reopened it in 2012. Classic Asheron's Call has been in maintenance mode alongside its younger sibling since 2014.
Eleven years ago this week, the New Game Enhancements patch descended on Star Wars Galaxies, forever changing the trajectory of the game, SOE, and maybe even sandbox MMORPGs in general by completely uprooting the character development process of the MMO and gutting beloved professions, not to mention breaking essential pieces of the game's crafting economy. The ensuing fallout caused a mass-exodus from the game, tarnished gamer trust in SOE, and guaranteed that we'd still be talking about it more than a decade later. And though I've long argued that the game that sunsetted in 2011 was as far removed from the NGE as the NGE was from the game that launched in 2003, I'm first in line to declare that the NGE implemented in 2005 was an unmitigated disaster.
For this edition of Massively Overthinking, I don't want to talk about Star Wars Galaxies' NGE. I want to talk about all the other NGEs in MMORPG history -- all those other massive patches and updates and expansions that shattered or altered an MMO so fundamentally that gamers never looked at it the same way again and indeed considered it irreparably ruined. What's the most brutal NGE (that wasn't that NGE) that you can think of? That's the question I posed to our writers this week.