Could Asheron’s Call 3 interest MMO gamers today?

ac2The other day Talyn took a somewhat pessimistic look at where Turbine is and what might happen to the company in regards to its IPs.  I think there are some valid points to be had here, but what got me thinking is how three of its four games are tied to specific intellectual properties, with all of the blessings and pitfalls therein.

Talyn went on to speculate about Asheron’s Call, the least-of-the-least game in the Turbine library and the only one that is wholly owned by the studio in terms of IP.

The interesting question to me is, what if Turbine was working on a possible Asheron’s Call 3?  The resurrection of Asheron’s Call 2 was really bizarre for many reasons — it came out of the blue, it was and continues to be downplayed by the studio, and it’s only available for those who sub up to AC1.  I have tried several times to get Turbine to talk to me about Asheron’s Call 2 and each time they’ve claimed to be too busy or not interested in discussing this subject.

It’s just a weird, under-the-radar type situation that could very well be nothing more than a pet project that the studio allowed, figuring that if it gained or retained more subs, why not?  But there’s also the theory that Turbine might be gauging interest in the franchise and fiddling around with both games as a prelude to a much more modern sequel to AC.

If they’re working on such a game, I haven’t caught a whiff of it yet.  There’s good reason to assume that they’re not, since they’re probably not rolling in as much revenue as they were a few years ago and their potential big moneymaker is with Infinite Crisis.  But perhaps there’s a small team working on AC3 somewhere, which makes me wonder if gamers would really respond to a new Asheron’s Call in this day and age.

On one hand, a new MMO done with any semblance of skill is noteworthy, sequel or famous IP or not.  I always thought that AC has one of the most original game settings that tried really hard not to be just another generic fantasy MMO, and that would be most welcome today.  Plus, we’re in an era of MMO sequels, from Guild Wars 2 to EverQuest Next to RuneScape 3.

On the other hand, if Turbine doesn’t have the resources and manpower to pull off a really big MMO, an Asheron’s Call 3 could be dismissed outright before gamers even saw it.  It would have to provide more than just a graphical update to the old game worlds to be considered as a serious contender for gameplay time.  And there just might not be an audience out there at all for such a game.  AC2 tanked back when there weren’t a billion fantasy MMOs out there, and resurrection or not, that thought has to weigh on any decision that the studio makes.

So this might just be a flight of fancy.  AC3?  Probably will never happen.  But… it’d be pretty cool if it did.

Asheron’s Call 2: The Returnening

ac1Days like yesterday are what keep me hooked on MMOs; you really never know what might happen next.  I guess Asheron’s Call 2 was probably one of the best candidates for resurrection, still being Turbine’s property and all, but… dude, it’s been dead for seven years.  World of Warcraft hadn’t even put out an expansion yet when AC2 bit the big one.

It’s not just unexpected to see Turbine suddenly go, “Hey guys?  Yeah, we’re turning the server back on.  Have fun!” but it’s completely surreal too.  I never played AC2 back in the day nor had any strong attachment to it, but I did spend a good month last year researching it for the Game Archaeologist and always thought it looked pretty cool.  I remember really liking the idea that this was some sort of post-apocalyptic fantasy world that wasn’t just a clone of medieval England.  So even if there’s no nostalgic reason for me to be thrilled, I’m excited for the historical perspective and just because, dude, it’s awesome when a dead MMO comes back to life.  Really, we kind of needed to see this this year, even if it wasn’t the game that most of us were missing.  Going through SWG, COH, Glitch, and so on was rough for a lot of folks.  Maybe this can be a substitute win.

Anyway, I’m just jazzed.  I was beside myself writing up the story on Massively, and the second I got free time last night, I subbed up to AC1 to get access, downloaded the client, and jumped back into 2005.

Really, how could I miss the opportunity to see the first day of the resurrection?  This news just caught everyone, everyone off guard, and the reactions on blogs, on Twitter, and in the game were so much fun to read.  People were stunned in a good way, not quite believing that it wasn’t April 1st.  General chat was full of folks saying that they had done as I did and signed up for AC1 that very night just to see AC2.  I sensed worry that this might be a very temporary thing, and there were a lot of questions that have yet to be answered (like, will these characters be wiped when or if this version of AC2 leaves beta?).

But as I said in chat, it almost doesn’t matter.  How can we complain, really, when we’re given a cool gift like this?  What gamer wouldn’t, if he or she lost an MMO they really liked or always wished that they could’ve played once before it got cancelled, jump at the opportunity for just one day to check it out?  Even if it was just a day.

I spent a couple hours getting acquainted with the game, and it was pretty dang cool.  I was prepared to have to struggle with a lot of archaic features, and while AC2 does have them, it’s pretty easy to figure out and work with.  Better yet, the graphics still hold up, most likely because they have a cool stylized, alien look to them and pop with color.

I didn’t do much more than get through the tutorial, finish one quest, and then get killed after a long journey to the second quest.  But I dinged level 5, started fleshing out my mage’s abilities, and found myself looking forward to the next time when I logged out.

Maybe this is some weird experiment on Turbine’s behalf, a way to bolster Asheron’s Call numbers or just have some fun before it all gets shut down.  Maybe — and this is a thought that’s been bouncing around my head — it’s a prelude to an announcement about Asheron’s Call 3.  Kind of a way to reinvigorate the fanbase and drum up publicity and familiarization with the game world before the really big news hits.  I know that’s a lot more unlikely, but thoughts come and go as they will.

Anyway, what a cool way to end 2012.  Whatever the reason that it did this, Turbine gets some respect and applause from me for pulling off this hat trick.  The studio made a lot of people happy yesterday, for sure.


Blogsplosion2011: The first time I fell in love…

To kick of Blogsplosion2011, I asked Murren “to write about the first time she fell in love (or, barring that, in “like”) with an MMO.  Romantic language usage a must.”  You can read more about her daily adventures over at Murren Pursues the Dream.

There is so much to be said about my first love, it is hard to know where to begin.

When we were first introduced, I didn’t know what to think. He struck me as attention hungry and a bit boring. Over time I came to know him, he drew me in and consumed me. He made me feel important; like I could make a difference in the world. I know I made a difference in his, when I helped to battle his shadows.

I would stay up until the wee hours of the morning, playing his games and exploring every inch of his landscape. Whether we were sitting on the Holtburg’s rooftops talking with Theeta, Rhalina, and Creature, or walking on the moonlit shores of Dereth, his presence was intoxicating and leaving side was always difficult.

When I would wake in the morning, groggy from our late night adventures, my walk to work enchanted by memories of my night with him. But while I felt his call, I was also plagued by the reality that people wouldn’t understand.

How could they understand my love for Asheron? Err… I mean, Asheron’s Call.