Asheron's Call

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Updated: 13 Nov 2017 04:05

Asheron's Call

To say that I liked Asheron's Call, is to greatly diminish the greatness that was known as Asheron's Call. To illustrate how much I enjoyed Asheron's Call, I'll put it this way. I logged in for the first time, Christmas day, 1999, roughly two months after the game launched in early November. And I was logged in on February 1st, 2017, when the servers shut down, and the game was retired nearly two decades after launch. Of course I took lots of breaks from AC, but I never fully retired from the game and I even had a lifetime account.

A Little Bit of History

Back in 1999, Turbine, the developers of Asheron's Call were in bed with Microsoft and they were publishing the game through the old MS gaming portal known as The Zone. Ads for this MMO were all over The Zone and since I was logged in to play games like Quake II, it was hard to miss the promotions. After reading about AC, I was immediately fascinated because I fell in love with PC gaming through RPG's, namely a couple from the Ultima series, and here was an RPG world for lots of players, all at once. I bought the game.

Prior to AC there were similar games called MUDS that stand for Multi-User Dungeons, they still have a bit of a cult following but I never really got into them. They were mostly text based and any resemblance of graphics were in the form of ASCII graphics, which was still text based. Unknown to me at the time, there were only a handful of Graphical MUD's on the market.

  • Meridian 59: December 15, 1995
  • Utlima Online: September 24, 1997
  • Everquest: March 16, 1999
  • Asheron's Call: November 2, 1999

Had I known about UO, I would have joined it instead of AC, but back then I didn't have a lot of free time to play PC games and I wasn't really up-to-date on the latest in new PC Games.

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Why AC?

Since then many have commented that the reason AC is my all time favorite MMO is because it was my first. I considered it as a possibility but the list of reasons why I love AC so much is much longer than the list of reasons why I like other MMO's, and many of them I outright reject.

For example, I did in fact try all 4 of the reigning (and only) MMORPG's at the time. Meridian 59, while being 3D, had flat 2D graphics and it really ruined the immersion for me, it felt more like I was in a demo than an MMO. UO was a top-down 2D isometric view and this was during a time when 3D games were gaining a lot of traction. Although there were two Ultima games that I really liked, I couldn't get over the dated 2D view of UO. Everquest was interesting, and obviously popular, and like AC, fully 3D, but the graphics were very clunky and not at all what I was used to in AC. One of my biggest complaints about EQ was the zoning, I could be in the middle of running from point A to point B and suddenly I was halted in place while the next zone loaded, having prompted it by running into an invisible barrier, AC didn't have zones or invisible barriers that had to be loaded, I could run overland in any direction and never experience a halt, unless it was for reasons of lag. I gave EQ a better shake than UO or M59 but even after a couple of months, I just kept thinking how much more fun I could be having by playing AC.

The Future of Asheron's Call

Sadly, Turbine sold their MMO's in order to focus on mobile games (this is the part where I puke). With that move, AC and AC2 (which was a terrible failure), were dumped and LOTRO, & D&D Online were sold to a new company called Standing Stone Games, The Emo-gamer in me refuses to forgive Turbine for letting AC die, one does not sell life-time accounts guaranteed to last at least 50 years and then dump the game. Are you listening Turbine?

But Turbine is a sell out too, having sold to Warner Brothers. To fully appreciate this, one must dive further back in time to uncover the period that I like to call The Ultimate Struggle for Turbine, which was when they worked tirelessly for years to buy out from under the hammer of Microsoft, only to surrender years later to Warner Brothers. They simply substituted one dictator, for another. They worked so hard to gain independence from MS, and I was so proud of them for pulling it off, and then they just jumped into yet another frying pan.

As for LOTRO and D&D Online, I never really cared much for DDO, and I simply don't login to play LOTRO any more, despite it being a decent MMO and after having made some decent progress. In fact I love the graphics in LOTRO, though these days that isn't what draws me, it's still a nice bonus to run along a stream of water and have it feel like you're running along a stream of water. The graphics in AC were quite dated, but the depth of game play was amazing, even with all of the changes that took place over the course of two decades.

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Well, this became more about Turbine than it did Asheron's Call, that was unintentional. But the nice thing about running an independent website, is that I don't have to answer to anyone. AC was the best MMO I've ever played. There have been some other good MMO's that I've enjoyed, even some that I didn't expect to be that much fun, but none that have kept my attention and adoration in the way AC did. I'm still hoping that some day, something unique and new will happen to the MMORPG genre that will trump AC, perhaps this game, when it gets released. Time will tell.