Turning 12 is a wake-up call for most people because they realize that next year they will officially be teenagers. We just hope that Turbine's ready for that when Asheron's Call breaks curfew, sasses back, and starts developing a romantic interest in other MMOs.
One of the privileges of writing The Game Archaeologist column here on Massively is that I get to watch over these classic MMOs as they marinate in maturity. Despite new titles being announced or released literally every day, these long-running games are the established old guard that have nothing to prove at this point. It's hard not to be a little in awe of that and gush at it.
So congratulations to Asheron's Call, one of the first batch of 3-D MMOs that hit the scene back in the late '90s, for reaching its 12th anniversary! How bizarre is it to think that Asheron's Callcame out the same year that we were freaking out about Y2K, seeing how far George Lucas could fall with The Phantom Menace, and paying about $1.22 a gallon for gas in the U.S.? AC almost seems legendary when you realize how far back it stretches.
Join us as we sing the praises of Dereth and its citizens after the jump!
Fun with statistics
Over on the official Asheron's Call website, Turbine compiled a series of interesting tallies of the game's achievements. Back on November 2nd in 1999, the two-million-plus lines of code that made up Asheron's Call launched on six servers to the eager public. Over the years, the sun has risen and set on the virtual world over 30,000 times, while Turbine's pumped out two expansions and a massive 135 updates for the title.
Today Dereth is an enormous place to visit with a wealth of content that's begging to be mined by new and old players alike. In the game, there are over 600 quests, 1000 weapons, 1000 types of creatures, and 240 caves and dungeons to explore.
Numbers can't tell you the whole story, of course. They may be impressive for those looking for back-of-the-box statistics, but the real players know that the best part of the game was the memories made between the numbers. For instance, there was that one time that Bob the Giantslayer had Quest #144 to explore Cave #98, but he totally got lost and surrounded by a pack of wild #665s. It was only due to the courage of his friend Jane and her trusty sword #990 that he was able to escape unharmed.
And they were only one tiny part of the grand adventure that was unfolding for the past decade-plus.
A 21-player salute
On the AC forums, players have begun to share some of their favorite memories of their favorite MMO. Player Ruhelos shares an amazing testimony with fellow players:
It's summer. I'm visiting my dad. A year ago, he'd been playing EverQuest so that's what I expected to see when I walked in his house. Instead, I saw Dereth. I saw olthoi and drudges, I saw people casting spells and I saw my dad running everywhere. I didn't hear music... I heard ambient sounds. Mosquitoes. Water. People laughing in town. And I watched him play. Just sat there and soaked it all in until he got tired and I could create my first character while he was napping -- Ladee Kutter. That summer, I made it to 15.
I'm an AC evangelist, even if I don't play as much as I like. Isn't that something every gamer wishes they could say about a game? I saw it said once: AC isn't a game, it's a way of life. If you don't play, you don't understand. And it's true. Not in one of those live-in-your-moms-basement-because-you-game-all-day kind of ways, but in one of those... inexplicable ways. For true AC people, it's the small things you remember -- smells, sights, memories from years ago, friends you made, quests you epically rolled face on (or epically got your face rolled).
Thanks to the team and players for an amazing 12 years of my life. Thanks for making me realize I was a gamer when it wasn't cool yet. Thanks for the memories.
Another player admits that Asheron's Call has been the only MMO he's played, and he's been faithful to it since 2000. Personally I can't imagine playing a solitary MMO for 11 years, but I envy the love for the game that he must have.
We're gonna party like it's 1999
Last year, this column covered Asheron's Call with a thrilling four-week retrospective. If you didn't catch it the first time around or you just want to celebrate AC's anniversary in style, your epic quest is to click on each one of these in turn.
Congrats Turbine, and may Asheron's Call see another 12 years of exciting play!
When not clawing his eyes out at the atrocious state of general chat channels, Justin "Syp" Olivetti pulls out his history textbook for a lecture or two on the good ol' days of MMOs in The Game Archaeologist. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.