I’ve been threatening to write this post for about a year. I had this sitting on the back-burner for a month and asked for comments from another player also in the IT Admin field. So, without further ado…
Despite the Graphics, CL has real team-building potential
For the unwashed, Clan Lord is an archaic, sorely out-of-date Multi-player Online Role-playing Game (MORPG) that has been running since the late 90s. The single world (server) and small population make it feel like a small town, thus all of the current players have the same goal (job). Thus, like any small group with common goals, it is a bit like a company: You have your people in it who are on the ball because they work well in teams and independently, those that only work in teams because they need direction, those that lead group of people in a direction, those that specialize in a subset of knowledge about the terrain (market or technology) all of whom trade their time and risk profit (experience) to advance, and finally those that just show up to have fun. These flyby ‘fun’ people are equivalent to the people who just show up for a paycheck. In the game, one seemingly minor mistake can lead to the death of the entire group. This necessitates departing (experience and time loss) which is a bit like working on a project and having it fail miserable because Joe Paycheck didn’t know or care that you shouldn’t have done X.
Considering the parallels I noticed about the in game group and the group of people you work with day-to-day, I have found several commonalities that I have taken from work to game and from game to work that have helped me navigate real life teamwork, leadership and relationships.
Currently at over $3M US. Project Eternity is one of the largest video games ever Kickstarted.
As I write this, Project Eternity — by the creators of Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale and the Fallout Series (among others) — is fully funded with 15 days left on Kickstarter. I backed the game at the lowest game level ($25) just over 2 weeks ago, because I was a huge fan of Baldur’s Gate and successive expansions.
Coming from AD&D2 table top I had been playing RPGs of one form or another for decades: Dungeons of Doom on the Texas Instruments at my friend’s aunt’s house after school (religiously), NetHack on my father’s development 286 DOS machine, Ultima II and Pools of Radiance on my Macintosh 128 — swapping 3.25″ disks — in the wee hours of Friday and Saturday night as a teenager, and most recently, Dragon Age on the PS3. I have always loved the grand epics set in a fantasy world with sword fighting, archery, magic and the chance of running into a dragon. Part of this stems from elementary school book report on medieval arms and armor I researched and wrote, part is my fencing and archery training, while the other part is all video gamer. So, an RPG such as Project Eternity is right in my wheelhouse of games.
Blind Dual Preview Review
Given that, I thought I would write up my initial impression of the game as it stands, considering all of the updates the people at Obsidian have added the past week. I also contacted a fellow tech blogger, Josh C, about the game to let him know about it. In the course of conversation, we decided to do a blind dual preview review of the game, and release it at the same time. I do not know what Josh is going to write, nor does he know what I will write. After we will follow up with each other. This should be fun. “Read on Adventurer. Your Quest Awaits…”
First: It’s about fricking time! It has been ages since the last proper party-based classic RPG was released for the Mac and PC. Once MMORPGs (which are great — don’t get me wrong) became a hit, it looked like single player RPGs were dead, and for all intents and purposes they were. The thing is, the multi-player RPGs have lost the co-ordination that true team based games allows. That level of coordination has gone to Team FPS games as long as the team members all have headsets. Project Eternity finally brings that back. And judging from the Kickstarter response ($2.2M & 50K+ pledges as I edit this), there are a lot of people like me that miss this style of game.
A Rare Challenge
Clan Lord is a veritable Methuselah among online role-playing games, the graphics—2D hand drawn sprites—are crude compared to todays 32-bit texture laden 3D graphics. The reason is that this game is on its second decade of existence having come out of beta after about a year of testing in 1998. Since then development efforts have gone into expanding the world and adding features on occasion.
The gameplay is simplistic for fighters and for the first few levels of “healer-dom.” One simply runs into what one wants to try to kill or start healing. Unlike 3D games, a 2D system allows this because there is no “ASDF+turn key” navigation needed in a 3D space, In a 2D space your mouse does quite nicely.
In addition to this lack of combat mechanic complexity, there is also a very simple items system, and thus not much of an economy. If a person is not too concerned about rapid advancement while off-line and doesn’t carry more than the maximum of allowed objects, there is almost no reason to even have coins or care about obtaining them after one gets their basic equipment needs met, aside from the 5 coin boat fare to leave the island and chain repairs.
So, what does this game so clearly lacking offer, and why are people still playing after over 10 years? Clan Lord has a radically different concept and approach to games than pretty much every other RPG online or offline out there. And the difference in the environment it came out of and exists in has both its strengths and weaknesses.
I am signed up to receive several tech-related newsletters and promotions from various companies. About 3 or 4 of them are for well-known, technology-focused stores and it must be that time of year. Instead of the usual storage, laptop or video card upgrade specials, the emails have shifted to promoting those electronic do-dads such as RC cars and helicopters, laser pointers and laser parking assists, and other items that you’ve never heard of before seem pretty cool and kinda’ want for yourself. Even if you do not belong to one of the many sects of Christianity, the end of the year present-fest is hard to resist no matter what your religious affiliation or lack thereof.
Sure there’s always Thinkgeek, the year round e-shop that has those kitschy toys and popular sci-fi branded merchandise. (Will someone please get me that Doctor Who Desktop Dalek? I know I would never buy it for myself. And if you really love me there’s that Kiwi WiFi iPhone ODBII interface… but I digress.) But this time of year, everyone gets into the act. Most stores know the target price for the bulk of items range from about $20-$50 for presents since people have more friends than they do significant others or very loved family members and a majority of people can’t afford expensive gifts.
This weekend the open hunt headed to the glen. Since Torin wasn’t around to lead, I led the group to the Glen Castle to the spider caves there. We didn’t almost get wiped out like last time thanks to having Althea there as a another brick.
A leisurely day with the open hunt
Here you can see Althea stepping up to brick a Violene Arachne the second after Starsword and Blindkan fall to them.
You can also see Jeanne running around with her bloodblade which was key in eliminating some threats.
We had 3 mystics along to boost, Jaqen, Melben and Rincewind. Despite the 3 Mystics and 4 healers, I rotated shares in addition to /sharecads, as many did and there were no complaints about shares.
All in all it was a leisurely hunt at the Mountain Glen castle, but it was not boring by any means. It took just about 2 RL hours. A good time was had by all.
Today I found Fundin out of the library, so in the tradition of PAG, we made an impromptu book 1 run!
We made it there it record time and took PC1 in one attempt after have althea run the crimson, pitch and other arachnoids.
It was a very fun trip — unfortunately I discovered that I had completed book 1 and needed book 2 when we got there!