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 sat in my virtual town for a while today while I read the Sentinel. After about half an hour, we had 3 or 4 people on for a “quick trip.” As we ventured deeper into the glenn, more and more people started coming on, so we invited them as the logged on. We ended up with about 10 people in our party going to the Mountain Glen. It was funny considering when I logged on at about 3PM (Pacific) there were barely 10 people on.
We started really strong — the party consisted of Noivad, Geo, Tafari, Shadowfire, Nyla, Quinix for fighters and Hex, Tsune, Aelyse and Veer for healers. With 4 upper level fighters and 3 upper level healers we easily made it to the main boss with no only one close call.
I then made the mistake of entering the bosses lair without unequipping my weapon. I got pulled into a few fairly strong creatures that damaged me enough so that running out, luck hits, the pull of the boss and such made me fall. I thought “no biggy, the party will just have to do without me. I’ll wait here calmly, and let them know to lure and get me.” But before I could fire up ICQ, Geo came in and fell trying to chain me. :( So, that left our party without pathfinders to let the party out in case of trouble. And trouble there was. No one filled me in on the details, but with no PF and things auto-luring from the bosses snell, the party was doomed. The hunt ended in tragedy when a few poor strategic and tactical decisions got everyone killed. In the future pathfinders need to stay in reserve just in case the party needs to retreat.
Luckily no one was upset, and everyone decided to depart. After I was invited to hit the Barrens and Mausoleum, but my battery was going to be dead soon, and it was cold outside the cafe. So, I logged off and reflected on my adventures. I realized even after all these years CL can deliver some decent amount of excitement with the right crew and the right challenge.
This dead horse just keeps running. Although the same can’t be said for the party that went to the Glen today.