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Publisher: eGenesis    Genre: Adventure & RPG
Min OS X: 10.3    CPU: G4    RAM: 384 MB

A Tale in the Desert
March 29, 2006 | David Peck

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Imagine a magical land far, far away and a long time ago. No, it's not the Galactic Empire, it's Egypt, the home of Anubis and Isis, the land of Pharaoh and the pyramids. On the cutting edge of early technology, Egypt created a civilization that moved massive stone, created fantastic shrines, invented the first 365 day calendar and kept track of the hours with sundials and water clocks.

A Tale in the Desert (ATITD) is a Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) that transports the player to this ancient land and presents the challenge of advancing Egypt by discovering technologies, learning new skills, organizing massive building projects, and creating a great civilization. This is the tale: Pharaoh and the people of Egypt are challenged by a mysterious Stranger to achieve perfection in seven disciplines.

"I challenge you to demonstrate Egypt's unity and its perfection in the Seven Disciplines. I shall work with each Discipline's universities to create Seven Tests. Pass them all and build monuments to each Discipline, and you will convince me."The Stranger.

Who is this mysterious stranger? For the purposes of ATITD he represents the concept of progress embodied in a mentor who may be more than flesh and blood. Pharaoh recognizes the unique nature of the stranger and accepts the challenge because he realizes these disciplines represent the knowledge to advance Egyptian civilization, ensure its survival, and provide a great premise for a Massive Multiplayer Online game (MMO)!

The Disciplines are Architecture, Art & Music, Body, Conflict, Leadership, Thought, and Worship. Each Discipline is comprised of seven challenging tests. A player who completes all seven tests becomes an Oracle with the ability to organize and complete the final Discipline task, building a monument. Monuments are huge projects that require the support of a large number of players. Cooperatively and competitively, perfecting Disciplines becomes the player's primary focus.

A different sort of MMO
A Tale in the Desert is not your average MMO. Produced on a small budget, it is not as flashy as the heavy hitters in the genre, but ATITD shows how imagination can inject a depth of gameplay involving a variety of interesting quests with a level of creativity that is absent in the most popular MMOs.

You may have heard of the MMO static-vs-dynamic virtual world discussion. It goes something like this. The most popular MMORPGs provide huge static worlds for adventure. The emphasis tends to be on combat dynamics, allowing players to gain experience points and loot by slaying opponents and completing quests. Combat is a dynamic situation so why is the word "static" used? "Static" refers to the physical world. Yes, battles are won, players gain experience points and levels, but the world itself remains unchanged. Wait ten minutes and all is reset to its virgin state. In contrast ATITD is a dynamic world. Player have a permanent impact upon the world by gaining knowledge and physically changing the world in a variety of ways.

Of significance, ATITD includes a comprehensive skill system but no combat. As combat seems to be the primary attraction in MMOs these days, the question becomes whether or not ATITD provides a rich enough environment to mitigate the lack of this primal attraction? I'll keep you guessing for now.


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