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Tycho / on Fri, Dec 6 2002 at 7:33 am

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We’re Playing Asheron’s Call 2

I’m as shocked as anybody, but Gabe is completely into Asheron’s Call 2.  I invariably must play a game like this by myself until I find a somebody to crew with, but it’s actually him that suggested it.  Having never played a game of this kind, he couldn’t understand the fairly random distribution of loot gained by victorious combat - i.e., what is this Rat Man doing with a lute?  There are, of course, many possibilities - though only one seems truly plausible.

Overcoming incredible odds of breeding - and indeed, manual dexterity - this creature was a rodent virtuoso of startling power. 

Even more perplexing was the large beetle and the gold ring, but I feel as though we have constructed a reasonably sound scenario.  Lutes and rings are, to us, incidental anyhow - because of the way crafting(!!!) works in the game, a lute is just a chunk of wood, and a nice ring merely a piece of metal.  Every object has properties like Iron or Stone attached to it, and if a given item has a certain requisite value in these properties it can be changed - right then and there - into another object altogether.  I’m despondent that food preparation is gone from the first Asheron’s Call, because that’s essentially all I ever did in that game, with the assistance of a dapper, magical cap that made me a culinary genius.  I have found that, in actual practice, I do not miss the cooking as much as I thought I would.  There are always things to make, and any player can, in fact, produce all their own equipment with very little hassle for a long while.  It starts to get fairly expensive eventually, so I think for the finer goods you’ll start to see a bit of stratification.   

There’s no encumbrance in the game - that is to say, your character does not get weighed down by inventory items.  There’s also no stores, at least, none that I’ve seen, and you have the ability to turn any item into gold immediately.  These two things combined with the wherewithal to make all your own gear means that you only need to stop adventuring and go back to town if you really feel like it.  There are forges in cities that confer a bonus to produce items, but you can certainly succeed without them, so it still feels very much like a choice.  The encumbrance and gold things really go against RPG tradition (i.e. “Assumed wisdom”), and honestly, I think it’s better for it. 

It is easily the most visually accomplished of the massively multiplayer games, but it also the most recent so I guess that sort of makes sense.  It even flexes some pixel shader shit in there, which is nice - you get some fancy water and whatnot.  It’s also never crashed on me, which is almost inconceivable for the genre.  The only issue we seem to be having is with the sound, which is one they recognize.  If we weren’t trying to play with GameVoice as well we probably wouldn’t even have noticed it - we have to turn the (excellent) music down to hear each other, but the music volume doesn’t seem to respond to any setting other than “on” or “off.”  I’m okay on my end, but he has to turn sounds completely off to hear me, which isn’t anywhere near as fun - and I don’t need to explain why.   

You and I are changing topics.

I don’t say this with any kind of authority - I’m just going to relate a human tale, and if it creates a beneficial outcome, well, goody.  Brenna came home with one of these Caring and Sharing, Tree of Giving things, it’s like a card with a kid’s name on it who needs a surrogate Santa.  They’re just hanging off this tree near where she works, like sad fruit, and I note here that her young Alvena wishes she could have a Discman, but needs unmentionables.  I do not doubt that she will get both.  It leapt into my head then, a massive image of exclamatory punctuation:  were there gamers attached to this tree?  There had to be, any sensible person wants videogames at all hours of the day or night.  Brenna went back the next day and found me “Gabe,”  a young man who craves that E-Reader shit, but requires something in the way of socks.  I told Brenna I wouldn’t dirty my hands picking up articles of clothing, but that Gabe and I had the E-reader if she could handle the rest of it, and she beamed in a way that I knew meant good things for me.  The long and the short of it is that when you do something nice along these lines, it doesn’t matter if - like me - you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.  I’m not more than usually benevolent.  I don’t have any storehouse of affection for my fellow man, in the general sense, but gaming is necessary to growing child, like vitamins.  And now I feel like a bad-ass because we just hooked this kid the fuck up.  I’m sure these trees are everywhere, I don’t think it matters if you cherry pick and find the GBA’s or Videogames or whatever.  I mean, what’s the tree going to do about it.   

(CW)TB out.

i don’t regret a thing

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