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Posted: May 1st 2011 2:56PM Saker said

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I remember this from a million years ago when it was new. I was never able to get past the graphics style. If it was ftp i might actually go back, have a look, but like you said wow it actually has a monthly? Amazing! The community sounds fantastic which is a thing I so miss from waaaaaay back. People needed to be nicer back then in these games when the servers were so much smaller. Maybe something to be said for artificially keeping world populations smaller (but that would cut into holy-dollar-full-of-grace, oh well). As always a excellent article!

Posted: May 3rd 2011 5:04AM Homey said

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@Saker

As someone who was an original Alpha Tester of this game and others of the era - I must say that you do not sound at all as if you played this at that time.

This great community you speak of - that's how it is *now* if you go on there. It's not how it was then. Sure, there were various nice people around, but there were plenty of dark sheep as well. Tons of people who would create characters, run around following you with as little clothes as possible, use glitches to get into your house and steal your stash, swear at you, beat you down with words, argue and act as childish as any other public net game these days does. They'd grief you in any way they could - joining your fights and turning on you, stealing from you because some genius put in a PvP flag but let the PvP thieves steal from PvE players for a long time at first, etc. You're putting up these rose colored glasses and making out like it was this world that really didn't exist. I'm sorry to have to say this to you - but it absolutely wasn't all sweet candy and flowers.

This was out very close to the same time that Meridian 59 was and both of them were out before Ultima Online. The Realm briefly existed in another form on one of the expensive private pay networks (Sierra's or something) but along with Meridian 59 ended up being one of the first few graphical games made for the general Internet public and not some private pay network.

They played with the format, and would hold world wide events that would come and change the entire main towns (it burned down once for instance). They were having game changing cataclysms way back then, far before anybody thought WoW was doing something so unique.

Back then it wasn't considered a small community like it is today. It was pretty large and bustling compared to the text MUDs most of us were used to (and compared to how it is now).

GMs would play the role of story tellers back then. They'd be in the game playing characters, moving stories along, etc. It was made to be generated in a different way. Today without the GMs playing these roles the game is a much different entity.

People have to be nice now because they're killing themselves if they're not. The game is barely holding on - if you're there you have a good reason and want the game to stay up. You're going to be very welcoming and pleasing to any new person and try to get them to stay.

Meridian 59 people were PKing you and stealing your items and things all the time as well. I don't know how you're looking back and remembering these games as being played by Saints. This was the same period about as UO - the game that showed the world how bad griefing could be and made PvP feel so negative and punishing (towards the victim) that some people who experienced it STILL won't play a game that has any in it. It hurt the cause of PvP for what will be decades it was so poorly done.

While there definitely is something to be said for smaller communities, these certainly had plenty of bad people as well.

The game was pay to play back then as well, so I don't get why you're too surprised by that.

I loved these games at the time and whatever game is your first you see with more wonder but they certainly weren't the same warm and welcome places like you will find today with the few last struggling people hanging around.

Beau I can't help but laugh when you say how it's this neat little window. What's now a neat little window used to be it's full screen size. It just so happens that now that size has turned into a neat little window :)

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Posted: May 1st 2011 3:04PM SnarlingWolf said

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This was my first MMO and so I have some fond memories of it. The style was a lot like the King's Quest games both in appearance and the fact that as you went off screen it loaded the next screen.

But I have to say your opening paragraphs are exactly why I'm starting to despise a lot of the MMO community. They go play a game, especially an older one that has been running for 11+ years, and suddenly say "WHAT?! This isn't f2p? HOW DARE YOU?!!?!".

The game has been running for a very long time so clearly it's methods work. The Realm, UO, EQ, and AC1 are ALL still P2P and they're all still running after 11 years. Clearly their methods work. Just because YOU may need shiny graphics and brand new games, many people do not. They prefer the style and gameplay of the older fully original and challenging MMOs and they have no problem paying for them.

I am so tired of the people who are so on the f2p bandwagon that they can't help but have their first comment on any game be that it isn't f2p.

I ONLY play p2p games. I prefer that system a million time more than a nickle and dime shop where advantages come through paying for things (and it isn't that I don't have the money, I have plenty). So should I start looking at every single game that is F2P and start off with "WHAT?! It is F2P?? HOW DARE THEY?!?!" or should I accept that there are games that are p2p and games that are f2p? That is what the f2p bandwagon needs to do because there are those of us who will always pick P2P games over f2p. The Realm, UO, EQ, AC1, WoW, now Rift are all pay to play and they're all doing fine. Arguably the biggest MMOs out there are all of the longest running and essentially all of the most successful ones are P2P.

Basically you ruined an entire recap by having the opening paragraphs push the "everything that is old to me should of course be f2p and if they aren't they are doing it wrong" mind set that so many people follow like a cult these days.

Posted: May 1st 2011 3:44PM Beau Hindman said

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@SnarlingWolf I did not imply that they are doing it wrong -- only speculating that they would be doing it *better* if they went free-to-play. Already there are comments that are noting that. Trust me, there would be more. The game has about 120 players -- according to the community member I talked to and the log in.

I appreciate that you interpreted that tone, as well. The funny thing is that I was actually more thrown back by the 7-day trial -- no one does those anymore, at least generally and in my experience. It was just kind of a funny note. Please, though, don't make it out as though I am on some kind of holy journey to make every game free-to-play. I am not, as I have noted not only with the games I Sub to but with my writing. I am on a journey to see it grow where ever the developer sees fit because it has shown to produce the numbers and profits for many smaller games. Not all, but many.

If you want to continue to use words like "cult" as though my want for a free-to-play version is any different than someone else wanting a P2P version, go ahead. Just understand that the description is so, so far off base.

Beau
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Posted: May 1st 2011 11:30PM Kurremkarmerruk said

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@SnarlingWolf

Just because the games you mentioned survived with subscriptions doesn't mean there weren't others that failed to maintain interest with subscribers. Those games filled a niche, but what about the other fantasy p2p MMORPGs that didn't stand a chance because of WoW, for example?

Also, I don't think he ruined is recap with this. How can one get hooked into a game that has little help or interesting developments in the course of the 7-day free period? Is one supposed to just assume that better, more interesting mechanics lie on the other side of the subscription?

I'd agree that I wish there was more to this recap. But I lean towards wishing that there was more he could've discovered in the 7 day time frame rather than assuming he wanted the article to be without such details.
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Posted: May 2nd 2011 12:03AM Beau Hindman said

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@Kurremkarmerruk Well, as with all of my Rise and Shiny articles I play the games for roughly a week -- 5 or 6 days generally. Whatever I would like to happen in that time doesn't matter simply because I pick 'em out, roll a character and jump in. That's how it's always been.

Just clarifying. Sometimes readers confuse the purpose of R&S. :)

Beau
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Posted: May 2nd 2011 10:40AM SnarlingWolf said

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@Beau Hindman

Cult was more in reference to the decent sized group of people who go to every game and instantly point out that it isn't f2p and the whole world should be f2p. It wasn't saying you actually are a member of a cult.

You saw 120 people logged in. Now if you do some rough estimation and understand that people play in different time zones so if you regularly see 120 people logged in it is likely more like 500+ and then account for the 1) casual people who log in a couple times a month for fun/social reasons 2) the people with multiple subscriptions 3) the sleepers who have an unplayed account that they're paying for - it is easy to imagine 1000+ subs. At $8 a month that is still roughly 100k a year which is more than enough to pay for a single small server and give 1 person a decent income.

Also, I played all of the MMOs back then as I've said before. None of them had any kind of help/tutorial in the beginning. UO AC and I'm pretty sure EQ (I only stuck around that one for a month because I didn't really like it) all just dropped you into a town with no direction and off you went. It is a style of game, albeit rare in modern times, that some people actually enjoy. Yes, it would certainly help to have a more active player base to answer people's questions and since there doesn't seem to be they should perhaps have a player run wiki that new people can read through.

Also, those do look exactly like the original world graphics that I remember and the pictures brought back some memories.

I just don't like people pushing for older games to go F2P, especially when I play several of them. F2P sounds great in theory but they still have to make money somehow. Once cosmetic items stop making enough money they move to items that actually affect the game and at that point it is an awful system. If there are 120+ people happy to keep The Realm running with their subscriptions then we should let them do that. A game that old and of that style is not going to bring in 10,000 players by going f2p anyway.
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Posted: May 2nd 2011 11:54AM Djinn said

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@SnarlingWolf

You really need to take a chill there. First, "cult" is not an equivalent for "group". It has very serious implications. Second, he said that according to the players he spoke with there were 120 players in the whole game. Not logged in at one time.

Yes, not having a tutorial used to be common. But we're not living in the past. And things can be added to games if you hadn't realized. If a small, older game is hoping to attract new players, maybe a tutorial for todays players who have come to expect such things would be good.

Finally, many games that have F2P also have a subscription option. Options are good. I try many games that I can get into free. And many of them I end up spending money on in one way or another which can only be good for the game. I wouldn't have tried them if they didn't have the F2P option, so they would not have received any of my money if they didn't have F2P. A higher population, even if many of them never pay a dime, is also good for an MMO.

And frankly, you know Beau's position on F2P by now. If you don't like it you shouldn't read his articles. Knowing his position and reading an article and making hyped-up comments seems a bit like trolling.
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Posted: May 1st 2011 3:26PM Degu said

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This has actually piqued my interest a little bit. I'm sick to death of the shiny new, big-budget themeparks and having to deal with so many sickos and snobs.

Small, quiet, friendly sounds about right these days, and I'll be happy to pay if need be.

Posted: May 1st 2011 4:54PM Bhagpuss said

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I played The Realm from somewhere around 2001 - 2004. Lovely game and the people back then were just as friendly as you describe.

On the various issues of free trials, monthly subs and so on, I'd guess that whoever's running it isn't really interested in growing their market share. I imagine it's the equivalent of someone renting out garage space - it's there, it costs almost nothing to maintain, so if people want to pay to use it why not take their money.

If they updated it, or promoted it or offered more attractive entry fees, they'd probably get more attention than they really want or could handle.

Posted: May 1st 2011 5:08PM Beau Hindman said

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@Bhagpuss You'r exactly right, Bhag -- which pains me to say. :) But seriously, I got this feeling and noted it in the article. I'm fine with that, especially if as you say they are worried about growing *too* much.

In fact, in my time with Massively I was shocked to hear how many indie devs were worried about that same thing -- too much weight on their servers, too many new players, etc.

It's a weird issue, but definitely an issue.

Beau
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Posted: May 1st 2011 6:38PM Keen and Graev said

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I was an alpha tester for The Realm (I have the plaque outside my house to prove it!) and can say with certainty: this still is one of the best games I have ever played. I played for a very long time... somewhere around 95-99, on and off towards the end. I had my spot, 1 right of EL. Good times.

Posted: May 1st 2011 11:12PM Lestaticon said

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The game population back then was not the same as the mainstream audience today. We were mainly geeks, tech students, enthusiasts, etc. I played this a little around the same time I was playing meridian59, before UO was released in 96 and 97. I had just come from the MUD/MUSE scene and was just experimenting/checking out these new graphical MUDs as I used to call them at the very beginning. My initial feeling playing these early MMOs at their release was that they were limited in function and scope compared to a MUD. But having graphics was just too stimulating. The net was really starting to take off then, so a game like Realm was pretty amazing. Being able to chat with people from all over, with a graphical avatar, was still a fresh concept.

Posted: May 2nd 2011 2:58PM Space Cobra said

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I never played this game in the past, but I remembered it well. The sub-fee kept me away back then (when I was a kid). Really, I admit, I am a bit snobbish and I would rather F2P something this old than P2P.

I was rather VERY surprised when you announced you were going to "R & S" this game. Well, I was mainly surprised that it was still around after all this time!

I wonder if that..."__blank__ of Ysberius" game is still out there? (I forget the first part of that name.) Or any old "Neverwinter Nights/AOL" servers. Or old Genie Multiplayer Battletech.

Posted: May 2nd 2011 8:14PM TheGreatMachine said

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So many memories!

The Realm was the reason I first got on the internet back in the 90's. I remember reading a magazine article about the 'coming soon' game and was blown away at the prospect of playing a Sierra game, set in a fantasy world with hundreds of other people.

There were so many systems in this game that I'd love to see in a modern MMO. Not the least housing. The way it was handled here makes you wonder why every game doesn't have at least a basic form of it.

Posted: May 2nd 2011 8:18PM Beau Hindman said

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@TheGreatMachine Could you explain some more? I didn't get a chance to look into the housing more.

Beau
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Posted: May 3rd 2011 8:11PM TheGreatMachine said

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@Beau Hindman Basically, you're given a house off the bat which you get to by talking to one of the teleporter wizards in your home town (you type in the name of the person's house at a prompt from memory) . Everyone gets their own instance of a frontyard and lockable door leading to 2 rooms/

The cool thing about it was it got pretty sandbox-y. All the various hunting paraphernalia (wolf skins, shields, skulls etc) you drop was items you drop shows up as an icon on the ground. So, inevitably they were used in creative ways to create everything from wedding receptions to rivers of blood. People even started decorating companies at one point.

You also had to actively watch out for player thieves every time you unlocked your door otherwise they might barge in and steal your goodies. I can't imagine the game has too many griefers still playing though :).
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