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In terms of the game environment and unusual game mechanics, there are very few innovative MMORPG's on the market today. One MMORPG which breaks the mold in a significant way has been created by a smaller company, eGenesis. Their flagship game, A Tale in the Desert III, takes progression to a different level by marking player progress in a way which is entirely different from the usual MMORPG.
In ATITD3, the playerbase must accomplish great feats in the game, called tests. The completion of these tests contributes to the playerbase's overall progress in the game. Ultimately the entire playerbase can either win or lose the game at the completion of each telling. A telling essentially begins with every player on equal footing, having completed no tests whatsoever. By the end of the telling, usually after roughly 1-2 years, the playerbase must have completed 7 tests in each of the eight disciplines. The later tests oftentimes require a great effort by many players to complete.
Ultimately, the in-game goal is to great a perfect society, in which players support one another through altruistic actions. It is by helping one another that the players ultimately are able to complete the tests.
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The Pharaoh, the Stranger, and Other Interesting Things
One interesting aspect of the game is that the game's leader designer, Teppy, oftentimes takes part in the gameplay in the role of the Pharaoh, sort of like Lord British did in the past with the Ultima series. He is the king or leader of Egypt, and he's the one who has tasked the playerbase to accomplish these 56 tests, and ultimately form the perfect society. There is also a nemesis in the game, called the Stranger. The Stranger tempts the playerbase with different gifts and such which ultimately are detrimental to other players, but which gives the player who takes them more power in the game. These temptations can at times make completing tests a much more difficult task.
There is also a legal system in the game, through which players are able to vote on whether certain limitations or abilities should be given to players in the game. These adjustments are coded into the game on a real-time basis as the votes are cast, and ballot measures are either approved or disapproved by the general populace of the game.
Many of the tests require artistic ability or game-design ability from the players. Some tests involve competing with other players in different minigames within ATITD. It's really interesting to see how this MMORPG has been put together, especially since it is such a contrast to the everyday sort of games which are being released today. The majority of MMORPG's have begun to resemble one another, with probably 80% or so of the games in the genre feeling quite similar and even boring, so it really is nice to see companies creating MMORPGs with new concepts woven into them.
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It's Good if you Dig it.
When it comes down to it, ATITD really is a great game, if you enjoy the type of gameplay that it provides. It feels almost similar to the social games that are out there, though there is a real goal in the game and you do get a sense that there is always something more to be done. The playerbase for the most part are a lot of fun to play along with, with interesting discussions oftentimes going on in chat.
I gave this game a 2-3 month playthrough, and enjoyed my time there. Utlimately the game is a great stress reliever if you don't try to powergame, and it can be fun to simply run around the desert looking for sheep or mushrooms or other valuable items. Building up your camp is another fun part of the game. I highly recommend giving the game a go, they have a free trial period as well. There will probably be a new telling pretty soon, and the best time to get into the game really is at the beginning of a new telling. A highly recommended game.