Here at Gamesxtreme we try to look at all areas of gaming, we look at different platforms and genres. One area that can get overlooked is independently developed gaming. There are plenty of small studios and fan groups out there that often get missed out by the media. My involvement with the website is reviewing Massively Multiplayer Games. So here is a perfect opportunity for me to look at A Tale in the Desert 3 by eGenesis.
A Tale in the Desert 3 is a Massively Multiplayer Society that's built from the ground up by players. You begin the game trying to become a citizen, to do so you must complete a number of tasks. These begin with collecting basic resources like grass, mud and slate; the grass can be dried and turned into straw, whereas slate can be turned into a blade. This skill can only be learned from one of the games schools (schools are one of the few NPC buildings in the game). This then allows you to create more items which in turn allows you to learn more skills. The vast majority of your time first playing ATITD3 will we spent resource gathering. Once your skills are high enough you will be able to construct your own buildings and kit it out with workshops to increase the number of items that can be manufactured.
One of the games goals is to unlock certain skills at universities. This is done by contributing a large amount of resource to a project, once complete anyone can then get the skill. Unfortunately this can only be done at the building. This leads to a situation where people are competing as to where to place the building. Due to the size of the land mass you could find yourself travelling vast distances if the university isn't in a suitable location.
There is no combat in ATITD, instead the game is focused on social interaction. A good example of this is law making. A citizen can go to the University of Leadership, write a petition and if it gathers enough signatures the developers will consider this Law. This allows for a single person to significantly change how the game plays out. This is quite good as it can allow players to prevent activities that they see as cheating or exploiting.
You can develop your character in many ways and specialise in various crafting or collecting disciplines. If you have the time you can get involved with all of the games disciplines.
The main character models are quite detailed and attractive, unfortunately the games landscapes are dull and unappealing. The game actually looks quite dated.
The game is free to download and gives 24 hours of free game time. After which the game costs $13.95 per month. Compared to the $14.99 it costs to play the market leader World of Warcraft, this does seem a little expensive.
The important thing to remember is that this game hasn't been developed to rival the likes of World of Warcraft or similar games. It has a completely different feel and is aimed at the player who wants something a little different.
I would recommend that you download the game and give it a try, you have nothing to lose as the game is completely free for the first 24 hours of game time. The game isn't everyone's cup of tea but there is enough appeal to pull enough gamers in to make it an enjoyable experience for all.