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Episode 0: End of Beta

November '02

Original Link (now dead) - microsoftgamesinsider.com/AC2/Guides/epguide-beta.htm?nc=1

Asheron's Call 2 Article

Episode News: End of Beta


October 31-November 4, 2002

<Image:Tyrants, skydiving and total carnage under a blood-red sky...>

Teaser: The end is near!

Trailer: Get a more detailed look at the upcoming mayhem...

Rollout Notes: Detailed developer notes on what's new in this month's episode.

Letter from Ken Troop: Ken discusses the goals of the Beta episode and what comes next.

Screen shots from the end-of-Beta episode!

Newest updates...

  • Four from Azureblade of Red: Shoushi Bridge Gathering Shot 1 | Shot 2 | Shot 3 | Shot 4 (underwater!)

Red world screen shots...

  • Two from Azric of Red: Tyrant Hunt Aftermath 1 | Tyrant Hunt Aftermath 2
  • Mr Giblets sends this shot of the bridge party by Shoushi
  • Nabuchadnezzar and others under the blood red moon...
  • Four from Thenna of Red: Defenders group in Rithwic | First Tyrant in Rithwic | Chaos in Cragstone | Tyrant in Cavendo
  • Storm Tyrant near Shoushi
  • Order's forces guarding the gate to the Dominion Kingdom Stone
  • Dominion dillos in battle
  • Tyrant battle
  • Flimsy takes on the guardian
  • Galeon, Zecke, Up, Flimsy and Heavens Ranger
  • Tencents slays a Tyrant in Gevoth Crater
  • Haroldine sent this picture of Cragstone's defenders and the Tyrant they defeated.
  • Desoya and his army of Shadows...
  • "I'm outta here!"
  • Gearknights rampaging in Kehan
  • I like to call this one Smoke 'em if you got 'em
  • Megolith and friends gathering outside Kehan
  • The carnage outside Whitebay
  • Another Tyrant spotted at the NE Farali Outpost
  • "Tonk -- it's what's for dinner."
  • Celestia and Minga taking aim at Wardiel's minions
  • Who knew they were such music lovers? Thanks Taryn Trueflight!
  • At the Deru Tree with Draco Ascendant. Thanks Shiver!

This series of pictures comes from Shoushi on Red. Sridhar kindly invited your Scribe to an end-of-the-world bash... but I had the misfortune to arrive just before a Storm Tyrant crashed the party!

  • Hey, nice party, glad to be here!
  • Who invited HIM?
  • Worst. Party. Ever.
  • Run away! Run away!
  • That's what I call a hangover!
  • Attacking from a safe distance...
  • Another aftermath shot, sent by Finan SeeleHeilen: "I wonder if we're still gonna get our deposit back." (Don't count on it. --I)

Shots from Blue and Grey worlds...

  • KvK battles raging across the plains of Grey
  • Nearby on Grey, +Pixie (sitting) took a beating from all around. Tinee landed the killing blow. Strangely, +Pixie just laughed and laughed...
  • On Blue, a crowd gathered for a strange spelling competition. Say hello to Shai, Jhavek, Yoriki, Arcturus, Kaydeejay, Deathawk, Vendor, Louis, Torgo, Teadjanine, Quov, Hot Ice Hunter, Yolanda, Arman Kain, Raxus, Misum, Tiamay, Atoner, Tara Lia, Larkspur, Arbalister, Klaital, Shoe, The A-Team, Dadd, and Mr Furly.
  • "I can see my house from up here." Thanks Ant! (Blue, over Linvak Tukal)
  • Ground Control to Major Tom... Thanks Ant! (Blue, over Linvak Tukal)
  • Note to self: more feathers next time. Thanks Amun'ea! (Blue, over Cragstone)

Wrap-Up: Isaac the Wandering Scribe writes of Wardiel's defeat...
Just minutes ago the spirit of Wardiel was defeated... his master banishing him once again to the blackness. This humble scribe believes with all his heart that it was your relentless valor which bested him. Wave after wave of enemies poured into our cities, savaged our outposts... yet you did not waver in the face of peril; rather, you emerged from the fires of combat stronger than ever, tempered like the finest steel. No matter what Fortune brings to Dereth in the uncertain years ahead, this victory will be sung into the ages.

There was much heroism in the final hours, and even into the final seconds the the battle! There are many names to mention in the days to come, but I fear that there are more still which will go unknown, for even a quick traveler such as I cannot be everywhere at once. (I do wish to quickly mention the brave final defense of the Deru Tree, spearheaded by the warriors of Draco Ascendant. Well fought!)

Your Scribe appreciates all the messages you have sent, and I wish I could have replied to more of them. Keep the messages and mail coming! I do read every word, and you never know where I will appear next, or what tidbit of information I will choose to follow up on for my next dispatch. I am especially interested in your stories and pictures of the final hours, for a proper account must be pieced together from the smoking ruins and bloodstained grass that remains after Wardiel's rampage.

And now, I shall rest under the shade of the Deru Tree myself, for the last few hours of the world. Perhaps I shall see you there.

Yours,
Isaac the Bones
Wandering Scribe

<Image?:I'm a TYRANT, darnit!>

 

Teaser

Original Link (now dead) - microsoftgamesinsider.com/AC2/Guides/episodeguide-teaser-beta.htm?nc=1

Asheron's Call 2 Article

Beta Episode: Teaser


Episode runs October 31 through November 3, 2002

<image:
Red skies over Dereth
New discoveries and red skies
over Dereth...
>

Belbena ran up to the figure that had collapsed at the base of the shattered ruins. Those ruins had once formed the famed gates of Arwic, but no more. Belbena's patron had asked her to set watch at this gate, saying he had sensed a "great wrongness" approaching. Belbena had dismissed it as another of her Tumerok master's quirks, but once again he had been proved right. She moved closer and perceived that the figure was a young Lugian male covered in grime and blood.

As she kneeled by the Lugian's side, she noticed the horrific burns that marred his skin. Carefully she placed his head in her lap, then undid the strap holding her water skin to her belt. She slowly dribbled a bit of water into his mouth until he began to sputter, regaining consciousness.

"Here, drink more," she said as she placed the skin to his lips. "What happened? Who did this to you?"

The Lugian drank from the skin, and with ragged breath began, "A great army… surrounded the city… They destroyed all… all of it…" He slipped back into unconsciousness again.

"Another one," someone sighed. Belbena turned to see another woman come up behind her. "The other gates are crowded with survivors." The woman laid her hands on the Lugian and muttered a few words. A soft glow radiated from her hands. The Lugian's ragged breathing slipped into a more regular pattern.

"Do you know what has happened?" Belbena asked.

"Very little," the healer began. "Those able to speak aren't sure what happened. They only know that an army of fearsome creatures has overrun parts of Prosper." Her voice became cold. "It is even rumored that mighty winged Tyrants are to be found amongst the armies."

"We had such hopes." Belbena tried to keep the fear out of her voice. "Will it end so soon?"

"There is always hope," the healer said in that same cold voice, and then added more warmly, "Possibly because it is the only thing no one has found a way to kill. One of those I healed said he had been in a Kingdom fortress left over from the Devastation. He came across a series of altars there, but before he got too close to them, a Guardian creature attacked him and he fled. Those altars could be what the creatures are after, or perhaps they hold some clue to defeating them. Others say that the powerful weapons the invaders are wielding are the key to turning back the invaders. If we can defeat a few of them and retrieve the weapons from their corpses, that is."

The healer sighed and added, "I don't know," then looked down at the wounded Lugian. "All I do know is that I will have many more wounds to heal in the days to come."

Belbena left the Lugian in the care of the healer and ran to find her patron. Perhaps the altars did contain the power to turn the tide against the invaders. She would convince him to gather together all the people he could to fight their way to them. If the rumors about the Tyrants were true, they would need all the help they could get.

 

Trailer

Original Link (now dead) - No Link Available

Asheron's Call 2 Article


Rollout Notes

Original Link (now dead) - microsoftgamesinsider.com/AC2/Guides/episodeguide-rollout-beta.htm?nc=1

Asheron's Call 2 Article

Rollout Notes: Episode 1


End of Beta, 10/31/02

The invading forces swept through in the night, a three-pronged attack catching all unaware. What few repairs had been made to the ruins of Shoushi were swept away in the tide of the invaders' assault. When the long night ended, the first rays of sunlight stabbing through the clouds of dust and ash revealed that the invaders were well established in the hills and countryside surrounding the place where Shoushi once stood. Those brave enough to enter the afflicted areas reported that each of the three armies was led by a creature of enormous size and power. Standing at the side of these creatures were giant winged Tyrants, spewing fire at any who got too close.

There are still glimmers of hope. Those who have bested the invading creatures in combat have found powerful weapons on the corpses. To some, it seems only appropriate to use the very weapons wielded by the creatures to force them back. There are also reports of strange altars in the Kingdom fortresses standing near Shoushi. These altars reportedly award gifts to those who use them, but only to those whose Kingdoms have bested the altars' guardians. In other areas of the land, creatures out of legend have been sighted. If the tales are true, the people of Dereth once tamed these creatures. Questions abound about who is behind these gifts and the appearance of these creatures, but for the moment, all the people focus their energies on turning back the invaders.

When the mortal races left the Shelters, few among them imagined that they would be tested so soon, but now all are resolved not to be defeated so easily. The fight for the future of Dereth begins…

Highlights of the Beta episode include:

  • New factional conflict areas that reward those who possess them.
  • All characters, new and old, will have their level increased to level 10 if they aren't there already.
  • All characters receive 1,600 PK points. Enjoy those Kingdom skills!

All of us want to thank you for participating in the Asheron's Call 2 beta! Your participation and feedback have been, and will continue to be, an integral part of making Asheron's Call 2 the best game it can be. Join us now as we close out the beta with this blockbuster episode!

 

Letter from Ken Troop

Original Link (now dead) - www.microsoftgamesinsider.com/AC2/Articles/lttp_beta_episode.htm?nc=1

Asheron's Call 2 Article

Ken Troop on the AC2 End of Beta Episode


Greetings!

Hello everyone. I'm Ken Troop, the Turbine Producer for Asheron's Call 2. Ken Karl, the Microsoft AC2 Program Manager, and I are in charge of making sure that Asheron's Call 2: Fallen Kings is the best MMPORPG experience and service that exists now and in the future. Yesterday we unveiled a precursor to the Monthly Episodes, the Beta Event, for your enjoyment.

Normally with each Monthly Episode we'll be releasing a Letter to the Players, in which we explain the reasoning and process behind the changes/features we've made for that month. While we didn't do such a Letter for the Beta Event, we did want to take the time here to discuss what some of our goals for this Beta Event were.

Beta Event

First, exploring content and discovering the stories behind the events in the world is one of the main activities in AC2. The process of discovering, exploring, and ultimately revealing the secrets behind the Vaults is going to be a lot of fun for players. We wanted to build upon that theme in the Beta in several different ways.

The first thing you experience when you log into the world for the first time is a short vignette, a stream of images, text, and sound. The purpose of these vignettes is both to recap the events of the previous Episode, but they also set the stage for the main events in the current Episode.

Next, sometimes there will be a Quest of such importance to the world of Dereth that you will know about it as soon as you enter the world. Of course, even with these Quests, there will still be a lot to discover and explore, but we wanted to make sure that players didn't need to begin their AC2 playing experience by going to a website to discover how to start an important quest.

Finally, we wanted to make a dramatic impact on the environment of the world, so that we could highlight just some of the ways that Dereth may be changing over the months to come. Some of these changes will be set to take place in the interims between the Monthly Episodes. But some will occur directly in response to player activity, and will occur in the middle of the Episode.

In addition to making our story visible and accessible to our players, we also wanted to highlight our ability to introduce new and fresh content into the world on a regular basis. Just like in AC1, we are committed to bringing you new dungeons, new monsters, new items, and even new lands to explore, all as a part of your normal monthly subscription.

For this Beta Event, this content appears in two different avenues of play experiences. One of these avenues is the "Player vs. the Environment" theme. There are three sets of invading armies converging upon Shoushi, each army geared towards a different level range. Each army has its own Invasion General for players to find and fight. There have been some reports of the Generals being in more than one place at the same time, although the strange magic they might be using to accomplish this is unknown. In combating the hordes of invading armies, players will have the opportunity to find powerful weapons that they can use against the invasion.

The second theme is exploring the "Kingdom vs. Kingdom" aspect of AC2. KvK will be a fun and compelling component of play for many of our players and we wanted to introduce elements of KvK in the Beta Event by having players of different Kingdoms fighting over Altars which granted very powerful weapons. However, while we know many of our players enjoy KvK, we also recognize that many of our players prefer their experience in Dereth to be free of any direct PvP activity. Therefore, we designed this Event so that KvK play was purely optional, set aside from the normal landscape of the Event.

So those were the main goals of the Event. In the last day we have received a lot of feedback about players' experiences in the Event. Many of you are having a lot of fun, and we're glad that you're enjoying the Event. Some of you have brought up some very good points about what could have gone better in the Event, and we wanted to address some of the major points:

Kingdom vs. Kingdom Focus?

Many players were concerned about how essential a role KvK will play in the future of AC2. The important point to recognize here is that for the "normal" (i.e., non KvK or FFA worlds), KvK activity will be completely optional and will not impact most players' experiences in their everyday gameplay. We introduced a KvK dynamic in the Beta Event not only because it would help us analyze the PvP systems in general, but also because we thought players who wouldn't normally engage in PvP would enjoy trying it out in the last days of the Beta world.

Player vs. Player Systems

This Event showed us both some flaws in the general PvP systems, as well as problems with our specific implementation of the Beta Event design. Such issues as the power of turrets and portal camping will be addressed in future Episodes soon.

Camping of Invasion Generals

Too often in AC1, players grew frustrated with having to search for potentially long periods of time to find a specific coveted monster or item that randomly spawned. We also know how painful it is to wait in a long line for a specific statically spawned monster. In the Beta Event, we tried to get the best of both worlds by implementing three versions of each Invasion General in the hopes that this would spread out the spawns wide enough so that camping was not an issue. However, we recognize that there are problems with the current dynamic. In our future content design, we will continue to refine this dynamic to ensure an enjoyable experience for all players.

Conclusion

The AC2 teams here at Microsoft and Turbine are committed to providing you, the players, with the most compelling and fun MMPORPG experience possible. We look forward to showing you in the months to come just how exciting the land of Dereth can be. Thank you for playing Asheron's Call 2!

 

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