A Tale in the Desert is an Egyptian themed life simulation where the goals are as varied as there are activities to pursue.
Unlike other games that seem to stay unchanged year after year, the eGenesis folks occasionally release new story arcs that changes the environment. A Tale in the Desert III is the latest example of this ongoing effort. To ATITD’s detriment this episodic-styled delivery system also prevents the game from an official launch date.
I’ve sporadically played A Tale in the Desert and its sequel through out the years. From the beginning this MMO was unlike any other. Beyond the life simulation classification ATITD is tough to define because it doesn’t neatly fit into any specific classification types. It has an historical aspect, however no specific dynasties are addressed so it’s fictitious. Others claim ATITD is a life simulator, a resource gatherer, or a crafting game. ATITD3 is concurrently these.
At this point it’s trivial to try and classify ATITD and instead focus on the more important question. Is this game fun? In my humble opinion, no, and likely not for the reasons you may think.
The graphics are much better than its predecessors. Avatars are symbolically and literally fleshed out a little more. Clothing appears more natural thanks to improved texture qualities. Landscape elements such as roads and grass are much easier to see. Trees, water, and flora are also much improved. Suffice it to say there have been comprehensive visual improvements. These improvements can also be seen in the interface that remains rudimentary but flexible allowing you can open, close, move, and stretch UI panels at will.
You are tasked with roughly thirty quests upon entering the world" easy, intermediate and advanced all mixed together. Easy tasks, such as gathering mud and grass, can be completed within minutes after playing. The more advanced ones take longer to complete. This is part of your initiation to become a member of the community.
The problem is there’s no desire to complete these quests or even play for that matter. Improvements aside the graphics and interface are sub-par, the premise is questionable, and the goal is murky. Besides the strong fan-base, which is among the nicest I’ve meet in any online world, there’s nothing urging or motivating me to continue playing beyond the newness factor.
Although I laud eGenesis’ efforts to go up against the corporate giants, the monthly pricing plan of $13.95 gives me pause. Besides this game’s enduring beta status, truthfully I’ve not seen anything of value that warrants such a high fee. Archaic games such as Asheron’s Call, Everquest, and the MMO godfather Ultima Online offer richness for $12.95. A similar sibling such as Second Life doesn’t cost anything for basic account and seems to offer more variety and freedom plus an incredible crafting system.
In the end the one saving grace is its tight-knit group of mature players. But in the world of subscription games ATITD3 is a pigeonhole niche game that will appeal to a small few. It will be interesting to see what happens if and when ATITD3 goes gold.