Ships, Dragons, and Bears. Oh my.

Apparently, my little tidbit about ARC drew some attention and some old-school players returned to the game.  Let is be known that the game is alive-and-kicking, even after Sierra pulling away the last IV unit.  For those that do not know the full story, this game is a little phenomenom  that started as a simple college project and passed through many hands, always remaining a fairly autonomous entity until Sierra came in and bought the rights to the game.

Many of those that come across ARC know little else besides what they may have read on Wikipedia, GameStop, and CNET.  John Vechey, Brian Fiete, and the illusive C:\ are often idolized as heroes in this small community of cult proportions.  ARC is easily a microcosm of what many web designers, game designers, and producers alike have forgotten: there is still beauty in simplicty.  The other inferred lesson can be this: sometimes mistakes can become a great success.  Then again, it depends what you consider success.

JV and BF are doing really well.  Their flagship retail game, Bejeweled, has single-handedly made them quite wealthy yet PopCap continues to grow and, in the humble tradition of ARC’s tight-knit community where it’s more five degrees of JV, OgreChow, Sedition or BF than anything else, they are actually recruiting in the place that really started it all.  It’s great to see indie developers survive in a tough economy and stick to their roots.  PopCap’s corporate culture almost seems like some twisted paradox where work meets fun and, get this, PASSION.  Kudos to my friends at PopCap!  Hopefully, we’ll see ARC evolve and perhaps spawn off similar entries for this very zombie-like game industry (it’s really lacking fresh new ideas IMHO).

Speaking of simple yet fun games, Legend of the Green Dragon (LOGD) takes the spirit of the cult classic Legend of the Red Dragon, returning with great humor, fun times, and a small, yet warm gaming community.  The beauty of this game is that they remember that content is king so, while foregoing some of the aesthetics that many may be accustomed to, they try to provide an environment that encourages staying in character and actually ROLE PLAYING.  KUDOS!

As a game designer and avid gamer, I believe that the perfect engine does not exist but there’s plenty of room to be different.  While LOGD still presents some of the same character grind that is typical to the RPG genre, it does a good job of breaking up the action and forcing you to communicate [properly].  One thing that delights me is their naming policy.  Gone are the days of Bob1234 and John4U.  People actually have to come up with clever names that fit into the theme of the game itself.

In short, if all you want is eye candy, neither ARC nor LOGD (or any of the games listed on the GameOgre or ORPGs web sites) will fit the bill, but if you care about the social aspect of gaming and want some level of replay value, these may good places to go.  Not to mention that, if you play these games, you get hang out with a rather fun bear-lizard fellow…  Yes, I had to plug myself somehow!

BTW, those that already played ARC, Uniball, or Silent Death Online and enjoyed them may want to check out Spork (working title).  It’s a new project that is slowly being developed as “Project Divinity”.  Looks very promising but, like with any indie project, only time will tell and us developers tend to have short attention spans so who knows what other pet projects may distract the team.  I happen to be an admin on there so maybe you’ll see me there.  Be sure to wave hello!


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