My guild in Atlantica Online (Hunters on Argos, if you play, recruitment is open) recently won the bid for a town, which has opened up some interesting game systems I’d like to talk about. As with my previous AO posts, the overall feature that AO really nails is community and player interaction, and controlling a town fits directly into that as well.
I want to start by saying I’m not an expert on towns in AO, I only know what little I’ve asked while playing. The whole system seems somewhat complex, and certainly has a lot of layers. The basics is that once you win a town by outbidding other guilds using guild points, you gain control of it and it’s functions, including the tax on listing items for auction or the fee for using the bank. At a set schedule, your town goes up for auction again, and the cycle repeats. Each town has a different cycle, so there is always something come up for auction.
Each town has a population number, and I believe this ties into the amount the guild earns from taxes. You raise this population in an interesting way. Various NPCs walk around the game world along the roads, and these can be ‘persuaded’ to join your town if you have 100 will. If the persuasion is successful, they will start walking toward your guilds town, and if they make it everyone online gets an XP bonus and your town earns however many population points that NPC was worth (between 50 and 200 from what I’ve seen). What’s really interesting is anyone else can try to persuade that same NPC as he walks toward your town to join theirs, and they can in effect ‘steal’ your NPC. If you have a rival guild that controls a town, camp out in front of it and persuade their NPCs away as they come in. It’s not devastating, but it can have an effect, without direct combat. Having a few guild mates spend some time doing this is a nice leisurely activity, and gives you time to chat while helping your guild.
Towns can also be improved with additional factuality, such as a training center or travel agency. As I understand, these upgrades are costly, but once complete bring in additional revenue. This encourages the guild to go out and earn money for the guild, which later will help everyone else. Guild training runs and dungeons play into this, as they are an excellent source of guild points and funds. The location of the town is also very important, as high traffic town obviously generate more revenue, and in turn are bid on by the more powerful guilds. Access to the guild dungeon is also determined by which town you control, with the better dungeon towns again being highly sought after.
The town system adds a nice, complimentary layer to AO, which basically describes most of the games systems. Unlike most other MMOs, AO takes a simple combat grind base and throws in enough systems around it to keep the overall product interesting. As I’ve stated before, if you are looking to take a break from the WoW-clone MMO model, Atlantica Online is a good place to start. The F2P model might hurt it when you get into the upper power levels, but outside of those it’s a very enjoyable, and free, MMO experience.