Asheron’s Call had (technically has) in-game paper you could write on. You could get a single sheet or an entire book. This may sound weird to the modern MMO player, but it was important at the time.

RPers, lore-hounds, and fan fiction writers would write stories in them. Some might exist in a single copy, or amateur scriveners might copy from one book to another. There was a library near Hebian-To (and elsewhere, but Hebian-To was the active spot I knew on Morningthaw) where people would gather to read the official in-game stories or share their own. There was not such a thing as a bookshelf where you could contribute player-written lore, but people might drop books for others to find or stand about as librarians/booksellers.

Beyond RP, books were extremely useful because Asheron’s Call came out in 1999. In 1999 you did not have wikis, extensive spoiler sites, or even a second monitor to refer to while playing on the other. Even if you had a second monitor, as the previous sentence suggests, finding info was a different matter; Google was still a new thing at the time, founded in 1998. Having a book of locations and directions was really helpful, and getting a book of location coordinates from a guild leader patron was a huge boon for a new player.

Sometimes it does not feel that long ago, and sometimes I remember that some of our readers have never known a world without MMOs.

: Zubon

5 thoughts on “Books”

  1. I miss the portal system. Modern fast travel doesn’t have the same flair.

  2. I came to MMOs from MUDs, where this sort of thing was common. I still miss it – the ability to do anything from writing cryptic clues on pieces of parchment and burying them somewhere in the world to be found, to maintaining the guild notice board with real notices instead of MOTDs in guild roster panels. Not to mention the frustration when you run out of ink or paper and the town merchants are all closed for hours more. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Ultima Online had a similar system. Fortunately for me, UO was always a windowed game so I could stay informed via ICQ/IRC.

    It was still a useful note keeping method and helped enhance the sense of persistence/immersion in the game world.

    Its sad that many modern MMORPGs are far less ambitious today those those released in the previous century. For all of the technology available today, MMORPGs oddly offer fewer features, remember persistent player housing ala UO/SWG?

  4. Sounds like those days were beautiful. I was too young to be playing MMOs in 1999 but I do still remember how search engines were new and I frantically read the (paper) LOTRO manual when that game came out.

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