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Turbine Nation/ACPL 2004 Write-up

by Forest J. Handford

I wasn't sure I was going to be able to go until a few days before the event, despite the fact I bought tickets weeks in advance. The order confirmation e-mail included instructions on how to fill-out a form for badge print-outs. I hadn't noticed this until the Thursday before Turbine Nation when I finally printed it. So when I arrived I was not as surprised as the staff was that despite my name being on the pre-registration list there was no badge for me. They hand-wrote one for me instead.

I arrived at the convention center around 9:00 and ended up being near the last person in one of the lines! They had a large amount of walk-ins which slowed the registration. While waiting in line we got to see a video about MEO and AC2.

Turbine Nation began with a keynote address from Jeff Anderson, Turbine's current CEO. Next, Keith Baker gave an introduction to Dungeon's and Dragons Eberron Campaign Setting. Keith Baker, who created Eberron, summed it up as a mix between Indiana Jones, The Maltese Falcon, and Casablanca. The setting for the world is right after the end of a large war. The location it starts at is a country that was neutral during the war (thus the Casablanca portion of the description). It seems to be a world where death is more permanent then in previous campaigns. The religious healers can revive people, but they need a significant reason to do so. It sounds like there are many themes of darkness. There are no NPC super-powers on the side of good, but there are NPC super-powers on the side of evil. Players can play evil characters, but the evil NPCs won't likely treat them any better then anybody else. It sounds to me like player versus player interaction is meant to be small. I'm not even sure there is a danger for character corruption, which I would have if I DM'd it!

After Keith Baker's talk I went to the AC2 session. For those of you not familiar with my background with AC2, I played it for one month short of a year. I know that because I began playing at ACPL 2002 and stopped a month before ACPL 2003. I played Bean on Snowreap, a KvK server that was merged into Coldeve. I was the monarch of the largest and oldest shadow allegiance (Shadow's Alliance). I left after I hit 50 . . . without cheating . . . and found that AC2 lacked an end/high-level game. I played a tumeroks invoker the entire time. I was the highest level invoker on the server.

AC2 seems to have come a ways. Leveling is much slower and it sounds like everybody has leveling they can do. It sounds like PK and KvK has taken a back seat. They are considering merging Coldeve and Darktide. They really didn't tell much about the future of the game. They did show a nice video of all the prior year's patches. ATM style banking, land block ownership, a re-write of the hero system, NPC vendors, PC vendor shops, and crafting 2.0 are all in the works. Honestly, I have a hard-time understanding why it took so long to get to. They showed some interesting monsters like the dragdog, the Olthoi queen, and the baby. The baby is a flying monster. An early . . . cool version of it had an attack which involved it's chest splitting open! Walking out of the AC2 session volunteers (namely Lorien "Ramen" Carney) passed out tarot cards.

There was about a half-hour break. During this time I checked out the art gallery. Some of the work was very incredible. I also spent some time meeting people. I saw Snow Angel and asked her if there would be a 'Whose Drudge is it Anyway Contest.' She said that there was suppose to be one, but that since her team had lost (which included me in 2002) in previous years she would not compete. Turbine had a small store running. I didn't buy anything, but I entered myself into the 'Guess how many D20s are in this vase' contest. I guessed 97, I think the actual amount ended up being 188.

The lunch was good. They had salad, chicken, beef, bread, steamed vegetables, and a few other things. For dessert there was cheese cake or chocolate cake.

Jessica Mulligan gave a speech about her 17+ years in the industry and how she joined it. She went on to say that out of all the games she worked on and played (which has included the original NWN, UO, and AO) AC1 is her favorite game. Supposedly she had planned to retire but Jeff convinced her to stay. She also told a story about how she could never make it out of the DT training academy. She said one time a group 'protected' her until she was just about to get outside, then they killed her PC. Despite some of her anti-PK board rants she was fairly well mannered towards us evil PKers! There was a small Q&A session. No interesting questions were asked. Although, Ned (Maggie's vassal) asked if he could get a bow with war magic. He is a bow spec with three schools. Jessica made a good joke about how it made no sense for a bow to have war magic spells.

After lunch I went to the second AC1 session. In this section they reviewed the components of the expansion. It sounds pretty impressive. In fact, if they create the new DT server after the expansion I might start playing on that server as the new playable race, the Viamontians. The expansion includes 6,000 updated textures! The minimum requirements for AC1 now include the need for a video card. Software emulation is not enough to run the expanded version of AC1. The expansion will make use of DirectX 9. There will be a new island and a new playable race. The level cap will be changed from 126 to 275. All players at 126 who have earned XP that is equivalent to higher levels will get those levels! This will mean after the patch some PCs will be as high as 260! There will be skill credits for every 10th level. Players can now buy augmentation gems. They take away unspent XP to change the character. With the new race will come new enemies, including the Eater, and the Ruschk. Most of the NPCs of the new race will not be friendly. With the new level cap there will be new high level dungeons added. XP sharing will still be the same for level 50+! There are going to be 5 tiers of rare drop items. The highest of the tiers will drop on average once per month. By once per month, that means it will only appear on 1 server! The tier under that will have 10 per month. I think the tier under that had 100 per month. Some of the items sounded really good, like an uber healing kit!

After the AC1 expansion session I went to the D&D Online session. They showed an impressive video which will hopefully be downloadable soon. They are very committed to incorporating the rules of D&D. The video showed that PCs could utilize stealth to sneak up and kill a monster. It also showed that some light sources could be shot out. One guy asked at both the DDO and MEO sessions if he could burn stuff down. For MEO he was told he could only light certain things and fire would not spread. In the DDO session the devs said fires would spread. Jason Booth did most of the talking during the session. Apparently they play a lot of D&D at the office . . . now that's my kind of research! In their first game the PCs never made it out of the bar. A fight started after somebody tried to steal a beer and 75% of the PCs died!

After the DDO session Hobbit Rappers Lords of the Rhyme preformed. The rappers were paid for by Warcry. This lasted about an hour. It was very loud, but was decent music for rap. In fact, somebody out there may have incriminating photos of me dancing to their music . . .!

After the Lords of the Rhyme show, prizes were given out based on a raffle system. Bob Ferrari, Turbine's new marketing director, threw D&D miniatures into the audience. I got two, but gave one away. The first prize to be given was the D&D prize based on the D20 vase. Among the prizes were Turbine Swag bags, D&D shirts, video cards, and MEO betas. Some people that won shirts were disappointed to have lost their chance at winning MEO betas. To give away the video cards they had four people picked from the raffle do Drudge Dances. The top three got video cards and the fourth got his ticket put back in the hat. Alan "Orion" Maki and Nik "Azeraphel" Davidson, who make a funny combination as well as an impressive Drudge dance team, gave out the prizes. They encouraged people to be enthusiastic when they won. When my number was called . . . for an MEO beta . . . I stood up and shouted, "I am the winner!" Nik said that it was unlikely I would live that down, though I haven't actually seen it brought up since.

After the prizes were handed out we got to play 'Whose Drudge Is It Anyway.' I wish it had been done earlier as an official part of the schedule. The dungeon crawl, which I missed trying to get into, was probably not as fun and worthwhile as 'Whose Drudge is it Anyway.' At first the team I joined, which originally had Cyrano, was the only team to enter. Other people were finally convinced to join, There were a total of four teams, including one Turbine team. Snow Angel was convinced to join and her team was called 'The Team that Always Competes but Never Wins.' When Sue Anne Rishe, who made the nifty Lugian that sits on my computer, asked to play, Cyrano bowed out to give her a spot on our team. Our team was called Martine's Revenge . . . or something like that. Martine was my favorite AC1 NPC, so I liked the name. Cyrano had bowed out because he had made some of the prizes. The prizes were T-shirts for the winning team, a huge map of AC1's Dereth, a stained-glass AC: DM logo, a wooden Soul Staff and Serpent's Fang. Cyrano wore a nifty Martine costume. He was the one who created the Soul Staff and Serpent's Fang.

Each team got to run two skits/scenarios. The order was reversed after the first set. Our first one involved tourists surrounded by . . . I think Orcs. I played one of the tourists. I accidently blinded (temporarily) one of the people playing Orc's with a digital camera. Our second skit was a hero who accidently kills the maiden and steals from thieves who attacked the maiden. I played one of the thieves.

I wish Snow Angel had won something, because she has done a great job not only this year but previous years. Maggie the Jackcat was among the judges. Our team didn't win funniest team (for the T-shirts) but I won fourth funniest and got the last remaining prize, the Serpent's Fang. While it would not have been my first choice in prizes, it has some practical uses that I might use it for . . . like props for the Camarilla. When they said I won they referred to me as 'that guy in the white shirt.' I'm not surprised they didn't know my name but they could have at least said the ACPL 2002 shirt! I think I was the only person at the convention that wore an ACPL 2002 shirt! After Whose Drudge, a group of us, including Maggie, Ned, and Cyrano went to Joe's dinner, which was part of the Providence Place Mall.

I had a ton of fun. The people were all great. There were a few people with cool outfits. The best outfit I saw was the dress +Admin Phoenix wore. Is it me or does Ramen look like she could be Liv Tyler's twin? I regret that I missed meeting Paraduck. I know him from my work on IGN.

Other Write-ups

Maggie's

Cyrano's

AC Vault

Quip's

Circeus's Pics

Mtox and Nazrea's Slidehow

Warcry's Coverage

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Copyright (C) 2004 Forest J. Handford