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August 5, 2002
6:36 AM   Subscribe

Every drug dealer knows you give away the first hits for free. Earth & Beyong Free Beta & Magic : The Gathering Online free test drive. [details inside...]
posted by crunchland (18 comments total)

 
Earth & Beyond is a new online space-based MMORPG and the makers are inviting beta testers to try before they buy. Their push is towards the multi-player online roleplaying gamer who is you're tired of the hack'n'slash D&D world. This PC game is a new space-based MMORPG that appears to be basically a way, way souped up tradewars game... with pretty great looking graphics. Unlike the tired and true online multi-player games, like Evercrack, where new players are given a dagger and a couple of gold pieces and are forced to build up experience for a few weeks of game play before all the fun stuff starts happening, Earth and Beyond lets you start doing the fun stuff right away. You get command a spaceship and choose to explore, combat enemies or create trade routes between planets and star systems. Also unlike Everquest, you gain advancement in the game no matter what you do, not just battle. So apparently if you're into surveying solar systems, or setting up trade-routes, the game will reward you just as much as if you choose to kill baddies. And the graphics look really quite great -- sort of like HOMEWORLD. (Which may mean that it will need a beefy machine to run -- I couldn't find any documentation on system requirements.) [source: Extended Play]

Elsewhere, if you were addicted to playing Magic: The Gathering card game in the real world, now you can play it online against hordes of 9-year-olds across the internet, just waiting to beat you. You can download the free trial, and see if you like it. If you do, prepare to have your wallet handy. The game does require an outlay of some cash, since you buy your digital cards in digital starter and booster packs for real money. (The outlay of cash is probably no less than you'd end up paying for a regular PC game in the store though. Unless you get addicted, and end up buying lots and lots and lots and lots... ahem.) There are some flaws with online gameplay that you probably never had to deal with irl. While you can always find a willing opponents at any hour of the day or night, it's common for people losing to use different tactics of abandoning a game in the middle of casual play. The real nittygritty though is the online tournaments (which you have to pay to participate in). I haven't gotten to that point yet. Still, if you liked Magic, it's worth looking into.
posted by crunchland at 6:38 AM on August 5, 2002


All I saw reading that description of Magic was "pay," "money," "pay," etc. You'd have to be into the game pretty hardcore to lay out money for "digital cards" and to play in the tournaments. I'll pass, thanks. [Good writeup, though].
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:45 AM on August 5, 2002


I should note that the free trial of the magic game gives you a bunch of free cards to try out, which you lose when you actually start playing. Also, I think they give you a sign-up bonus of $9.99 to buy your first set of cards... but if you get that far, chances are, you're already doomed...
posted by crunchland at 6:49 AM on August 5, 2002


Every drug dealer knows you give away the first hits for free.

So that's what I've been doing wrong all these years.

*quickly rethinks narcotics marketing strategy*
posted by adampsyche at 6:49 AM on August 5, 2002


bah.. neverwinter nights has made me it's slave, denying me the possibility of playing ANY other game... but ah, i remember being heavily into magic: the gathering, during my freshman year in high school... hours spent strategizing a deck, afternoons in the cafeteria arguing over cheesy tactics, and many a dollar spent on booster packs... i eventually had to stop, right around the time when i decided that i wanted girls to actually like me...
posted by lotsofno at 7:38 AM on August 5, 2002


*raises hand*

I thought I would just try it a little and that would be all. You know, use the same cards, keep with the basic investment. But before you know it, my debit card was out of my wallet.

*sighs*

But then again, its not that different from playing the real thing. A digital card is worth the same thing as a piece of cardboard with paint on it.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:26 AM on August 5, 2002


well, I suppose I should have tried to sign up for the space game beta before I posted that message. They're not letting just anyone play. You have to sign up, and give lots of contact info, and indicate whether you are a developer or part of the media, and what kind of system you're running and all that, and maybe then they'll let you play. So I signed up, and we'll see if they like me enough.
posted by crunchland at 11:41 AM on August 5, 2002


i was a magic addict in real life. you don't want to know how much i spent on cards.
they're absolutely not getting their hooks into me with an online version unless somebody comes up with a hack that lets you have all the cards without paying.
posted by juv3nal at 2:59 PM on August 5, 2002


I'm waiting for Pogs: The Gathering.
posted by Kafkaesque at 5:03 PM on August 5, 2002


Well, I'm on the EOB beta "wait" list. We'll see what happens...
posted by Samizdata at 8:04 PM on August 5, 2002


Oh, and Lord Chancellor, I don't have to worry about a hard drive crash or software bug deleting my deck...
posted by Samizdata at 8:05 PM on August 5, 2002


I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that WotC keeps a data file of what cards you own up on their servers, in just such an emergency. It's also possible to upload data files to their servers for the different playing decks you build.
posted by crunchland at 8:13 PM on August 5, 2002


juv3nal, I have to agree, I have already spent far too much money on cards to join this.

Got a spare "black lotus" you don't need?
posted by Tarrama at 10:51 PM on August 5, 2002


The servers are the real record. If someone did hack into the WotC that would screw a lot of people by devaluing their cards.

Oh, and Lord Chancellor, I don't have to worry about a hard drive crash or software bug deleting my deck...

Most of my paper ones were wiped out in a flood, so to each their own disasters. . .

I just got my Leave and Earning Statement. Time to blow some cash.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 4:34 PM on August 6, 2002


Well, on the Earth and Beyond topic... See the text below... I am not a journalist, although I do have prior semi-pro beta experience...

And, Lord Chancellor, hacking WotC is not my worry. What is my worry is the ongoing issues I see with many online games having corrupted on-server storage or lost files or suchwise, while all the time the company is waving its hands in the air, pointing at the 86 page EULA and claiming they have no liability at all... Been there, done that...
---
Congratulations!

Welcome to Earth & Beyond. You’ve been selected out of thousands of applicants to participate in the public test of the first online role-playing galaxy. After a few easy steps, you’ll be in your own starship and adventuring through a living galaxy populated with thousands of players.

First things first - Download the game!

If you have a broadband connection, you can download the code all at once. It should take between one and two hours.

You’ll need 1.6 GB of space on your hard drive, so make sure there’s room. Then just follow the download instructions on the download page at:

The username and password you need to access the download site and your registration code appear below:

Your User Name to get onto the download page is: xx and your REGISTRATION CODE is: xx
Your password to login to the download website is: xx

Again, congratulations on making it through the selection process. Even though the game is still in a test phase with occasional difficulties, we think you’ll have a great time. We look forward to hearing from you about your experience, so we can keep improving the game.

Welcome to Earth & Beyond!

Maria "Cerdith" Hamilton
Community Manager, Earth and Beyond Online
Westwood Studios

posted by Samizdata at 9:05 PM on August 6, 2002


lucky you!
posted by crunchland at 4:54 PM on August 9, 2002


Does anyone know if the superhero-based card games are online?
posted by owillis at 5:00 PM on August 9, 2002


Welcome to Earth & Beyond. You’ve been selected out of thousands of applicants to participate in the public test of the first online role-playing galaxy. After a few easy steps, you’ll be in your own starship and adventuring through a living galaxy populated with thousands of players.
The fact that the game is supposed to hit the store shelves in 15 days is not lost on me.
posted by crunchland at 9:12 PM on September 2, 2002


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