While The Realm Online wasn't the first online virtual world, (that honor belongs to WorldsAway), it was the first MMORPG for playable public release. I hope this clarifies any confusion concerning The Realm Online's place in history :)
(Taken from The Realm Online Wikipedia Entry)
The Realm Online, originally known simply as The Realm, was the first internet MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing games) for playable public release and the second to release a full retail game edition. 'The Realm Online', often referred to as 'The Realm,' is still being played by a small number of players, and is known as one of the few MMORPGs that is still dial-up friendly and easy to play.
The Realm was launched in March 1995 for Windows personal computers. It was designed in the tradition of graphical MUDs, before the popular usage of the terms "massively multiplayer" and "MMORPG".
The Realm has a small but dedicated userbase. Approximately 180 accounts are active during peak hours, and a stated total of several thousand accounts currently exist. In its prime there were approximately 25,000 subscribers.
Methods of social interaction include numerous standard and user-created chat channels (of which 990 may exist at any given time), "room" chats (limited to the players shown on a screen), private messages, and an in-game text-only mail service.
As a player, you may create up to four characters to play within the Realm, each with different attributes and skills that are customized by the player at the beginning of the game.
The Realm Online switched from Sierra to Codemasters, then to Norseman Games. When The Realm Online switched to Codemasters, any account that had not been active for 30 days was wiped.
The Realm's combat system is turn-based, with a changeable timeout to allow both real-time combat and thought-out strategy. This system allows player to engage in player-versus-player combat.
All of the characters in The Realm play on a single server, though a test server exists where new features are sporadically added to the game before, in rare cases, going live on the main server. Most said changes are now tested first on a separate Beta Server that players have access to before being migrated to the Test Server.
The game has several zones that the player may opt to visit, but there are no quests that many may associate with this style of game in The Realm. Players must subsequently 'grind' kills for experience and material rewards.
The Realm has a volunteer staff of in-game Event Hosts who are tasked with entertaining the game's players. Such events include games that reward participants with Coppers, a form of currency that is semi-bound to the character. Coppers are used to purchase vanity items and upgrades for player housing, such as new chairs or fountains.
Originally, Coppers were to be bound to a player's account. Upon release of the system, however, it was found that the concept had been removed. Coppers are now able to be traded, creating a pseudo-underground economy in the game for those who desire housing upgrades.
Races, Classes, and Attributes
Each race and class combination begins with a predetermined arrangement of attributes, with eight points free for the player to distribute. Initial skills are determined by the class.
The Realm's primary attributes are:
- Strength: Determines the damage dealt with some melee weapons, and the carrying capacity of the character.
- Dexterity: Determines the speed in combat of the character, his or her dodge rate, and damage on throwing weapons.
- Endurance: Determines the character's maximum hit points.
- Intelligence: Determines the character's spell damage modifier.
The races that exist on The Realm are:
- Humans: The quintessential "balanced" race.
- Elves: Intelligent but weak.
- Giants: Strong but dumb.
- Orcs: Recently added, more of a balanced race.
Classes are not rigid, and a member of one class can learn the skills of any other class (though they will be less proficient at those skills):
- Adventurer: Can use weapons and magic equally, but will never become exceptional in either.
- Warrior: Best at the various weapon skills.
- Wizard: Best at the five schools of magic.
- Thief: Employs skills such as pick pocketing and lock picking.
While characters pick a starting alignment (good, neutral or evil), each character is ranked in alignment automatically as a result of in-game actions, from Beatific (ultimately good) to Demonic (ultimately evil). NPCs are rated in a similar way, with good creatures tending to attack evil players, and vice versa. A player changes his or her alignment by killing monsters of the opposite alignment or in the case of a neutrally aligned player killing monsters from one of the other two ends of the alignment spectrum will push them towards the opposite end.
The level cap in the game originally was 100, but later on it was changed to 1000 levels.
The Realm Online has three profession paths, each of which may be learned by any class at any level, making it feasible to be fully proficient in all three. Armorsmithing, Weaponsmithing, and Alchemy may each be learned. As of 2006, materials may no longer be purchased from supply shops (with the sole exception of alchemy). As of late 2007 however, all supplies for trade skills were dropped by common monsters.
Originally, The Realm's storyline remained in ongoing development. It was several years before this became evident to the majority of players (which at one time numbered in the thousands). Multiple characters operated by in-game staff members furthered ongoing plots and story arcs, explained updates, or simply entertained the game's players. The Realm strongly encouraged players to role-play, making it an alternative to non-graphical online RPG's. Unlike many MMORPGS, which develop large parts of the storyline in annual expansions, The Realm's storyline was constantly being developed.
The plotlines that evolved over time (version 3.x and beyond) revolved around six gods and numerous other background characters. Players may still locate empty temples to these gods. The gods, which were divided into three alliances, include:
- Enid: Goddess of Peace and Nature
- Mabon: God of Magic and Knowledge
- Duach: God of Greed and Vengeance
- Finvarra: God of War and the Forge
- Despothes: King of the Gods, God of Balance
- Elphame: Goddess of Justice and the Afterlife
The primary antagonist, known at The Shrouded One, had sent multiple invasions from beyond the Mistwall (the edge of the game world) that surrounds The Realm. These invasions took the form of staff interaction or, more likely, the addition of new creatures to the game environment.