Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Faery Tale Online

Since this post keeps getting hits for some strange reason, a tiny addendum is in order. I have revisited Faery Tale Online since last year and I am pleased to report that the game is ever-so-gradually getting back on its feet. For those of you who may find the birth queue wait time taxing, do yourselves a favor and stick with it. FTO is well worth the wait. Even if you don't end up playing it for very long, it will prove a very valuable experience as a reference point for the rest of the game industry.


Faery Tale Online seems dead. Nothing is happening and the forums show no player activity since 2010.

I occasionally dabble in browser games. Despite their limitations, their ease of access, lack of reliance on twitch-reflexes, the absence of fancy graphics and relatively low costs all make for a n interestingly different consumer base than normal multiplayer games'. To a point.

FTO was a perfect example: almost entirely text-based aside from clickable lists of actions and movement arrows, it hinged on verbal interaction as its driving force, a MUD throwback. For veteran role-players, it seemed ideal. For my own part, i played it very shortly a few years ago. Though an excellent attempt and well-designed, its forced reliance on social skills left a tactless hermit like myself somewhat at a loss. I panicked and quit when my character was barely out of infancy. I felt as though every time i emoted my actions i was making a hopeless fool of myself. I was pathetically out of my depth. Give me a fleet of spaceships to organize anyday.

What's that? Yes, you heard right. I said "barely out of infancy" and I meant that literally. You did not create a character for Faery Tale Online. You were born into a family at random. You could not choose your species or class or your affinity for magic or your basic physical characteristics, but only your gender. It was up to you from that point on to discover and define yourself as an individual. Take your nature and nurture it, just like in the real world. Except with magic. You could not even choose your initial name (though supposedly one could later choose a nickname) as you are born into a family or clan of other players who impart to you as a child of the people your hereditary identity.

There's not that much magic, either; the vast majority of actions in the game world were of the most mundane survival variety. My character in infancy spent his days suckling on bits of lard for nutrition. As soon as I could, I toddled out of my parents' animal-skin dwelling and my crowning achievement after a few days of gameplay was, as i remember it, picking up sticks. It's a great big hostile world out there. Form a clan. Find a mate. Create a homestead. These are your real concerns, not slaying dragons. To this day, I have no way of knowing what was really outside my parents' hut. I know it was in a clearing, but beyond...?
Explore! Ask travellers about news of far-off places. Get tips on good gathering locations from other loincloth-wearing club-brandishing sorry primitives like yourself. Once in a while you might run into a player who just happens to have tusks or is dressed in silken finery and bending the fabric of reality to his will. After a while, long or short depending on species, your character would actually die of old age. And then you start over again. Maybe you'll be an orc this time.

It was beautiful. Let me make this abundantly clear. I did not quit the game because it was poorly designed. The website was professionally overlaid onto the basic game necessities, the gameplay was largely intuitive and smartly fleshed-out, the world was fascinating both in scope and minutiae ... FTO is exactly the sort of roleplaying project we need to nurture as consumers (and I did) - but I was wholly unsuited for a socially-dependent game. It was not the bit about gathering twigs and needing to gather my own food to stay alive that scared me off but the grim spectre of social interaction, and that interaction is a crucial component of an MMO, which FTO surely was. FTO wasn't broken; I was.

One feature though was always a risky proposition and it is the very first thing a player encounters about FTO. I've signed up for it again just for kicks so I can cite it directly. To quote:

You have a character currently waiting to be born. The waiting time is based on your place in the player registration list, and the number of mothers in the game giving birth. When born, you will be immediately notified by email.

Pregnant Mothers: 1
Your position in the birth queue is: 157

Because players are born to other players, FTO replicated the reproductive bottleneck of mammals in the real world: Mars needs women! Unfortunately, it could not replicate the instinctive urge to mate which forces us in the real world to destroy our lives by sacrificing our time and resources on offspring. What's more, computer game demographics, even in such a socially-dependent MMO, are hopelessly skewed in favor of males and most of us lack the social background or inclination to role-play a female... much less bear children. If I had to guess, I'd say FTO was heavily dependent on a few female baby-factories endlessly shitting out male infants. It is these few reproductive bottlenecks whose experience as players was worst-impacted by the birth queue mechanic, as their actions were most heavily limited by it. It wouldn't be long before they burned out and quit, and who can blame them?

I don't know how precisely FTO lost its customer base. I'm guessing the birth mechanic played a prominent role. Still, I am very sorry to see it dead. I may not have been that well suited for it, but we need more games like this on the internet.
Just maybe with fembot nurses bearing young and caring for them... maybe?


  1. I have been in the birth queue for FTO for over a month now. In that time I discovered another game this is pretty cool. It's called Mech Crusaders ( I am totally not advertising, this is a true testimonial. I actually am still interested to play FTO! :)

  2. FTO certainly isn't what it was in its prime, but I wouldn't call it entirely dead, either. The key misfortune that befell the game was being booted from its original server for consuming too much bandwidth. The game was big, it had a lot of players and traffic-- apparently more than the server could handle. The game was down for around a year before it picked back up and many of the players just didn't come back. Even before that incident the game had always had recruitment problems, and the description of what the game is about on the home page could be considered a bit misleading considering, as you said, the game is mostly about the social/survival aspect.

    Long story short there are some long standing players who still play, but the game isn't really growing.

  3. I played the game back in its prime, and I enjoyed it immensely. My oldest character (a nineteen year old girl) had just given birth to her first child when the game went on hiatus. It was heart breaking to return to a mostly deceased colony, mate, family, friends and child.

    I know it's a silly online game, but I never wanted to play again. I invested a lot of time and effort into my characters (one was thirteen years old, and the last was only a three year old.) I was concerned this would happen again. Having said that, the RP I shared in was phenomenal.

    The creator has sort of a blase attitude towards his creation, and I see it's still here, and he's still in charge... I don't think I'll be trying it again.

  4. I've been looking for a while now if there's anything like this type of game on a mobile app for Android have any ideas ? I played ft o a long time ago and it didn't really work so well on my mobile phone

  5. I don't play games on my Android device and I don't play enough browser games in general to be able to answer that. Most likely you'd have to look for something that's either

    1) Sponsored or in some way supported by or affiliated with major corporations - which means it would cost you
    2) Very recently launched, which might mean it's been developed with mobile devices in mind.

    Golden oldies are incompatible pretty much by definition.

    Various online lists of browser games can help, but the best way to find these little gems is through word-of-mouth on the forums of older, defunct games. See what FTO fans like and go from there.

  6. FTO IS KILLING ME INSIDE T_T! I Signed up for that game around either mid-October or Mid-November and JUST got on it now 5 months later T_T I was hoping to be greeted by something that made it well worth the wait. After getting on, it was a bit surprised- there was a good amount of detail and such and I can't really say it was all that "bad" looking- then I find on top of the main page something that killed me and possibly awoke a dark inner hatred that will soon send me on a murderous rampage- THERES A FREAKING PLAY-TIMER ON TOP! What does it mean you ask? Apparently you get a specified amount of time your allowed to play it, and after that, IT CUTS YOU OFF T_TT_T_T_T_TT_T_T SO FREAKING PISSED ATM!!!

    Idk if I don't know the rules entirely yet and im still working on how to get this stuff to play around. The game DOES seem well detailed and stuff, and for those interested, I recommend making multiple account to increase chances of play. Theres numerous items on the game, and I figured the more people who do try it out, the faster the birthrate will go and the more players that will get online then. I will admit despite it's slow-ness, there were plenty of interesting things on it- and I was just in the first room of the world after being born! At least attempt to look into it for those who are curious but prepare for a migraine-induced waiting period (and that's putting it lightly)...

  7. FTOs forums and IRC were actually shut down for regular use years ago, the creator threw a bit of a fit over some bad press and people sharing "spoilers" about in game races or something. I remember some drama over users being banned for editing the TVTropes page in ways that he saw as attacking him or his game (such as linking to a page written by an ex-mod who he fired without reason, quite suddenly, and was rude to. The page had chat logs and the like, as well as game calenders)

    Most players these days probably still use private IRC channels or Skype to chat and organize themselves. These tend to be written on parchment and handed to newborns.

    Then again, I havent played in ages. Im in the queue out of curiosity and nostalgia right now.

  8. There's now an unofficial forum for FTO players, if anyone's interested.