Asheron’s Call – The Talla’Karan Heart

It all began on a dark night… some 21 years ago that I would find myself in a heroic fantasy realm as a Gharu’ndim War Mage named Shai Ilu. Much fun we had, no manuals, no online guides, a confusingly mysterious spell system with scarabs, herbs and tapers where no one could figure out how to cast anything let alone an all powerful Acid Wave AoE spell, all except one player, who had unlocked that secret.

Knowledge was truly power in Asheron’s Call back then and it was coveted and only shared among initiates, which could mean winning a PvP battle or losing it, esp. if one from your own ranks betrayed you.

As with Ultima Online before Asheron’s Call had it all and then some, including dying to a mob somewhere out in the Gharu desert and then trying to find your corpse for hours so you could get back all your stuff, before anyone else had the chance to loot it. No corpse marker, no nothing. Just running around, searching sand dune after sand dune. I will never forget the moment I finally found it, with all the stuff still there. Maybe you can relate, if you only know today’s MMOs you maybe don’t. That’s OK. I wouldn’t want to do that again either.

I have stumbled across old screenshots and lo and behold also one of my stories that Microsoft published back then in 2001 on their now defunct Microsoft Zone Player Chronicles: The Talla’Karan Heart.

Here’s a screenshot of our guild headquarters on Thistledown, including our very own sparring dungeon.

Our Guild Headquarters on Thistledown, 2001

Oh yes, fun was had. While Asheron’s Call is no more since 2017, I would wager a remastered version would do quite well, esp. with all those remastered titles popping up left and right these days.

I have also found some old Ultima Online screenshots, but that’s for another time…

Ipfelkofer Ironkeg

After 17 years it’s time to start a new adventure as my journey with Blizzard comes to an end. I could fill books with the stories and experiences made throughout those years, good, bad and sometimes ugly, but mostly good and some unforgettable.

One of my favorite moments was back in 2007 when one of my game design drafts for World of Warcraft came live. Which one, some might have guessed it from the title of this post. It took a year though to get from design draft to implementation.

The 19 page document for “The Brewfest” covered everything from the historical facts of the real event “Octoberfest” which it is based on, from activities to traditional clothing, food and even mystical creatures such as the Wolpertinger. The designers did a great job bringing this spectacle to WoW and I hope that players have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy it.

So, one morning back in 2007 I come to the office, switch on my PC and start up Outlook as usual, sipping my morning coffee when my eyes catch a mail without subject from Dave M. Strange, I thought. I click…

The preview window filled with a screenshot, no text just an image. In the center of that image was a dwarf and the name tag read “Ipfelkofer Ironkeg“. I looked at the screen bewildered. What was this? A joke? A tease? I remember, I felt giddy with excitement, even though it was an Alliance NPC and I played Horde. 🙂 I immediately went on to the test servers and lo and behold, I found a dwarf with my name…

Ipfelkofer Ironkeg

It gets even better! In 2008 the Gamer’s Edition of the Guinness Book of World Records named the Brewfest the world’s largest virtual beerfest! How cool is that?

The Brewfest will start again September 20th, if you play WoW, drop by and say Hi! Maybe you can catch one them elusive Wolpertingers!



The next generation of games

Ultima Online Beta CDBack in September 1997 Origin wrote history when they released Ultima Online. Looking back I have many a fond memory of my time in Britannia. My Ultima Online Public Beta Test CD came a long way via ground mail from Texas all the way to Germany. It was the first true MMORPG ever (not counting Meridian 59) and being an Ultima fan I was quite excited when I held that disc in my hands. I had already started playing online via when Diablo was released in 1996 and before that I spent some time “mudding” in a German MUD called “Morgengrauen” which is still up and running after 15 years. Never underestimate the imaginative power unleashed by a MUD! Visual effects isn’t everything and yet even though UO had no spiffy 3D graphics it was and still is enchanting in its very own way.

Continue reading “The next generation of games”