I'm debating whether or not to pick up A Tale in the Desert again. The first time I played it it was very enjoyable. I liked the community, I liked the challenge of unlocking new technology and finding a niche in t a very real community. I've logged in under the temporary 24 trial account, and I find that most of egypt is empty. There are a few people around, and they are friendly enough, but with all technology unlocked and the tale only waiting for the developers to finish coding a couple tests, there's little reason to join at this time. Honestly, there's no reason at all from my point of view, because all the real fun stuff is gone.
I remember back in tale 4 struggling to find a way around restrictions that we had that were preventing us from researching stuff. I remember puzzling over genetics to cheat our way to a blue petaled flower to unlock some research or another (found out it was technically impossible without mutagenics, which was held up by some other minor problem). It was fun and challenging, which made it enjoyable. I really don't see that fun being there now.
In truth, it was the horticultural parts of the game that kept me interested. I learned how to make glass so I could cheaply build greenhouses for crossbreeding and for bottles for wine.. I learned how to hunt mushrooms for much the same reason (crossbreeding requires mushrooms to make the Nut's esssence used in the splicing). I learned to fish to make fertilizer to cause lilies to bulb. Everything I did was to play the crossbreeding and wine-making game. Was I particularly good at it? Absolutely not. I didn't care to build out dozens of trellisses for my vines to get different flavors, I just built fifty or so around my compound and made my wine. I spent hours figuring out their characteristics, before discovering the work had been figured out before, and still held true. It was fun, figuring all that out.
But visiting the game now, i realize that I cannot have that anymore. The game has a very real timer on it. It may not have a specific time set yet, but the tale is running down. People will only come back when its time to build the monuments and end it, before starting anew. I might find it interesting to start playing at the beginning of a new telling, but in all honesty, I don't know that I will. I don't have a whole lot of time to devote to an MMO, which makes me a casual gamer. Casual gamers do not do well in simulation-style MMOs. I don't think I would be contributing very well to the society if I tried.
Really ATITD has two kinds of players that move the game forward: Those that are specially skilled in one or more areas, and are a vital resource whether they devote minutes or days to the game, and those that devote a good deal of time to it. In honesty, the latter are the true drivers for the game. Anyone can learn the skills of the mini-games that are difficult to master, but those that devote large portions of their time to the game are the ones who move research and push the game onward. Those are the ones that pass the tests quickest and progress furthest.
And I know I am not one of them. I am lucky to have some experience in areas of the game that are tedious and few people want to do (like crossbreeding, wine making and glass making). If I wanted to be a major player in ATITD, it would take more time than I have to offer it, but I could still be a valuable resource to the community. I just don't think I want to do it. I'd love a game that was just the portions of ATITD I like, without the tests and without the weird stuff (Steam technology in ancient egypt doesn't jive with me).
I'm finding a lot that there are games I could really enjoy if they were run or designed a little differently. I guess its time to get into the game development market.