The best place to start is always the beginning, and the beginning of the Cataclysm/Arcanity story is a rather interesting* one to be sure. According to the official Arcanity website, Brick House Trading Company was founded some time in 1999 as a daytrading firm. According to their own biography, the company was “failing miserably” and the owners “decided to shift the focus of the company to something for which they were better suited.” Charming and warm this story may be, the very same owners admitted later, in an RPGVault interview, that “…we used to joke around about starting a day trading firm on Wall Street and trading the stock market. So the name actually refers to a firm that never was.”

Fresh with a new mission and letterhead already in stock, they began development on a game called “Cataclysm”. This changed sometime in late August when Sierra On-Line released the hounds. Turns out that Sierra kinda-sorta has dibs on the name already. With pencil to paper and ear to the millstone, they conjured up the replacement name for this MMOG project: Arcanity. Now personally, I have to confess that I know very little about Arcanity – it may not even be a real word. So I decided that in preparation for this article, I would read the FAQ.

To my dismay, it is only two questions long:

Q. Will your game allow the player to customize the colors of different types of text?

Indeed. We still play other MMORPGs so we know how hard it is to read text as it flies by your text box. Sometimes it’s the color of the background that makes it hard to read and sometimes it’s just that there is too much text scrolling by. Arcanity will allow you to set which types of text you want to see (or filter out) and also set different default colors for each type of text. For example, when someone hits you for combat damage, you probably want that in yellow or orange or some other bright color so you don’t miss it.

Q. Alot of players react to graphical quality and speed, will you include High-Res resolution like say 1600×1200 that modern PCs have no trouble running?

Of course, you’ll be able to select a resolution from 640×480 all the way up. I can run Quake3 at 1600×1200, why can’t I run the latest MMORPG at the same resolution? Why is that? It seems most MMORPG developers spend so much time on other game issues that they forget about (or run out of time to finish) the graphics engine. We agree that the gameplay related issues should be delt with first, but there’s no reason to let frame rates drop down in the single digits at 640×480 on a voodoo3. I bring up that example because I’ve seen it happen in a popular MMORPG that is out now. Currently in alpha testing, we’ve been running 1024×768 on voodoo3’s and TNT2’s and we are getting frame rates around 60. Keep in mind that we like to finish things before we optimize them, so there is room for much improvement. On card like a geForce 2 GTS, you will be able to run 1600×1200 very comfortably, probably in the 50+ fps range.

There must be some unspoken law of FAQ that states if you don’t have more than four questions, pad the document with needlessly verbose responses. My summary of the above FAQ is:

1. Can I change font colors?

A: yes

2. Can I change screen resolution?

A: yes

Was that any less helpful? I like my FAQ much better because it fits in my wallet. I can answer Arcanity questions while waiting in line at the deli. Now I don’t know about you, but after reading the FAQ, I found myself starving for even MORE Arcanity information, so I looked at the technical information provided. I’ve only enclosed my own summary this time, at the personal request of Baby Jesus. All green text is directly quoted from the original document.

Platforms: Arcanity is PC and Windows only. There is no reason we couldn’t also support MacOS, Linux, BeOS, and console systems.

Graphics: Arcanity supports only OpenGL extensions, but not all of them.

Landscape: NO ZONES. Better looking bodies of water than you may be used to.

Dungeons: Your “run of the mill” 3D engine here. This is a solved problem and it is much less interesting than the landscape engine.

Music/Sound: 3D sound positioning. An awesome feature that most new games support. You can turn it off and listen to your MP3’s instead.

Physics: Don’t expect anything revolutionary. We think truely realistic physics engines are overhyped.

You can read all this and more over at the official Arcanity/daytrading website! My advice? SELL! SELL! SELL!

(*a lie. Sorry)