Achaea, Dreams of Divine Lands
Achaea, Dreams of Divine Lands is a roleplay-focused, text-based
Usually used in reference to a computer application, a text-based application is one whose primary input and output are based on text rather than graphics or sound. This does not mean that text-based applications do not have graphics or sound, just that the graphics or sound are secondary to the...

 multi-user dungeon
A MUD , pronounced , is a multiplayer real-time virtual world, with the term usually referring to text-based instances of these. MUDs combine elements of role-playing games, hack and slash, player versus player, interactive fiction, and online chat...

 (MUD) released in 1997. It was published by Achaea LLC, now known as Iron Realms Entertainment
Iron Realms Entertainment
Iron Realms Entertainment is a computer game development company that has created the MUDs Achaea, Dreams of Divine Lands; Aetolia, The Midnight Age; Imperian, the Sundered Heavens; Lusternia, Age of Ascension; and Midkemia Online...

. Achaea is operated by collecting the revenue through a microtransaction system, which allows payment for the acquisition of in-game benefits.


In the game, players explore a fantasy
Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic is common...

 sword and sorcery
Sword and sorcery
Sword and sorcery is a sub-genre of fantasy and historical fantasy, generally characterized by sword-wielding heroes engaged in exciting and violent conflicts. An element of romance is often present, as is an element of magic and the supernatural...

 world revolving around six city-states and their respective Houses
An organization is a social group which distributes tasks for a collective goal. The word itself is derived from the Greek word organon, itself derived from the better-known word ergon - as we know `organ` - and it means a compartment for a particular job.There are a variety of legal types of...

. As in most role-playing games, players can fight monsters for experience points and treasure, perform quests
Quest (gaming)
A quest in role-playing video games — including massively multiplayer online role-playing games and their predecessors, MUDs — is a task that a player-controlled character or group of characters may complete in order to gain a reward...

 for non-player characters and interact with other players. One of the major forms of interaction is player vs. player combat, where the dynamic conflict, especially the conflict between Good and Evil
Conflict between good and evil
The conflict between good and evil is one of the precepts of the Zoroastrian faith, first enshrined by Zarathustra over 3000 years ago. It is also one of the most common conventional themes in literature, and is sometimes considered to be a universal part of the human condition...

 plays a dominant role in Achaea. The other play mechanics include the free market
Free market
A free market is a competitive market where prices are determined by supply and demand. However, the term is also commonly used for markets in which economic intervention and regulation by the state is limited to tax collection, and enforcement of private ownership and contracts...

Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

, which allows the players to design and craft goods, and the player-run social structure, including Houses (formerly guilds
Clan (computer gaming)
In computer and video gaming, a clan or guild is an organised group of players that regularly play together in a particular multiplayer games. These games range from groups of a few friends to 1000-person organizations, with a broad range of structures, goals and members. The lifespan of a clan...

) and politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...


The world consists of over twenty thousand locations, known as rooms, ranging from common countryside to more exotic and surreal environments. Players may choose among sixteen classes
Character class
In role-playing games, a common method of arbitrating the capabilities of different game characters is to assign each one to a character class. A character class aggregates several abilities and aptitudes, and may also sometimes detail aspects of background and social standing or impose behaviour...

, ranging from familiar fantasy elements such as paladins
Paladin (character class)
The Paladin is a character class in Dungeons & Dragons and many later computer and pen and paper role-playing games - many of which were influenced by D&D...

 to more unusual options such as Tarot
The tarot |trionfi]] and later as tarocchi, tarock, and others) is a pack of cards , used from the mid-15th century in various parts of Europe to play a group of card games such as Italian tarocchini and French tarot...

-using Jesters.

Recent structural changes have enriched the environment of Achaea further, by opening up the seas to player controlled ships. This has made available many minigames including diving for treasure, deep-sea fishing and even a form of piracy.


Achaea's controversial revenue structure has received attention from the game development industry. Although Iron Realms Entertainment provides a custom MUD interface for the game, there are neither up-front costs, nor monthly fees typical for the MMORPG-genre. Instead, players may spend money for credits that are then used in-game to acquire skills and superior equipment.

Recently, however, Achaea has somewhat deviated from this model. In early 2010, the option to purchase an Iron Elite membership became available, which periodically gives players credits and other bonuses in exchange for a monthly fee.

The International Game Developers Association
International Game Developers Association
International Game Developers Association is the professional society for over 10,000 video and computer game developers worldwide.It is incorporated in the United States as a non-profit organization....

 (IGDA) has noted that Achaea has been successful in this "revenue from object sales" model, "report[ing] substantially higher average revenue per customer ... than the usual subscription prices.". Achaea's use of this model was compared to higher-profile releases such as Magic: The Gathering Online
Magic: The Gathering Online
Magic: The Gathering Online or Magic Online is a direct video game adaptation of Magic: The Gathering, utilizing the concept of a virtual economy in order to preserve the collectible aspect of the card game. It is played through an Internet service operated by Wizards of the Coast, which went...

and Project Entropia and has been highlighted by game developer Daniel James
Daniel James (game developer)
Daniel James , is a British-Canadian video game developer based in San Francisco. He is a co-founder and CEO of Three Rings Design, the company behind the MMOGs Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates, Bang! Howdy, Whirled and Spiral Knights....

 and researcher Richard Bartle
Richard Bartle
Richard Allan Bartle is a British writer, professor and game researcher, best known for being the co-creator of MUD1 and the author of the seminal Designing Virtual Worlds. He is one of the pioneers of the massively multiplayer online game industry.-Life and career:Bartle received a Ph.D...

 as a possible solution for the problems other online games face involving commodification
Commodification is the transformation of goods, ideas, or other entities that may not normally be regarded as goods into a commodity....

 and interaction with real economy.

Reviews and reactions

Achaea has received generally positive reviews for both its mechanics and social complexities, including a review from Leo Laporte
Leo Laporte
Léo Gordon Laporte is an Emmy Award winning, American technology broadcaster, author, and entrepreneur. A former resident of Providence, Rhode Island, he now lives in Petaluma, California with his wife Jennifer and two children, Abby and Henry....

 on the June 10, 2004 episode of The Screen Savers
The Screen Savers
The Screen Savers was a live American TV show on TechTV. The show launched concurrently with the channel ZDTV on May 11, 1998. The Screen Savers originally centered around computers, new technologies, and their adaptations in the world...

on TechTV
TechTV was a 24-hour cable and satellite channel based in San Francisco featuring news and shows about computers, technology, and the Internet. In 2004, it merged with the G4 gaming channel which ultimately dissolved TechTV programming...

 that was reported as favourable.

The combat system includes "hundreds of different ways to attack an opponent", leading to a "complex array of strategies" that is a "true test of skill". The game's engine was adapted for use as the medium of an "e-summit" staged at the 7th Annual World Summit of Young Entrepreneurs with the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...


The role-playing and social aspects of the game have also led to Achaea being cited as an example of "political game design". That political system, along with the game's dynamic events and "player narrative" are remarked on in Designing Virtual Worlds
Designing Virtual Worlds
Designing Virtual Worlds is a definitive work on the practice of virtual world development by Richard Bartle, the father of MUDs. It has been called "the bible of MMORPG design" and spoken of as "excellent", "seminal", "widely read", "the standard text on the subject", "the most comprehensive...

, Bartle's examination of the history of multiplayer online games. Iron Realms Entertainment quotes id Software
Id Software
Id Software is an American video game development company with its headquarters in Richardson, Texas. The company was founded in 1991 by four members of the computer company Softdisk: programmers John Carmack and John Romero, game designer Tom Hall, and artist Adrian Carmack...

 founder John Romero
John Romero
Alfonso John Romero is a game designer, programmer, and developer in the video game industry. He is best known as a co-founder of id Software and was a designer for many of their games, including Wolfenstein 3D, Dangerous Dave, Doom and Quake...

 as saying he "doesn't believe there is a deeper game in existence".


Nevertheless, some aspects of the game have met with criticism. The game's revenue system, in particular, has faced mixed opinions. Players playing for free "won't be able to advance as much as the person who has the funds" without a considerable time investment, which often sparks controversy between free players and those who paid for in-game bonuses that can cost as much as 2500 credits, the equivalent of $725 per item. The IGDA acknowledges that the system requires "delicate issues of design balance".

The 2004 introduction of gleam, an in-game addictive drug, created controversy, angering some players and reviewers who felt it sent an inappropriate message about the consequences of real-world drug use.
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