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Legend-in-progress

Legend-in-progress
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First Published: Fri, Oct 23 2009. 09 39 PM IST

Mythologic: Katha is available for free.
Mythologic: Katha is available for free.
Updated: Fri, Oct 23 2009. 09 39 PM IST
The creators of Legend of Katha really love their exclamation marks.
The online game, developed by ACK Media, which owns the comic book brand Amar Chitra Katha, features no less than seven gleeful shouts on its login screen: Sign up! Join Now! Free Forever! Even the little news box on the side peppers its routine announcements with some enthusiastic punctuation.
Mythologic: Katha is available for free.
The earnest excitement is understandable. Legend of Katha is India’s first domestically developed multiplayer online game. In testing since July, it’s received a fairly brisk response, and ACK chief executive Samir Patil is prepared to throw off the practice covers and begin promoting the game aggressively.
“We received nearly 8,000 registered users in the last month, with several hundred showing up every day. We were pleasantly surprised,” he says.
Legend of Katha is, technically speaking, a persistent browser-based multiplayer online role-playing game. In everyday language, that means a game you can play in short bursts with other people over the Internet as a fun distraction at work or at home. Point your browsers at the website, choose a name, choose your appearance and you’re in the bright and colourful world of Katha—with monsters to slay, puzzles to solve and pots of gold to hoard.
“The gaming market in China is our primary inspiration,” Patil says. “They had the same problems we do—low bandwidth, high rates of piracy and a large audience that loves stories and mythology.”
ACK isn’t the first to introduce a game like this in India. In 2004, a free-to-play Korean game called Ragnarok enjoyed a brief spurt of popularity after a tie-up with Indiatimes, the Internet arm of the Times of India group.
Katha has been in development for two years, but the game is still very rough around the edges. Typos and wobbly animations abound, and there is a rawness akin to an unedited movie that just screams “work-in-progress”.
Arjun Gupte, vice-president of ACK’s animation and gaming studio, admits that the title could use a bit of polish. “We’re working on that now. Balancing the quests, making sure everything feels and plays right.”
“It’s a good foundation for other games,” says Patil. “If we ever decided to make, say, a game based on the Tinkle universe—we could easily do that now.” Prayers for a Tantri the Mantri-themed game could finally be answered.
Legend of Katha is playable at Legendofkatha.com
krish.r@livemint.com
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First Published: Fri, Oct 23 2009. 09 39 PM IST