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Dereth's Army disbanded

Army of Asheron's Call volunteers to be replaced by a handful of paid staff

Since the massively multiplayer role-playing genre hit the big time, companies like Verant, Microsoft and Origin have largely relied on volunteer helpers to police their worlds. In exchange for funky robes, prestige, or simply that warm glowing feeling you get from knowing you have helped somebody, hundreds of players became combination bug hunters, agony aunts and secret police.

In the case of Asheron's Call an army of over a hundred volunteers became Sentinels, Chancellors or Advocates, but now these people have found themselves suddenly stripped of their responsibilities as publisher Microsoft replaces them with full time paid staff. Which no doubt sounds like a good move, until you realise that there will allegedly only be eight of these paid staff, and that (for the moment at least) they will only be online between noon and midnight PST. That's particularly bad news for European players, who are between eight and ten hours ahead of Pacific Time and will therefore get no official help except during late night gaming sessions.

"The new CSS model is an important part of Asheron's Call and the MMPOG genre's future", according to community manager Ken Karl, although fans of the game and former volunteer helpers are dubious that such a small staff can handle the huge volumes of complaints and problems that they had to deal with, from players getting lost or stuck to dealing with claims of abuse and harrassment. In the wake of threatened lawsuits over the use of unpaid helpers in other massively multiplayer games though, you can certainly understand Microsoft's wish to bring support in-house.

Source - GameSpy Daily