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Olympia: A Review

by Charles Craig (chuk@nwu.edu)

Olympia is a multiplayer Play by Electronic Mail game in a heroic fantasy setting. All game play occurs in electronic mail over the Internet. You can play the game from any Internet-connected computer, including those with access to America Online, CompuServe, or Delphi.

The game setting is a heroic fantasy world, with over 10,000 different locations, and hundreds of secret locations scattered over the world. Different terrain types like mountains, cities, swamps, oceans, and forests offer different resources and opportunities. Magical settings in the game include Hades, Land of the Dead, the Cloudlands, and Faery. These settings provide special skills and challenges.

The players control nobles, special units that can learn skills or magic spells, command armies, build castles, or just explore the world. Each player gets a limited number of nobles, so resource allocation in the beginning of the game is very important.

Nobles can learn over 60 mundane skills and 80 different spells in such categories as Persuasion, Combat, Air Magic, and Necromancy. The skills are usually only taught in cities.

Some unique features the electronic format of the game allows is instant communication with allied and enemy players, even those halfway around the world.

Olympia players come from all over the world on the Internet, from New Zealand to the Netherlands. They all have instant electronic communication with their allies and enemies. No more waiting for international post! The fast turnaround time and ease of sending in information allows for a newsletter, the Olympia Times, which contains in-game advertisements, prose about in-game characters, and offers for alliances and boasting. The Olympia Times is sent out each week with your new turn report. Several electronic alliances have also sprung up, sharing information, programs, and tricks and techniques for the game.

The current game is not perfect. Your initial expansion ability is severely limited at the beginning of the game. Working in alliances is imperative, so a "leave-me-alone" strategy will not be very successful. Some of the subskills and spells are much more useful than others. However, because of the near-instant feedback to the game designer, major bugs are uncovered and corrected rapidly.

Olympia turns cost $2.50 per turn, and turns are run once per week. There is only one game running, but the game world is large enough for thousands of players to compete and cooperate in.

I have been in the alpha and beta playtests and am currently in the commercial game. I would recommend this game to any PBMer who likes fantasy PBMs and has Internet access. If you'd like to play, or get a free information packet, send mail to the Internet address info@pbm.com.