Irth open for business

Magic Hat Software's new fantasy-based MMO goes live, lets players advance characters through combat or commerce.

Fans of massively multiplayer online role-playing games who are tired of the day-to-day grind of life on Earth can now escape to life on Irth, the fantasy setting of Magic Hat Software's inaugural PC MMO, which officially launched today.

In development at Magic Hat for the last two years, Irth Online was designed with multiple play styles in mind. Gamers looking to assert dominance over their fellow digital denizens can join one of three warring civilizations and engage in player-on-player violence to their hearts' content, while more passive types can reside in Irth's centrally located neutral hub city, which is fueled by commerce instead of combat.

The developers have also abandoned the standard class-based skill system, as any character in Irth can develop any skill or assume any profession in the game. Design decisions like these were made to fall in line with Magic Hat's stated goal, "creating a virtual world without artificial limits on player behavior or play style, and trusting players to determine their own game experiences."

Gamers interested in taking up residence in Irth (literally, as players are given a free home and land), can visit the official Web site to purchase the game. Broadband-equipped gamers can download it directly for $29.95 (with a monthly subscription fee of $13.95), while dial-up customers can order the game on two CDs or one DVD for the same price, plus shipping and handling (which appears to be $13.95 for addresses in the continental US).

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