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Metro Retro – Tantra Online

November 26, 2008

Yes, searching for Tantra on Google yields interesting yet unrelated results.

I was browsing through a folder on my hard drive which contained screenshots from past MMOs I’ve played. Ah, a cache of memories, both good and bad. All of which have had a grip on my gaming time.

One particular MMORPG had a visegrip hold on me – Tantra Online. Dubbed as a ‘Neo Oriental Fantasy MMORPG’, Tantra is a PvP-centric MMO loosely based on Hindu and oriental influences that mix together in a slightly awkward, but passable way. You choose from eight character classes, four of which are male and the other, female. Each gender class has a mirror archetype, from the tank Naga/Kimnara, the assassin Asura/Rakshasa, the caster Deva/Garuda, and the monk/healer Yaksa/Gandharva. From these classes, you get to choose from two different specializations.

Basically, the object of the whole snafu is to choose a god, grind to the top, all the while beating on your rival god’s followers. There are three god factions in the game; Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu, all of which have no bearing on your game whatsoever (as far as I can recall). There’s a story thrown in somewhere there, but it was as memorable as that… y’know. Yeah.

Sera, the Asura.

Sera, the Asura.

Tantra wasn’t a triple-A title, no. The graphics were subpar, the sounds were bland. It had its share of bugs and graphical glitches. It wasn’t revolutionary. There were no quest helpers, no addons, and it had a terrible grind. Why did I keep on playing?

At first, I didn’t like it at all. I thought the characters all looked like Disney’s Aladdin on crack. But EVERYONE I knew was playing it. I logged in day by day, exploring the world and its mechanics with friends and other people. Eventually I got hooked and was leveling with the top guys in the game, overtaking most of my first guild (or ashram in Tantra terms).

Attacking the Vishnu Fortress

Attacking the Vishnu Fortress

I was blessed to be in the company of such exciting and interesting people to play with. We didn’t have guides or help from veteran players – there were none at the time. We discovered how one skill combo’d into the next, how critical hits work, how Nagas were a force to reckon with, etc. We fought in the god wars, the Tantra main event where all 3 factions clash for supremacy and god pride. We didn’t need no obvious carrot-on-a-stick, we were fighting because it was goddamned fun. Skills worked, each class had an equal chance of killing another, the whole map worked. Sure – there was a hitch or two during its course, but for me, it just kept the flames of PvP burning. Owned or be owned, zerging, tactics, and mass chaos.

Partying in Chaturanga

Partying in Chaturanga

The PvE was traditional at best. Soloing was effective to a point, but partying had a certain charm. You worked as a team with concrete roles and complementary skills. There were no instances, just open world dungeons and even some where PvP is enabled by default. Boss hunting was like a religion to us, racing to get to the spawn point on schedule, lest someone else beats us to the loot. Our Ashram, The Chosen was one of the bigger and more powerful Shiva guilds at its peak and I was proud of it. All friendly and wacky people, them Chosen. Shout out to Erineh, Scar, Ganja, Retribution, GramLite, Nasty, Kaesyri, and to the others, wherever you are.

Yes, I know. Mature.

Yes, I know. Mature.

I’ve had many experiences in Tantra. Sweet victories, frustrating losses, drama, number-crunching, new discoveries. They all sound run-of-the-mill, but I kid you not – it was fun while it lasted. I loved every kill I made in Kruma, made enemies with different gods, swore my head off during lag spikes, laughed with friends, cussed at enemies (and edited characters). It had me totally hooked and losing sleep over it. Alas, the game didn’t age well and the community got run over by the unsavory kind. It got bogged down by poor security, exploitable code, and a thriving black market. I opted to leave, but got sucked back a different way.

I started working for ABS-CBN Multimedia (now Amped), the company that published Tantra Online for the Philippines. Now I was looking from the other side of the game I fervently played. From customer support, to creative work, writing, promotion, and community management; I experienced the behind-the-scenes of Tantra. That is when I donned the moniker GM Eloel. That, in itself, is a separate story.

Why am I suddenly reminiscing about Tantra? Just the fact that even a crude, low-budget korean game could still shine and gain attention by sticking to some basics. Some basics that MMOs need to trace their roots to. What ever happened to partying with people just for the sake of it and not epics? What happened to PvP for the sake of PvP? These days, everything needs to be itemized, instanced, or dumbed down for the market. While they have their values, I still feel that some conventions were established because they were plainly fun; not because they garnered 11 million subscribers.

Don’t get me wrong, I love WoW like cottage cheese. I probably just have my rose-tinted nostalgia glasses on.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Skullpion permalink
    November 27, 2008 1:37 am

    I just got back from a The Nexus run. Our PUG tank was horrible, we wiped 6-7 times, and at the end we took another wipe and called it a day. I dunno, WoW’s still the best MMO I’ve ever played, but I guess all the content in the world can’t really match up to good people who you share the experience with. Quit my share of online games just ‘cos my friends quit, or community started to suck.

    My current guild is awesome btw. 🙂 People + Content = Happy

  2. November 27, 2008 4:26 pm

    What, no shout out to Elvenrot who tried so hard to stick it to the man? 😛

  3. November 27, 2008 4:30 pm

    Oh wait, you *were* the man muhahahaha

  4. November 27, 2008 4:55 pm

    I still have some screenshots with Axenrot. Forgot to add lol, sorry.

  5. March 27, 2009 1:59 pm

    Hi…. ^___^ I am a tantra online player

  6. yang permalink
    March 20, 2011 4:08 pm

    Hi.. Im BrokenSword Former member of ashram Titans and The Chosen 🙂 Hi guys! Axenrot former Elvenrot recruit me to the ashram Titans when i was lvl 36 haha i Help him to kill the Mini Boss Krama found near shambala castle.. a Big Ulkamuhka Satvan.. and drop 1 piece of illa after we killed the mini boss.. and i said kuya can i join your guild.. sabi niya okay ill pm the maharaja of the Titans tw1st3d haha… jan ako lalo naadict mglaro ng tantra. proud to be a member of first shivan guild in manas days..!! now 2011 i still play tantra.. proud to be securus impreto member 🙂

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