a important piece of history, one of Sega's first attempt at making a mmo, way before Phantasy Star Online.
Dragon’s Dream (ドラゴンズドリーム) was an MMORPG jointly developed by Fujitsu & Sega and published by Sega in 1997, exclusively in Japan. It was the first online multiplayer RPG released for a home console, 3 years before Phantasy Star Online would hit Dreamcast in 2000. The game was never available for retail in stores, but was offered for FREE upon request from Sega & Nifty Serve. Sega distributed the software for FREE to promote the Saturn's online capabilities in Japan, and because profits would come from the service. The game utilized and required the Sega Net Modem and Saturn Keyboard. There were rumors of an Xband version in development, but no such version ever materialized. Summer 1997: Beta version started December 20, 1997: Official Saturn service started April 1998: Connection fee lowered from 10 yen/minute to 6 yen/minute April 1998: Distribution of Windows version client started October 1, 1999: Servers shut down Software Price: FREE Data Management Fee: 500 yen per month for each NiftyServe account Play Connection Fee: 10 yen per minute (later reduced to 6 yen per minute) *(In addition to the NiftyServe account & Play Connection Fee, NTT phone fees were separately required) The game basically plays out like a 3D Dungeon Crawler RPG, similar to Shining the Holy Ark or the Etrian games. The player logs into the game by launching the client software and dialing up to the NiftyServe access point. *(play via the Internet was not implemented) In TOWN, you would create new player characters and buy/sell items. It also functioned as the "lobby" area, including general chat, bulletin board and mail transmission/reception. BARS scattered across the city were basically "chat rooms" where you would form new parties and head out for dungeon exploration. A unique DUNGEON was generated for each party, and separate parties would not encounter each other during the adventure. However, by disbanding the party while in the dungeon, each player character would continue alone and possibly encounter other player characters. A later software update had planned to implement dungeons that would allows multiple parties to coexist and encounter each other. NiftyServe used only a single cross-platform server for the game world, and all participants would play on the same server, regardless of platform. That means that both Sega Saturn and Windows users would occupy the same game world and could form parties together. There were two main WORLDS, the world of the human race "MESSERIA" and the parallel world of the demons "TAIZERIA". An experiment conducted by scientists in Messeria was said to have caused a hole in space-time, resulting in an invasion of the demons from Taizeria. MESSERIA - has four cities: ・ "Miliapolis", a city centered mainly on Duran ・ "Angel Palace", a city centered mainly on Angela ・ "Dragon Square", a town centered mainly on Dragnewt ・ "Lunaria", a town centered mainly on Rulers Starting from each city, players would proceed to a separate dungeon quest. TAIZERIA - has no cities, but only bars, forts and dungeons, as it is the world of demons. Players could select any of the following 8 races to create their Player Character: * DURAN: Human race. * ANGELA: Angel family. * DRAGON NEWT: Dragon people. * RULER: Slime tribe. * LUGORAN: Giants. * ELFIN: Fairy tribe. * BEAST: Beast/Human race. * ALEPH: Mental race. Though Dragon's Dream was eagerly anticipated by some Japanese gamers as the first online console RPG, it had trouble gaining awareness among the mass consumer market. In addition to this, the additional cost of the required modem and keyboard presented a greater barrier to entry. At the time, participation fees (such as the Data Management & Play Connection fee) adopted by many online games today, had not yet been introduced to the public, and these considerable costs were significant obstacles when it came to marketing the game to consumers. With a "pay-as-you-go" system, dedicated game play resulted in a higher overall cost, often exceeding 100,000 yen per month in communication fees. Most Japanese gaming news outlets focused on and criticized its service fees, and as a result, many players withdrew after only a short period of time. Just four months after the service launched, the Play Connection Fees were cut by 40% along with the introduction of the Windows PC version. The high cost of running such a robust server in the late 90's, combined with the significant price cut to consumers yielded insufficient profit to sustain operation. As a result, the service ended after just two years of operation. During its operation, however, the small number of total participants contributed to a close cooperation and exchange between players. This experience later informed SEGA's development of Phantasy Star Online and the Dreamcast's Online services.