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Aisling Spark - FAQ

What is this site about?
This site showcases writings, art - generally creative expressions - of players of the Online Role-playing Game Dark Ages, hosted by Nexon US since 1999. The featured items are partially taken from inside the game, which has its own blackboards (and are copy&pasted into my html), or have been created outside the game but with inspiration from the game. Some of the art (in the Loures Library Guide, specifically) has been created for various contests run by Nexon which offer the winning Aisling (DA name for player) various benefits ingame. If you remember a site called Aislingan Áraidh with roughly the same idea, don't worry, that is the old name of Aisling Spark.

What is the purpose behind this site?
Aisling Spark has turned into part shrine, part archive for the positive spirit in Dark Ages players. I created it with that purpose, because it is very easy to lose sight of why Dark Ages still captivates people two years after they started playing, being not very impressive technically. Nexon has always had a very small staff for this game and it is easy to lose hope or fun in the longer run, if you only concentrate on the technical side of the game.
I want to celebrate the fact that creativity has always been encouraged by this quirky game and that a good many players of all ages have been inspired to create something, sometimes even without thinking of winning a contest. Still, I won't completely ignore the downside of DA, I just do not focus on it - we have enough people who do that.

What is Dark Ages?
An isometric Online Role-playing Game with a visual style that looks a lot like Japanese animation - no surprise considering the game hails from Korea, where it is very popular. In the US, however, the staff at Nexon is just too small to support the game as it has to be nowadays, so the game has stayed at a constant of around 400 players online at any given time.
However, the English Dark Ages has since its beta test been much more community and player-oriented than a lot of the more uptodate games in the business. A player can still have a fair amount of influence on the way politics, for example, are run ingame, as there are no game masters. This has the obvious downsides, of course, it does make for interesting characters though ;-). I personally prefer isometric gameplay and Anime graphics. The fact that we have nine facial expressions to signify various emotions helps to make conversation much more multilevel than your average typed emoticons, though those get used as well.

Who is Estara?
Estara grew up in the mountains between Suomi and Undine with a very reclusive mother who solely lived for her books and nature studies. She has no idea who her father is, she does not know her mother very well either: instead of trying to connect with the single-minded naturalist she ran wild at an early age and was adopted by a pack of wild-roaming wolves. She lived with them for several years, only occasionally dropping by her mother's hut. She always likes to point out to anyone who will listen that those shape-changing wolves of Astrid and Woodlands have nothing to do with a real wolf pack which would not deign to get its paws dirty by attacking humans.
Before the Aisling Flame woke in her in Deoch 10 Estara only had one friend near her own age, Meranna di Cantos, social outcast in Suomi and daughter of that foreign woodartist from a land that no one in Temuair had heard of. When Meranna's mum harvested her own materials, her daughter accompanied her and so they happened to meet Estara, who had been observing the two-person-household on the edges of Suomi for some time. Meranna and her mum took Estara under their wings, and when Meranna lost her mother and awoke as an Aisling, fell in love and lost her love in her search for her own missing father, Estara was inspired by the flame to enter Temuair society herself.
In a curious reversal of fortune Meranna took the grief-name Kestrel and has since very rarely been seen in the towns and cities of Temuair. Estara, taken under the wing of another old friend of Meranna's, the monk Tijan and his priest brother Espharess, was introduced to wry rogue Arne Gustaf Swanberg on her first day in Mileth. She badgered him into becoming her mentor, realizing very fast how clueless she was about society - and the rest is history...

Who is the player behind Estara?
As some people have trouble believing ;P - I am a 34-year-old German female who stumbled over DA in a German Games Magazine when the game went commercial in '99 and spent one beautiful week playing free, while doing her two years of preparatory teaching as a grammar school teacher for English and History.
I figured out pretty soon that the way things were behind the scenes in the school system was not something I wanted to live with the rest of my working life, so the friends I made in that one week and on the Dark Ages mailing List kept me sane for the last year and a half, even more so when I went into retraining as an online editor.
I have so far playtested quite a few MMORPGS, but I have yet to find one that compares to DA in terms of community features. As long as I still have friends or can make new friends in Temuair, I will always drop by, even if I can't be there as often as I would like.
If you want to know odd stuff about me, click here.

How can I contact you?
Actually, that is fairly simple: there is an email-link on just about every page of this site. To confuse the email-stealing programms I have replaced the "@" with "at" ,but otherwise that is one of the addresses I check most often. I love getting new suggestions on what you would like to see in Aisling Spark, even better if they are contributions :D.

This document maintained by Estara.
Page Copyright © 2000-2004 E. Swanberg (optimized for MIE 5.x)
Dark Ages: Online Roleplaying is owned and Copyright 1999, Nexon.