Join us in welcoming today Citadel Studios' Project Lead Derek Brinkmann from Legends of Aria (fka Shards Online) for an hour-long interview about the game's rebranding, new MMO focus, and upcoming alpha tests!
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Shards Online is no more: The game is now officially called Legends of Aria. Better still? It's now being marketed by Citadel Studios as a full-fledged MMORPG.
Citadel's Derek "Supreem" Brinkmann says that the name change will be a big help to the game ahead of its Steam early access -- that Shards had a "stigma" for being limited by small maps and low player counts, as you'd expect from a game focused on custom shards in a classic UO style. Legends of Aria, on the other hand, will launch with a heavily expanded map and no player limits at all -- in other words, it's a real MMO.
"It's the same game, it's just a bigger scale, a bigger scope," he assures backers -- everything in the old game, including modding, is still happening in Aria.
The trailer and address from Citadel is below. Stay tuned for this weekend, too, as we'll be meeting with the studio at PAX East!
Citadel Studios' MMORPG Shards Online has formally launched its alpha today. "Alpha for a game like this means we’ve pretty much got all the major systems working cohesively, and that we’ve got a lot of the game’s launch content nailed down," CEO Derek Brinkmann says. "We’ve hit all the major milestones from our Kickstarter, and we’re finally ready to keep the servers up 24/7. By no means is our work done, but we’re at a point now where we really think we've delivered on promise that was made during our Kickstarter campaign."
If you've ever played the game on a trial key in the past, your trial has been renewed for the weekend. If you aren't one of those lucky souls, then you can either back the game ($40) to get in or enter to win a trial key from us right here, as Citadel has granted Massively OP 100 keys for this weekend's alpha test, which we'll be raffling off in time for you to hop in tomorrow. Read on to enter to win (and to check out the brand-new trailer)!
How would you describe Shards Online? MassivelyOP's MJ found the perfect way to answer that question: She nabbed Derek "Supreem" Brinkmann to do it! Who better to answer all your burning questions than a head dev? As MJ wanders the world shooting fireballs and trying to tame animals, Brinkmann will be talking all about the upcoming alpha (and probably trying to get MJ killed again), so join us live at 1:30 p.m. for this dev-filled bonus stream.
What: Shards Online
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 1:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday, September 24th, 2015
Citadel Studios' Derek Brinkmann hopped on Reddit yesterday for an AMA revolving around Shards Online. Among the highlights:
- The game does have hunger, but no one's going to starve to death on the core server (permadeath servers are another story). In fact, the permadeath ruleset is what Brinkmann says he's most excited about. "I think MMOs are afraid of permadeath because people get too attached to their characters. But I think Shards Online is a perfect place for a ruleset like this. The key to designing it is to make death much less common than in the regular rules." There's an incap system too.
- He'd "love to open a pure PvE official server," but "the community would have to grow quite a bit before we could support one." Apparently in the early access, ganking is minimal, curbed presumably by the faction system. A karma system to discourage ganking is on the way too.
- The game is built around skills and skill caps a bit like Ultima Online, but crafting skills and harvesting skills don't apply toward the combat cap -- just the total cap. "I love how crafting often brings people together," he says. "As we speak there is someone on the alpha server asking for a woodsmith. I'd love to keep that sort of thing going."
Indie sandbox Shards Online is barreling toward its 2016 launch, promising a creator's paradise for those willing to steer their very own servers. Today, Citadel Studios is giving Massively OP readers an exclusive look at the game's elaborate skill system. Wanna be a regen/dodge rogue who dabbles in lumberjacking on the side? Yep, you can do that! Read on for Citadel's full dev diary, including the list of player skills and how Shards aims to balance their use.
Shards Online's latest newsletter has arrived, and in it, Project Lead Derek Brinkmann says the development team is hard at work on two features: clusters, which are the groundwork for connected regions, and catacombs, dungeons that change their layouts randomly.
Citadel Studios also says it's delaying alpha 1 until spring, which won't affect backers and testers unduly but will effectively delay the game's early access launch on Steam:
"[W]e underestimated a few things (supporting our 24/7 servers and cluster implementation) that is going to push Alpha 1 into the Spring. We've also decided to separate our Alpha 1 release and our arrival on Steam Early Access by at least a few months. This way our current supporters can help us work out the kinks before we open ourselves to the massive audience that is the Steam Community."
The studio has announced a new mount stretch goal at the $250k mark as well as new pledge rewards for several tiers over $75.
It's all fun and games until you lose your pants! If you've been wondering what is up with Shards Online lately, the answer is naked villagers. During Derek "Supreem" Brinkmann's community round table this week, the Citadel CEO revealed that one of the latest sports players have developed in pre-alpha 3 is pants collecting. Brinkmann goes on to talk about development priorities and answer questions from the community, but how could he top a reveal like that? You can watch the entire recorded stream on Twitch for all the details.
Later that day, the villagers got a reprieve as the January tourney pit players versus other players. Four guilds took to the ring in 2v2 matches to see who could claim the PvP title for this month. Check out the warriors, mages, warrior-mage hybrids, and even fighting wolves in the embedded video below.
Citadel has announced that Shards Online's third pre-alpha phase will soft launch for all backers at the $75 tier and above on December 3rd. All backers at $40 and above will get access on December 10th. Pre-alpha 3 is "one of the biggest updates to the game since we fully funded its development," according to Citadel CEO Derek Brinkmann.
PA3 will see the cluster system go live, which is a "key step toward the vision of Shards' interconnected worlds," since it will allow admins to connect maps and games and ultimately realize larger player-run universes.
Most of the game system tweaks in PA3 involve controls and the new player experience. You can get a glimpse of what that's all about via the video after the cut.
Shards Online has published its October newsletter, which includes a project update letter from lead dev Derek Brinkmann as well as information on new spells, a new map, new WASD movement options, playtest incentive rewards, and more.
Citadel is also hosting a Night of the Living Dead event for Halloween weekend. It allows players to spawn as undead, from ghosts all the way up to the Lord of the Darkness, and protect the Eldeir Cemetary from evil grave-robbing humans. The Halloween server will be open for a two-hour window at the following times:
Friday, October 30th, 6:00 p.m. EST
Saturday, October 31st, 12:00 p.m. EST
Sunday, November 1st, 3:00 p.m. EST
Be sure to check it out if you want to participate in a PvE event and earn various rewards. You can click past the cut to see a couple of event videos.
Shards Online has posted its latest newsletter on the heels of last weekend's pre-alpha 3 preview event, which included over 100 testers. Citadel's Derek Brinkmann wrote,
"This month and the next we are continuing to focus on features and polish that directly improve the player experience. We are getting close to finishing up the core UI improvements and we are shifting our focus towards player progression and goals. We will be extending the new player experience to include combat, crafting, and player housing while also tweaking the controls to make movement and targeting more intuitive. Our goal is to make Pre-Alpha 3 as fun as possible and to get you guys coming back to Celador every day to find something new."
Shards developer Bruce Bonnick carved out a corner of the newsletter to discuss player-killer playstyles on non-consensual PvP shards, as well. He says the studio is considering multiple ways to "manage" rather than "prevent" player-killing, including guard zones, patrols, and escorts.
Last week, our comments erupted over some game studios' haphazard use of the term "MMO" -- and how that overuse and misuse has possibly tainted the genre, leading other studios to avoid its use altogether. One of the games under fire is Shards Online, a game that borrows heavily from old-school sandboxes but is set up a la Neverwinter Nights to allow players to create their own rulesets and run their own servers, some definitely not "massive" at all.
We spoke with Citadel Studios' founder and CEO Derek Brinkmann about Shards Online's place in the broader MMO world.
Massively OP: First, how do you and Citadel define "MMO" in 2015? How does that differ from "MMORPG" and from earlier understandings of the terms? Do you believe your understanding of the terms has changed since Shards Online was first announced?
Citadel's Derek Brinkmann: I don't think you can define the term MMO by taking the literal translation of the acronym Massively Multiplayer Online (Game). This would apply to a game that allows thousands of players to interact with each other within the game. If you went purely off of this literal meaning, session based games like Diablo III technically fall into this category since there are thousands of people playing Diablo III and you can interact with any of them by jumping into the same session. And nobody thinks that Diablo III should be considered an MMO.
Shards Online's latest newsletter says that July has been one of the most exciting months in the fantasy sandbox's history. For starters, Citadel Studios "unleashed its army of pre-alpha admins," who preceded to create plenty of community-run servers on the game's official list. Project lead Derek Brinkmann also says that pre-alpha 3 is right around the corner, which means that Shards will be available to backers 24/7 and will feature minimal character wipes.
Today's newsletter also highlights NPC merchant dialog, mob AI revamps, armor, body, and skin tone updates, and Shards' newly finished arena which will be available in the August 1st playtest.